Commentary

Disciples


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Friday, April 17, 1891

     5:55 P.M. W. in his bed, but rose immediately after shaking hands with me. As he limped painfully across room—holding

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onto bed, table and chair—he said to me, "You see what it is to get old—see what life may become." Had not been out. "I have spent a fearful day—sluggish, weak, depressed—but here I am. I did not go out—no, could not. There's no use pumping up an ambition when you feel all the logic is against it. And I have no doubt it is as well for me to rest. But I have not given it up—we will resume them the first day we can—do what is possible to shake off this growing bodily numbness." And then, "Yesterday—if I had not felt my pulse—known by its regular beat that all was right there, I would have believed the worst—for I lived in a near deathiness which crept subtly, as the day wore on, through all my bones." Rarely is he so direct as this. But now his color was good, however weary his general expression. "I suppose I feel worse today because I have been visited—visited. Oh! These visits are in some ways my damnation! These strangers—who make me deaf and blind! But today it was O'Donovan, who chatted an hour—has got a room with Eakins—has gone back to New York—to return Monday. And my sister, George's wife." And with the last he had spoken of the Burlington (Vt.) brother, the very thought of whom is an irritation and excitant. He had resolved not to go to Tom's to tea. Fortunate decision! Doctor L. opposed, as I was, and W. himself. "It would not do—I can see it—a good spread and good friends! It might havoc me! I know the temptation. But Tom was kind—was here again last night to ask me again." Gave me proofs I had left yesterday—few changes—added to book little paragraph from yesterday's Post—ordered 20 copies of "actors" piece pulled. "I want to send some of them away, here and there. I know quite a cluster to whom these stage bits are always welcome." Insisted I should take 50 cents "to give to proof-taker"—adding, "I feel always to wet their whistle—these good fellows. I never lose my respect for the printer boys, however they aggravate me at times."

     I have no word yet from New England Magazine. W. in high dudgeon, "I am not a prophet, but I prophesy about this, it is a bungle—and of the worst kind—names, everything else, bad

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and bad—a typical arrogant conceited journalist is one of the hardest scoundrels of all to deal with. Yet I have always been well treated on this ground by the best magazines. Gilder for instance—always kind, generous, deferential—and all the North American Review-ers except Metcalf. He was our bête noir. But Redpath, Rice, the present man—all three—were uncontestably manly."
What was his experience on the point charged against North American Review—that the editors manipulated articles? "I do not believe it. My experience has been that they have left me honestly alone, always to say my say as I wished to say it." Then, "These New England men—supercilious, overbearing—sensitive about their own rights—not so sensitive about another's—ought to know by this time how and where we stand. And they are disposed to take all the advantage they can of a current in our favor without returning for it more than force compels from them. They are cute enough to see that of late few years there has been a call everywhere for particulars of the life of the critter, Walt Whitman—the intimate things, which perhaps only a few know, but which are important in any life. Your paper was very rich in that, and the fellows up there knew it." After a pause laughed. I had said, "Let us wait and see." And he, "Yes, that is the fair attitude—to wait and see. But what I see I am almost sure will not be the thing I am entitled to see." He listened to my persuasions that he should add to the book at least the six pages to fill in the 72 (three signatures) and said, "It is quite possible I shall—I feel to do it, if the spirit moves." He asked me again about Ingersoll's manuscript on "Spirituality" and I promised to leave it with him later in evening.

     Gave me an orange for my mother. Always says, "the mother," and now added, "I don't think she knows how much I love her."


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