Commentary

Disciples


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Friday, November 1, 1889

     7.30 P.M. W. reading The Century when I came. Referred to it: "Yes—my piece appeared today—and today came the proof of the other piece, too—'Old Age's Ship and Crafty Death's.' I suppose it, too, will now shortly appear—probably not next month, but the month after. I hesitated a great sight over it—whether not to make a change—to make the headline read, Old Age's War or Old Age's Fight—wishing a word of one syllable. But finally I let it go just as it was." I objected to the change, especially towards the new lines mentioned. W. then: "The idea is, these ships—Old Age's, Crafty Death's—stealing upon mine. It is a very definite—some will think a very cheap—idea—as perhaps it is." Said further of The Century: "It has plenty of poetry this month." I asked, "Do you call it poetry?" And he laughed— "Well—butterflies—are poor enough, all, to be sure. But"—lifting the magazine— "see this: this is a picture I have been feasting upon for a long time" opening at the frontispiece—a Head of Aesop, by Velasquez. "Talk about simplicity and breadth!—there it is." It was indeed a striking piece of work, and on my remark that it was the best Century page for a long time, he assented. "Yes, you are right—it surpasses them all—the engraving itself is grand. Who is T. Johnson?" And as we looked further— "How vitalizing! how throbbing with life! Yet it ought to be—it is from Velasquez—the best of them all. Who of us have not seen just such types going about our ways—especially in the great west. I have not for a long time enjoyed an engraving as I have this." Pointed then to the Jefferson article on the first page. "I tried to get interested in that, but it was no go—it is dry as dry. Why! he knows less about them than I do." I said, "Jefferson ought to know!" W. however— "But he don't! It is not in him to know—the living currents have passed him by. What he writes here has no heartbeat whatever." There was W.'s own poem, spread in broad

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beautiful lines. "Yes, I like it—it looks handsome. The noble breadth of page seems to lend itself to my lines." Further, of the Spanish article by Susan Carter: "It is quite good—and the pictures with it. But as I read I pictured the dilemma of the writer—pictured her as if trying to walk in water this deep"—indicating a line above the knee "and getting there, to be sure but the labor of it wore her out soon."

     Again he drifted into another strain. "Ingram was in here today: he went to the Conference meeting last night—heard Curtis, Savage, Hale—liked them all, but thought Savage the best. From what he says I think Savage was the most animated—he gave me that impression." I called Curtis' oratory "Ciceronian, with the Ciceronian penalty of oversustainedness and of being often dull." W., "I can see—that is a true touch." Blake said to me at the meeting last evening, applauding Curtis— "but if only his fancy were imagination," etc. W. taking my repetition of this thus: "I feel it is true. After all, Ingersoll is the man of men—in America, our days, reaching highest, surmounting all the difficulties of speech—the most marked man, yet made so by means of a most astonishing simplicity. He is never passionate in the outward sense, yet every sentence is a thrust in itself—a dagger—a gleam—a fire—a torch, vital and vitalizing—full of pulse, power, magnificent potencies."

     I had letters from Mark Twain and Gilder.


Dear Gilder—

I shall not need to answer this letter, I suppose, since I can answer it through you. It seems to be an application for a contribution of from one to five dollars per month. I am quite willing to be put on the list of two-dollar contributors, and I enclose five months contribution in advance herewith.

Yours sincerely,

S L Clemens

Hartford
Oct 30th '89



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55 Clinton Place.
Oct 31, 1889,

My dear Mr Traubel,

Enclosed please find $10 from me, & $10 from Mark Twain—(S. L. Clemens) for Walt Whitman.

I write from my bed. Where's the book?

Sincerely

R. W. Gilder.


     W. exclaimed: "The good Clemens! And that reminds me—I must send him that big book—I have long intended it: now I must make it a particular point." And: "I am anxious Gilder should have the books—give Tom a nudge." Also letter from Weir Mitchell.


S. Weir Mitchell, M.D.
1524 Walnut Street,
Philadelphia, Pa.
Dictated.
November 1st 1889
Mr. Horace L. Traubel;—

Dear Sir;—

Of course I am interested in the matter. Kindly tell me how you are arranging the thing, what the expense of a nurse is and how you are collecting subscriptions. It is needless to say that you may count on me.

Yours truly,

Weir Mitchell.


      "That is like the Doctor—I know him and know of him—his goodness."

     Said he had a letter from Pearsall Smith today containing 25 dollars. Also letter from Bucke, which he gave to me. "It tells the tale of Ed. Ed turns up at last—much, I suppose, to Doctor's relief. I guess they did not have it out this time, however. Doctor was in a hurry to keep an engagement—Ed

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in a hurry to go off—so between the two little was done."
Questioned me if it was raining, and learning it was not: "It is one of the peculiar fancies of my hearing. I hear what I should not and do not hear what I should."


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