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Thursday, August 8, 1889

Thursday, August 8, 1889

5 P.M. Stopped in on the way from city to leave proof of picture with him. W. in bedroom. Said instantly on seeing it, "That satisfies me—I like that"—and requested me to write them a postal at once to that effect. Brought him also the 10 copies additional of pocket edition from Oldach, which he had me pack away in a box for him. Left proof of last 2 pages of book with him—those containing telegrams and "postscript" letters of Forman and Brinton. Said quickly—"I like their arrangement considerably—oh! thoroughly." Would read and return to me. One of his first questions was, "Well—how was the opera and how was Castle?" "Oh! Was he still fat? handsome? easy? genial? The same man!—the same man! And there is still some voice left? A glimpse of the old times? I thought so!—it must have been! His voice used to have a wonderful magnetic quality." He had said to us yesterday, "It seems as if the people would listen to some of these old favorites—even favorites who now are all broken up—as long as they will consent to appear." Now he added to me—"Ed seemed to enjoy it greatly—I had hoped for him to see Fra Diavolo or The Bohemian Girl, but this will do." I did not linger. Went home to supper—promised him to be back again.

7.50 P.M. W. now just back from his trip to the river. Evening beautiful. Was out of doors in chair. But after shaking hands with me he said, "I am just going in," thereupon rising and with Ed's assistance going up the steps. He called back, "Come along—come along Horace, come and sit in the parlor, here by the window." So we were thus together for half an hour. Spoke of opera again. "Ed seems to take it as one of the treats of his life—he has been full of it all day. It is a light opera? Fra Diavolo is light, though not farcical: full of delightful byplay as they call it—and good tunes, melody, all that." Had read proofs. Took them out of his pocket. Referring to closing phrase of Brinton's letter [see notes for Monday, July 29th] he asked, "Brinton don't take much stock in the immortality business, does he?" Inquiring further—"What is his position?—or has he none?" Adding some fine words of affection—"I always hold him high in the list of men who ought to be heard." As to inserting the letters from Forman and Brinton: "I suppose you will have it your way—will insist that they are important: as I suppose they are if anything in the book is important." Again—"Bucke writes me that he got the pocket editions I sent him"—he said editions, plural—"and he is pleased—I might almost say extravagantly pleased—with them." Harrison Morris is nearly done with translation of the second part of the Sarrazin article. W.: "I am glad he gets along with it—glad he don't find it too much for him." Was curious to know why we did not take 25 cent seats for opera. "Tom tells me even he takes the 25-centers!" Said of the piece twice sent to the World—"You mean the 'here, you, the Paris Exposition poem?'" laughing—"Oh! I have never had a word about it—not a word. I have given it up." Told him of my postal from Yarros that the O'Connor piece would be published in the next number of Liberty. "Good! Good!" he exclaimed, "that's the best news! and now, we'll get plenty of papers, won't we? I shall want a number all for myself, for home and abroad—for I have quite a number to whom to send—who must not be missed!"

I spoke of patent opera-glass machine in opera house—drop ten cents in a slot, turn a screw, and lo!, an aperture appears and in it a glass. W. inquired, "But what's to prevent a fellow from not returning the glass when the affair is over?" And then we talked of human nature generally. W. insisted, "Even in the way of operas, the average human critter is bad—bad." Then—"I know you will consider that strange doctrine from me, but I more and more come to perceive it." Spoke then of the growth of parks—whether Camden should have them. "It has no Old Man's Home?" he inquired—"but it has a Children's home, which is going a good way—a half a loaf is better than no bread. But as to the parks, I have wondered—wondered. What do you know about the Diamond Cottage park here? It always seemed very rich, suggestive, to me, but that was some time ago." I spoke of Camden as "extending rapidly and becoming a big town," to which he quietly said, "Yes—an ever larger and larger congregation of maggots—human maggots." I laughed aloud; then he added, "Of course, that is the sarcastic view—the extreme sarcasm of it—but in a sense it is strictly true. It seems to me there never was a time in the history of the world when the underflowing currents of life—the beating pulse of social idealism, was so low, so vile, so dirty, so mean. Never, never! Certainly, in our social life all is villainy and dollars and cents—it is rotten to the core—men grasping, grasping, toiling, fighting, full of venom and bitterness—and for what?—for what high purpose?" And to protests—"Yes—I see—there is a great deal more to be said—you are right, too—give the crises and the men do appear. For myself, I think that if the soldier boy himself had not proved what he proved—North, South, East, West—all of them—the plain every-day men—I should still go a-begging for my evidence. The state of society—of our society—at this stage—is deplorable—deplorable beyond words." But when I said, "I disagree—I believe the great currents, the permanent tendencies, in humanity, are all healthy,"—he put in fervently, "That is nobly said—that summons us back—back to origins, deeper meanings." Said "Gilchrist was over last night, but he brought no news." Asking him if he would authorize me to renew insurance on sheets, now run out, he said: "Yes—I authorize you to do with it, just what you consider the right thing in the matter."

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