Commentary

Disciples


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Sunday, May 17, 1891

     12:40 P.M. To W.'s with Bush, whom I had met at Broad Street station. Clifford, Harned and wife had been there just before us. W. had been "glad" to see Clifford, as now he says to Bush, "I am glad to see you, too." Bush sat down and we were there about ten minutes. W. talked very freely, of weather, health and work. Day beautiful but cool. Inquired of Bush after wife and fortune. "And you have been west—far west, into California?" But no—not beyond Chicago and Milwaukee—at which W., "I don't know how, but I have labored with the impression that you had taken a long trip—far—into the Great West." As for his own health, he said, "I am not up to much," etc. I rallied him that he certainly had looked better the past three or four days. "Do you think so? It seems that way to you?

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Well, I may feel the suspicion of a change, but no more. No, no, no, Horace—some day I'll surprise you and Warrie and Doctor Longaker by puffing out. When you do not suspect it—kick the bucket without warning. I don't think any one of you, or Bucke, realizes what I have come to. It is a far-down peg—far-down."
But he did not propose to slip us before dinner? He laughed and made merry over "the bad look that would have"—I saying it would not become him and he assenting, "I see it would seem ungrateful!" "But, Horace, the seriosity, gravity, of my case—we are not to forget—we may easily lose sight of it. And any day may call an end." I reminded him of other days, when he had declared "we will not fight with that end in view," and told him a story:

     "General, what do you do, going to a battle you feel you will win?"

     "Fight like hell!"

     "But what if you think you will lose?"

     "Fight heller!"

     This aroused W. to great laughter. "It is fine, fine—very good—splendid! And a lesson, too!" Still he insisted that things were "in a suspicious stage" and he could not trust them. I showed Bush a copy of the book and asked W. if he still felt satisfied with it? "Yes, satisfied and more! Indeed—that is my great triumph, stand-by, these days." He had been making up copies to send to Symonds and Tennyson. (I subsequently found from Harned that he had refused to give out copies for a week.) What did he think for a cover? He would leave that in part with Dave. Should I go to Dave and discuss it? "Yes, and do what you choose. I give you carte blanche." I would reproduce title-page on cover and not add the autograph this time. W.: "I endorse that view: I, too, would prefer the autograph left off," saying this slowly, deliberately.

     Last night he gave me a letter and manuscript poem sent up from Waco by a woman. "If you like real hard labor, there's for you. I could not travel far in it myself."


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