Commentary

Disciples


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Thursday, November 6, 1890

     5:40 P.M. W. reading in his room. I did not think him cheerful in mood, though we talked freely enough. Said to me very quickly after I came, as if it was on his mind to say, "I had a letter from Doctor today, as usual, and he shakes his head over the 'Old Poets' piece—thinks it will not do—says I must not do any more like it." I remarked, "That is extraordinary, considering how receptive the Doctor usually is." "Yes, so I thought. And Kennedy, as you know, took exactly the opposite view." He asked my opinion, which, as I told him, had not been the Doctor's. I held the piece strong in parts—especially in those prophetic—but not on the whole in his surest vein. "Yes," said W., "I see: you do not like it as well as the 'An Old Man's

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Rejoinder'?"
I told him also the fellows in town had thought it "scrappy," etc. And he assented, "I can yield the justice of that: can see that I am amenable to it in that piece—yet, who knows if more there than anything else I have written? Isn't it all scrappy—pieced—broken?" And finally, "I like your freedom—both in what you give, in what you bring. And I like to hear what all the fellows have to say—all. It is a part of the scheme, to be heard, weighed, perhaps accepted. I like it all. Then at last I stand to my own stubborn guns, for somewhere in me is the last unbendingness which must have its way." And when I laughed and said I had written something of this sort in my paper, and spoke of Grant as of similar habit, he assented, "Yes, I have heard it of Grant, too—and how much it explains which would otherwise be inexplicable!" On the bed "National Literature" (said he had dropped the 'Our' from headline spoken of yesterday.) Was it done? "Yes, nearly. I ought to be able to send it off in a day or two."

     I expressed Bucke's trunk today, sending the key by mail.

     Saw Oldach, making arrangements about the books. W. expressing himself as well pleased.

     Spoke of the World piece I had left yesterday. "Yes," he remarked, "it is wholly unsatisfactory and not very gracious, either: sets me down for my worst. Of course I have no idea who wrote it, and I don't know that I care, either."

     I said I thought one of the best features of his "Old Poets" piece was this: that at a time when all the reporters seemed bent upon making him say foolish or malicious things of his contemporaries, here was something authoritative, over his own signature, etc. He recognized this. "It is a good point: I don't know but the point, after all. At any rate, I am out for the campaign, in better and worse!"

     Higginson has been saying something about Walt Whitman in the Independent. I promised W. he should see the reprint of it in Current Literature. "Higginson," he explained, "has always been mere sugar and water. He lacks all else." I referred to him

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as "degenerate," but W. laughed as I continued, "but O'Connor would object to even that—could say he never had any tendency except to sink."

     Ingram in to see W. today. Also to see me at Bank. Is about to go to New York, where he will see Johnston.

     I told him my sister Agnes would be married on the 20th. He took this very seriously—exclaimed, "Dreadful! Dreadful!" and murmured again, "All the young fellows are to get married." I put in, "She is going to marry a Whitmanite, at any rate." He laughed, "Well, that takes the edge off it, to be sure!" And then he questioned me closely after its nearest details.

     No Truth Seekers arrived yet.

     Looked interestedly at an autograph of John Sartain, now about 82, remarking, "his virility, ruggedness. It has a far background of superb health," etc.

     Gave me his two Contemporary Club cards. Wishes me to hear "Hegel, if the hour will permit," etc. Says with a laugh, "I am interested in Hegel, yet know nothing at all about him!"


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