Commentary

Disciples


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Wednesday, July 8, 1891

     5:45 P.M. Took W. copy of Reeder's photo of tomb. How he seemed to enjoy it! "Certainly it is much better than I expected it could be, much better, which is about all a man can ask—to have the fulfillment exceed his best hopes. That is victory—yes, yes—victory. Reeder is quite an artist—I can see that point of view was studied with great care—taste, too, and a good eye! Now we must have Murray try it—see what he can make of it. Shouldn't we have some copies of this? Say, 20? Well, order 20, we can use all of them. There is even a charm about this picture—even its vague, misty lines seem to suggest an atmosphere—rich (quite rich) and with traces of the setting sun. Indeed, Horace, I count this a success." He examined the picture a long time. Merry over my face, lost almost in the trees on the hill. Moore's knee, too, exposed from the trunk of a tree. Asked me—pointing to table, "Did you see my lilies? Exquisite, eh? A dear little girl was here to see me—brought me these—a breath out of the ponds! Oh! full and full are the ponds!" "I have seen them in their thousands, with heads up out of the water," I remarked. "And I too—and Jersey is especially rich in them. I never knew them in such profusion as not 35 miles from Camden, south." And again, passing his hand over them, "They are a delicious fragrant reminder—they carry me out of this room—away, away."

     Copy of Puck with me—cartoon of Wanamaker, "the holy man" (Keppler's), W. regarding it with amused eyes. "How good it is—how suggestive! And who is this in his pocket?" (Harrison.) It made him laugh when I told him. "Do you know, that is Henry Clapp, Clapp exactly. Have you known anything of Henry Clapp? Poor fellow, he died in the gutter—drink—drink—took him down, down. But there was a time when he was an actor—I might say of well-known face, purpose. But that was long before. And there was Ada Clare, too! Oh! I knew Ada! A bright, handsome girl, liking good dress—vivacious—lovely, too, Horace. I liked her well—and she was what in the

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Middle Ages was called the paramour of Gottschalk—Gottschalk, the composer (he was a strong man—a first-classer in his line!). How far back all that seems! And poor Ada, fondling a dog, was bitten, or fancied she was (which is just as bad), by a big dog—bit here, against the nose—and from this, or from the worry of it, resulted hydrophobia—or what passes for it. (The doctors still debate it, as they debated it then: was it not altogether a fiction? And in the meantime people die of it right along!) And Ada died—and then was the last of that tragic experience. Poor Ada! Poor Henry! This face recalled it all."
Then W. back to the joyous side of the paper, "These are all very witty—or efforts at wittiness. The fourth remove, perhaps: strained—then the strain strained and so on two or three times more! The odd thing is, that all the little pictures have a foreign air, are not American—improbable stereotyped faces, costumes after a mode, all of them the same." And yet, "They serve an end, too. I do not do more than give this for myself."

     I had been examining American reprint of Review of Reviews. Whitman matter not copied there. (I had noticed same before.) W. said, "It is curious—I understand it, nevertheless—how some of our folks here will not, cannot, must not, dare not, see me: have but to ignore—pass by—say no word. It is a point to mark, to consider."

     Was I going straight home? "Then take a couple of the lilies to Anne, do not forget—the dear girl!—and with my love." Meanwhile taking them out himself.

      "I sent Stead a copy of the facsimile, thinking it might convey to him more accurate notions of the dinner than any of the foreign papers seem to have got. What an idea, that about my reciting, reading, declaring my own poems! An extraordinary delusion: it is the last thing I would do—the very last. As you know well enough."

     Johnston and Wallace letters of 26th and 30th May W. "felt greatly luminous. I enjoy criticisms of my work even if I do not feel to justify them. What I see—report—is after all only a segment. I leave the rest of the search for you."


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