Commentary

Disciples


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Saturday, April 25, 1891

     5:45 P.M. W. on his bed. I sat there for some time, in his chair by the window, reading, now and then answering his questions. Day very disagreeable: high wind, dust, chill. On the bed near him a cheap copy of Volney, in which he had written his name and some remarks. Had been reading. Asked me about the weather—spoke of his weakness. "It seems impossible for me to rally from this. What will it lead to?" Had noticed the clouds of dust floating on the wind— "I can taste it, even back of these closed windows." I had brought him a copy of the new Atlantic containing the second part of O'Connor's story. "I am glad: it will afford me a joy—I have none too many things leading that way." After a brief pause, "And yet I don't know why I should ever say that, either," for, in truth, "who ever had such loyal friends?" Curiosity as to the book at last induced him to get up

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off the bed. As he sat on its edge—the strain of getting up—he murmured, "The wine is left the cup—nought now remains but dreg!"—turning his head about to me— "Isn't there something of that sort in 'Macbeth'?"—his tone musical, but distantly sad. Toilsomely he went around to the chair sitting opposite to me (towards the west)—picked up the Atlantic and regarded its cover, "That is the same old fellow—the same form and show, unchanged, untouched." Then opening, inspecting O'Connor's piece sharply, "I should think even Dick Stoddard would revel in this: there's enough of the literary about it—and joined with first-rate native power—to carry it anywhere—even up to court!" And again, "The important question now is—what of the book? Will they print it? That's the thing I'm after to know." It had come over me last night that W. had forgotten his Horticultural Hall speech from the book—and had so written him—in the meantime holding the proofs of pages he had last night ordered cast. Now he said, "Your note surprised me—I had indeed forgotten entirely about it—but Lord knows how many other things, too, are gone, perhaps utterly—perhaps to turn up too late—so that you see, I shall be like the actor, having many farewells. I do not see how we can get the speech in now, except by adding other things with it. I have left no more white space on that last page than I want." No word from Bucke, but, "Every couple of days I have something from my Lancashire friends—some letter, some affectionate reminder. Here is one of Wallace's letters."

     Frank Williams brought me today a copy of Lippincott's for W. in which he discusses the static and dynamic forces in literature, and instances W. as supreme, in our age, in the second. Forgot to take to W.—promised to do it tomorrow. Mead writes that he will send W. a dozen copies of the magazine. W. then, "Thank God for that much. I want a couple for my sisters, one for my niece, a couple for Lancashire, one for Symonds. Well, well, a dozen will do for the present."

     Papers this morning contain accounts of the death of von Moltke—over 90. W. said, "What a grand specimen he was! A

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rare, great, simple, unglittering kind of man, built for transacting great things!"
And, "One account says he was feeble till he reached 50—that he commends a certain regularity in walking, diet, all that—and simplicity first of all. But there's no rule for old age—a man comes to his nineties if he comes, not otherwise!"

     When I left W. he was buried (not drowned) in the Atlantic.


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