Commentary

Disciples


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Saturday, October 24, 1891

     Wallace stopped in at W.'s with me on the way to Penn Club reception. I went upstairs first, Wallace staying in parlor. W.'s hall door locked, I going then through Warrie's room. "I've been washing—that was the reason, and I forgot to unlock things after. I feel better for my brush with the water." Not "a good day on the whole," however. Wallace downstairs? "Bring him up—tell him he might as well come up." I going out to head of stairs and calling, Wallace then appearing and W. greeting him again. Sturdy fire in stove. W. asked Wallace, "Is it too warm here?" Then to me, "Is it for you?" I smiled and he asked further, "Is it?" "It is too warm for me but probably not for you." "Well, leave the door open." As we left (some time after) asked me to close it again (after I assured him we did not need its light, there being a faint light in the hall below).


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      "If you go down to Timber Creek, Wallace," W. said, at one moment, thrusting his fingers in his vest pocket and drawing forth a silver dollar, "you will see the children: Amy has two children—a little boy, a little girl. Take this dollar—give it to Amy—tell her half is for the boy, half for the girl. And you must see Harry Stafford. They are poor—yes, poor—but" and this ended, as if word died in reflection. And again, "Let me give you some advice, Wallace: if you go to Timber Creek, go like a wise man—make no plans, indulge no speculations, expect nothing—go prepared for whatever may turn up, for good, bad. That may spare you a good deal." While Wallace was downstairs W. had remarked, "Jeannette Gilder—Jennie—was here today, with some beautiful girls. She is large, splendid, frank, manly—yes, she should have been a man." And after, "I was glad to see her. She refreshed me—and the girls, they too. The Gilders have stood by me now through the better part of 20 years, which is something to say—both Joe and Jennie—though Jennie, I think, with more warmth, with nearest to fervor. A cousin of Watson's? No, I thought Jennie was a sister—that was always my impression—but I may mistake the truth." I remarked, "Harry Bonsall is one of your old journalistic friends—he stuck by you even in the days of the New Republic." W. thereupon, "Yes, I know. There is Harry—he has always been loyal, loyal with fervid loyalty, too. Long ago, there was George B. Corse—General Corse—you met him?" To J.W.W., "He was an army officer with a lot of toploftical ideas—ideas such as military men are apt to get: glory, spreadeagle, show, gilt, bluster—a splurgey sort of fellow, George, but with good points, too. He and Bonsall were partners. I happened in the office often at that time, mostly by his invitation, suggestion. There I would meet Harry. They were good days." Then suddenly, "But you fellows are awful late. What's up? I thought you were already over the river." And after some explanations, "You ought to meet Horace Howard Furness. Yes, he will be there—is a great attender of such affairs. His deafness? It don't abash him—he goes anyhow—there is so much of that side to him. I seem to get along with him very well—we hear, are heard."


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     I had told W. the other day that Miss Anne Wharton had somewhere written of W. that he was after all distinctly a man's poet, not for women, at the best. W. asked, "Where did she say that?" But I did not know. Now, however, having found it was in Brains (Boston), I told W., who made merry over the article and the paper. I had suggested that Guts rather than the other thing distinguished the paper. W. then, "That is Herbert! His word—though he puts it to other meanings—'What do you think of this picture, poem, what-not, Mr. Gilchrist,' and perhaps it has line, color, beauty, and Herbert may say so—and may add, 'It has all these but it has no guts!' which is a word open to a world of significance!" Inquired then, "Will you take the Bazar now?" But I thought not—would leave till tomorrow. W. then, in comment on the Dutch picture, "We have a good deal to learn from this—oh! a good deal. It is refreshing, after the old tiresome emphasis placed upon Greek ideals of beauty—certain this, that, the other, a tradition—to strike upon such as this, to find such breadth of treatment. And the face itself, heroically made, accepted—touched with such mass (by master's hand)—such a face handled in such decision (some people would call it coarse, bloody)—the singular, latent power suggested, the character—and such work, such a personage, such momentum—as if with a solid bottom. And I tell you, bottoms are not in the world to be dispeged, as—who was it?—one of Dickens' characters—oh yes! Sary Gamp—would say."

     After our good-bye to W. we went across to Philadelphia to the Penn Club. Frank Williams there—later Jastrow—later still Morris. Met there Esling, local poet and writer, who had traveled much and was replete with story or fable. Williams told me this. Lincoln Eyre's mother, Mrs. Wilson Eyre, though to that time ignorant of or opposed to "Leaves of Grass," in the summer took the book up and more carefully read it than before (if ever read before) and imbibed a certain sort of enthusiasm for parts of it—the other evening surprising a whole company of people by saying she would "recite something from Walt Whitman," whereto

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plying at "The Mystic Trumpeter" with great ardor and understanding. Williams astonished and pleased. Asks me now—can I get for him a copy of "As a Strong Bird" (the little volume), which contained "The Mystic Trumpeter"—along with Mrs. Eyre's name and W.'s autograph. I promise, knowing W. has copies and would do it, and that Frank Williams could nowhere else get them. "Do this for me, Horace—I'll be everlastingly indebted." "It will help me," he said again, "and help the cause."

     Exhibited Emerson letters to Jastrow. Much pleased and studious over them.

     Leaving Penn Club late it was one o'clock before we got home. Wallace's impression of Jastrow: "He is an odd little fellow," confessing that he felt disturbed to find that Jastrow knew so little about Walt Whitman. Liked Williams immensely. On way to Philadelphia we made notes on boat. But Wallace complains that he cannot collect himself.


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