Commentary

Disciples


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Thursday, November 13, 1890

     Saw Stoddart today. He had no time for the talk he said he wished to have with me: "the long talk," as he explained it. So we made our engagement for next Monday afternoon. I also saw Cohen about the envelopes, having a long and pleasant talk with him, in which I found that he was an admirer both of Ingersoll and W. and that his wife had attended the lecture. Stopped in at W.'s on my way home and left the Arena with him.

     7:15 P.M. Some talk with W. He had been out today, at Harned's house, and heard Furness speak. Harned's mother buried today. W. said he did "not feel well at all." Said this to my sister in the forenoon, now again to me. "I was amazed at the old Doctor, at his wonderful preservation. We had some words, but no chance to talk."

     I found on the floor an envelope addressed to him and signed "Parker Pillsbury" containing a pamphlet, "Ecclesiastical vs. Civil Authority." I asked him if he had read it, knowing he had not, and he admitted he had not, adding, "Take it along, you may make something out of it." Said he had never met Pillsbury.

      "Talcott Williams has just been here," he reported, "and we had a good talk—about his trip, his return." I asked, "Did he say anything about the election?" W. laughed, "He admitted they were terribly licked!" Then Williams was a radical Republican? He laughed again. "Well, he edits a Republican newspaper, and one of the worst at that!"


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     Read Brinton's letter which I had received yesterday:


Nov. 12/90

Dear Traubel,

I should say you had better send twenty doll[ar]s to Dr. Harris.

I thought the audience was good in size and first rate in quality. Of course the subject might deter some. The newspaper has not yet come (I mean the one referred to in yrs. of date), but no doubt it will soon. I shall read it carefully, & try to give you an opinion.

It is very gratifying to me to read what you write about Walt Whitman. His instinctive insight into human nature, backed as it is by a long experience of it in all sorts of shapes, makes his opinion about a man singularly worthy of respect;—and his good opinion, better than the decoration of the Legion of Honor.

Morris sent me a copy of Ingersoll's lecture, which I have read (not W.'s remarks). Ing. appreciates as few men else the salient features of W.—but there is something in his nature which obscures to him certain delicate, certain essentially poetic traits, certain fine shadings in W.'s writings, which to me are the best of all. What is best in any man, is not his opinions, but his sympathies, his instinctive intelligence & perception of traits and tendencies.

Truly

D. G. Brinton


     Read the last sentence to me, pronounced it "profound, profound," then recurred to what went before, as to Ingersoll's lack on poetic side, etc., and shook his head. "No, no, that is a mistake! If there's a place he does not lack it's that. Ingersoll lacks nowhere but in his faith that there's two sides to things—to the universe—that we may be one thing or the other. To me that seems a great mistake, a great mistake; and he shares that with about all the world—with all the poets, too, before me—who would parcel things into good and bad and prefer the good. Emerson himself, who chose gold and silver, would have nothing to do with iron. Our great point of agreement, Ingersoll's and mine, is in spontaneity—he has it aboundingly. I know no man more free, more nobly careless, more lifted

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and lifting, and in our world, in the world of ideals that prevail today, this alone would be genius if he had nothing else, as, certainly, he has."

     Cut the pages of the Arena as I talked with him and was "impressed with its appearance."

     I left with him an autograph copy programme of Scottish concert, from Law. Looked it through and would look it through again. Liked "its generous print," and its "Scotch-ness." Was curious about the concert, questioning me, "Did they overdo the Scotch of it? I have gone to several so-called Scotch concerts in my time, but they turned out farcical from gross exaggeration."

     I told him of the postal I had from Mrs. O'Connor saying she had not yet heard from the publishers concerning William's book. I said I thought Mrs. O'Connor was "somewhat disappointed" and W. assented, "I am disappointed myself."

     Referred to Bucke's "Man's Moral Nature" as "a stupendous grapple with a more than stupendous problem."


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