Commentary

Disciples


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Monday, December 29, 1890

     7:20 P.M. Bush came in at Bank today—surprised me. We had supper together at Dooner's—then over to W.'s. W. knew Bush as soon as he entered the room. Bush astonished—afterwards

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remarked it. W. had never seen him but the one time at Reisser dinner. W. in good condition—talked freely—yet said he was "only passably well," and spoke of the irksomeness of confinement. He entered into talk with Bush about engineering and engineers—chiefly about engineers—referring frequently to Jeff—questioning Bush as to his own work—speaking about several engineers of note whom he had known, the name of one of whom Bush took along with him, at W.'s spelling. Got up in midst of talk and laboriously crossed the room into the work-corner to get Bush a printed slip copy of his Engineering Record piece on Jeff. Bush grateful and W. communicative. Bush bought copy of Bucke's book. W. joked about the omitted "it" on page 74—had noted on package that copy was made right. "I take every pain to see that all the copies that pass this way are put into good condition. It made O'Connor tearing mad." I said with a laugh, "And O'Connor declared to me that you were sometimes devilish careless about such things yourself." W.: "I was, to him—but it was only so as not to add anything to his anger: I am not always guilty." I interposing— "No: you remember I testify in my article that you are sharply determined in all such minute details." He laughed, "Yes—I see you understand. And that 'it' was a nasty anyhow. I do not wonder that it upset William. We have records of writers—some of the poets—who would go almost mad with the displacement of a comma," etc.

     I had sent article off to New England Magazine this morning. W. wondered with me. I thought it would be rejected as inadequate. W. did not feel that it would be rejected at all, but that if it was, it would be "because of its connection with—applause of—Walt Whitman." Had been clearing up things: a great mass of books and papers thrown confusedly on the bed. I told him I had touched upon Edward Emerson a little more fully after he had manuscript, but he argued, "I don't know if it is worth while. It was too small a dot to notice. Edward Emerson is

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driven to do what he does because his nature is what it is: but he is a dude—a very pale dude, too, at that."

     Quoted a story about Lincoln: "I just read it today—do not know how genuine it is, but it has the right sound"—that someone had protested to Lincoln his obscurity—that if the world had known the events about to transpire—the war—it would have chosen another president, a man with a policy, etc. And that "Lincoln granted it, only said— 'But my plan is, to meet each day as it appears—to have no rules, except the rule to apply my best force to every new circumstance.'" Which W. thought "sublime wisdom"—enforced "by all the events of every life, whether famous or obscure." Remarked then, "It is wonderful—it has come so soon—the unanimity of the world in regard to Lincoln: the universal acknowledgment of his gigantic significance." I laughed: "All but Arnold?"—which he joined and replied vehemently: "Probably except Arnold. Arnold thinks he lacks 'distinction,' but what does Arnold know about it? And what if it be true? Neither have the clouds distinction—or the haughty rivers." But to him "this strongly-marked concensus in applause of Lincoln, coming so quickly and so come to stay—is a surprise and a gratification."

     Discussed Ingersoll frankly, and various matters suggested by W.'s simple, direct allusions. Was very cordial to Bush. I was glad to see it. Bush has done much for W. and is a noble, worthy, marked man in himself. W. told me first, "No letter from Bucke today"—then suddenly— "Yes there was, too: a letter came this morning. I think in order to throw me off, he refers me to the letter he sent you—sort of 'pooh-poohs' the whole thing." But I could see that W. had read between the lines. His telling inimitable. Spent thus, in varied talk, full 45 minutes. Then to Harned's for consultation about the meter—to my house for some further Whitman talk—finally to Philadelphia again. Went to Barthby's—had some oysters—left Bush towards midnight at door of the Windsor. Returns to New York in morning.


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     No portraits yet.

     Thought he would send off Lippincott's piece tomorrow. Not over yet about W.'s hat. Hurried them up.


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