Commentary

Disciples


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Sunday, November 29, 1891

     7:40 P.M. Anne along when I went to W.'s, but did not go upstairs with me immediately. W. sitting up, a shawl pinned about his shoulders. Lusty fire in stove. Night cold. He remarked it.

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"It must be blowing a pretty cool gale out-of-doors." Thermometer pretty far down. Had he yet read Wallace's "Experience"? "Yes. It is not new—what it promulges not new, so to speak. For I have always contended—'Leaves of Grass' touches it in a thousand ways—that the universe, the earth, all the orbs—all they contain, night and day, of what is called ugliness and beauty—is just what the individual regarding it may be—not more, not less. Wallace is a curious mixture of the emotional—the affectionate, the faithful—and the intellectual. His intuitions grasp a good deal, a wonderful lot—past the toil of the understanding—a sort of inner sagacity. How much Wallace would have got from William O'Connor! To have seen William at his best was a world not to be forgotten, ever."

     Had read in Times McClure's paper on Lincoln and Chase. Left with W., who said, "Tell me the amount of it, will you?" And after doing so he still insisted, "Chase was a bad egg: handsome, smart, but there a stop. This"—pointing to a little portrait— "this is a very good picture of Chase, very good. I have seen him often. What does McClure's judgment amount to? Does he seem to hit the nail on the head?" Again, "Chase did some indispensable things, I suppose, but along with them much evil. Elias Hicks used to ask, or say he often wondered, whether Christianity had done more good than bad in the world. I do not feel in doubt on that point, but I do about Chase. Much was made of the fact that he got us out of our need for money. How did he get us out? He printed the money. That strikes me strangely. And there were a few deep heads at that time shaking, shaking. He started the presses and the future had to foot the bill. We are still footing it. Chase had his good traits, no doubt—he meant, some ways, to do right. But he had a horrible way of stumbling over his good purposes, so that however we explain him, he don't rank first-rate. They were stormy times: he helped the storm. Noble Lincoln! Not a cloud left on him now!"

     I said to W., "Anne is downstairs." "Eh! Downstairs did you say? You'd better go down and bring her up!" Which I did. They

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kissed each other heartily. W. very tender and loving—demonstrating it. W.'s welcome warm. Anne spoke of it as "comfortable here," W. saying, "Is it so? Well, we mean it to be!" At the idea that he should go out he said, "If only I could! Yes, I would enjoy it—would like to trip, run, with the rest. But there's no use attempting to break jail. Here I am!"

     Left Conservator with W. Our dispute there with Long. Harned just tells me Long took the ground that if it had not been for Christianity, the world would likely have gone to smash. W. thereupon, "O Mr. Long! Mr. Long! And you preach down in the church, too! It is strange how people, when they get a good thing, declare it is the only good thing. The man who likes roast beef is not willing to allow that mutton is good, or that a chop may have enticements, virtues. But so it is nevertheless. These individual Christians, as you say, Horace, know only their little circle—do not seem to be equal to any brave considerations or to see much—report much." And again, "One man says, 'The apple is good.' What have you to say of pears, grapes? 'Oysters are good.' Why do you condemn roast lamb? That is a question we have a right to ask." I quoted Brooks to the effect that Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus were noble exemplary men, crowned with genius, but that they lived without light—that final last light, the Christ, the Christian. That they had in a sense walked in darkness. W. exclaimed, "That is very odd—very superficial. For men without light themselves, they managed to give a good deal of light to the world. These fellows all seem to forget that 99 one-hundredths of the time that has been—that a big, dominating majority out of all the people who exist—oh! whole majorities, not to be counted—never knew a word about Christianity—did not even know its name—yet managed to exist—to live well—to die nobly—to flower the earth. It is altogether a ragged, worthless interpretation." I put in, "But science has passed all that." He then, "Yes, it has—thoroughly." "And studies of comparative religions have knocked the old notions all out." "Yes, or tend to—have, in fact, with the best fellows." I spoke of Long, "He lives in a narrow

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circle—sees only a segment—a few things here and there."
"True enough—yes, I am sure you are right. I am surprised at the currency of some of these ideas."

     We had something to say of Reinhalter again and Moore. W. feels, "It puts on a bad promise for Ralph: I don't like the look of things." When we left he kissed Anne good-bye, saying to her, "Come often, darling, come often." She alluded to "the delightful odor of wood," and he asked, "You notice it, do you? I guess it's a good thing to have about." And then, "Good night, my dear! Good night, Horace!" And he called after her, "Take care, dear—is there a light below?" (When she had started up obedient to my summons, he had called from his seat, "Come up, Anne! Come up! We are home!")


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