Commentary

Disciples


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Friday, June 13, 1890

     Stopped in at W.'s on my way home at 5.30. He sat fanning himself—the day very hot. Will not go out in the heat of the

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day. Says his condition is "well up—yet nothing to brag of." Ate a good dinner. My newsman gave me a copy of the Atlantic (specimen) of December last. W. expressed some interest and I left it with him.

     Yesterday he had me mail for him an envelope of pictures to Aldrich, of Iowa (Librarian) and a letter to Pearsall Smith—and today he had made up a copy of the pocket edition to send to Ingersoll and a paper for the Smiths again, England. No further word from Ingersoll yet. Frank Williams has given me his banquet speech.

     I met Frank Williams today and he gave me in brief, the argument of a little paper just accepted by Lippincott's. There are two contending or different forces in literature—the one static—the one dynamic: the first to preserve (as Lowell &c), the second to add (as, in America, Emerson and Whitman). Between Emerson and Whitman Frank makes comparison thus: Whitman reveals man, whole, in a flash, illuminates the whole being; Emerson in side-paths, here and there, in glimpses. I explained this to Walt who smiled as to the comparison. "We will have wait till we read that," he said: the important thing is, how does he argue himself there." Were such comparisons dangerous? "I think so: but whether this is remains as I have said."

     I urged him to go out and to the river, by all means—and he assenting— "as soon as it is a little cooler, we'll try it."

     Frank Williams has a great deal of feeling on the point, that Ingersoll, in his speech at the dinner, tried to argue into Leaves of Grass his peculiar religious and philosophical views. I said it had not so impressed me. Williams' speech as he gives it to me, all correct except that part in which he bitterly speaks of the "narrowness" and negation of agnostics, which was not uttered but is after-word if not after-thought. I argued with Williams that an agnostic could not deal in negations, as he says—that his whole temper is one of suspense, not deciding either way on the question of phenomena, &c.

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Finally he admitted my distinction, and further that he perhaps did Ingersoll injustice.

     At 7.20, hurrying to the ferry, I came across W. in his chair at 2nd and Federal streets, Warren pushing him. He had been down to the river. I told him of Talcott Williams' note, saying he had a report of W.'s own talk. W. said quickly— "I wouldn't give a cent for that, but would give a good deal—Oh! a good deal!—for Ingersoll's!" I said, "We'll get Ingersoll's"—and he at once— "Do you think so?" Saying again of his own— "I am a little curious after all to know what I did say." He had a flower in his hand—some blossom of grass. I hurried on.


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