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Wednesday, March 11, 1891

Wednesday, March 11, 1891

5:30 P.M. "Having completed dinner," W. said, "I now feel refreshed." Yet, had "been having a poor time of it." Did the powders work? "Scarcely at all. Yet their tendency is good—that much I can feel." But "the past two months have kept me very near border-line. The indigestion is frightful. It closes up everything."

Proofs were ready—on bed—rolled up, and I put them in my pocket. "I have to trust a good deal to their taste," he explained. "If they put a good man on it, he will know just what to do. But if they do not, then we'll have the devil. I have tried to make that plain on the slip here, but I am doubtful; depend on you to enlarge till he understands." Prose copy not ready yet, though it was on the bed and he had been working at it. I told him Spencer incident from Bisbee. "That is an item worth citing," he said. I had asked Bisbee, "Would they take the book now, do you suppose?" "I think they would." But W. shook his head. "I doubt it—doubt it—or at least, there are many who would not. There are still prohibitions—plenty of them."

Returned me Trautwine's letter—kept the wife's. "She writes in a warm, generous, friendly way: it is precious to me. But the husband is a little too sensitive: I see nothing amiss in the footnote—do not mind to have him speak of my style—have I a style?—as rough. For that is a part of it, if anything is. The other letter the woman speaks of certainly never came to me—must have been withheld."

Was glad to hear Wallace and Johnston had received Lippincott's. But I could not show him Wallace's note, on account of the remarks on W.'s condition. Glad he did not ask it. Told me Joe Stoddart's son had been here today. "He came from Truth [periodical], New York. They sent him to interview me." Well, was he interviewed? "It was very short, very—only a minute. But a nice boy—19 or 20 or so. I liked him."

And again, "Ignatius Donnelly sends me his new book," leaning over and picking it up from the floor (it was "Caesar's Column")—handing to me. I said at once, "I know of it. It will not interest you." He instantly, "So I saw, but I thought it would interest you. It ought to go in your collection." I asked, "Then you do not want it back?" "No, not if you want it. Keep it—such books are not for me anyhow." But he had written his thanks to Donnelly's publisher, or to Donnelly through them, asking that Donnelly see the postal. Gave me a letter from Gilchrist. "He probably received the Lippincott's, but he does not say so. He tantalizingly lumps all together and says 'papers received.' That leaves lots of latitude." What of Donnelly's radicalism? "It does not worry me. We need the men who go before—the pioneers—west, west, still west—to break the roads." As to Shakespeare controversy, "I am not satisfied that we know all that is to be known, or ever will know—though William O'Connor was confident the time would come. I am not read up on the lore. I long ago confessed that what had much weight with me was the fact that such a man as William—so cute, so profound—had taken up with the idea, espoused it hotly. And I have always been prepared, anyhow, to push aside, break through, come out from, the ordinary canons as to Shakespeare—the literary code. Now I rest myself with saying, back of all the plays is a something unrevealed, perhaps the profoundest so far in literature—an elusive factor—a breath of which we catch, but no more. Indeed, I sometimes feel that this could be said of all the real literary achievement, take history when or as you will."

Was curious, when I spoke of having sat for some time with Maurice Egan at Boothby's. Said, "Tell me about him—how he looks—how he talks—what manner of man he is." After a while adding, "I have always taken him to be a cute, knowing fellow. The good sample of the Irishman is very good and the bad damned bad: no better, no worse!"

I read him a little note sent by Ingersoll to some diners last week, and when I was done, W. exclaimed, "That is exquisite—the very essence of wit. The touch as light as the French."

The following is W.'s note "To maker up" of pages: To maker up— Just do the best you can with them—in general follow as they are here on the galleys—where there are pieces with notes after let such pieces always come at the bottoms of the pages. Wish a tasty smooth look of the make up of the pages—for that purpose I can always add or take out when necessary a line or two any where—the paragraphs only headed "L of G purport" I can easily break up & give headings to make paragraphs to suit pages—(two pieces I have mark'd to be set aside outside from the make up)—

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