Commentary

Disciples


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Wednesday, February 4, 1891

     7:30 P.M. W. had laid out a package of letters for me, among them one from Stoddart.


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     Others were from Bucke, Bertha Johnston, Truth Seeker letter to me, etc. W. said, "I suppose you are like me: enjoy to look at old discarded letters. The letter from Doctor will please you: you may see, he is at work again, at his desk. It is happy, for us—to see his hand again." I sent Aldrich's autograph to Stedman today—along with it a letter. Left with W. picture of Meissonier by himself. W. greatly attracted. "It is Whitmanesque. Our fellows ought to like it: has a certain grandeur, indeed."

     One of my questions was this: "Do you really think Dick Stoddard has personal feeling against you?" "Yes, to be sure—a bitter vehement growth, flavored with poison." Law had told me last night that McKean, of the Ledger, speaking to him of his W. W. poem, which the Ledger had just printed, had said: "I liked your verses on Whitman especially, but I didn't like the subject." This seemed to surprise Law. It was no surprise to us. W. remarked, "I have always been aware of it—McKean and another man there—his name is Meickle—they have always been opposed. On the other hand I think most of the young fellows on the staff are favorably disposed—quite markedly so—but you know that as well as I do." Afterwards W. said, "There is a vein of the contrary in human nature: the determination to run counter. Why should Stoddard, McKean, little Winter, Thorne, slander, bite, hate, denounce me? Why should they? I mean me, the person?" I objected to classifying these fellows with Thorne. W. admitted, "There is a difference in degree: but in kind? No, it is from the same root: stem, leaf, all alike," etc. He sometimes "wondered" that Stedman consented to the intimate literary friendships. "And yet that, too, has its best of reasons—its best—and I can easily admit it—it belongs with my philosophy to admit it."

     Discussed German contributions to our nationality—to the English, too. W. said, "I like the Scotch: it always draws me—even its clannishness has an element of love, home, moral fibre—but the German? Ah! Yes! I can see in it all the wider,

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widest, spiritualist tendencies of time—of civilization—a depthless moral background, vast capacity for seeing, generous inclusiveness, acceptivity. Of course I speak of that whole branch of Teutonism, which is a big, fine, true stock, past measurement."

     In the course of his stage reminiscences he had "come upon use for the professional names of the two doors, exits, one to the right, one to the left, of the stage." Could I find it out for him? He could have asked Wilson when he was over, "except that I did not think of it. And now that I do think of it and need it, no doubt there will be a long spell before an actor comes."


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