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Tuesday, April 9, 1889

Tuesday, April 9, 1889

10.30 A.M. W. writing on "Epilogue." Looked rather ill—not as much in color as is best. But cheery. We talked some few minutes together. He gave me proof on which he had written "this pleases better" and made one of two minor alterations. Had signed sheet to see how it looked complete, name and all: then marked name out. "Now I am satisfied," he said. "I am surprised, knowing Myrick's good taste as I do, that he ever consented to pass such a page as that other." He had some of the sheet of "Epilogue" pinned to proof, but withdrew them. "I think I'll hold these—copy them, perhaps—give them to you tomorrow." "By the close of this week—at latest the beginning of next, I want to have things in such shape that they can go right along with them." The "Epilogue" comes hard out of his indisposition of the past week. As his digestion has seemed right favorable, his present cloudiness must be from the paralysis. He is inclined so to place it. I gave him a letter I received from Clifford this noon. This he read and on passing it back said: "It does me good to get a glimpse of him that way. How great is the joy of letters!" Having application for more tickets for Friday's Club meeting than I have, W. gave me his two.

Alluded to his "personal" in yesterday's Press stating that the latest reports of Tennyson's sickness are but false repetition of older ones. W. then spoke of Walford's letter in Critic in which he quotes F. W. H. Myers' saying, that Tennyson has "passed out of the poet into the thinker" and that his "face expresses not delicacy, but power." W. had taken careful note of it. "But I don't think Myers hits the mark. Not that Tennyson lacks power of anything signifying power—but that power is the dominant factor. It seems to me—I should say—that Tennyson rather expresses elegance—such elegance as at least our age has nowhere else displayed—workedness, sublime care." And he went on reflectively, "And so it is, I think, while Tennyson does a good deal of good—oh! incalculable good!—he does harm too—often much harm: his mellifluosity—one may call it: it is great, overwhelming, everything in his imitators is sacrificed to accomplish that."

5.30 P.M. W. eating his dinner. It seems he has had a rather poor day of it, though eating quite a breakfast of buckwheat cakes and honey and now a supper of, for him, considerable proportions. But he complains of his head, says: "I look forward to a bad night"—and has by no means done the work he had desired to do today. When I asked if the "Epilogue" was finished, he replied: "Sort o' finished—yet not finished"—for he would not give it to me now, but he rather "must keep it till tomorrow, anyhow." I brought him now the third proof of the title page and he said the instant he looked at it: "That is good—that seems all right now." As to a change still of some figures from Italic to Roman which Myrick suggested, he remarked: "I am not bent on it: if he had put them that way I don't think I should have changed them. If he thinks best let him do it still."

Commented on the still "rather ominous absence" of word from Washington.

Talked explanatorily of a Truebner pamphlet I picked up from the floor. "I have a friend over there in the Truebner establishment" [he pronounced it Trubner with diphthong, and bore with my correction with a laugh and an attempt to correct himself]—"a man named Childs—Josiah Childs—I imagine him old and a Quaker: there have been letters from him. I picture him as a man of the confidential clerk kind which Dickens so delighted to talk about—the invaluable men in the big houses." The reference to Dickens reminded me of the discussion at Clifford's table between his daughter Charlotte and Dr. Bucke as to the visit of Dickens, the former stoutly defending him against the Doctor's severe disposition to brush him aside as of no importance. W.'s amusement extreme at the "audacity" of the "youngster." His own feelings towards Dickens "more kind" than the Doctor's.

He ate slowly as he talked—toast, preserves, coffee (or tea). My enthusiastic description of the day aroused him so that he flung the window sash all the way up. "I suppose Chestnut Street—Market Street—are alive—a breathing mess!" "And the way down and down—and then the river, too!" His manner rather pensive, if not sad. I asked him, "You remember Tommy?" He responded with a question: "Tommy? Tommy Logan? The great, big hearty Irishman? Oh yes!" "Well, Tommy is now an engineer—seems to be in the engine house most of the time if not all." "Is that so? Oh! I know Tommy well. I used to count him one of my best friends on the river." Then he asked: "Do you know Eugene Crosby? He was up in the wheelhouse—was a night pilot. He was a very noble fellow—always very good, affectionate to me!" So we talked. He spoke of "the old days—the boys—the rides to and fro." Then questioned slowly: "The Beverly, the Wenonah—what is the other boat? they have a third?" "The Pennsylvania." "The old Pennsylvania!" Then asked after Lindell—the time of the men, Foxy, several others by name. "You know them all," he said, when I shook my head over some names he mentioned. But I did not know the names. I had said to Tommy as I sat there in the engine room on the return trip and talked, that he should not be surprised to see W. wheeled down on the boat some day "when the spring is really here." Tommy then pathetic in his homely description of the old days with W.—hearty greetings, talks, sights: of W.'s generosities—"he'd give the boys money—the boys up there on the street—and never a word about what they would spend it for!" But W. himself when I mentioned the wheeling matter was more dubious than I have known him in a long time about getting out again.

Just a word with Tom Davidson last night after the lecture, about W. "I do not know him but I know many of his friends—his brother Tom, for one, out there in St. Louis." But W. had never heard reference to Davidson from that source. I advised with Ed, whether it would not be well to have Dr. Walsh come in and report on W. Probably will do so. W. looked grand in his place there at the window, in the waning light—the flitting paleness at times, the lengthened hair, often the faraway look as with folded hands he faced the west.

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