Commentary

Disciples


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Saturday, January 17, 1891

     5:50 P.M. Half an hour with W. He was in good mood. Described himself as "pronouncedly" better than for some days. "Not that" he "had been positively unwell," but that "something seemed brewing" within him, "to make the nights sleepless and the days without rest." We spoke of "The Pallid Wreath" in Critic of 10th. W. said, "I am just sending it to Doctor in the

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letter there on the bed."
Then shaking his head, "He will not like it. He will say, write us no more like that." I interjected, "No, no, no: he won't think it morbid." This word seemed to catch W. He asked eagerly, "And you do not?" I laughed at his eagerness: "No, not a bit—and further it is another poem precisely in the vein which fits your age and condition, and that is what 'Leaves of Grass' ought to do." W. thereupon, "You are right: that is a profound thought—and it belongs with us—is part of us." And when I asked, "Is it a wreath? Whose wreath?" he asked again curiously, "Does it suggest that question? Tell me," as if wishing to know. But in the end still insisted, "My view is, that the Doctor will dismiss it—at least, not like it." I had written him a line this morning and thanked him about promise of the Emerson letter. He announced, "I had your note. You shall have the letter: I shall be glad to give it to you. It is somewhere in that pile over there," pointing to the east wall (under table many bundles of manuscripts, etc.). "It is there somewhere among the debris: as soon as I can turn it up you shall have it."

     W. referred again to Arthur Stedman: "Poor boy! We were all much attracted towards him: I, quite unmistakably. And yet I could not tell why: it is an unusual attraction for me. I have been quite haunted by him since he went. Yes, he looks something like the father—and the mother, too—at least, as I remember them."

     No word of my proof from Stoddart yet. W. getting impatient. Asked me, "Tell me about Morris—what does he do?" And then, "He was quite chirpy when he was here the other day. Is he always so?" And, "Is it constitutional with him or in spurts?" etc. When I explained that it was his prevailing humor; that he had a fine salary and happy social relations and lived temperately (always barring the almost tragedy of the long sickness of his father), W. said, "They are all good signs: they all go to the making of such a man."

     Had brought him the Globe with Thorne's scurrilous article.

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W. remarked of Thorne, "He is a scamp of a pretty dark dye. A good sample of the critter with natural, fundamental venom—who must do and say these things, not because they are called for by outside directions but because they are spurred by inward deviltry. There was a time, years ago, when he professed a friendship for me—for 'Leaves of Grass'—asked for copies." And, "I can imagine it must be a foul call, and yet I almost like to read even such a thing—the worst. I am glad you brought me the magazine." Returned me Harper's Weekly commenting again on "the beauty of the work—the strength of the face."


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