Commentary

Disciples


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Monday, November 18, 1889

     7.15 P.M. Greeted me as "a stranger"—for having been absent yesterday altogether. Had laid out a copy of Leaves of Grass for Morris—pocket edition. I dipped his pen in the ink

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and looked over his shoulder as he transcribed it to M. "from his friend the author"—he saying— "Morris is good—he has been kind to us—and kindness is a thing we must not forget, whatever else must go." Had also laid aside pictures for Mrs. Lewis—transcribing these, also—but regretting he could not write her down "Mary or What-not"—Lewis instead of "Mrs. Enoch Lewis"—not knowing her first name, nor do I.

     Warren came in and reported "no letters"—had been to the Post Office. W. expressed as usual his childlike regret. Warren putting in then— "Well, it's all right—you got a lot this morning." W. then, with a laugh: "Don't say it's 'all right' Warrie—though I admit it is well to remember the morning." But after Warren had gone out W. said to me: "While I got a good many letters, the mail was of little weight except the note from Buxton Forman. I had a note in the mail—and he sends a poem—a manuscript poem—which I have not read yet—have laid aside. You shall have it." Morris' piece on the Sarrazin Whitman in this week's American. M. brought me papers—2 for Whitman. W. said he would send these to Sarrazin and Bucke. Did not read while I waited.

     He "wondered" if Mrs. O'Connor had gone home. Asked me, too, if I had seen her last evening, and learning I had, inquired and commented. Mrs. O'Connor had given me an expression of W.'s to her the other day: "You and Dr. Bucke strengthen my faith in immortality." I asked W. about it and he talked quite freely on the subject. "I don't know—it is a tinge of the leaf—a season we are going through: perhaps the truth is, we are not so sure we are sure—not any of us—it is our age, in which the tendency of belief is, not to be so damned certain we are certain." Mrs. O'C. had remarked that Burroughs' faith in immortality was by no means strong, if existing at all. W. to this: "John's temperament to that extent is the scientific: he is not so sure he is sure and as long as this is the case, he will not say he is sure. There are many men of that mind in our day—perhaps the best men. There is a name

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by which to signify it—oh! I have forgotten it. John is naturally—or by philosophy—a heretic, though that is hardly the word. This spirit—the not-too-damned sure spirit—is the glory of our age—I do not know but it's also [?], but with all its drawbacks a wonderful growth out of time—the most wonderful, I sometimes think, so far given the nature of man—a modesty, humanity beyond hint or word."
I remarked, whatever science taught of personal immortality, its revelation of life—the whole universe (not man alone) vivified and throbbing—was great and inspiring. "It is indeed," he said, "I know nothing that better satisfies my own feeling, conviction."

     Spoke about his work in the Attorney General's office at Washington. "I was the Attorney General's clerk there," he said, "and did a good deal of writing. He seemed to like my opinions, judgment. So a good part of my work was to spare him work—to go over the correspondence,—give him the juice, substance of affairs—avoiding all else. Stanberry was the man—and a real noble fellow he was, too—Western—not graceful in carriage, but with a fine face—a Lincolnish sort of man, though not Lincoln by any manner of means. He had much to do in the Johnson trial, and the big wigs valued his counsel highly. A quiet, unobtrusive, but ready, man—good at rebuttal—re-rebuttal—almost loggish in some of his ways." And digressing somewhat: "Johnson was not a foul man—I knew all about him and I knew that. All hands now see that the trial was a mistake—that he had done nothing impeachable—had done his best, according to his integrity: a real integrity, too, of his own order—an inherent integrity." And he added: "You know, Horace, the tendency was then—and it is a tendency that is still strengthening—towards the aggrandizement of Congress—of both houses—of the Senate particularly, the giving of higher and higher powers—and to curb that, Johnson's victory was a happy lift." I had remarked that probably some day, his department books would be curiously examined. He only laughed.


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     Said of the "Compliment": "It is like the flower—ever unfolding and unfolding out its new beauties. A significant revelation to me as well as to others." The report of revolution in Brazil confirmed. W. asked: "What will Castelar say to it? I see he was recepted in Paris just yesterday."


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