Commentary

Disciples


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Saturday, April 11, 1891

     5:20 P.M. W. just writing some letters. Meal done. Offered me a bun—wrapped it up. "You are going straight home? Well, take this with you. I wish I had more—I would send one to your mother." I asked, "Why not give her this?" But he seemed determined. "No, you keep this—I want you to have it. This is baking day here. I have enjoyed some for my dinner." I espied a fat letter to Bucke on the table. "You must be writing him an official message!" "No, not that, but a week or ten days ago I received from Wallace a long account—seven, eight, nine pages—of a tussle he had there with a preacher who didn't like 'Leaves of Grass'—wouldn't have it at any price, all that! And I own up to it, I did not read the letter till today—it seemed a big job. And now I shall forward it to Doctor." Should I mail it? "No, I will hold till tomorrow—to add a word." Longaker not over, but "things about the same," though afterwards said, "This is one of my mean days, with the grip on again. And what do you know about this grip etymologically, anyhow? Doctor always made it the pure French—La Grippe—no shake, no tremor—and perhaps that is the right word, signifying, it may be, in the French, just what it does to us in the English. Anyhow, it has set its seal on me today: I am under the heaviest pressure—head, all." But as the day itself had been close, showery, to everyone, I felt no uneasiness.

     Left with him new proofs. He and one of the printers (an Italian of intelligence) have discussed (through me) the necessity of accenting the "e" in finale. W. insists, yes—yet says also, "I have great respect for the decided opinions of good printers, proof-readers—am disposed, every time, to yield to them. Long experience has taught me their wonderful cuteness. Accent and all that is always a foggy latitude to me. I

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never feel certain of myself in it, though, having feelings (bad, good, worthless) I express them. You talk more definitely with your man—tell him in substance what has passed between us here."

     Some of the fellows in the city seem to think the Critic can be subsidized. Developed this in a recent talk with Morris. W. said, "No, that is a mistake—at least I think it is: I do not think they can have any positive knowledge of that." Reference, somehow, to Dick Stoddard. W. then, "Dick is the typical snarling, biting, noisy, barking dog, unfriendly even with his neighbors. Yet Dick is not wholly without quality. He has unction, of a sort—though not of that last, final, over-arching sort which establishes real greatness—but he has it, of its kind—and he has made a certain sphere his own, and is not to be denied that. His sentiment is all venemous, however—he passes no courtesies."

     Insisted that I should take de Amicis, "and have your father read it, too. It should have a peculiar interest to him."


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