Commentary

Disciples


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Monday, January 12, 1891

     Letter from Bucke this morning. Telegram came as follows from Arthur Stedman: "Cannot come Monday attack of sore throat shall come Thursday." Mother, thinking I should need it, sent it over to Bank to me by Mattie (Lote's wife) who is up from Washington and was going to Philadelphia this morning.

     5:30 P.M. To W.'s for half an hour and there the most delightful talk. "I have been expecting Arthur all day," he said. I explained telegram. Had brought him further pictures—about thirty. Was much gratified, he said, to see "how they hold out—how splendidly." Had not sent many away yet. Package under the weights I had put on them in corner of room. Returned me Ingersoll's "Crimes Against Criminals." Said he had read it often— "found it more and more profound," and "agreed to it" as he read. Had left manuscript with Stoddart this morning. W. "glad"—thought "matters now begin to assume some shape." Said to me, "The North American Review envelope did have the proof and I have returned it. In certain respects that is the most curious experiment I ever undertook—that piece. It is a guess—yet gives an outer crust which says, We dare not guess! The most uncertain piece I have ever written—that it is, because it is an immense topic—I do not handle it—only treat it to fugitive glimpses, hints, suggestions. And its style—why it is careless beyond carelessness: was thrown off without pause, study—even by ordinary attention." Had not O'Connor's writing this mark of quickness and dash? "Some of it had, to be sure. I think all William's writing about me was of that character—was a flash of light—dashed off—in the spur, indignation, anger of a moment—impetuous—overpowering—like a flood." I thought that more than anything O'Connor had said of W., the evidence of his mastery and power was in his rapid, sure

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characterization of authors—often whole lists of them. W. assented. "You are right—that is good sound criticism. Do you know I have often thought it myself—often. But although William had dash, fire—in the Whitman pieces—had it in all—yet most of his matter was hard work, was born of great labors. And never a man who—knowing so much—was yet so uncertain—so prone to admit he might be wrong. Yet all his writing retains the vitality of spontaneity, too—is full to overflowing of life, movement, which all makes a wonderful combination." I described O'Connor as "able to give W. (as he did give him) highest place without disparaging anybody else," and W. thought, "That is a fine touch: that hits his great catholicity to the line, and no portrait can be exact without that." It seemed to me a volume of O'Connor's letters could prove of great value. "Yes, so it would, and I am in hopes 'The Brazen Android' will excite enough interest to pave the way for such a volume. It will be an interesting question for us. He is our man, first of all, and his fame is ours."

     Had W. seen Thorne's new tirade in the Globe? "No—not a word—what is it?" etc. And after I had gone over the ground as it had been described to me (I have not seen the piece), W. said, "Well, it is natural for him to take that position—he instinctively feels himself out of rapport with our group—with this atmosphere: though I have never told him, he knows that creatures of his kind are distasteful, ugly to me—that I have my despise for them." But, "Let him have his say: it belongs to him to speak it out"—yet if Morris would leave me the magazine as he had proposed— "all right—we can see the full measure of our offence!"

     The hat had come today. Showed it to me with great glee—put it on his head—first smooth. "But that's not me," he laughingly said. "It needs to have some kinks and corners in before it fits my head"—taking it off, punching it, then replacing. "Now, how does it look? Natural, eh?" Said he liked it "wonderfully well." "It is what they call neutria. What a piece of cloth

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or skin or what-not! I like to feel it. It has a whole story to tell in the mere touch."
Spoke about styles in hats.


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