Commentary

Disciples


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Tuesday, April 17, 1888.

     Adler promised to send W. the Sower (Millet) but writes saying he cannot find a copy in New York such as he wishes and will send another peasant subject which he thinks would be almost equally interesting. W. had a lot of old cancelled envelopes in a rubber. "What are these?" I asked. "These are my visiting cards: I put them in my pocket when I go out." [See indexical note p042.3]

     W. sent an autographed portrait of himself to Harned's cook. "She has done as much to make me happy as anybody." A couple of volumes of poetry from unknown writers reached W. by mail today. [See indexical note p042.4] "Everybody is writing, writing, writing—worst of all, writing poetry. It'd be better if the whole tribe of the scribblers—every damned one of us—were sent off somewhere with toolchests to do some honest work." We got talking a little about Carlyle, whereat W. produced a Burroughs letter which he explained to me had

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"just turned up in the litter" and contained "some mighty good matter—just a little of it—anent Carlyle." [See indexical note p043.1] He added: "I guess John touches the heel and head of the matter in what he says there about opinion. The world asks us to be so literal: the giant comes into the world like a big blow—no one can tell how."


Esopus N.Y. Mch 14, 1881.

Dear Walt:

 [See indexical note p043.2] I send you a little remembrance—enough to pay your expenses up here when you get ready to come, which I hope will be before long. I have recd reminders from you from time to time in the shape of papers &c. which I have been glad to get. I see about all that is in The Tribune as I take the semi-weekly. The sketch of Carlyle in the London paper was the best I have seen. Your own words upon his death were very noble and touching. It was a proper thing for you to do and it became you well. The more one reads and knows of Carlyle the more one loves and reverences him. He was worth all other Britons put together to me. [See indexical note p043.3] What have we to do with his opinions? He was a towering and godlike man and that was enough. He is to be judged as a poet and prophet, and not as a molder of opinion. He was better and greater than any opinion he could have. His style too I would not have different. To me it was not the "Mary-had-a-little-lamb" style of most of his critics, any more than your own prose style is, but grand and manly and full of thunder and lightning.

The robins are just here, and the ice on the river is moving this afternoon, bag and baggage. Ursula is still in N.Y. but is doing pretty well and hopes to be home soon. Julian and I have all sorts of ups and downs. I am correcting the proof of Pepacton and writing an article for Scrib. on Thoreau. [See indexical note p043.4] I first wrote them a notice of his Journal just published, which they were pleased to say was too good for a book notice and that I must make a body article out of it &c. Scrib. has displayed some remarkable journalistic

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enterprise lately. They have got from Emerson his article on Carlyle for their May No. [See indexical note p044.1] This is sub rosa and is not for the public yet. I enclose you a slip of the article or lecture which you may have seen. I do not think his trip hammer with the Eolian attachment figure conceived in the highest spirit. It is so preposterous and impossible that it spoils it for me, but it raps soundly upon the attention for a moment, and I suppose that is enough for his purpose.


I hope your cloud lifts as spring comes and that you are better. If you see young Kennedy tell him I will write to him again by and bye. I guess he is a good fellow but he needs hatcheling to get the tow out of the flax. How do you like him? I shall want a set of your books by and bye. Let me hear from you.

John Burroughs.


     We exchanged some few words about Joaquin Miller. W. was very willing to say good things about him. [See indexical note p044.2] "Miller is wholesome: he is a bit of his own West done up in print. I ought to be very grateful to him. He has always gone out of his way to show that he stood with me—that the literary class would not find him aligned with them in their assaults on me. Miller never quite does the work I expected him to do. He may yet do it." W. gave me a Miller letter the other day. It illustrates the friendliness of their relations. Miller enclosed a portrait of himself. I insert the letter here. It was written in 1874.


Hotel Chatham,
67 and 69, Rue Neuve St. Augustin, Paris.

My dear Walt Whitman:

 [See indexical note p044.3] In London last week I met many mutual friends who were asking after you and wondering when you would come over to the great Smoky Capital—friends who know you only by your books. Last winter Story of Rome the author of Cleopatra, you remember, asked me for your photo once. I gave it him to contemplate

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and he has it yet. Are you coming, and when? Most like I shall return to the States this winter and then visit Washington for I have never yet seen our national capital. [See indexical note p045.1]


The news of the great Democratic victories has just reached us and all Paris—that is all American Paris—is terribly excited. Of course this suits me, born Democrat as I am, but I trust it will not at all disturb the future of my dear friend the "good gray poet." My address is the Langhorne Hotel. Drop me a line.

Yours faithfully,

Joaquin Miller.



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