Commentary

Disciples


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Monday, November 9, 1891

     5:45 P.M. W. on bed, in a dark room. Soon, however, Warrie, dimly, at the door, "Mr. Whitman, shall I light the glim?" Which, "yes," and we had a faint glimpse thereafter of each other. But W. did not get up while I stayed, though talking freely enough. "I hear from Bucke, but mainly with the old story. He is busy, vigorously at work—well, too." And word

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from Johnston also. "Wallace is far towards home," says W., "far! The good fellow!" Morris had brought me in the Mail and Express. I left with W. who said, "It is all fudge and fluff—all! That embrace is like to get sick—or make me sick, anyway. Nothing like it happened at all—nothing, nothing. Arnold did start to read—he got the book here. But he did not go on at the length he evidently started out for. Whether because he saw my protest—inarticulate—whether I looked objection (which I hardly intended to) or whether for some other reason, I am puzzled to say. But, at any rate, he desisted." Then again, "I don't know about the reports. Young could not do it that devilish bad—no, he did not do it. Perhaps Major Pond had a bit to do with its divulgement. Though Pond is quiet, reserved, almost a silent man. I have met him several times, and that was my impression. So that on the whole, I would hardly suspect him of friendship for reporters—except, perhaps, on the business side, and what could that way be brought to the net. I have been thinking of what you have several times said to me, and I am inclined to agree with you the more I turn it over: that is, that Arnold himself must have had a finger in it. It must have got out, some way, from someone present. Arnold is a journalist—a journalist of a somewhat ardent type. And God knows what else! His own books? I never had them, never read them, never saw them, even, that I remember—certainly never had a word to say about them to Sir Edwin. It is a strange thing, altogether. And so infernal silly, one wonders how anyone could have made it or anyone been deceived by it."

     Returned me the O'Connor book. (Did I say Saturday he asked me to have it? Well, he did so ask.) Now he reports, "I am wholly satisfied: it has everything in its favor. And I hope it will have some sale, for Nellie's sake. And that reminds me to say, Horace, that there's one break in my piece—at least, one mistake—or not even that, for it was deliberately done. One place there you remember I spoke of my return to Washington and reception by O'Connor and his noble New England wife. Now the noble has been deleted. I should not have permitted it—should

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have put my foot down on that. Why should it have been interfered with, even by Nellie? At that particular time it was fully as much Nellie as William to whom credit belonged—though then and always, to both, for superbest generosity, sympathy, adherence, affection. What could have been done by mortal man, I think they did for me—both together. And noble it was, and should have been written noble, of her as of him, in that report, and she should not have disturbed it. And a thousand things, too, possible only to a woman came from her then—deepest things. Oh! I live in a perpetual gratitude for it."

     Speaking about the beauty of the days, W. added, "Isn't it a touch of Indian summer? And yet I haven't seen the haze—that beautifullest accompaniment!" And so he talked of that in a poetic, almost pathetic, strain for a little while. After which, as I was about to go, he called out, "Wait a minute, Horace—I have written Dave to say, if it is not too late, I should like him to wipe out 1891-2 from the title-page and put in its stead 1892 simply. The thing as I had it did well enough three months ago but now has a queer look, the whole thing having lally-gagged so horribly, for no apparent reason, and bringing us, anyhow, practically right upon the new year. And if you can get the sheets tomorrow, get them (the new sheets). In my prison here"—W. laughed merrily— "every message brought me these days has an interest—even the letters of the autographers. And these sheets will particularly gratify me, for they will finally, at the last, make me feel secure in my last plans. But I need not get garrulous with you, and about this—you who have travelled all these ways with me and know them as well as I do." But as I closed the doors I heard his voice, "Get the sheets, if you can!"


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