Commentary

Disciples


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Saturday, July 4, 1891

     1:15 P.M. To W.'s with Joe Gilbert. He was making up bundles of papers—several on the table before him. "I have hungry fellows all around—Kansas, elsewhere—who want papers—appreciate them." My note about Trumbull, with a reply from Trumbull, in Open Court. I left paper with W. I read parts of it to W., who contended, "It is easy to be seen that he squirms

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under it—yet will not make the admission."
Going on then to say what he had before about the history of the affair, "I am sure Lovering understood at the time, others—sure of it—for I made it very plain. And Bucke was here, too, he agreeing that what I had done was sufficient—for I had been wondering if I had made it sufficiently plain. The paragraph which Trumbull stumbles over I sent to Stead at his own request. He had written me inquiries, and I was bound to reply to them. He facsimile'ed it for the Review without my knowledge—not asking if I approved, though it was done out of a good heart and I could not complain of it—it looked well, probably resulted well (except perhaps with this man). I feel myself perfectly clear on the subject—feel that I made myself clear to others. But do you leave the papers—I will examine into it—into your note, his—see in full how you thrust, parry."

     I had just had a talk with Harned, who felt that Bucke had taken advantage of Eakins' impression that W. needed the $200—the idea being that if Eakins had known W. was not in need he would not have sacrificed the picture for $400. According to Harned, Eakins himself was aggrieved. I explained things in a way I think to mollify Harned somewhat. W. says, "I think Bucke had the first right to it, don't you? It is an old promise. But we must speak to Tom, too—explain—for he is one of our intimate and best friends and must not misunderstand. As to the price I think the $400 quite enough—quite. I owed Doctor $200 and wanted to pay it back, and here was a chance. Often the debt worried me—once I sent him a check for it, which he returned, saying he was in no need of the money. Well, well, it should be the Doctor's, if anyone's, don't you feel? I guess it has gone right. You noticed in the Doctor's letter the other day that he wrote with something of triumph—'the picture is mine'—it seeming to be that he has heard from Eakins again. We must give all this to Tom."

     Again, "I am not at all sure about the O'Donovan bust. I had a paper from O'D. yesterday or day before—from New York—a paper in which were particulars of the unveiling of his statue

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of Archbishop Hughes. He unveiled it himself. It has a recommendable faithfulness, I guess—is a figure in full canonicals—aprons, robes, all that—more or less after conventional modes. I hardly know what it leads me to; in part this—that he is not to catch 'Leaves of Grass.' Anyway, without wishing to prejudge anything, I shall venture that prediction—standing ready, when the work is done—to revise, throw it utterly aside, if called for. But this I want to say—this—that the longer I live the more I am impressed that Sidney's interpretation on the whole expresses more—has absolutely an abandon, freedom, breadth, expansiveness not found elsewhere, in any photo, painting, bust—that no trials have come to such results—no handling so surely, deftly—with a stroke, like a play of elements—hit the nail on the head. And, Horace, I do not know but I feel to add to you, put me on record for this, say for me, Walt Whitman"
—waving his hand across the room towards a copy of the bust— "here, in Sidney Morse, I recognize," with a laugh and a pause, "well, what I recognize—that is just the things I have been specifying." Tried to find me the paper with the Hughes picture but it was for the present lost in the confusion. Speaking of portraits in general, "They must be natural, of course, but then the question will come—what is the natural? It may be as with the girl who went to Paris to learn to sing—who said, oh! my voice is all nature, pure, true—and whose teacher told her at the very start—do you know, my girl, that not one of your tones is natural, equal to the measure I will set for it? Often our nature may be as far below nature as that—and yet we will continue to demand it—demand, demand! Here is 'Leaves of Grass': its purpose—whatever it has done—falls nothing short of that."

     W. quite abruptly asked ere we went, "And your friend here, Horace—who is he—what does he do?" And I explained and let Gilbert explain—G. blushing to his hair meanwhile—W. then smiling and questioning.

     Under date of 1st Bucke writes me of the Lippincott's piece—also of his departure.


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