Commentary

Disciples


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Friday, June 19, 1891

     5:50 P.M. Found Longaker sitting there with W., Longaker immediately going on my entrance, having other patients to see before tea. Before going, however, congratulating W. on his condition and receiving from W. the doubting laugh, "It is always funny—sometimes exhilarating—to me, to be sometimes told after one of my worst days, when I know I feel like the devil, that I have the color, flush, vigor (outlook) of a man in good health!" I knew Longaker hungered for one of W.'s soft books, so I called on him to wait—going to the box opposite, getting a copy for W. to sign—he doing it willingly, remarking, "It is as you say, Horace, this is the book for our fellows. Yes, Doctor, it will go in your pocket." Longaker afterwards thanking and shaking hands with him. I had the Lippincott's proof with me, would leave it till eight, to call then to have my own look at it. W. contends still, "This is my 73rd, not my 72nd birthday"—meaning that the 72nd anniversary is the 73rd birthday and so on, up and down. "I know the custom, but it is a stupid one—someday they will set it right." I described several places at which I intended to make changes, and he endorsed them all. So left him.

     7:58 P.M. To W.'s again. He had the sheets spread out over the bed. "I have made no changes at all—not one—have left things just as they are. It is very natural—carries the reader right along—simple, hits the nail on the head—does not hurry, does not lag—which is to say of all true work!" But his own little proof had not come and he had his growl over it. McKay asked me today (came to the Bank, as if astonished) if "that death-mask" was to go with the book. W. exclaims, "No, no—that is a

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poor name for it—it looks nothing like that. I call it a sculptor's profile."

     Thought Dave "should not make the price of 'Good-Bye' above a dollar." Asks every day for copies. Brought him back draft and its duplicate to sign for the £40. Promptly filling them in, he held his pen suspended to say, "I knew a man in Washington—an expert there—who said once, when he leaned over my shoulder (I was working)—that my signature was one of the hardest he knew to imitate. I asked, is it so? And he assured me—yes, its very simplicity protects it. And he himself had a wonderful pen—could imitate pretty near any signature at will, for instance. Had a distinct genius of the sort. And I have often thought of it since." I told W. every bank teller would give him the same assurance. "That makes it more curious still. It must be as the expert said—its very simplicity—just as simplicity, truth, can never be imitated."

     On his table a process (engraved) picture of Stanley—on its reverse "Gorse," a painting by Murray. Under the portrait W. had written "Royal Academy Pictures London 1891"—but it was the "Gorse," I found, that had attracted him. "It is wonderfully strong, vivid. I have been deeply moved by it—some quality in the air—I don't know what."

     Every now and then W. hands me out one of Bucke's old letters— "Here's for you." Tonight one.


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