Commentary

Disciples


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Wednesday, September 10, 1890

     4:55 P.M. W. in his own room, reading local papers. Had finished dinner, remains of which still on the table. Asked me, "Is there anything in particular you would wish me to give you notes of still? I may have missed here and there." And again, "Well, that will do—if anything strikes me I'll jot it down, then after your article is copied I'll suggest any additions that may occur to me." After a pause he went on in the same line: "I was rooting in some old things today and came across an old phrenological chart from L. N. Fowler—the old professor—you know there were several of them. It is an early chart, I should say, given before 'Leaves of Grass' had taken printed shape—or about that time—when I was in fact in the formative stage—the book there, too. Fowler was a sweet wise man, not sensational but cautious, quiet, learned—scientist, not dogmatist—knowing many things, knowing them well, sanely, to great ends. The science, or what-not, called by many names—was always funny to me—using the word funny in the sense that includes power, mystery—but I recognized its value." Had Fowler struck the a-b-c of Walt Whitman? W. smiled at the question. "Well, you will see. I am not so much interested in its result with me as with its general aims and ends, which seem to me remarkable."Symmetry, or proportion, "or any single quality" would not "tell the entire story. Fowler had a great range, and

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he was mathematical."
Adding with a smile, "Yes, Jim Scovel: he was born with an aptitude for lying—to cover large areas of falsehood."

     When I entered I had handed him first his quart of mucilage, then September Atlantic—he smiling meanwhile and saying, "You come loaded down with good deeds!" And when he offered to pay for mucilage, I interposed: "No, your friends will give you that, with the advice to stick and come out with victory, as you must, at the end." He responded, "Good! Well, we'll stick—and as to victory?" ending it so with a smiling interrogation. Would read the Atlantic this evening—also the Harper's Weekly. I left, as usual, another of Jean Geoffroy's pictures in [Harper's] Young People. "He is the best yet!" W. exclaimed. "He certainly reaches great results by simple means: which is the secret of the best things, anyway, whatever they say."

     Would have it that I take some of Mrs. Davis' cookies. "I have an embarrassment of riches here. You must share with me," and so made up half a dozen in a discarded newspaper wrapper that lay on the chair nearby.

     W. wondered why Gilchrist did not stop here on his recent visit to the Staffords.

     W. said, "Talcott Williams was over yesterday—paid me quite a visit. I had it fully [in mind?] to ask him about New Caledonia but after all it slipped me. You must go a-search for me. Tell me all you can find about it. For somehow, I must know."


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