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Saturday, August 9, 1890

Saturday, August 9, 1890

4:50 P.M. W. just through with dinner. Day finely clear and not markedly hot. W. comfortable—ready to go out for evening stroll.

I had Critic with me. W. examined with great curiosity—stumbling upon paragraph in which "The Lounger" endorsed Wanamaker's action in regard to Tolstoi's book. W. laid the paper down and said, "I wonder if it ever occurs to these fellows—to Wanamaker, to 'The Lounger'—to ask the question, who made them the judges of what was to print and what not? It is the same old story—the old, old story: every doxy but mine is the seed of harm! Of course Wanamaker would say, the people, perhaps the law, empowered him, but that is the mere legal sense of it—the question is moral." Then he took up paper again and read the sentence—"To my notion 'The Kreutzer Sonata,' without for a moment 'making vice attractive,' is calculated to do no end of harm"—commenting contemptuously—"Of course, that is the way of it: harm, but with me, it seems that more harm will be done in its suppression than by the free sale of the book. I remember Col. Noah, in New York—it was long ago—I knew him well, intimately, even. He was a Jew—oh!—a Jew of the Israelites! possessing the grand virtues we read of in Old Testament characters—fraternal feeling, kindness, generosity, love of domestic life. He was a marked man in all these features—a character indeed. I remember at a meeting, he got up and said—'Ah! my friends, we must not forget that a little license is the very salt of liberty!'—it was a profound thing, and he was capable of it and more like it!" But of this objection to Tolstoi as to those to "Leaves of Grass"—"They are points of view—they cannot help it: they are made for a pint—you cannot get more in them."

Talked over W.'s methods of punctuation. He asked me, "You like the chary punctuation of 'Leaves of Grass'?" I mentioned a letter in which George Sand had taken much such ground as his and he seemed pleased, saying, "That is new to me, but good."

Would he object to my making public statement of the new addition to "Leaves of Grass"? "No—so you set no time—so I am not in any way bound by it."

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