Commentary

Disciples


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Thursday, September 19, 1889

     7.30 P.M. W. in his bed-room, reading Stedman's big book. I told him I had read the O'Connor review of L. of G. and when I called it "a remarkable article," he said himself: "Yes indeed—it is a remarkable article. I doubt if, aside from the Times file copies, there is another copy extant aside from mine. I doubt if Dr. Bucke has one, or ever heard of it. William must have written many things of the sort of which I never heard. Whether Nellie knew of them all—kept copies—the run of them, is something I could not say." I remarked: "There's no one in America writing such book reviews today"—and he quickly, energetically, in raised tones, assented: "No—not one: even the fellows like Gilder, Stedman, good as they are, do no such work as that—none of them. They could not do it in the first place—then, they would not

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if they could."
I said: "O'Connor's sympathy for other writers is everywhere palpable." W. then: "It is! It is! His was the most catholic mind I knew—a mind catholic in the large generic sense of that word—a democrat of democrats—above all, a lover of freedom—freedom of mind—especially of literary freedom: oh! how all-inclusive was his judgment of writers—poets, all!" I said further: "His sympathy is everywhere. While he leaves no one in doubt of his espousal of you, he puts up no bar against any other. It is as if he took us to the stars: it is unmistakable which star he is pointing out to us; yet he in no way objects to our seeing the others and putting what value we choose upon them." W.'s face was radiant: I know he fully entered into my idea—indeed endorsed it. "Every line, word, is true!" he exclaimed, "every line, word—intuitively grasping him. It is all exactly as you say!"

     He referred to Dr. True's letter that Clifford had brought down. "I receive many queer letters—a couple of weeks ago there was one from an Englishman—he signed himself a priest—it was very gushing, very. Yes, I have received love letters—many of them—especially years ago—plenty—even now, having one occasionally." As we sat there, Ed came in with a letter from Bucke, which W. read aloud. An allusion to me and the book greatly excited W.'s laughter. Bucke asked if I was one of the everlastings, like Willie Gurd &c. W. said: "My first impulse would have been to get mad at the delay; but as you say, when I see the dishes our delay has brought to the feast, I am satisfied—more than satisfied." We discussed my idea of closing the volume with a paragraph from Sarrazin. W. took hold at once. "I will see what comes to me tonight and tomorrow about the matter—probably something will be aroused—I am pretty sure it will." I had taken him proofs of the Symonds letter, and left it with him. "Now I will get a sufficient taste of it," he remarked. Spoke of the Sarrazin piece—thought he would get Morris and me "to spend an hour or so marking a copy of Leaves of Grass for me"—and

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our marks "must be in blue pencil"—and he started forthwith to give me a part of his blue pencil, until I objected and he was satisfied.

     W. immensely amused over two new brilliants given me by Clifford: one of a man who spoke of Goethe as "the Edwin P. Whipple of Germany" and the other of a remark he overheard in a parlor from Dan Dawson (in re Walt Whitman) "if he's a poet, then I'm no poet." Greatly curious about my meeting with Franz Vetta (Louis Neumayer) today—and questioned me explicitly. Had not been extra well. Keeps to his own room. I advised him to build a fire to take the chill off the room. He said: I have been thinking of that myself." Shows inclination to stay more indoors. Makes no suggestion even of going out. Ed said as I left that he wished "to take a walk"—so, as I was bound Philadelphia-ward, walked with me to the ferry. On the way told me of his resolve to go back to Canada Oct. 20. Had engaged with a veterinary surgeon to go with him on that date. This rather staggered me, as experience has shown how difficult it is to get a nurse for W. who combines qualities we desire and those which commend him to W.


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