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Wednesday, August 7, 1889

Wednesday, August 7, 1889

6.50 P.M. Went down with Morris Lychenheim, intending to pick Ed up and go to the opera together. W. in his bedroom when we arrived. We talked there about 20 minutes. He very courteously showed L. to a seat and remembered the book he had signed for him. At one point asked, "So you came down to take Ed along?" Then spoke of operas—of this one "The Chimes of Normandy," he "knew nothing" and asked, "Can you tell me about it?" Adding, "Somehow nobody can tell me!" But we should get a book of "the scheme." "In my opera days, I always took care to get a libretto the day before, then took care to leave it at home on the day itself!" Spoke somewhat of "Lucia." Had he seen it? "O yes! many a time! And once at least with the finest, superbest Edgardo, the tenor fellow, that ever way, probably—with Bettini, grand of the grand!" Of "The Chimes"—"I suppose the plot is the usual one—love, a little romance, difficulties—then all comes out right!" Alluded to Castle with considerable affection—"he plays, I see—and who else, do you know?" I digressed to Salvini—his coming in the Fall. "The real Salvini?" he inquired, "the father?" And on my saying "yes" and saying I wished he might see him, he looked dubious. "Not in the afternoon?" I asked. But he dissented: "I don't like afternoon performances—never did—they seem very impropitious." Then— "But I cannot say I even have the desire any more: the time for that is gone: Emerson's poem is wonderful good—you cannot bring the shells home to your room or the sound of the sea or the skies—nor I my old days, my youth, my forty years ago, any more!" But I argued—"Salvini is your man—he is elemental!" To which—"Yes, I believe he is—from all I can understand he deserves what you say of him: he is a great—perhaps the greatest—Shakespearean interpreter." I joked at that—"Willie Winter wouldn't allow that." And W. spoke up instantly—"The devil with Willie Winter! What doe he know? He knows nothing! He is one of the fellows possessed of the old armors, costumes, what not—but of the spirit that habited them—the beating heart, the pulsing blood, he knows nothing—cannot even dream!"

Lychenheim spoke to W. about reading "Song of the Open Road," and W. asked quickly, "Well—could you get along with it? Was it plain sailing? Did you get stuck in it?" L. replying with a vulgarism which caused laughter—that he was "stuck" on it! This opera was W.'s treat—he had given Ed a dollar to pay the way. In spite of his weariness, had gone out a while yesterday—towards the City Hall, the outskirts, not to the river: only a short trip. Not out all today, though he said, "I do believe the trip to the city did me good instead of harm." We did not stay beyond our time. Ed says that on the way to Philadelphia with Buckwalter yesterday W. scarcely said a word till he got over there, when he asked abruptly, "Who are these pictures to belong to?"

Ed gives a good description of the sharper who the other day came to W. pretending to have money from distant friends which he would deposit in bank. Sent word to W. on arrival that he had "Good news." W. would not pay him the $5 he asked for expenses. Fellow called several times on various pretenses, W. saying he was willing to pay when money was assured. He must have half accepted, half suspected, the story—fingered a check but would not accede. By and by sent Ed up to a bank and found the whole matter cooked. The sharper asked who attended to W.'s affairs. Ed gave him my address but of course he did not come to see me. W. himself very philosophical over it, said, "This is not the first time I have been played with—I could show you a string so long—" indicating about a yard with his hands. And there is a good deal of dry humor in him. "I thought we were going to have a good time for a good while to come—now we must have a good time on 5 dollars." The five dollars keenly withheld. Spoke to me of the carriage Buckwalter got the other day as "got from a friend who furnished it as a 'for-God's-sake' job!" I left orders with Billstein today for portraits—would furnish proof tomorrow evening. Lychenheim sent W. back by Ed a book of the play.

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