Commentary

Disciples


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Saturday, March 28, 1891

     7 P.M. Took W. further proofs, and he returned me those I left him yesterday. Filled in page 28 with two of the poems laid

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aside—"Ship Ahoy" and "For Queen Victoria's Birthday." I had written on the sheet when I left it: "Don't cut!" and he said, "I took your advice—have not cut. In fact, I hate to cut, though I often do it." Further, "I think it perfectly safe to use the 'Ship Ahoy' poem now, though I have not seen a copy of the Youth's Companion containing it. I asked Kennedy what he could tell me about it: he writes one of his scrappy, jerky letters—simply says, 'Yes, your four lines are there,' leaving it in that vague fashion. On the strength of that I shall go ahead and print the poem." I spoke to him of a Whitman "personal" in the Bazar. He said, "I can think it might be there. I have a mate there—a third or fourth remove from the head—who is friendly (just as I have on the Weekly), but the men at the top are not my friends, care nothing, so far as I can see." Liked recent proofs. Asked about the reader, called him "very good—a strong man."

     How had he passed the day? "Not uncomfortable, but I seem to have no strength—none at all—am very weak." And again, "I feel some of these days a strange pressure. I cannot describe it. It is as if I were near the end." And later, when I asked some question about our work, he said, "Each day for itself, Horace, I feel certain of nothing." It seems I had not told him of the hanging of my father's watercolor of W. at the Watercolor Exhibition (Art Club). He felt it to be "an item of real interest." Not deterred by W.'s price, McKay orders the six copies of the big book. W. will give me the first sheets tomorrow. I argued that McKay had no enthusiasm over the big book, that he would probably have preferred to handle it as publisher. W. quickly, "Well, I'll sell him all I have, everything—copyright, to 1900, the end of the century, if he wants it. Do you think it well to try him? Tell me." I urged not: that it was well enough to sell all the books if he chose, but to reserve the copyright. W. then, "I am not determined either way. He can have them, I can keep them—one plan, the other, will equally suit me." But he admitted that in his "increasing disabilities" he felt disposed to shake off all cares. Quite a long talk on this line, with no conclusion, except this—that except by further propulsion I shall not carry his proposition to McKay. He left it in my hands, he said.


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