Commentary

Disciples


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Wednesday, January 14, 1891

     5:20 P.M. Spent half an hour with W. in the twilight of his room. He had just finished his dinner and was in hopeful condition. I had finished with manuscript last night and left it for Stoddart this morning. Cut it to 4,000 words. W. said, "I heard from Stoddart today but not a word about the pieces—not a word—except to say he would bring proof over to me tomorrow. And by the way, this coming over tomorrow: he says he will bring a party—some women with them." I enumerated substance of letter I had left for Stoddart this morning. W. assented, "Yes, you are right: it is their work to do, not ours. They will make up the magazine according to the best they know. And Stoddart is very friendly, generous, anyhow—is not to be suspicioned."

     Had asked me yesterday for names of fund contributors. Desired to send copies of the little portrait to them. Told me Eakins had been over today. "He is a man you would like: artistry, all that—but a man, too. Yes, that's what he came over for—to ask to borrow the picture. He says there's an American exhibit preparing, and he wants to put as much there as possible." But he would return it? "I suppose so. That is my expectation. As I have always understood Eakins, half of the picture is his, half mine—and my half I promised to Dr. Bucke at any

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time he felt to pay the price which Eakins thought represented that half. So that, in paying Eakins his part, too, he may in the end own the picture outright."
I told W. Bucke had himself told me this. "Yes, I suppose: and now you can witness my wish in the matter—that Bucke shall have it in payment—or my interest in it—and Eakins' lien, too, if Eakins will assent to it." We discussed Thorne again—his attack on W. Had I seen it? No. "We ought to know what it is, anyway, though that is about all. Thorne I think is one of the most venomous of our enemies—has the real stuff of it: the snake, the poison, the tiger, the bedbug. He is worse than Dick Stoddard, and without Stoddard's smartness, brains. I do not think Scovel near as bad: Jim means us innocent—would not do any willful harm, I think—counts our way if at all—though counts nothing much either pro or con, at the last. Jim's trouble is, he lacks thread, balance—he is a lot of disjointed purposes, properties—no cohesion, no unity, no lead. He is like the universe with gravitation left out."

     Had met Miss Porter Monday. She complained that Thorne had practically stolen a text from Poet-Lore and made it a shaft with which to pierce W. These women in Poet-Lore seem to have the right literary instincts—less Philistinism than the Critic, etc.

     No further word from Arthur Stedman but hope to see him tomorrow. W. said Ingram was over today, but he did not see him. When I entered I excused my cold hand. W. thereupon held it. "No—you must not do that: it is cold, therefore I keep it. It is a reminiscence of the open air, the sky, the sea, and no one knows how precious these are—have been—to me. And indeed, it is to surcharge 'Leaves of Grass' with them that was my presiding spinal purpose from the start. You know—you as well as anyone—more than them, maybe—how deep all this penetrates, seizes, fixes me!" Gave me letter from Bucke.

     Asked me, "Don't you smell the suspicion of spring in the air? Just the first intangible breath? I can feel it, day by day, in its subtle increase."

     I happened to say, "I no longer get mad as I used to with

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these objectors—I can afford to wait, for the sun will rise,"
etc. He laughed. "I see you are absorbing 'Leaves of Grass'—that is 'Leaves of Grass': its lesson, its spinal message, if it have any such."

     Left Harper's Weekly with him—picture of Stepniak, another of Kinglake. "Curious," he said, "to study them."

     I met Talcott Williams at Club last night. He explained that he had lost the Reisser notes W. had corrected. Would have another copy made. W. now said, "I am sorry—but I have no right to condemn Talcott—I am apt enough myself to lose things." Boyle had sent over his love—W. responding, "Good fellow! I liked his candor, frankness when I saw him—the two or three times we met."


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