Commentary

Disciples


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Thursday, September 4, 1890

     5:10 P.M. W. reading in his room, having finished dinner. Still thinks he has la grippe—cold in head, sore throat—but he looks very well.

     Said to me, "I got my proof from Poet-Lore today—returned it. I guess their printer was on the right track. I have had no other word from the editors."

     Warren brought in some mail while we sat there—one an envelope. "It is from Jim Scovel," W. said, containing a Scottish letter from John Swinton, printed in the Sun.

     W. returned me Harper's Weekly. Looked interestedly at the [Harper's] Young People I had with me, especially an engraving of a picture from Alice Barber called "Summer Days." "If she keeps on working that way," W. said, "she'll go ahead of all the fellows. What attracts me in the engraving is the simplicity of the means: there is no complication here—they spare all the lines, intricacies, they can, yet see what a result they achieve!"

     I expressed my pleasure over the notes he gave me yesterday. "Yes," he returned, "they are yours by right—I would work them in as nearly as possible in those words. You need not quote much: if you give them as my words, they will be taken as mine without that guarantee, and then they will look better. A good thing to mention, too, should be the dinner—the last one—for I see in that a distinct quality I have nowhere else known. I am

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thinking of its repartee: not smartness, but give and take by men and women who think, know, believe, have faith, and speak from that background."
And he asked me, "Do you remember just the point of Ingersoll's debate with Bucke over Shakespeare?" And again, "What was Ingersoll's notion of Shakespeare's women? The whole matter of it is completely lost to me." And as to Ingersoll's contention that Shakespeare's plays were impersonal—non-personal—more absolutely than is generally thought, W. assented, "That is so—Bob is right there. I am sure anyone of any account, who knows Shakespeare through his own senses, would take the same ground. Oh, that dinner—it is such parts of it, all should be done to preserve: it was sui generis. If I were you I would do all I could to perpetuate it. The meal itself, the eating, was good, but crowning all that was something other."

     I told him Mrs. M. G. Van Rensselaer had some notion of coming here, perhaps with Harry Walsh. What did W. know of her personally? "I think I have met her. I think she came to the reception in New York, but I remember nothing more, except that she was very cordial. Yes, let her come, now—and Walsh with her if he choose."

     I received acknowledgment from Bush today. Book reached him safely.

     Left Woodbury book with W., who said he would look at it this evening.

     W. gave me postal from Kennedy. "I advised him—perhaps he might make up a Dutch piece—about my ancestry—in a shape the Critic would take—and now he says he has done it."

     Asked me yesterday again to get his model copy of the complete works from Oldach, to whom he sent it last week with sheets. I brought it to him today.

     Gave me postal for Burroughs, paper for Harry Stafford and letter for Mrs. Heyde to mail. Said he had much enjoyed John's grapes— "tasting of them from time to time." Had a plate spread out on the stove.


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