Commentary

Disciples


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Tuesday, September 24, 1889

     7.30 P.M. W. in his room. Reading paper—which he laid aside. Looked ruddy as usual, but with rather a labored expression. Not out today, or even down-stairs, as has been the case for many days now. Morris told me today of Tom White's new enthusiasm over L. of G., to him a new book. W. remarked: "We seem to be booming nowadays. What it will all come to, who can say?" Had found the Sarrazin translation. "It was on the floor—had slipped down," he laughingly said. Was exceedingly anxious I should take half of his blue pencil for Morris, but I did not. Rained. He asked about the weather. Keeps his room closed. No fire. I do not like the so-much staying at home. It smacks of the habit of last winter:

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suggests confinement, ill air, the consequent impairment of his condition. But he is so susceptible to the cold,—his blood so sluggish—all that is therein explained. As we sat there Mrs. Davis came in and sat down. She had been off to Doylestown, visiting the old grandmother of the Fritzinger boys. W. very inquiring so she recited incidents of the visit. As to the old lady's childishness: "So her old age and sickness give signs in that way, eh?" A deep feeling in his voice. I showed him new sheets of the last pages of the book. As he examined them he said: "I see you did not take up with my suggestion, 'Last Words.'" Of course made no ado about it. Added: "I have been thinking I would have a couple of hundred of these pages struck off for myself—not now, but after the book is out. These two are—I should not say the best, but among the best, pages of the book—with the best pages, anyhow." The printer had spelled "portrayal"—p-o-u-r &c. W. laughed. "No indeed, we do not want this: this was a fashion forty years ago, but we do not make much of it this year. It is a peculiarity of printers to insist and insist. If there had been something in that page particularly needing to be seen—fixed—eluding us—he would not have seen it. That's the way." He laughed brightly as I told him Dave's first edition would be 500 copies. W.: "He ought to print more—I should say, a thousand, at least."

     Brinton sends me his pamphlet discussing the aims and traits of a world-language—(Nineteenth Century Club paper). When I proposed that W. read it, he said: "Yes, indeed, read it—I shall look it over—it will interest me. I was going to ask of Brinton and the universal language, what was asked of Emerson and immortality so often: does Brinton accept the fact? I have heard of the great German philologists—the greatest, perhaps—who think the English is to be that language—become universal." I said I believed Brinton did not. W. then: "At any rate, the idea of a universal language is

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grand, noble—is in line with all the broad, deep, tendencies of the time—is one with our political progress—governments, free trade, solidarity—the democratic drifts, glories, of our time—the over-flowing, ever-flowing, humanities!"
At another moment he said: "I had quite a long letter from Rhys today—a good one, too—written, not from London, but Wales. He seems to be bustling about—vigorous. They have been having a harp festival there in Wales—they have them, I understand—both in North and South Wales—a sort of equivalent for the Roman, Grecian games. The Welsh people are an animated, gesticulative people." But was Rhys not quiet? "Well, Ernest was practically raised in England. They call these games, Eistedfodd. I have met harpists—I remember they coached me in the pronounciation of the word, which is not as we would pronounce it, though what I could no more tell now than fly!"


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