Commentary

Disciples


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Friday, September 26, 1890

     5:10 P.M. Half hour's good talk with W. in his own room. Rained out of doors: he would not be able to go "chairing." Yet was content, saying, "After a fortnight of as beautiful days as

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ever I knew, this is no sacrifice, this is our due; and right and proper in its place anyway."
And again, "We are getting near October, soon to have some of the irreproachable days—not warm, not cold—the month of subduedness and pensive memories." And "then later on, the Indian summer. Oh! the Indian summer! it stirs up the flying embers—all the dead days of the year—into momentary new life!"

     Returned me Harper's Weekly. Spoke of picture of Boucicault therein. "I never met him, but am impressed that that is a very good picture. He was quite a fellow—in his range, strong and effective." Representation also of Ward's statue of Horace Greeley. W. said, "I don't know whether I should like that or not: it is not conclusive with me at all. If I got to New York I should no doubt look at it a long while. It would interest me, I have no doubt. I have seen most of the statues in Central Park and off through the city there, and must say of them, as I would of those in our Fairmont Park, that they are nearly all pretty bad. I don't think the American genius has so far run into effective scuptural work."

     Left him the Bazar, in which a picture by Wordsworth Thompson attracted him. "It has many good points, I should say: its plot, its atmosphere, its faithfulness, all seem marked." It was a picture of Virginia colonial life, of which W. said, "It reminds me of the French, and this of a chateau," pointing to the structure included in the sketch.

     Gave me a slip copy of "Shakespeare for America," from Poet-Lore, also one for Stedman, to whom he knew I was to write. "I had a letter today from Joe Gilder, enclosing the ten dollars, also saying that this little piece is to be reprinted in the Critic. Do you suppose it is in Rolfe's column? I have never had any personal contact with Rolfe. It appears to me, or was my impression, that he belongs or belonged to New England, was a Bostonese." But what was R.'s opinion of him he did not know, remarking that "perhaps Rolfe had none at all."


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     Also had laid out for me a Curtz print of the Preface he had written for O'Connor's book, writing on the margin, "Sent on to Mrs. O'C (Sept. 25, '90) to serve as prefatory note to the 'Brazen Android' tales by Wm. O'C"—no punctuation except as indicated. "I shall use it in the 'Annex' to 'November Boughs,'" he said. "Bucke has written to me for the manuscript (which I did not send to Mrs. O'Connor), but I suspect it is burned up—all gone to utter dissipation. It was the greatest piece of shock you ever saw, even from me. Written in horrible disorder, on all sorts of odds and ends of paper." But he added to this after a pause, "Although my copy would not satisfy the dilettante writer or reader, I am proud to think it is usually plain sailing to the printer, and that is enough. In fact, all my study is to put and keep the printer on his feet. The new habit of writing in any way on any side and all sides of a sheet utterly bewilders me. Even Mrs. Davis, writing from the West the other day, confused and worried me by the infinitude of her turns from page to page—on and on one side of the sheet, then back on the other. I could hardly manage her letter at all." Then of the O'Connor piece again: "O'Connor would have made a great speaker before juries, here his great power would have been told: in criminal cases, in appeals, in beating down opposition of sentiment by sentiment more powerful." Bucke had said to me, "O'Connor would have made a great romancist." W. added, "Yes, and a great several other things: for instance, as I have said, as advocate, as essayist, as orator in unpopular causes." O'Connor was in respects different from Symonds. I had said, "Symonds' published matter would not at all disappoint me if I did not see his private letters." W. admitted the difference in temperature, then added, "O'Connor was always the same—he had nothing to tone down, to hide—as he was in letters, in talk, so was he in what he wrote—and as he was in what he wrote, so was he in what he published. He was always willing to impart or reveal the fervor he felt."


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     Referred again to Rolfe—then to H.H. Furness: "I wonder if Furness has ever gone much into Shakespearean exegesis, as Dowden has," then applauding Dowden's book on Shakespeare.

     Said he had started up fire today and swung the wolf's skin over the book of the chair. "It is the beginning of the winter campaign."

     W. is expecting Burroughs. "He may come any day now: I suppose he will come in unannounced."

     Had sent O'Connor slip to Ingersoll. "He was a friend of William's; I thought he might be interested. And they are remarkable men both: both alike, too, in readiness and eloquence of speech."

     Morris had a letter today notifying him that the Horticultural Hall was open to our engagement. W. said upon the point, "I think that on the whole Philadelphia is the best place and we had best settle on it at once. It is always a part of the race won to have settled on the locale." Gave me in this connection letter from Johnston remarking how Ingersoll had come to volunteer the lecture. W. also asked me to keep him informed of preparations.

     I wrote Ingersoll and Johnston notifying them of the availability of the Hall.

     W. asked me for "several copies" of the Conservator containing Bucke's piece, saying, "I have lost or sent away all the copies I had. I am not decided yet whether to include this in my 'Annex.' I want to see it again, to find how it impresses me for that." And, "Yes, I may use Kennedy's, too: both in the way of autobiography."


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