Commentary

Disciples


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Friday, October 16, 1891

     5:40 P.M. To W.'s. Another order for complete works from McKay. W. says, "Yes, we are getting rid of 'em. Lord knows what wind hikes 'em away, but we pray they may fall on good soil!" When I entered W.'s room, he was sitting in dusky shadows—faint light from the evening skies. I could just make him out. A slight fire burned in the stove. He had gathered his gown about him in a way to indicate he thought it cold. Was gazing out to the north. "Ah! It is you, boy! Welcome! Welcome!" How had the day been? "Quite a good one! I am in a way to enjoy a

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few better days, maybe. But the morning was bad, too—after a sense. Somehow, however, we seem to survive all the knocks."
Then he told me, "Wallace was here—spent well on to an hour with me. Good fellow! What a tenacious rascal he is, too! You would not think it, to look at the little fellow. Yet he takes hold, sticks, sticks, sticks like the devil—yes, sticks like a true Briton!" Laughing at the turn, and proceeding, "I got along better with him, with his voice. He was welcome—yes, welcome, welcome. And I am sure he must know it. And the fact of the manner of his coming—of the boys he represents—that alone would settle all scores with me. I suppose he is up at your house waiting for you, now. I have been looking out—up—the north there: oh! and soon, the sweet moon! It must be a great evening out in the fresh air! We ought to be happy, for Wallace's sake, that the days come and go, come and go, sunny, bright, hopeful—all of them. And before it passes out of my mind, Horace, let me ask you: Wallace says you report Pete Doyle in Baltimore. How did you get that?" It had been from Mrs. O'Connor. "Oh! Well, it was entirely new to me. I did not know of the change! The noble Pete! I hear but little from him. Yet that is not wonderful, either—I never did hear much." Doyle's letters not frequent? "Oh no! Never! He is a mechanic—an instance out of the many mechanics I have known who don't write, won't write—are apt to get mad as the devil if you ask them to write. But of course I always humored Pete in that. It was enough for me to know him (I suppose, too, for him to know me). And I did most of the writing. He is a train-hand: like all the transportation men, necessary wanderers. Wallace wants to see him. You must put your heads together and see if it can't be arranged."

     I went to corner—took a copy of big book from a pile (for McKay). W. remarking, "They go, one by one! I suppose if all our friends were gathered together they'd make quite a cluster." I told W. of a talk I had had with a man who asked me, as if it carried a conclusive negative with it: "Had ever a writer such bitter enemies?" I had retorted, "Or such bitter friends?" W.

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laughed heartily, "It was a retort, the best part of which is, that it is steeped deep—oh! so deep! —in truth. The friends! —oh! they deserve to be immortal, whatever becomes of 'Leaves of Grass'!" I asked W. again, "Are you still in favor of the cheap edition? It is a hungry issue with me." "Oh yes! I still believe in it—in fact, believe in it with increased conviction." Dave back in town. Might be over any day. Would W. present a determined front? He laughed, "We will see about that. Don't I generally?" Then followed, "I am getting riled about 'Leaves of Grass.' Dave is delaying us inexcusably."

     I read him Forman's letter. It was too dark—he said he could not see it. But by going close to the window and utilizing the faint rays from a street lamp, I was able to get along very well. But he was concerned. "Take a match, Horace—light the gas. Spare yourself!" At the reference to imposts, W. exclaimed, "I can say amen! amen! to that with a couple of damns added. That tariff is one of the devils by which civilization, so called, may worry freedom." And as I went on, "I wish you could get Harry the pictures, but I'm afraid you can't. Let me see—oh! yes! he might use a copy of the profile picture as mine. That was recent—just before the dinner—the nearest I know. But as for the others? It will be a puzzle, and you may prove a deft untier." And as to autographing books for Forman, "Yes indeed! Anything he could ask and I could give would be sent. We owe Forman many things, which the world—even Forman himself—wots not of." I spoke to Wallace of the Edy picture, said, "I do not like it: it has a tough look." Whereupon W.: "If it is the picture I think it is, it is poor enough. I do not like it any better than you do. Did Wallace get any number of them? I don't think it would be best to make much of them. If he wishes to take pictures to the boys, I will autograph a lot of the Gutekunst pictures for him—the one used in Bucke's life. I have them here—they are pretty good." And again, "As I have always said, there's an element, margin, play, of uncertainty in every photo: it may be a bit out of heaven or a breath from hell—is likely to be

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very good or very bad. The best of them come by hazard—the casting of a die."
W. proposes to get some new reproduction of the butterfly picture. "I wonder if the process men can reverse the picture? Set it looking right where now it looks left? I want to have it done, for my own purposes. And if you will inquire, why, do so! I like the process pictures, at their best. They seem to utter a new thing in art."

     I spoke in warm tones of Rome. W. saying, "It is all just as you say—he centers the best brawn, virtue, of the Scottish race. There's no discount to Andrew—he's true blue, however regarded. I hope you will have other chances to see him. It is a good thing to know these simple, intuitional fellows, for whom life expresses best things—and I know no one of Andrew's sort in whom so much is strained, distilled."

     At home I found Wallace busily engaged upon his notes. He still complained of the inadequacy of his memory to serve him as he could wish. But read me some pages of specimen notes, which I consider fine in perception but not quite in touch with W. in the verbal constructive side. Curiously—at tea—Wallace said, "I read some of my notes to Mrs. Traubel and she thinks they are quite like Walt, I believe. But she tells me also, that you are doing this same sort of work, and have been for a long time." I instantly perceived that Anne had left the cat out, so owned up—afterward giving Wallace some specimen pages—reading to him. He was glad it was a fact. Johnston had advised Warrie to do this thing (not of course knowing of my labor). Wallace seemed rather aghast by the extent of my accumulations. He would keep it all shady, however, though I consented to have Johnston. He takes it very easy here—doing little, absorbing a good deal. Speaks of improved mental state. Anne is anxious lest he be overdone. He did not write to Johnston today, though I did not. We went together to Unity Church, where we met Harned and had a good talk, much of it, of course, about W. Wallace speaks of returning Wednesday of next week—on which issue I fought him.


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