Commentary

Disciples


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Friday, April 3, 1891

     7:55 P.M. Into W.'s room to find him reading a paper. Room frightfully hot. Seeing bundle under my arm he asked me at once, "What have you got there?" Proofs (new), plate-proofs, etc.—which, upon my opening, he examined with pleasure and relish. "We are getting along very well at last," he said. "Better speed—better proof-reading." Then again, "I feel thoroughly worn out tonight—as if, in the play of the sailors, I had been paddled, paddled, paddled till the life was all gone from me. I have had a sculptor visitor—his name is O'Donovan—he is from New York—he has come on proposing to take my head. What will come of it, if anything, is yet in the future—it is hard to say. He wants to get a room hereabout somewhere—will probably be here three or four weeks. Warrie went out with him, hunting—but so far without result." And then he paused—shut his eyes—speaking again wearily, "So one after another have scarified me—here was Dave, too, and he undertook to pay me

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for only 50—not 100—of the big books—remembering but one lot, and disputing me for a while—but going home, I think, convinced—at least to look up the thing. I have since written him a postal, to say Oldach could verify my version, though I should not think that would be needed. But the thing exercised me. Yes, Dave did report an increased sale for the book, which we are warranted in attributing to the Colonel's splurge."

     Young Stoddart had said to me, "Whitman marked twelve dollars on the poem, but when I saw it, I tore the amount off—expecting they would pay him more for it." "How much did they send?" I asked W., and he said, "Ten dollars." Then I told him what S. had detailed and he laughed, "Well, I put my foot in it there, to be sure—for when I wrote, asking for money for both pieces, I spoke of ten dollars for the poem—and that is all they sent me."

     He called my thoughts in another direction. "Kennedy sends me a Transcript containing an indignation meeting of Western poets: a poor, fruitless—I might say, stupid—protest against the invitation to Tennyson to write something for the Columbian exposition." I understood that the Illustrated American had boasted W. himself in this connection. W.: "I heard nothing of that—not a word. That is on authority? You saw it? At any rate, this Transcript piece makes a poor enough show—amounts to nothing above commonplace—a flat commonplace." Wished me to see it. "I laid it somewhere to send to the Doctor," but could not put his hands on it. "It isn't worth while, anyhow—you will care nothing for it."

     I had brought him the Atlantic [containing William O'Connor's story, "The Brazen Android"]. Now he handled it "with a real deep joy," he said. "I ought to take a profound interest in this: I was in at the 'borning'—I must say—with the first light—the first glints of dawn. The great William!" And as he glanced through it— "I can see the touch everywhere—the strong sweeping strokes. Yes, yes, yes—if it comes to me, Horace—if I have the impulse, strength (God knows, these become less and less positive, as days go by!)—I shall write something

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about the story—for some paper, perhaps—for anybody who will use it."

     The printer has several times persistently objected to descriptive phrases of W.'s, and it much amuses him.

     Letter from Bucke (1st). I had asked him what he thought of naming the magazines. Glad he supports me. Will so present to W.

     On second letter of same date, Bucke broaches payment for Longaker—increasing his own contribution to help. But I have for the present made other arrangements with L.

     Referred affectionately to Longaker, who had again been over today.


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