Commentary

Disciples


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Monday, June 15, 1891

     5:55 P.M. Found W. sitting at the head of the stairs (out of bathroom). Day had been intensely hot. He had stood it well. Yet complained now of "weakness"—and thought he "might get a bit cooler in this draft." His room "not very warm, however." Longaker just over. I had met him at corner. Thought favorably of W.'s power to withstand the heat. W. himself said, "The Doctor was here—I was glad to see him again—his health, cheer." W. asked, "Now, what is the news? Tell me. Did you see Stoddart?" And to my "yes" "Well, what was the result?"

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That S. would take the manuscript home, examine it tonight. Stoddart had thought he would use it pretty much as it stood. He remembered my promise—that it was for today—and said his "stew" last week had come of an idea that last Monday was the promised day. Would not make a facsimile of the Tennyson letter. Told W. I would have the letter anent Trumbull and the pension in Open Court (letter from Carus to that effect). W.: "I do not feel that I have anything to say on that point—or want to take on any part in such controversy—still I can appreciate your feelings and why it is perfectly proper that you should have a brush with them." As to a suggested article, "Walt Whitman and the Children," he said, "Yes, try it. Years ago—always, in fact—I was a great caresser, fondler of children—but in the last three years, that went along with other things." He further volunteered, "I did not realize till I had read the report just how I had talked, talked, talked away. I can hardly account for it—except by the fact that it happened on my own dunghill—that I seemed to owe something to them direct (as perhaps never before in the same way)—and then besides I was in very good humor, very—good 'spirit' as the Quakers would say—and things flowed out, out—a flood!—inexcusably, some will say. I wonder how many, reading it, will set me down for a gossip? The thing that justifies the whole piece—my part as others'—is its naturalness—extreme—and vigor, integrity." Again, "I wonder if Stoddart will let me have another proof-slip of my piece?" Had he had one already? Not exactly—but a type-written copy. "I don't know why the devil he copied it—my copy was as plain—at least to me." How was it to be printed? "In the body of the magazine—as an article." Signed? "Yes, signed: he was vehement—put on a forlorn face—would have it so—so I yielded." Had he changed it to suit? "Oh! quite a bit—emendations, alterations, a new turn here and there."

     I gave a scheme of book, as worked out by Bucke and me at London, to W. who would examine. We proposed using the Ingersoll-Whitman immortality piece. W.: "Yes, do it." T. Williams had not given me the copy W. corrected. Professed not

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to be able to find it. W. says, "The knave! He knows well enough where it is—could put his hand on it anytime, no doubt, but let him go to the devil. You take a copy of this draft, send him his back, give me yours, and I will put it in shape." I said, "We proposed to have Ingersoll revise his part, too." W.: "Yes, do! That is the only fair thing: then the piece will issue authoritatively." Three of the "Imprints" are known to have been written by W. We propose to use two over his signature if he will permit. I was delighted to feel that his first view was favorable. "You and Doctor are quite agreed on it? Quite?" To my "yes" "Well, I will see—will look it up overnight." As to Lippincott's piece again, "I think Symonds' letter a quite distinct contribution—a new lift—a fresh word. And Stoddart will be unwise to drop—or propose to drop—it."

     Elaborate book (soft leather, etc.) sent by Samuel B. Foster, Chicago, for W.'s autograph—contains Whittier's and others (famed). W. said, "It is a horrible practice—a pest—yes, pestilential—I hate to think of it: days and days, nothing but applications, applications! Think of the gentle Whittier! He must be the most pestered of all—yet never a word—a public word!" Would he write in this? "Now that it is here, perhaps a few lines, but all under protest—damn the crowd! I have to return the book and might as well put in a word."

     A couple of Lancashire fellows came in to see him Saturday (not the Johnston-Wallace dozen)—but W. would not see them—saying, however, now, "I am sorry I did not: it would not have hurt." Said Morris was over last week, "and O'Donovan has taken a couple of trips, and Eakins."

     W. informs me, "I wrote Bucke yesterday about you—that you had come in safe—ruddy—looking better than I ever knew you." But no letter from Bucke himself. Said he had wished Morris in next Literary World letter to quote his first dinner remarks about the giants, etc. (Tennyson, Whittier, Longfellow, etc.), but Morris had told him letter ceased for summer months.

     Total cost of dinner nearly $150 dollars. I must assess the fellows five dollars a head.


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     W. said, "I wrote Stoddart Saturday that I had no doubt you would shy your manuscript in Monday. I wonder if he got my note?" Stoddart had told me of it.

     No copies "Good-Bye" in covers yet. McKay promises them tomorrow or Wednesday. W. asked, "How do you take that? Does it mean more delay? Well, we must take it as it comes, but not believe till the bird is in the hand."

     W. received the Meister (London) containing "A Grecian Rhapsody" and with it an autograph letter from Shepherd. Gave to me. "They have a curio value, anyhow, if you can take them for no more. And take this too—a note from Kennedy—the good Sloane—a few words about Professor Sophocles (Harvard) who must have been an odd worth-much old man—a creature after one kind—his own kind. You will like to get this glimpse of him, because it is quite vivid."

     I told W. that Wallace and Johnston had written enthusiastically about the New England Magazine piece. He responded, "I do not wonder—so do they all—everybody thinks the same about it—looks on it as a great triumph in honest portraiture, and I not less than any other."

     W. continued, "The loyalty, devotion, of these Lancashire boys is one of the best things I know: God bless 'em!"


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