Commentary

Disciples


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Friday, October 18, 1889

     6 P.M. In his room—twilight—had just finished his dinner. Was in very good humor and voice. "The past 3 or 4 days," he said, "have not been my worst, I have not been in my worst condition: so that I can say I live in a sort of comfort." Had had a letter from Bucke, "but no word anent the book. The mail is subject to capers; we must bide its time!" Said— "Herbert was here last night, after you left. No—nothing new with him." Had he shown him sheets of the book? "No—I did not do so—did not think it worth while." Alys Smith has got over

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all right: she was here to see me today: looks well—oh! very well. It was a great joy to have her beam on an old fellow again!"

     Showed me a copy of the Transatlantic that had come in the mail today. "I suppose Kennedy sent it. It has a fine look: that is the way it starts out. Not that I noticed anything significant in it—though the typography itself is beautiful, a lesson in itself, a significance in itself—especially after some of our experience." He remarked the picture of Ibsen, which "greatly commended itself." I asked him after a bit what was the result of his talk with the young men last night. He entered into the subject at once, laughing somewhat—raising his voice, talking with great zest, evidently. "We got into a great snarl here together—a great snarl—and the longer they stayed, the worse the snarl. Ed brought them in, not saying what they had come for. I noticed they were Irishmen, strangers, not literary critters: I supposed they were waifs, strays, out of the great sea, come for a look and a word, then to be off again—hardly knowing distinctly themselves what they came for. Instead of that they were the Doctor Gould men. I must have appeared either all gone crazy or a damned fool, or both," he said this several times. "It was ridiculous beyond belief, and stupid of Ed to have brought 'em in that way. After considerable talk, it developed what they had come for. I did not have a chance to talk much with the man himself—his friend kept me busily engaged—but I discovered he was pretty green—had never nursed, in fact. I had it in mind to ask you to make some inquiries about him"—but thought he would not insist upon that— "because I see we can do nothing better than try the man, there is no other way practically to reach his measure. I cannot say I was unfavorably impressed—it was in a rather dim light here, and I don't think I would know him again if I saw him. The proof of a pudding's in the eating. The main thing is, is he square? A good deal of such a man's work

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here would consist in tact—that nameless something by which to discriminate between visitors—know whom to turn off, who not. Three or four days will tell the tale—I shall soon know my man. He will have to learn the ways—my ways, the ways of the place, people. We'll see, we'll see!"
As to the man's capacity to fit the place— "It is hard to predict. Ed fell as naturally into the place as a bird in its nest." I said the subject had caused me a good deal of anxiety. W. responded: "I am sorry for that: I am not in the least anxious. I take the matter coolly—rest in the faith that it will properly adjust itself to the way that is best." "Happily, I am spending one of my good periods now—until the man, any man—he or any other—gets into the necessary points, I may be able to post him, watch him. No—no—boy—we must not let ourselves be greatly concerned." I told him we expected he would speak out the minute he was convinced the new man would not do, and he promised "I shall do so—do not fear—you will know it at once." I told him the young man proposed coming over for a while Sunday. W. said: "That is a good idea—he may in that way get some hints from Ed, while we may get some notions of him—very necessary—both."


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