Commentary

Disciples


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Sunday, August 30, 1891

     8:15 P.M. W. reading Symonds again. Sitting in his room—hat and overcoat on and red tie. But had a look of real vigor. Mrs. O'Connor had spent an hour or more with him. "How wonderfully well she looks! Brave Nellie! It did my eyes good to see her again. She seemed to bring the whole past back with her." He had gone downstairs to see her (Anne was along). This evening down again. "The cool days seem to invigorate me." Speculation anent Bucke. "He must be well near home—near America—now. And Tuesday, I suppose, will finish the tale. Wallace will even then be still slowly coming, coming." Sketched for W. a plan that he, Doctor, Mrs. O'Connor and Anne should go in a carriage to wharf to meet Wallace—Warrie and I would walk. "It is a pretty idea," he laughingly said, "but I am a bad one to include in it—uncertain at the best. Yet I like the idea, too—we will see, we will see!"

     Had been reading interview in Press with Holmes, in re birthday. "Pleasantry—wasn't that all? Or pleasantness?" I suggested, "No profound reflections." "No, but probably he did not start out for profundity." "A man does not determine to be profound, he is profound—his words fall into their place by no plan." "Good! Good! I say amen to that, every word of it. And in fact it has long been one of my cherished thoughts." Adding, "But Holmes' years become him—long, honest, healthy years!"

     W. speaking of Ingersoll's controversies, "It is no use trying to evade him—he is like Burroughs in the track of a bug, bird: he gets his game every time." Mrs. O'Connor remarked that W. used the expression "our Saviour." I asked W. about it and he said, "If so, it was an accident"—laughing. "I suppose I use many words, phrases, which might be turned against me."

     This appears in the current Critic: The journalist whom I took up lately for misprinting a line of Whitman's in a way that spoiled the rhythm (spelling out "whate'er, where'er it is," into whatever, wherever, etc.) writes to say: "If you will

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 456] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - look into Specimen Days (page 105, edition of 1882—the first), you will find that I have correctly copied. It struck me as being harsh, and perhaps he has changed it in later editions."
The lines originally appeared in the Critic and as there given were rhythmically correct.



     W. remarks, "That was Kennedy. However, I like 'whatever'—out full—better than 'whate'er'—much better. I remember I wrote Jennie Gilder long long ago, at the beginning, that in anything I might send them I was to be humored. And she assured me I could have everything my own way with them." But, "The question they have 'up' is not worth disputing about—a poor bone at best."

     Something induced him to speak of Tennyson. "I had four or five letters from him of a most interesting character—even striking, in their way. I remember one—that it was written after a visit to an old castle in Wales, contained allusions to that. But where are those letters now? I seem to miss them all—indeed, I think they have been hooked. A great many of my things here used to disappear that way." But now he closeted himself and did not have the same difficulty. I had letters from Johnston and Wallace again—received at Post Office this morning (no delivery Sundays—I go to Post Office, which is open an hour in forenoon). W. exclaimed, "What warm-hearted willing fellows they are! I had letters, too, to the same purpose as yours. Brave, hearty, true!" And he gave me some of the slip reprints of my Post piece of 1st (reprinted on four-page leaflet). "It is wonderful, their patience, determination—how all things are seized, kept, cherished, dwelt upon."

     Letter also to me from Reeves and Turner. W. counsels, "See Dave—I leave all in your hands. Do nothing that he could reasonably object to. However, I need not advise you on that point—you know as well as I do how to go about it. I am willing to agree to the terms here mentioned. But you examine into it all."

     Referring to "our Saviour" again, "I do not worry for every word I use with you—I depend upon you to receive me right." He had read in Scribner's. Left Current Literature with him.

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"Mme. Benzon," he said, "yes, she is a wonderful character—seems to occupy a great place in the present literary history of France."

     Mrs. O'Connor has brought up a trunk full of odds and ends of Whitman-O'Connor papers (manuscripts, scraps, letters, etc.). Notable things among them—for instance, a letter from Newman (Francis) anent impeachment (1867). (W. says, "Yes, I guess I saw that letter—William had several from Newman about that time—all noble, high, exalted.") Also, original manuscript of "A Woman's Estimate" in Rossetti's own hand; innumerable Whitman newspaper excerpts which she designs for Bucke's collection; scrapbook of William's Evening Post work, etc. etc. I read his contest in Appleton's Journal with Burroughs on Hugo. Brilliant. W. says, "I am sure William was more right than John in all that. How magnificent William had to be when he crossed swords with anyone! It made him a torrent heroic—nothing but was swept along with it, resisting or not resisting." Mrs. O'Connor alive with anecdote and story—brings new pictures of William and W.—tells me countless new things which I rejoice to hear. Some insight, too, into the trouble in John Burroughs' household—the wife, estrangement, etc.—tallying W.'s hints. (W. never will go beyond hints or indirections on such a topic.) Mrs. O'Connor sheds a delightful atmosphere—goes about the house like a good mother, easily, plainly. We will try to persuade her to stay for Wallace. All is anticipation for the stranger, even W. aroused. "We ought to have some good days, eh Horace?"


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