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Monday, June 10, 1889

Monday, June 10, 1889

5.45 P.M. Stopped in to see W. on my way home. He remarked my early coming. "You drop in en passant?" he said, and added his well known "good!"—this time not in its formal, but its pleased, tone. He had just finished his dinner. Remarked that he intended going out as soon as Ed came back. (Ed was already back—in the parlor—and had not reported to him.) "I sent him up to Squire Curtz's for some slips," he explained, adding, "Slips I want much, too." It had been very warm today—he had felt it, too, but not severely—sat there even now fanning himself. His color and eye seemed greatly bettered since last night when I saw him. He had remarked to Ed immediately on waking that he was conscious of improvement. He laughingly and directly declared to me: "You see!—the champagne set me up, in spite of all the doctors! Even yesterday, for a couple of hours around the time I took it, I was respited, eased—felt almost jubilantly released—though there in the evening—in the evening—even while you were there—the trouble came back as bad as ever." He yesterday gave Tom Harned a copy of the pocket edition. Inscribed it as he had the other. Spoke of his letter to Donaldson. "I wrote him yesterday—yes indeed—and told him that if the draft was sent for me, drawn to my order, I should have it. I do not understand: it is exceedingly mysterious why Tom has held it, now nearly if not quite a year." But "crookedness" he would not believe. "Once Tom explains, it will appear natural enough, I suppose." But he was emphatic that "the time has come" for him to get, as he explained it, his own.

Our rather loose-charactered Item (Phila.) republished W.'s Johnstown poem Friday last. A young fellow called my attention to it on the boat. I related this to W. Everybody remarks its strength. W. said again tonight: "That is a splendid thing to hear: nothing could more touch me up." I half-queried: "And you'll have another volume written yet before you're done!" He took the matter up: "So you think it is demonstrated there's life in the old dog yet? Who knows but there's still to be an annex to the [referring to Sands at Seventy] annex! I have sometimes thought of it myself." He pointed to the table. "There's a piece now, made up for the Herald." The letter lay open, the envelope addressed to Bennett. He charged ten dollars for the matter. "That," he said, explaining, "is what I am waiting for the slips for: it is only a poemet—a little conceit—suggested by the Exposition. And that is not all—a couple of days ago I sent a little piece over to Gilder, for the Century: perhaps he will use it—perhaps not; either way, I shall be satisfied. While the whim is on I shall keep it up—write as inspired to write. So after all the Annex to the Annex may not prove only a joke or a dream!" He urged me to keep a sharp eye on the Herald. "I should not say tomorrow, particularly, but for the next 3 or 4 days." He suggested in his note to the Herald people that they put the piece in the personal column, as of old. Another of his expressions to me was this: "I do seem to have taken up my pen again. Maybe they'll say I would have been wiser had I let it alone!"

Said he had no letter "from any of the fellows"—and remarked "the strange quiet." In Clifford's speech occurs a reference to Morse's bust of W. It recurred to me, why not use a reproduction of this for frontispiece? Referring it to McKay today, he readily assented. So now I explained to W., who was greatly pleased. But he quite concernedly spoke of its "dangers," saying that Frank Harned's experiment at photographing it had been "totally a fizzle." My plan is to have my father oversee a good photographing of it—then to let it be photoengraved. "I am quite taken with the idea," W. said again, "only—if it is not well done I shall put my foot down on it—shall not allow it to be used. The other version— Frank's—was weak, lame, defective, futile: it would do well enough as a recovered bust, pick-axed out of old ruins, old Greek ruins—would have an interest as representing some forgotten great man, perhaps. But for Sidney's head?—Oh! for that it would never pass." He repeated as so often before his own high estimate of the head. "Somehow, sometime, it ought to be justly rendered, made current. There is something in it to me finer, truer, than anything so far done by anybody in any way whatever. If only that can be caught!" As to the pamphlet at large, that we could "proceed with" our "own way, of course." "I shall not interfere, whatever course you take with that—the letter-press—speeches—what-not." But he said again: "I have been wondering today whether it was yet too late—I don't think it is: too late to make Dave revise his condition about the 200 copies. It seems to me Dave is greedy in this: I am certain a hundred copies should do—guaranteed." We debated the question for some time, and finally he said: "I suppose after all it is best to let it go as it is—as it has been arranged for. There may be some sale for it: it is difficult to know." Would it be put in the stores?

I spoke to Dave today about settlement for the big books, and he promised to pay the current month. I told him also that after talking the matter over from all sides, I was sure W. would not give out review copies of the complete works and pocket editions; that if sales were somewhat embarrassed thereby, W. was willing to lose all that was so sacrificed. W. now both nodded and stated his approval. "Yes—I should have said it that way myself—should probably have submitted that as a finality, to close with. If these books were issued as books mainly ought to be—in plain, cheap, acceptable but genuine form, I could spread it abroad, furnish many; but printed as they have been, for a special purpose, it must be handled as I have concluded to handle it—yes, even if at a pinch to have most of 'em kept on our hands here a long while. Our purpose in getting out these editions was not to make a popular book but to put together, to verify, what was written—to preserve its integrity, send it out under our seal—advise that others in future should follow us closely—heed our solemn admonition." And he concluded with a terse sentence: "I think we have succeeded in that—therefore we have succeeded!"

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