Title: Horace Traubel to Walt Whitman, 3 July 1879
Date: July 3, 1879
Source: Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.
Location: Photocopy in the Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Whitman Archive ID: loc.05970
Contributors to digital file: Alex Kinnaman and Nicole Gray
From H. L. Traubel
July 3, '79
My dear friend,
I'll write you a few words again—for this warm weather enough of a "plentiful suffering" to tax your patience, I doubt not.
When I read in the last Index of you having spoken on Garrison at the [illegible] Memorial I was warmly curious to know what you could have said. My curiosity has not abated by one jot and I would esteem it a favor if you would let me know at least the substance of your matter. Was it published? If not you ought send it to the Index: at this I would be overjoyed, for I could then see & appreciate it without putting you to any trouble. Will you do so if it has not already been printed?
About your mail here (or in Philadelphia), I am not forgetful. In this delightful weather I think so often of the pleasurable walks and chats we could have in the Park if you were only here to make the second party! Must I ever hope against hope? Fiddlesticks and gridirons! what a little deceiver hope can be! Yet, will you come? I yearn along in a devil-care sort of a way for that lecture from you, & those keen bits of wisdom, and a trifle of your sarcasm. But if I even think all this, I do not for a twitch forget that you owe me nothing—no such pleasure or gratification—and that if it ever really comes, I am the lucky dog and you the Sir Beneficence.
On the hour-cars the other night I fell in with an ex-professor of a theological seminary somewhere out of Philadelphia. We talked a long while. I quizzed and he discoursed. This lasted well nigh an hour, and at last, when his religious questions got more personal, I had to let out that I was a pagan. He looked askance and a trifle stern with brows drawn, but I speedily taxed his toleration and he relaxed. Finally he went his way and I mine—and the Sagacious Unknowable himself but knows when we'll meet again! Still, I found the man very tolerant—as befits a reader of Goethe, Schiller Lessing and his royal brothers-in-Truth—and the conversation may last in memory.
I have waded through another novel—Charles Reade's "It's never too late to mind." Excepting a chapter here and there, I do not fancy it much. My bias is for Dickens. I like a good [aim?] of pathos in a novel—nothing maudlin but all natural. I think Dickens supplies this about as good as the next. William Black is good, usually, in the respect, though apt to overdo. It always seems to me that only a hard-headed man can read, for a case, in "David Copperfield," Pegotty's account of his search on the Continent for Little Emily—without tearful eyes. To think of it alone often makes me sad—makes me anxious in a way that does me good. I think I could almost like the poet Gray, live in an atmosphere of novels forever—devour them, figuratively speaking. 'Tisn't the solidest food at all times, and I ought not thus exaggerate; but I have a sincere passion for the best among them, and can't honestly deny it.
When you write I would like to have you tell me about that Goethe-Schiller matter. I think I referred to it in one of my last letters.
H. L. T.
My regards to —— those [illegible]: Emerson, Whitman, Major [Stearns?], [illegible], and the rest of the good fellows!