Commentary

Disciples


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Wednesday, October 30, 1889

     7.45 P.M. W. looking over some papers. Had received invitation to Contemporary Club meeting—first of the season—Prof. Fullerton on Hypnotism this evening. But "No letter from Bucke, nor from Ed—not a word, singular as it may seem." Yet— "I can know how the Doctor must want to see Ed—will question him." Adding: "And I am anxious to have Doctor get his books. I hope Tom will send them—has sent them. I am growing into the book. I want to tell Harry Bonsall

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that I like his speech—indeed, you can tell him for me some day when you meet. I like the book—like it all. It is remarkable in the first place—if for nothing else—as a curio, and then it is meaty—there is a great deal more meat in it than one would be apt to expect. For myself, I can say I am impressed beyond words. Here is the history of Leaves of Grass—here is the whole struggle told—the long years—all. I never expected to live to see this—never. To see such an event, such a book—to see such opinions stated—men deliberately going on record in this way—willing to have the world hear, note. It means vast, vast change of front somewhere."
I said I believed Darwin had somewhere said something of similar purport. "Ah! that cuts the line still more deep—makes it shuddering!" Referred then to the picture: "It has a curious fitness, right in its place—tells its own story." He thought: "Even Herbert will come around to it—will see that it does not ruin the book, rather inheres to it. They say of the Devil, that something or other made him of another mind. Herbert will be made of another mind." Alluded then to printing of the book, asking: "What did you say was the name of the foreman up there at Bennerman's?" Saying he thought he remembered the man— "strong, lithe, a pleasant face and manner."

     Giving me a copy of the Boston Transcript done up in a rubber, he said, "I don't know why I put this up for you, but I know I did." Handing it to me, "And on the principle that a mouthful out of your neighbor's pudding outweighs the choicest gifts of your own kitchen cook, this may interest you." Thought the book well-printed. "The Bucke life, done there by the Shermans, seems to me with the best. I always placed it with the best samples from abroad."

     Harned had been in "looking fat and hearty," but no member of the Conference had been over. "To My Seventy-First Year" he said, "is the name of the Century piece to appear next month. And this," showing me another, in a Curtz slip,

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"is still a second in their hands, which they have paid for and will print when they choose." Alluded to "the pears you brought me from Aggie. Oh! they were fair as they looked—in that respect unlike some people we know. Tell Aggie I enjoyed them bite by bite—even the memory of them now."

     Spoke then of the Theodore Thomas benefit concert Saturday night. "It will no doubt be a true deliverance. I can hear its ring, sitting here, by mere thinking of it. And benefit? I think Thomas deserves all that can be done for him." Asked after routine of the bank work—especially after "its system against fraud." Then adding: "Mr. Odenheimer up the street—now made nearly blind by his financial work—figures, paper, pens—gave me once quite a circumstantial account of the defences put up by the Pennsylvania Railroad. He was with the road many years. He showed, for instance, that, say out of every thousand hands, a third, 333 of them, were practically to check the others. But I understood at one time that it was seriously considered whether it would not pay to do without these hands—run the risk—whether the loss would not be less than the hire. Just as I have been told the Astors do not insure their property in New York, preferring to risk fire. Though I don't believe this, for they are cute men. The point however being that insurance money must in any event be paid, fire money perhaps not." He thinks the business world "an almost infinite bit of machinery" beautifully constructed out of all the past experiences of man.

      "I have sent Kennedy no word yet, adopting the principle, when in doubt, do nothing, though this is often argued against as fatuous, which to me it is not." Referring to the Conference again: "What does it all mean? Peterkin still questions; 'What is it all about father?—a great fuss, bloodshed—but what for?' It seems to me, if it means anything, it means evolution—the evolution of Protestantism—the witness of the fact that every 20 years or so some of the fellows step out of bounds and declare, we are not satisfied with the state of

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things—they do not speak for us, they must move on. Now, if Unitarianism has any mission, it must be this,—to receive any man who has caught the new light—every brave thinker—outcast poet—humanity in all its aspects of the changer, the improver—every seeker—every one who has glimpsed the larger vista. Doing this, it does nothing—is no more than the other sects—is only one more added to the theological clamor. But I know well there are the 20-year's men—there are also the Conservative Unitarians—orthodox—who believe the message is all delivered, signed, sealed, we may say—who protest that you cannot go forward when you have reached the end."


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