Commentary

Disciples


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Tuesday, May 26, 1891

     Letter from Stoddart. Went in to see him at 4:45—talked over plans, names of guests, etc. Seemed satisfied with my views. I thought he would rather have Melville Phillips than me edit the talk, but I said, "I have determined to preserve the history of the day—to weave even the letters in colloquially: if you wish the result, you can have it—if not, I will keep it or use it elsewhere." But he readily owned he wanted it. Is manly throughout. Proposes to use in August. Asks for copy of "Good-Bye" to review same month. Fully expects Hawthorne. Is sure things will pass off well. Leaves things in my hands. I said, "I am to preserve this as history—Whitman is the central figure—all that comes from him or reflects upon him that night belongs to the record." "Yes, I see—I endorse that." Engaged to see him Friday afternoon.

     Surprised by a letter from Tennyson, in reply to mine of a fortnight ago—brief, beautiful—addressed "Harringford, Freshwater, Isle of Wight" and reading:

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My dear W. W.

All health & happiness to you on your birthday & henceforwards.

Yours ever

Tennyson
May 14—91


Stoddart pleased to hear this. It gives me, with Symonds, Noel, Dowden and Rhys, a good budget to start with. Miss Porter and Miss Clarke promptly acquiesce in my invitation, the former writing me. But the word from Baker about the Colonel is discouraging. Seems no doubt now about Bush and wife. He writes from New York.

     I stopped in and saw Bonsall, who will himself come and will acquaint Buckwalter. Some talk with Morris about general look of things. Fred May in Bank inquiring. We keep very quiet about reporters, etc. Stoddart advises, "Let us tell them no more than that Lippincott's will report it full." This evening on way to W.'s, stopping at Post Office, I found a letter from Conway [see Appendix II, page 596, for the text of this letter].

     8:00 P.M. Spent half an hour with W. showing him the letters I had received. He was much interested in all. Gave him the five dollars from Garland. "I sent the books today—two copies," he said. I had remarked that something or other was good—and suddenly, bethinking myself— "I've your five-dollar bill: you'd better have it at once"—he then with a laugh, "Well, that is good, too!" Regarded the Tennyson letter with a happy eye, "So we hear from the old man again! Great-hearted Alfred!" And again, "That will come first, won't it, Horace? Not ostentatiously, but undoubtedly." But when I said, "It ought to be introduced in the course of our talk," he admitted it, remarking, "You are right, that brings it in naturally—does not lug it in." Averred that it did his heart good to hear from Morse again. Hearing me read Noel's letter he expressed warmest returns. Conway's attracted him, "That is the most positive, least conditional word I have ever heard from him. And intensely interesting—a spice of robust manliness." At Miss Porter's letter,

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"That seems really to secure us a triumph. I count it such." But the Colonel's probable absence (he read Baker's letter) depressed him, "I am afraid our biggest lord is gone!" And, "I suppose there is no doubt of—no help for—it." Read Morse's letter intently. "Not a word further from Bucke. He seems to have a real hurt—enough to call it disablement." Told him what William Swinton had said to me about W.'s mother, "Walt says a good deal about her, but not a word too much: she justified his best words, his utmost reverence." This stirred him, "William is right—she did, she did."

     Had been reading Scott when I entered. Said he intended to send a copy of the new O'Donovan portrait to Black and White. "They may use it: if they have any sense of the truly artistic, they will." Says of the new doctors, "I don't know whether it's their medicine or their cheer helps me." Again, "Your New England piece—oh! everybody seems to think it fine—fine. You ought to jot more just such stuff."


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