Commentary

Disciples


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Friday, March 6, 1891

     7:40 P.M. Called in with Brinton, who had been with me to take dinner at Harned's. Brinton to lecture ("Bruno") at church. Took Brinton right up—no introduction. W. seemed glad to see us—invited us to sit down. I gave Brinton a chair—sat myself on the edge of the bed near the door. W. sat, one quilt pinned round his shoulders, another thrown across his knees. When we first talked, he seemed reluctant; but afterwards, when we got on a subject that moved him (about the actors, for instance), he was vigorous and free. Brinton remarked the wonderful room and W.'s seeming retention of vocal musical force and mental grip. On the bed were my proofs (Myrick had not given me any new ones today, but hopes to let me have all poems tomorrow). W. was very frank to tell Brinton of his physical trouble, though he did not dwell on it.

     Brinton at one point congratulated W. on "the new work" and said, "I did not know till today that it was to be done." W. then, "It is hardly to be dignified as 'work': it is simply a last drop, a leave-taking, my farewell—a gout," pronouncing it as the physical gout is pronounced. Brinton called it gout—G-O-O-T, but W. insisted, "It is a word used in 'Macbeth. ' I remember it with the old players. My custom was, in the old days, to listen sharply to the pronunciation, accent of the actors—then to stand by that—to stick to it—absorb, adopt it. And gout was gout with the old Shakespearean actors!" Afterwards, "I saw the Macbeth of many actors—Forrest, Booth, Macready—but it seemed to me the best of all was Tom Hamblin," going into particulars, describing Hamblin physically and mentally—much to our joy—in a voice noble and strong. What did he think of Booth's? "He did not play Macbeth much. He rather affected the plays which involved intellect—the more subtle by-playings—Iago-ish characters," etc. Did Edwin inherit this? "Only imitatively—that's all." Described the old theatres inimitably—the pit— "There's no doubt the old actors played to the pit, not the upper part of the house." Dwelt upon "the board

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seats, the dark entrances—anything but alluring—but things were comfortable enough when you got in once. Nothing anywhere like the elegance, finishedness of the modern theatre."
Told Brinton more definitely about some of the plays Hamblin "excelled in." All this time he displayed a great vigor and music of speech. I picked up a Gutekunst portrait from the table and gave it to Brinton—W. willing. Left with him the Symonds personal letter, which Brinton spoke of as "remarkable." We also gave Brinton a slip of Kennedy's Dutch matter.


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