Commentary

Disciples


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Saturday, August 2, 1890

     5:30 P.M. Fanning himself in his room, W. manages to keep "decently comfortable," he says—but the heat is intense. "I have had my second bath today," he explained, "and that may

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in part account for my good condition."
I spoke of a cold bath before going to bed. "Yes, I used to have that, too—that was a great medicant." But he had "what people would call odd views" on that matter, anyhow. "It is not so much for the sense of cleanliness I would advise bathing—it is for other things, mainly; though to be clean, all that, is a great and necessary consideration, too." I laughingly reminded him of some visitors to whom he had said, "The American people wash too much anyhow." He laughingly responded, "Well—I should be inclined to repeat that now—to let it even go deliberately on record as my opinion, today. I remember Colonel Forney—how he told with great unction that Forrest would take the Turkish bath—express his sense of cleanliness when it was over: say, I never knew how dirty I was till I had that bath! And Forney did, and the world would, applaud that. But somehow I did not applaud it—never could. See how we wash, wash, wash; perfume, perfume, perfume! The very neighbors I meet with, anywhere, illustrate it for me. Take the folks across the street—I often watch them. After the great rain—'the sweet fragrant rain,' as O'Connor always delighted to call it—they will come out with their stinking buckets and dishwater and wash away every vestige—the great, loving, sweet-breathed rain—the rain that leaves its odor on every treetop, the bricks of pavements, the houses we live in!—the purging, laughing, translucent, honest rain!" There was infinite music in this touch. "But then I can well see about these Turkish baths, how they touch a point not in my argument."

     Returned me Harper's Weekly, Current Literature. Spoke of Leslie's Monthly: "I have read Towle's piece—it is poor, poor—may be said to be just worth reading and no more. About the fellows I most want to be written up—about Whittier, Tennyson—he says very little. There is something of general interest about the magazine."

     Inquired particularly about title of Trumbull's piece in Poet-Lore—"Walt Whitman's View of Shakespeare." "I think of

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writing something about it—a letter, brief article. Either to send to Poet-Lore or to the Critic, it does not matter. The fellow writes in a very friendly way—I recognize that—but he ignores the main stream in my geography—ignores my trump card—the abiding thing of all, and it is that I wish to point out. I have not fully determined—only, that is the way I see it now. If the recognition comes, well and good—if not, I will drop it."

     He "felt the influence of the weather" but "all in all, master it well."

      "A copy—several copies—of Wednesday's Transcript have come. I intended one for you, one for Bucke: now yours is mixed here with the great confusion. That is one of the fruits of my receiving you downstairs instead of here yesterday afternoon. Kennedy has some notes there—he calls them 'Spray from Niagara.' There is a reference to Walt Whitman—he speaks of the water as reckless, maintaining its course, caring nothing for criticism, questioning, anything, bearing on and on, and makes the application. I can see that it may be happy."

     Gave me letter to mail to Currie, superintendent of the asylum at Blackwoodtown. "It's for Eddy's keep," he said. "You know all about Eddy, my brother there. We put him there at the start because of Mrs. Nichols, who had charge, and then she was removed and Currie came in, but Currie has proved good, too." Had he ever lost money in mail? "Very little—I could not say, nothing, but then my memory is such a devilish queer factor in my economy, I couldn't swear to it—couldn't swear to circumstances."


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