Commentary

Disciples


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Monday, May 18, 1891

     7:58 P.M. The day has been most beautiful throughout, but W. "did not venture" the chair—though this evening spending an hour downstairs in the parlor. As I entered now I found him changing his clothes—he proceeding (there in his bare legs, donning and doffing shirts, etc.), talking to me the while. What was the news? How had I spent the day? What did I bring him? These his questions. Says, "I continue to read my own book with the greatest admiration"—the press-work and paper so good it had "bribed" him "beyond admiring speculations." McKay and I had had a talk today—conferring about cover, etc. W. now "agreeable," as he said, to our views. "I shall neither approve nor censure what you do—I want to leave that in your hands entirely." Dave wants to know how many copies W. wants to sell him, at what price, and how many press copies? W. says, "I will memorandize that tomorrow."

     I met William Swinton at McKay's, having a long talk with him about W. Told W. of it now, W. saying, "He was one of my earliest friends—a true one, too—a sweet attractive fellow—gemmie—I always loved him. What! The new friends drive out the old? Not unless the old drive themselves out. Yes, I knew him before any of the others—O'Connor, Burroughs—and ours was a real intimacy, too. How is he, Horace? Is he still large, handsome, fascinating? Oh! In the old times he was all that and more—and au fait with all the best things, too." Swinton in Philadelphia—being treated for insomnia—looked to me shattered—yet with flesh, too, and a strong hand. Living out in Germantown—had come to McKay's to get an old edition of one of his own books. Expects John in town and says they will possibly be over together Wednesday to see W.—or this week sometime. W. pleased and said, "Let them come. I am almost anxious to see them." Swinton told me an anecdote of Emerson and his wife—S.'s visit to Emerson just after Dana's publication of the greeting to "Leaves of Grass"—their talk together of W.—Emerson's wife's chance entrance to the room, the hearing of

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the name, the shrugged shoulders and sniffle, "more significant than if a thousand things had been said." Swinton told me that John's eyes (operated on abroad for cataract) were much improved, but his nerve condition bad. Told me of editorials he had got W. in Washington to write for the Times (New York): "They were very fine—mainly descriptions of armies, their marches, etc. I have them yet. You should see them sometime." And assured me that his feelings towards W. were unchanged. He had not kept a copy of first edition though he had at the time many in his hands. Regretted.

     I received letters from Bucke and Baker about the dinner. Kennedy writes W. a postal as follows: I b[ough]t Traubel's piece—the New Englander Whitman number—today & frau & I are sitting here by kitchen fire enjoying it. It's the best thing ever done here in Massa. on W. W. Good for T[raubel] and Mead! What, I wonder, do the Vice Society idiots there think of these things?

W. S. K.

May 12 '91


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