Commentary

Disciples


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Monday, July 28, 1890

     5:45 P.M. Had a good half-hour's talk with W. in his own room, the day being very hot, and he fanning himself the while. Appeared to be very well, though the slight rain just started would prevent his getting out.

     Having copy of Atlantic with me, W. was arrested by this paragraph in "The Contributor's Club":

It is said, on the vague authority of a newspaper item, that a British tourist, who was refreshing himself at the lunch counter of an American railway station, had his attention directed by an amiable native to "the great Mr. Ingersoll," who was also refreshing himself nearby; and that when he inquired as to Mr. Ingersoll's claim to greatness, the native, albeit of sound orthodox belief, said, with a scarcely concealed pride, "I guess, sir, he's the biggest infidel that ever was."

     W. quite antagonistic. "I don't wish to read any more in that strain. It is quite Atlanticish—has an old, familiar sound. It is

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easy enough to build up stuffed men, then knock them down, then hurrah for a big victory. But what does it all amount to in the end?"

     Spontaneity disscussed, W. saying, "Yes, there's that in Kennedy. I should say, there is Ingersoll's immense power, his genius in the simple, the direct, the uncalculated out-gushing—or appearance of it, which is the same thing. It is the throb, the life, of art." Again, "Let us not be hasty in judgment of men. It is well enough to hold off, to weigh, to know." I had advised Morris, now at Nantucket, to stop in on Kennedy at Boston, liking him or not, Morris not liking him greatly. W. now saying, "If Morris doesn't like him, then he has another reason why he should go and pay the visit." And as to Kennedy's indignation that someone or other had absorbed his "The Poet as a Craftsman" without credit, W. said, "I should say, that ought to be taken as an honor."

     What had he known of Horace Greeley? I said, "In my boyhood, knowing him almost altogether from cartoons—he was then running for President—I could not dissociate them now," and W. then: "He deserved all the cartoons then, and more, too. I knew Greeley, and I ought to like him—and do—for he was very sweet and kind to me. He was a sweet, kind, [firm?] nature anyhow. I always felt drawn. He was a tremendously stubborn man—had what some thought a damnable perversity—especially, he would dress as he chose, caring nothing whatever for others' opinion of his appearance. His obstinacy was a great hurt, but he was a great power, too: it would not do to lose sight of that."

      "To be spontaneous," he said, "that is the greatest art—art of arts—the only art that excites respect."

     He asked me to look up Frank Leslie's Monthly for July or August, containing "some article—I think on 'The Older Writers' or something of the sort. I have lost track of it."

     Would probably have some printing to have me secure at Billstein's soon.


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