Commentary

Disciples


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Thursday, May 7, 1891

     5:10 P.M. W. just finished his meal. Reading Post. One of his blankets wrapped about his throat. The day cold and raw. Lusty fire in stove. Room very hot. Yet he was unconscious of any excess of heat. Returned me Harper's Weekly with assurance that he had "enjoyed it." How had the day passed with him? "It has been horrible—horrible—one of the horriblest! No, not out—not a step. Nothing but to keep afloat—which itself means a great struggle. My nights are better than my days—I sleep, after a fashion. But everything seems to give out—everything."

     Spent some time at Ferguson's this afternoon, arranging to have book go to press next week. Promised to return James one set cast pages Monday. He will correct immediately. Brown will hurry on press instantly thereafter. Title-page fixed to our taste. I asked and got a new proof of contents pages. I suggested to W. (as he seemed bent on a narrow margin) that we should print the book as Rolleston's fine soft edition of Epictetus—with margins all at side and bottom—thus leaving to W. the

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privilege of cutting his copies—to McKay the privilege of keeping main body of edition wide—and besides imparting something new to the whole thing. He at once said yes to this— "I think it a first-rate idea"—and left the rest for me to arrange. Advised me to go in and see McKay about imprint before having title-page cast. "He might wish to add something to it."

     I expressed regret that W. had missed the Wagnerian energies of Salvini, for their breadth and color—frank passion and abandon—were perhaps apart from all so far known in that branch of art. W. at this, "I, too, regret it, but I am past all that now. And I regret it the more because I feel with a vague certainty, it is true—that experience would establish me in your conviction. O'Connor would tell me substantially what you have been saying, and of late years I have heard it from Bucke time and again." Then, "This leads me to old Father Taylor again—the great soul!—the man who, of all men I ever knew, cut closest the moral life of man. I could not describe him except by reference to, say, Booth—the real Booth. Yet Taylor, however passionate, was not passionate at all—never noisy, never ranty—as if he held a sure instrument and was not ashamed to make wise—not rough—use of it. Which is the heart, soul, of all true art—at the line where art is nature. And it is this I have purposed to pile into 'Leaves of Grass,' to give it its mass, its spinal utterance, its larger measure and weight. And if my 'Leaves' have failed here they have failed altogether. It is the secret of all great poets, orators, philosophers: as in what I have said of Father Taylor, of Ingersoll."

     W. remarked, "I am disappointed—rather—that Doctor don't recover—don't move quicker. Take this letter with you—read it"—handing to me. "He is evidently not well, by any means. Yet sound—sound to the core, I believe." Says again as to his own state that "it leaves me right on the edge of destruction." Longaker not yet resumed his visits.

     W. thinks, "Now as I grow old—useless, helpless—I seem to come in great demand"—instancing a new request, as follows, arrived today:

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Century Club
7 West Forty-Third St.
April. 17. 91

Sir,

I have come over to America to do a series of articles for the Pall Mall Gazette. May I come & have a conversation with yourself for publication in that paper, which is read by most of your English admirers?

I regret I have no letters of introduction to you personally, as I do not know any of your friends, but I have letters to Cardinal Gibbons, Mr. O. W. Holmes, W. D. Howells, & many more. My work is well known in England & I possess the highest possible testimonials regarding it from Cardinal Manning, Mr. J. A. Froude, Hall Caine, Grant Allen, Mr. Justin McCarthy & many more.

Awaiting your reply

& with great respect

I am

Faithfully yours

Raymond Blathwayt

I might add that Lord Tennyson lives in the parish in the I. of Wight of which my father is the Rector & that they were both old schoolfellows.

He was in doubt what to respond.


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