Commentary

Disciples


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Tuesday, November 19, 1889

     5.40 P.M. W. in his room—which was utterly dark. Having finished his dinner, "siestaed," as he said. Asked me, "Can you see anything at all here?—my figure?" And when knowing I could, rested satisfied, and so we talked without striking a light.

     Knew I was going over to the Thomas concert. "I can almost say I envy you," he remarked, "but then, I have no place for envy." Still had not read Forman's poem. "It lay quite untouched there all day." But had read Morris' article. "It interested me very much. Morris seems to aim above all to set forth Sarrazin,—to relegate Morris. And he has well done that—and well done the other matters, too—the paragraphs, connecting the extracts. I think I see in Morris that he is getting quite a glib pen. The time seems to come with the writer when expression is easy, flows on without break—and then he can attend to his thought and let the language take care of itself, as it will. Morris gives signs of having reached—being near—that stage." Asked me if I had delivered the book to Morris. Morris was "profoundly appreciative."

     Touched upon slang. W. laughed over the word "gentleman"—said— "America knocked spots out of 'gentleman' and out of other words, too." The subject had been started by my use of the word "dive"—an oyster "dive." "I like the word," he said, "like it a great deal. How much better it is than parlor, or saloon—of all, saloon is the worst. The word saloon came into use first to my knowledge in this country fifty years or so ago through a novel, by some one celebrated in that

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day—probably now forgotten—a novel treating of the Salons of Paris. It was a novel of the gentleman class—the Disraeli stamp. Some critic or other said of one of Disraeli's novels, that there was not a character in it with an income of less than five thousand pounds a year. This novel was the like."

     And then: "I have been making a supper of stewed oysters, stewed peaches, a mug of coffee. I like the oysters simple—simple—a delicious dish it is, under all simple circumstances." Gets a letter from Doctor "nearly every day, these days": "Doctor very industriously keeps me lettered—though he is not writing marvels."

     I received a cordial letter from Brinton about the book today. Gave substance to W., who said: "It warms me up, to sit here and know that such men think such thoughts." Often his hand is cold when I feel it. I remarked today's warmth. He thought it was from the warm room "keeping things at a high temperature here."


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