Commentary

Disciples


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Monday, September 7, 1891

     4:10 P.M. We all went over to Philadelphia in forenoon. Met together at Broad Street Station—dined together 12:30. Mrs. O'Connor to take 1:30 train—Gussie, Anne, Mrs. Bush, Bucke, Bush, Mrs. O'Connor, H.L.T. at one table. Good time. Bucke and I to see McKay. Arranged for him to handle books with

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Reeves & Turner direct. Then discussed our own book of essays. Will not take any risks—simply willing to sell books. Estimates 1000 copies to cost $550. We will probably issue circular—see if Whitmanites will guarantee us 400 copies. Discussed with McKay idea of changing cover of "Leaves of Grass" to a green. Seemed not at all averse. We had all been at O'Donovan's, but he would not exhibit the bust, saying it was all "taken to pieces," all "pulled apart." We were surprised but could not insist. Harned's picture not well liked—too beery—stuffy—needs much revision. When I told W. what we had learned of the bust he said, "I suppose that is about the best thing that could be done with it! In pieces! From what I hear, from people on whose judgment I much rely, it is a failure, or not very good, anyhow. He made me Theodore Parker, not Walt Whitman. But what are we to say to this—that Talcott Williams was there, saw it, comes to me and tells me it is fine!" I explained Harned's view, that the bust seems to be getting worse instead of better. "Did Tom say that? I am thoroughly inclined to say, it's quite likely. I have felt for some time that he was not on the right track. And he is such a good fellow, too! You almost wish he could do it, he is so handsome. But I have been suspicious of it—yes, from all sorts of signs and sights and insights."

     We had driven to W.'s in a cab—ordering the cab back at 4:45. W.'s exclamation as he saw me enter, "Well, Horace, what of Wallace—have you heard?" But I had been making inquiries all day. No sign of boat yet. W. remarking, "I can't altogether get over my concern. I'm afraid I'm getting to be a great materialist—not to believe anything till it's absolutely in my fist." W. gave Bucke the original of the O'Donovan profile picture—endorsing it in red ink across the dark background. At one point W. remarked, "Often in the evenings, before bedtime—an hour or so then—having an hour for peace, quiet—I sit by here—read, read—and often read Symonds. Yes, the last essays. And especially one thing has lately arrested me. Symonds' enunciation of an idea which has always possessed me, which is at the center of my own theories (if I have theories)—that all great

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writing, all writing, literature, poetry, prose, great speech, comes out of, is the direct product of, not schools, books, art, delicatesse, tradition—but the national spirit. Do you understand?"
Bucke said, "No, I don't know as I do." W. following, "Well, I put it there in the last page of 'A Backward Glance.' Goethe says it—Herder. It gives power, the spinal forces, to the national spirit." And then, "I find wonderful things in Addington's books—wonderful—glimpses of vastest things. And I find that, as I read the books more, they have more for me. And I think that is always my way with real good work—I don't enter into it, absorb it, first hit. I must go back to it times and times—about the third time I begin to grasp the secret."

     W. told us that Mrs. O'Connor had been in to give him her farewell. He had seen her in his own room. She thought he "talked well—seemed his better self." W. went back to Critic notice again, "It is the best of the book so far—yes, much the best. Yes, is scholarly—Greek—Latin—full of the signs of the master. Do you know who wrote it? Do you see a hand? I haven't even enough to make a guess on. Doctor, what is abalone?" The notice says, "The almost dead shell of the 'grey beard sufi' has a live soul in it capable still of radiant abalone-like iridescences." Bucke did not know either. W. advised, "Look at the dictionary, Maurice, it is right there." W. then, after solution, "I only wish I had William O'Connor here now. I used to drive him, that he was prone to adapt unusual words—the more unusual the better—to plague and worry the scholars. And he would always say, 'Well, damn 'em! They ought to know, and if they don't, let 'em look it up!'" Further, "Horace, what do you know of Josephine Lazarus? Could she have done it? No, I suppose it was not a woman: it is rarely but there are tell-tale marks to indicate sex. And yet, there is a doubt, too—in women like George Sand, George Eliot, where are the marks? The strength is grand, grand—but the power is there, too. Perhaps it was Jennie Gilder. She is quite a woman—I like her. She has all George Eliot's manifest of power—without the coarseness. And a good voice! Oh! I like her voice, too. What a wonderful lot is in a

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voice!"
Had written a postal to Critic, for reviewer, thanking him. "Is it too strong? Do I say too much?" W. pleased to hear I was writing down account of Doctor's visit to Tennyson in the form of an interview. Our interrupting stranger, yesterday, writes a lot of twaddle in today's Post. W. remarks, "The fellow is a clerk or something like that. Oh! it is foolish enough—but friendly—which is its excuse."

     Bucke still here. We finished Tennyson conversation tonight. Considerable talk of affairs. If Wallace comes tomorrow, Bucke wants to go West with him Wednesday evening.


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