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Monday, July 8, 1889

Monday, July 8, 1889

8 P.M. W. was wheeled up by Ed the minute after I came. Was very cordial tonight—had a good color—and said that he felt rather better—had been to the river, and "got from it the unusual enjoyment." A slight breeze stirred the trees opposite. He took off his hate—laid it on his lap. Said to me: "I have been reading Amiel—looked quite a good deal through the book today. But, Horace, he is not our man—not at all our man—I can see that at once. For one thing, he disbelieves in democracy, in progress—then, he is damnably pious—Oh! damnably pious!—and there is a sickliness in him, too—a thinness. I should not call him great—not in the slightest—nor do I think him the man for our modern world—not in any way. I can see that he should have an interest for the savant—but for us?—oh no! he is far, far from being our man!" How had he come to wish for the book? "Oh! through hearing everybody crack it up!—the Critic, in the first place—then little paragraphs in the newspapers."

I had received a letter from Mrs. Costelloe. Sat here now and read to W., who was greatly interested and had me read some passages a second time. I asked,—"Shall it go in the book?"—knowing for myself that it would go in, and he quickly replied, "Oh yes! it is eminently fit—indefeasibly belongs there—'tis the message the woman brings: the woman's quickness, intuition—the woman's perfume—the woman's truth." And "particularly should it go in as coming from Mary Costelloe." I had a letter from Mrs. O'Connor today, also, one sentence of which was this—"I see by your article in Unity that you are disposed to treat very lightly Mr. O'Connor's Baconian theory." etc. If my article gave such an impression, it was one not intended. When I came to that point, reading to W., he interrupted—"No, that is a mistake, I did not read it that way—it did not so impress me." I then asked, "Don't you think it is by the Whitman letters he will be best remembered?" To which—"I do—decidedly; I think all his friends think the same thing, too." Well," I responded, "that is all I meant to say—not that the other work has not importance too." W. hereupon—"So I supposed: Nellie has not rightly interpreted you." Adding—"William gave of his best in those letters —his best, quite aside from the general references to me. Glints of power and passion—of his knowledge of literature—sentences, paragraphs, graphically hinting what he would have done had he settled down to specific work in that line." At the point in which, discussing her affairs, she speaks of "the sad and humiliating developments," W. stopped me—"Humiliating? Does she use that word? How—what—'humiliating'?" And when I was all through, he commented—"It is a sad letter."

A long letter from Garland to me today about W. W.'s condition. Although not reading him the letter there were a couple of points I referred to W. I told W. that in soliciting contributions to the nurse fund I had never put it on the ground of poverty but of necessity that a nurse should be kept and of the grace it would do W.'s friends in these last days to make it their own voluntary offering. W. said at once—"That was right—I approve that myself." To Garland's statement—"If I could state publicly that he was poor, that he did need money for running expenses (as I think he does)—and that his relatives and neighbors cannot or do not help him—then I could do something for him." W. quickly replied—"Horace—write to Garland—tell him it would not please me to have him make any statement in the public prints. Tell him I don't want him to discuss my Philadelphia and Camden friends." And as to Garland's question, what had become of the cottage money, etc., W. was equally quick to retort—"That was all fixed—understood—fully settled—long and long ago—it is a closed book—it is a question not again to be reopened." On the point of Garland's description of the hot and festering street and all that, W. only smiled, and without a word, pointed to the fine northern skies, and the trees swaying almost boisterously in the wind. It seemed like enough comment. By and by he said: "Hamlin does not understand." Then we let the matter drop.

W. questioned me curiously—"What do you hear of the fight—is there anything authentic—definite!"—having reference to Kilrain-Sullivan bout at New Orleans. And then he laughed at "the extraordinary spectacle of the nation aroused" over such a performance. But "all things have their place—this with other things."

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