Commentary

Disciples


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Monday, November 25, 1889

     8 P.M. W. in his room, reading. I could not get him his fresh proof of advertisement, but he did not seem disappointed.

     Had a letter there from Bucke today (written Saturday) on which he had written "send to Morris." Called my attention to a passage within—this: "The article in 'American' by H.S. Morris on Sarrazin's 'Walt Whitman' was of course especially welcome. Morris seems to be a genuine reader and understander of L. of G., and has made a capital exposition of Sarrazin in a short space." W. said to me: "I like to do as I am done by—so I send this to Morris, even though it amounts to little." Notice of banquet volume in the Ledger this morning. Non-committal as to W., who remarked: "I consider Thomas McKean, who has charge of the Ledger—as not only not my friend, but one of the strongest foes of Leaves of Grass—of me. And it is through McKean the whole paper is colored." Has been writing up some poetic lines— "The Unexpress'd," but "all work is slow—this, for instance, has been a horribly dull day all through—damp, cold."

     Remarked the dullness of the papers—then: "I see that Dr. Talmage is abroad—that he has been orating, sermoning, on Mars Hill"—laughing heartily. I happened to say at one moment:

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"It is not always the musician who catches the heart of the symphony" and he responded: "That is a fine way to say it. I can see how a man with the musicianly nature—the real inward receptivity, response—should easily measure the symphony where the technical musician, perfect in his art, should be completely foiled." A letter came from Ed Wilkins today—the first W. had received. He says he wishes to forward it to Mrs. Mapes, who is now in Kansas. Described its contents. Spoke of the world at large—its doings, etc. "I suppose nothing startling is going on—yet the countless rills run on, the rivers, the seas flow and flow—incessantly the stir, incessantly the growth, developments!" Said of Sarrazin again, apropos of Morris' paper: "He will stand a good deal of explication: he needs to be taken in large measure—there is no other way."

     I read him a letter from Mrs. Charlotte E. Stevens, North Andover, Mass., cousin of Oliver Stevens—written to Clifford on receipt from him of a copy of the birthday book. Was much taken—thinks good women "anyhow, very often likely to penetrate the heart of Leaves of Grass." Rather amused to learn that Ed Lindell had taken a fancy for Clifford's speech in the book. Lindell a ferryman—not a reader of books, though a thinking man. "I should not have expected that: Clifford is right there, to be sure—but he is transcendental of the transcendental." Talking of literature W. quoted Margaret Fuller: "She says somewhere—and it is a deep, deep cut—that a country may be full of newspapers, books, and yet not have a literature. Oh! that is a deep, deep cut!—not the less deep for being to all appearance innocent and yet how true—how irrefragably buttressed!"


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