Commentary

Disciples


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Tuesday, December 10, 1889

     7.40 P.M. W. reading again in Stedman's book— "a perpetual resource" he calls it. Room very warm and he noted it. I had scarcely entered and been greeted (passing over to him the bundle of advertising circulars, now all here from Ferguson's) before he said: "Here," offering me a cup from the table— "Here is some cider. I want you to drink it with me—it tastes very genuine—is very much apple-y." And on my protestation of having just come from supper— "Oh! this will do you good even if you have!"—and then passing me a plate of cakes, insisting that these would "help the cider down." This led to talk of odors, in general. He instanced Schiller and his penchant for rotten apples. "That story," he said, "has a long—a very long—tale." Then of "the wonder—almost the majesty, of odor." His own sensibility to odor had always been great.

     The personal quality in literature discussed. I alluded to Mrs. [Annie Adams?] Fields' Scribner paper on Leigh Hunt, and he expressed a desire to read it. "The freshness, attractiveness, of biography is perennial." I said: "That confirms to me Leaves of Grass"—and he then— "It is good doctrine—and yet dangerous, too: though I do not know that I should say that, having myself exampled it in the freest way. But there is Lockhart's Scott—it has an endless charm—I come back to it again and again. Scott was a great talker—almost garrulous—yet a talker in the sense with which talk delights most the man who hears." I referred to poems in magazines: "I doubt," I said, "if a flaw can be pointed out in them—in rhythm, rhyme, syntax, everything, they are absolutely correct in all modes of art—" W. finished for me— "And yet they do not move you? That is what you were going to say?" And when I added— "Tom Paine—never elegant or correct according to the schools, today is throbbing and life-giving." W. then: "True to the bone! And what better illustrates the case than letters? Subject to all the defects, yet full of heart and

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movement. Warrie sometimes brings me his letters—letters from sailors—stumbling, tumbling: yet full to the full of expression and force."

     Had been out today. "I spent a fine hour and a half about in the chair." He gave me a copy of Book News: notice of the dinner book therein. Called my attention to some of the illustrations. "They are exceedingly fine," he said, "they reveal great progress"—adding his faith in newspaper illustration "ultimately"—instancing— "The Sunday Times had the best samples of that I have so far seen."

     Expressed pleasure to have Hunter come to see him— "spend several hours here—take a meal—his ease." Also so spoke of Brinton. He is working up his new poem: "The Endless Catalogue Divine"—about 30 lines or so as standing now. I read him Mrs. Baldwin's letter containing an extract from The Boston Advertiser (received today). He much pleased with her comments thereon and amused at the exception to the "oblong" shape of Miss Gould's book. "Of course—they could not let it go without some dissent!"


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