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Wednesday, July 3, 1889

Wednesday, July 3, 1889

7.45 P.M. Spent half an hour with W. He sat at the parlor window, fanning himself, his legs braced against the table. It was a close hour, as it had been all day, though the rain, which had come in violent showers, seemed now suspended. Already the din of explosives: a number of times in our talk W. had to wait for volleys of fire-crackers to pass. From Washington the signal service men this morning announced a "muggy" day. W. remarked: "I guess this is it—I guess it is 'muggy'!""I do not, of course, get out such days as these—we can no longer swim!" etc., etc. I called W.'s attention to a postal I had received today from Yarros. He said promptly: "You will do it? I hope you will." I wondered if Mrs. O'C. would give me a few biographical dates? "Yes, I think she will. Write to her about it. I wrote her yesterday—sent her a postal, telling her about the paper. But if I were you I should not wait to hear from her—commence at once: then if she sends what you can use, weave it in. I am very glad you received such a request, the mere request means a good deal to me, the mere idea there is somebody who wants to know—some responsive souls, here and there, awake to the man." People criticised my article for its applause—it was "too strong." But W. reiterated, "It is much as if they should complain of the attraction of gravitation, that it was too strong: when pointed out its power, that they had never thought it in that way—that they had never so seen it!" Then he said reflectively, in a more quiet tone: "O'Connor was an outgrowth of—was con amore with—the Elizabethan period in English history, with the men, influences of that time, a growth out of the tree—a limb—a noble issue, living, making a peculiar record, suited to the environment, circumstances, men, of these modern times. It would be very happy for you to make use of biographical figures—data of that sort—but you could not get them from me, I have no head for them—could not supply them."

Speaking of the absurd protest of a bandmaster in Philadelphia against employment of Germans for public orchestration, W. laughed merrily, "I don't know why it may not as well happy soon that somebody arises to protest against foreign books, German music, Alfred Tennyson, yes—even the Bible! Isn't the Bible a foreign product? It would be perfectly consistent." Thereupon union with Canada entered discussion. Said he: "The older I grow, the broader, deeper, larger that word Solidarity is impressed on my convictions—Solidarity: where can one produce its substitute? To me, the largest word in human resources—the largest word in the catalogue—fullest of meaning, potential, all-inclusive." And then: "God save the bandmasters when such a word is at last proclaimed!—or perhaps bandmasters of this stripe will not exist under such a dispensation!" He labored with this for some time, then diverged, "The papers are making much of corruption in French politics—as though we had to go far to find corruption on this side! Another great affair in France just now seems to be the sale of Millet's pictures—the big picture, the 'Angelus'—which seems to have been bought by some one for about a hundred thousand dollars. Think of this, then think of Millet, Millet dead, his little children—or rather, not little, for they are grown up now, I suppose—his children and poor old wife finding it hard to make both ends meet, he dying off there in poverty—nothing in the world, they selling what remained—old paintings, sketches, for what they would fetch, the world fattening on his genius!" But "That is, as you say, 'the inevitable decree of the Fates'—it always happens—one has to do nothing but expect it!" Here he laughed again—"But there's no doubt the papers are full of it: between it and President Harrison's appointment of Bill this or that to this or that office, the papers seem to be having a bothersome time of it!"

Asked me if I thought I could insert the whole of the matter he gave me in the envelope last night. Promised him to let him see MS. in a day or two. Suggested to him that a good capstone would be two or three lines—a poem—from him. I expected him to laugh that proposition out of countenance, or quietly say, "good! good!" and never refer to it again, but instead he declared, "I shall consider it—it is an idea—perhaps something will be suggested!" W. handed me a package from the table. "Here are the sheets," he said, "twenty of them, I shall have twenty copies of the book bound Dr. Bucke's way." On the package he had written, after addressing in corner to Oldach, the following:

20 Autograph  
  First Sheets for Bindery 
 for 20 copies L. of G. 
 bound in green morocco ordinary mode 
 (without the pocket book flap 
 trimmed close—full gilt)
Spoke of this as "purely an experiment," adding—"Perhaps I shall like it—perhaps not: I have no idea at all."

My niece had written in the course of a note to my sister, "There is a nasty dirty polecat prowling around here and nobody dares to try to catch it." W. laughed uproariously over my recital of this. "It's too good to keep!" he exclaimed, "and thoroughly like a child—an exquisite touch, which no grown-up person could have given!"

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