Commentary

Disciples


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Wednesday, December 3, 1890

     6 P.M. Whistles making their to do as I entered W.'s room. He took his watch out—adjusted— "I am slow—my watch like me." Shook hands. Reading local papers. Also on bed the New Century open—elaborate illustrated advertisement of "Southern Lands." It interested him more than the regular matter of the magazine. Showed him Boston Herald editorial—read:

A POET ON POETS
Walt Whitman gives a review of his contemporaries in a brief paper in the North American. It is characteristically rambling, but acutely perceived. He has a good word for them all, but he is inclined to put Bryant's name at the head of the list, though years ago he thought Emerson pre-eminent, and in certain respects holds that opinion still. Whitman's tribute to Tennyson is that of a poet: "Nobody (not even Shakespeare) goes deeper in those exquisitely touched and half-hidden hints and indirections left like faint perfumes in the crevices of his lines." Of Browning he confesses that he does not know enough to say much, and although he quite certainly repays the trouble of the deep study required— "but I am old and indolent," says the good, gray poet, "and cannot study (and never did)."

      "It must be from Sylvester Baxter: is kindly, favorable—like Sylvester. Yes, we like the simple sweet touch—the friendly hand."

     Left Scottish World with him. "You will leave it over a day?" Asked me about the intense fog on the river: "How the pilots dread the fog! The fog worse than the storm, and a fog with ice the worst of all!" Many a day he had spent in pilot houses "through such experiences!"

     We discussed Parnell: "I do not agree to it—would not depose him. Yet it looks as if his time had come—as if, too, the Irish cause had been set back many years, if not staggered for good—though I guess not that."

     Passed then to another topic: "I have my poems back from

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the Arena—the editor—Flower—says poems are a drag on his hands—or indicates it—and wants my prose."
He got up and gave me the note—taking it from table: "It amounts to nothing at all—is inconsequential enough. Well, that settles another chapter of the story."

     I spoke of the Johnston pamphlet—how naive it seemed. W. assenting: "Yes—and that is its charm—that is why we ought to like it." Took an orange he had laid out on the bed—gave into my hands: "Give this to your mother—tell her I send it—an early (flush) Christmas greeting!"

     I inquired quite specifically—had his stomach eased? And he shook his head. "Eased—but not gone. Oh! I am only so-so—that and no more: by no means in a good way these days. But there are lights, too, cheering lights: I take account of all."

     Gave me mail to take to Post Office as he had yesterday. I did not stay for my long talk. Warren informs me of the marked darkening of urine last ten days—also, that he is less disposed to be rubbed than formerly. Warren read assiduously the book on massage sent over by Johnston from England. W. had formerly urged him to rub most severely the (dead) left arm. Warren read that the tendency would be to perhaps wither it. Advised W., who asked: "Where did you get that?" Warren telling him—marking passage and showing it. W. said nothing at the time, but, when Warrie at a future rubbing started in vigorously on the left arm, W. quietly advised: "You had better ease up a little on that, Warrie." Characteristic surrender. I never knew him to cave outright or to apologize. Have advised Warrie to watch any change so I can report to Bucke.


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