Commentary

Disciples

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Sunday, November 9, 1890

     Met W. at Post Office in the afternoon, towards five. Warren had gone inside for letters. On their way to Harned's. He explained, "Tom, the wife, their minister, were in to see me about noon—asked me to come up. The preacher is a friend of Sloane Kennedy's: he excites my interest." I told him Harned had had telegram from Philadelphia that his mother was worse. That he had gone over with Frank and John to see her. W. was for turning back. "I guess I had better go home, don't you think?" But I urged him on and he went, I walking up the street with him. He spoke of the beauty of the day, that he had had a good "tote," etc. I noticed that both his hat and his overcoat were black. "Yes," he said, "there was the grey hat—the fellow would not do it up—said it could not be done up again. And it is always difficult to get such a hat as I want. They always say, 'But they are not worn anymore—are not made.' And when you say, 'Well God damn you! I wear them!' they look at you with astonishment." He smiled upon any face that approached him, looked friendly, and spoke some word: to children, to men, to girls, and the friendliness was always returned. I left him at Harned's doorway. Tom just back from Philadelphia; says his mother can hardly live 48 hours. W. expressed feeling and sympathy.

     7:10 P.M. Bush did not turn up. W. disappointed. Fancies him greatly. I found an unopened letter on his table: put it in his lap. He picked it up: it was from Vermont. "Yes, that must have come yesterday. No matter, the whelp!" I interposed, "But as you tell us, the sun shines upon the just and the unjust!" He smiled, "True—I know it, a man is not always explicable. But he's a whelp!" And he took no trouble while I stayed to open the envelope. But the happiest "find" was another envelope, under my feet on the floor. I discovered not only that it was unopened but that it belonged to me: a letter from Mrs. O'Connor, dated September 28th:


112 M St. N.W.

Sept. 28 1890.


Dear Mr. Traubel,

     I send only a line to give you my new address, having just moved from the house where I lived 22 years. I had taken deep root, and

 
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the wrench was great. The place was full of, to me, holy associations of the dear and loved ones gone before.

     I have just written to Walt thanking him for the Preface to William's stories. I like it much.

     Thank you for your many kindnesses.

     Can you give me a hint, as to a good, and just the right title to William's book of stories?

     I want a real inspiration in that way.


Yours cordially


Ellen M. O'Connor.

     W.'s expression of regret was funny. He had several times, I remember, some weeks back, told me he thought he had some word from Mrs. O'Connor for me, but was not certain. "My memory is always in such condition, it goes back on me in the very things in which it ought to most buttress me." He grieved that Mrs. O'Connor's "solicitations of counsel about William's book," had "by the accident been so postponed, perhaps now made unavailing." Thought I should "write at once and explain all."

     W. looked so well I remarked it. He explained, "I had a first-class dinner: plenty to eat, a bottle of champagne; and the preacher who was there—Wande—he talked like a house on fire—was full of gossip, reminiscence."

     Left Current Literature with him. He wished to read the Higginson piece, which I marked for him.

     He read letter as follows I had from R. G. Ingersoll today:


New York, Nov. 8th, 1890


My dear friend:

     I fail to gather from your letter exactly what you desire. Is it a little volume to be printed, or is it for yourself that you are going to bind the pamphlets together? Just let me know which, and of course I will comply with your request.

     Do not imagine that I am sensitive in the least to the criticism of anybody, or that I expect everybody to agree with me.

 
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     Let me know at once just what you want, and I will endeavor to do as you wish.


Very truly your friend,


R. G. Ingersoll

     "It is just like him," he said. "I can see his hand, eye—hear his voice: freedom, affection in all." Then he said again, "And I will write you a something, too. But what I write will be impromptu: will be personal, free—the word of the moment—though, I hope, not for the moment alone!"

     Asked me to go to Oldach and see that all was understood there. "As I told you yesterday, I changed my order: made it 100 instead of 150 copies."

     We spoke about Stoddart and Lippincott's. He counselled me, "I would not say anything involving Jim Scovel unless you must. For myself, I do not wish to get into any raspy attitude. I am determined, however, to protect myself, to make my position clear. All that is needed [is] for that to be said, by you or by me, and no more. We have to remember about Jim that he almost thinks himself my friend; does nothing out of malice, I think. He is less dangerous than Hartmann—says less venomous things—puts me in less straits. Hartmann is a bad egg, growing worse." And further, "Urge upon Stoddart that you are in the field—our intimacy—that no other could speak with such authority. That is your advantage. That may bring you in first. Then tell him if you find the place for it about the New England Magazine piece. He will see that that will in no way interfere, for, as I understand it, Lippincott's demesne is West and South, this other North on the whole—or wholly."

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