Commentary

Disciples


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Tuesday, January 6, 1891

     8:20 P.M. To W.'s and with him for a happy half hour. He was in thoroughly good humor and free to speak. Said, "I have had a letter from Stoddart today enclosing a check for my poem—and he said I should hurry up your piece—he wants it. He sent me a proof of the poem page, too, though not of the prose piece. I suppose he wants in some way to lay out the issue, so he may know just where, how, he stands. Well, all things seem to be proceeding just right!" I told him I could not get my piece into anything like full shape until tomorrow night—would positively leave it with him Thursday morning. Was satisfied. I detailed the "lay" of it to him and he said he liked it. I explained desire that he should make corrections in manuscript and suggestions at points he thought I might amplify. He asked me very carefully if I wished this, and said he would remember.

     Speaking of Symonds' "Dante" he said, "The best part of the book is the part that is not about Dante—the closing pages, paragraphs," and he showed me in the volume ( "which," he repeated, "you know comes from Symonds himself") that the

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larger middle folds were not even cut. I asked him if he had yet written his prose piece for the Arena. "No, not a word." They would probably accept the prose. "I will not give them the chance to." Then he did not intend to write the paper? "No, I shall have nothing further to do with them. I did not like the tone of the editor's note—it was not frank, courteous: it was supercilious, cheap, common—an editorial condescension. The very words in which he spoke of the poems—the drag—all that—were unnecessary, an offense." And then, "So you see how we stand. In the main they do not want Walt Whitman: the Century, Cosmopolitan, Harper's, Nineteenth Century. I sent two poemets to the Nineteenth Century and both were returned. I must have sent ten to Harper's and all of them came back. It is an easy story to read." All this in thorough good nature. Felt that Stoddart treated him well: appreciated it.

     W. wondered why I did not wear gloves, yet said, "I can see your distaste. But mitts? Why not mitts?" I asked, "Who knits them now?" and he laughed. "That's so—who?—it is an industry that is quite gone out. I remember how when I was in Camden I bought a pair of low socks, and I have them still, after all these years: have worn them off and on ever since," and thought, "It would be barely possible to duplicate them here. What a charm genuine handy work has!"


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