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Sunday, May 5, 1889

Sunday, May 5, 1889

1.30 P.M. Found W. just struggling towards his chair. Spoke of his own condition as "quite good today." Explaining: "I have just got up—was lying down for some time there on the bed." And he asked me after settling in his chair: "Isn't the day wonderfully beautiful out of doors? I have been sitting here by the open window." Out beyond, the green trees, birds singing, the plaint of an organ somewhere on the street. W. remarked the dullness of the papers today. "That is so, there is nothing in them. I have just written the Doctor that we seem to be passing through a period in art, literature, science, of absolute dead water. It does indeed seem so." Asked me where I was going this afternoon and when learning of a trip off on P. W. & B. road, exclaimed—"Oh! how I wish it were eligible for you to step in for an hour on O'Connor himself on your walks this afternoon! Poor fellow! Poor fellow!"

This morning I read several passages of "Democratic Vistas" to a group of young people, who seemed much struck therewith. W. said: "Democratic Vistas? I remember—it was a year ago, perhaps two—the Doctor wrote me that he had a sinking—that Democratic Vistas had sunk in deep water for him—had vastly lessened in his esteem. But then he wrote me that afterwards, when alone, isolated somewhere by some occurrence, he had come back to it, taken in its full scope again—that he found there, as I had always hoped was the case, close-compacted, the statement, America's future—something like that. Democratic Vistas was a composite piece—the product of different times, really, though coming about directly, as I must have told you before, of Carlyle's 'Shooting Niagara'—which was the emanating integrating force." "I was in Washington at the time—the early years of my stay there—was feeling pretty well—the paralysis not then on. Carlyle aroused me and this resulted." To my question he said: "Yes, Wendell Phillips thought very well of it. And there was another, too, I remember—Mills—John A. Mills—he was in Washington at the time—a Supreme Court lawyer—a man of prominence and parts—and qualities. He was a true democrat—a believer in Democracy—but somehow afraid—not certain of the future. He took Democratic Vistas up very carefully at the time: said in the course of a speech in some public meeting, referring to the book—'He has found it!' I don't know but Mills is living still—I must make a point to find out sometime."

Said he had examined the picture by daylight. "I am thoroughly satisfied with it!" Finished letter to Dr. Bucke. Adler spoke on "The Character of Washington" this forenoon. I was present. W. inquired after it with interest. As I was going he waved his hand—"My best wishes attend you, boy!" Did not stay long. Had only limited time for getting across the river to the train.

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