Commentary

Disciples


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Tuesday, December 23, 1890

     7:20 P.M. W. in his room writing, said, "I am busy with a postal for Dr. Johnston—had a letter from him today—yes, and from Wallace, too. O the goodness, genuineness, of these fellows!" And then: "I can't forget about the pictures—I could have sent some of them out today—not necessarily abroad (though there, too, eventually) but to various people here in the United States." And laughing, "I don't care about the

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explanations, either—I am like the general: damn you, I don't ask you reasons why you did not rout the enemy, but did you do it?"
I laughed in turn: "Perhaps the other fellow would have it to say 'I don't intend to be asked my reasons why it is not done—you must be satisfied that it is not done!'" W. very merry over this: "You hit it there. And the fact of the matter is, he's got us into just exactly that position." But he should not blame me? "I do not—nor anybody—not the man himself. I have no doubt they are not done—for reasons. And I know, too, how easy it is for a fellow to sit lamely in this chair here—issue his orders—but other people are in other chairs and orders will conflict!" Not in the least complaining, though really disappointed.

     On the bed a plate of candies. He has a sweet tooth, "but not for the made candies"—plain molasses candy in all ways "satisfying" him, he said. "This much of the child," with "this much of the old simplicity," he said, persisted.

     Diverged to Parnell matter: "I see by the paper that Parnell has been defeated in Kilkenny. Does it mean a finish for him—will he retire? My impression is that he will. It is a sad drawback to a cause—for it to have a faction fight in the rear. We had something analogous in our experience here—and it did us no good." He was not disposed to take any personal view of the Parnell case at all. "It appeals to me on the part of the cause—before the consummation of whose hopes no individual should stand."

     I reminded him that in my Whitman piece, he had not filled in date blank for the founding of the Long Islander. He entered quite deliberately into the history of the paper—first saying he had started it about '41—then correcting himself to explain: "That could not have been—it has lately celebrated its golden wedding—it must have been about '39 or '40—long before 'Leaves of Grass'—before it was thought of, even. I was a mere boy, then—it was in fact my boyish exuberance put into concrete manifestation. It was non-partisan, no party affiliation, independent—not neutral—travelling its own road. And successful, in

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a way, I suppose, from the very first—a good property now without a doubt."

     W. was rather amused over the line in the Critic poem this week: "And Whitman—who's rather too fond of mind," from the poem, "That Certain Profession" by W. H. McElroy (New York Tribune). I considered it was not a misfortune to have somebody say something for the poor mind! W. repeating— "The poor mind! But what is it not capable of!"


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