Commentary

Disciples


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Saturday, August 22, 1891

     3:00 P.M. In to see if W. could go out. But no. "It seems too hot. I am afraid of the trial." But heat by no means excessive. Lay on bed with a fan in his hand. Inquired, "What of letters? Any foreign letters? I had none today." He had read the O'Connor piece? "Yes, how eloquent and fiery it is! How characteristic! But I would advise against publication: I would not offer it for publication."

     It is astonishing how little disposed he is to really throw his window open to the winds—will only open one of three windows. Yet I have repeatedly argued with him, and Longaker has done so with much emphasis. Now, today, he complained of heat. Yet, while hot out-of-doors a free breeze was blowing. Nights, again, he will close the door to Warrie's room, lock the hall door, and close the blinds of the shutter of the one window.

     8:10 P.M. In to W.'s again to leave today's Star, containing John Russell Young's "Memories of Lincoln." W. said, "I know Young well and he knows me. And he has always been of the most friendly disposition towards 'Leaves of Grass'—a noble healthy sample of our best journalistic stock—occupier of important positions, many—and ought to know—must know—a good deal about Abraham Lincoln." I had asked how much

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Young could have known of Lincoln. He said, "I am glad you brought this in, Horace. It is the kind of thing, if anything, I like to read these days." And suddenly, "Won't you open that window near you, Horace—it begins to feel a little warm in here," which, considering things were about scorched, I was glad to do—the middle window, in his chair near which I sat, being close shut. "As I told you today, I read William's piece—enjoyed it—who would not enjoy it? It is so eloquent, so grand—big, passionate—but I do not see why it should be published now, at least in this special way. The occasion for it is passed. If the occasion were on I would say, let us make the most of it, and this would be our most without a doubt. I give this as my counsel, only—for you to chew on and do with what you think best. You can take the manuscript. I guess I am done with it. O the great William! It was like living with him again—those times, events." I had just had a letter from Mrs. O'Connor, which W. read and called "very interesting and cheerful. The cheerfulness cannot always be said of Nellie. It looks by this, Horace, as if she had determined on a move from Washington. And it is as well or better so. Only time can really prove it, but time will probably prove her right if she goes." And added, "Of course we will all be glad to see her here—all. And we will be in the midst of our friends, with Doctor coming at the same time and perhaps Wallace. No, I suppose not Wallace just now." He was disappointed I had not found any foreign letters at home.

     On the bed the Immortality manuscript. He pointed to it and said, "It is damnable, to have to go over all that again. I have started but make little headway. I put the other copy in shape to make it authentic. This is a written lie in great measure. What I want most to take out of it is the quality of damn-certainness. It is not what I intended to impress—I don't think it was what I said. As it stands there, everything is cock-sure—everything. Which is not 'Leaves of Grass,' not me. Talcott holds that other back 'for reasons' I suppose—but it belongs to us, nevertheless—is ours. I set everything down in this so-called original report almost dogmatically, but I don't feel them that way—not

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at all. It would be inconsistent with me, with my work, to plant guns, to threaten, to exact, to believe, even, in such a fashion, I might say. But as the thing stands there I would not like to certify to publication: it is not mine, not me. Are you sure you tried Talcott thoroughly? It is odd in him considering that he denies us our own property. But I will try what to do with this, Horace. I may be able to put it into a shape that would satisfy me—satisfy truth. The thing anyhow is fiction founded upon truth—no more. And we must not do injustice to the Colonel, whose claims to be heard are as good as mine."


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