Commentary

Disciples


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Wednesday, September 23, 1891

     7:50 P.M. W. sitting on side of bed, struggling to get his shoes off. "It is astonishing how it stirs me up, to do the least thing for myself." Then, "And now, Horace, what have you been doing this hot day?" "Working hard!" "Oh! I enviges you!" James had not our proofs ready yet—some misunderstanding—but W. took it equably. Expect them tomorrow. Talcott Williams had expected, or appointed, to be over with Willard, the English actor, towards noon—but telegraphed impossibility of coming. W. has not his new glasses yet. Longaker ranks von Schweinitz at the top— "very brilliant." W. greatly engaged with a copy of Puck I had with me—a cartoon about the Philadelphia scandals (political)—and one of Keppler's double-pagers anent agitation against opening Columbian Exp. on Sundays—the theological ass, big-eared, planted in the gateway, with pious hand—the people one side, the directors the other—and warnings beneath against "Middle-Age"-ism. W. exclaimed, "That's very like. That's the whole story. But of course the ass will be beaten off?"

     Told him of Aggie's little girl, born last night, 20 minutes before twelve. W. asked, "And is she all right? Weathered the cape? Good! Send her my love—hopes for her. Oh! I think the sweetest, sanest, perfectest, whollest, majestic-est of all characters are the mothers of children. Neither saints nor warriors—neither—all history, art, literature, has so far been devoted to such. Now comes a new age, new recognitions—the age of the mothers." He was telling me this as he toiled round the bed to his chair. He finally sat down, closed his eyes, murmuring, "This becomes a tough struggle, sometimes, merely to keep up." I said, "You and Bob have your reverence for woman in common. Bob is constantly saying, the grandest picture under the heavens, or over, or anywhere, is the mother with her children, the mother of children: no saint, no virgin, no nothing, to compare with it." W. thereupon fervently, "Them's my sentiments, out and out! Nor is that the only thing the Colonel and I have in common."


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     Suddenly he said, "I ought to tell you. I should have told you before—that Buxton Forman said in his letter that your Lippincott's piece—the report—was a skillful piece of literary work—distinctly an achievement. Yes, I want you to have the letter when I am done with it. I have not sent his books yet but want to tomorrow. But one thing Buxton says (you ought to know that, too)—though I do not agree with it. He objects to Conway's speech, lecture—says it is verbose, seems to think it wandering unnecessary directions, lengths. But I do not feel the criticism is warranted. It seemed to me Moncure was quite simple—conversational—went direct to his point—told his little story—then stopped."

     Left with W. sheets of Morse's article on "Good-Bye" in Conservator. "Glad to get them—I am sure they will be worth while." He laughed heartily at this passage: "Whitman speaks of 'the last polish and intellectual cuteness of Emerson,' but just whether to like it or not, I don't make out," saying, "Sidney is on to one of my tricks!" Then, "I forgot all about the 'Open Road' poem for Sidney. He ought to have it. Yes, must have it. I think my memory is getting worse and worse. After a bit it will be a blank!"

     Forman sends me his picture. Not English—more Yankee—most of our American South in character. I wrote Bucke it minded me of General Mahone—Virginian and politician—but the General refined: which, as Bucke probably did not know about the General's singular career in the U. S., did no harm. W. remarked, "I can easily see your idea. And it is wonderful anyhow how many of our own fellows, Northern born and bred, seem Southern: some of the very best, too! I have often spoken of it, but found no explanation to satisfy me. But you must bring Buxton's picture down—I should like to see it. I had a picture of him once, but it must have been many years ago. He must have changed many ways these later years." I had left the photo home. Bucke sends me (or Anne) some of the Bolton photos of himself, sent across by Johnston. Is pleased with them, calling them "perfectly lovely." Have not shown them to W. yet.

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Some of the fellows speak of giving a little dinner to J.W.W. But I have Johnston's warning well at heart and shall leave all to J.W.W.


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