Commentary

Disciples


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Thursday, April 23, 1891

     5:45 P.M. W.—and Warrie—still complain about "the bad signs" and persistent weakness. "He refused his ice cream today, which was extraordinary for him," said Warren. Warren helped him over from the bathroom and he joked as they went toilsomely along, "It is a good thing we have plenty of time." Not out today. "I still feel to say, I have not grown to hold more than a pint!" I told him I had found all the nonpareil and brevier necessary at Ferguson's but still fought the idea of his printing the Sarrazin essay. He said, "I am much inclined to yield all that now—you are so positive about it—so set against. And I have more than a suspicion you are right." "Rather the

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66 pages,"
I argued, "rather let it end now!" And he, "Well, let us then end it—let this be the wind-up—why not?" Afterwards we discussed plans. Want it for a birthday book. None too much time ahead. Besides, W. was "so uncertain" about his condition he "felt to push things on with best speed." As to the volume itself, of which I spoke warmly, W. said, "I am not so much concerned with what our critics will say of us as of what we will say of ourselves. What you mention there—its indirection, its power to hint—to throw out masses, outlines, colors—then leave the rest—that is fine. My only ambition has been to not contradict—break—in 'Good-Bye' any of the great foundation laid in the early poems. I quite realize that 'Good-Bye' is different from the rest of 'Leaves of Grass'—but it is not inconsistent, inconsonant. I am quite sure of this myself, after many doubts, questions, criticisms (self and others)—and so I am fortified." I expressed regret that we would have to go to press without "Death's Valley," saying, "It belongs with the 'Good-Bye' poems." He then, "Indeed it does, it does—but what can we do? It is not in our power to do anything but omit." Charged me to get thickest paper I could for the little volume. "With now only 66 pages we must make up a little bulk some way." We will go ahead with contents and title-pages at once.

     Had I ever talked with O'Connor about Rabelais? "It is not wonderful that William knew a good deal about Hugo—but Rabelais? Well, he is a different order—information of him is rare—and he was one of several rare figures whose intricate make-up William penetrated."

     W. gave me a copy of National Review. "It is one of the many things I get almost daily from Lancashire. They are loving, comradery fellows—worthy the best stock." Perhaps would diagram title-page tomorrow to give us his exact idea.

     Talked with Ferguson about printing. Will give us a press any day, almost.

     James will give us complete proofs (plate) tomorrow except last two or three pages—which W. still holds, has not passed.


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     I received letter from Baker this forenoon. W. greatly interested. Baker writes that Ingersoll speaks in New York May 3d for the benefit of the New York Ethical Society. W. remarked, "What a beneficence the noble fellow proves himself everywhere! I know no other just like him. He is a streak of life—a passing blessing—day by day."

     W. has been in stress and strain for several days over the serious illness of Warren's grandfather, Captain Rayner at Doylestown. And he sent Warrie today to Ed Lindell's home to inquire after his condition. The death of old Danny Sweeten, at the ferry, "shocks" him, he says, "though he is old and might have been expected to go anyway before long." And then, "These multiplied troubles are pretty serious. I find I cannot wholly shake off their effect."

     Would he have some strawberries? "No, not till we have our northern berries. I notice these others look rosy and happy, like a good sky, but lack many things to the taste."


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