Commentary

Disciples


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Wednesday, April 18, 1888.

     Whitman adds as to Arnold: "He will not be missed. [See indexical note p045.2] There is no gap, as with the going of men like Carlyle, Emerson, Tennyson. My Arnold piece did not appear in Tuesday's Herald. I wonder if the editor was a little in doubt about it? It appeared today, however. The Herald has a higher opinion of Arnold than I have. I discussed Arnold in effect—throughout in such words—as one of the dudes of literature. Does not Leaves of Grass provide a place even for Arnold? Certainly, certainly: Leaves of Grass has room for everybody: if it did not make room for all it would not make room for one. What we mostly need in this age are the men who do the portage. [See indexical note p045.3] We have for a hundred years—yes, I may say, for two hundred years—been about to be transferred—something has always delayed. Some object to being tranferred but are transferred in spite of themselves. I am myself of late years more inclined to sit still exploiting and expounding my views than was the case back in the past when I was physically up to more."

     W. said Adler's Millet had not yet come. W. reading the Boswell he got from Harned Sunday. "Johnson does not impress me. [See indexical note p045.4] I read this not because it interests me much but because I ought to know what the old man did

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with himself in the world. I don't admire the old man's ponderous arrogance: he talked for effect—seemed rather inclined to bark men down, like the biggest dog—indeed a spice of dishonesty palpably possessed him. [See indexical note p046.1] Johnson tried rather to impress than to be true: he speaks from a past era, outside those influences—spiritual, bodily influences—which are discovering themselves to us today. Johnson had a spot and he will be kept well to it: a local English spot: I do not see how the world could make any use of him elsewhere."
Referring again to the Hicks bust: "It holds its own with me: I think Morse has hit something quite plausible—a living embodiment: I see that I am going to be very proud of it as time goes on." W. gave me an Edwin Booth letter. Here it is:


Newport, Aug. 28th, '84.
Walt Whitman, Esq.

Dear Sir—

 [See indexical note p046.2] I have tried in vain to obtain a good portrait of my father for you and am reduced to this last extremity—I must send you a book (which you need not read) containing poor copies of the good portraits that are in some secure, forgotten place among my traps—stored in garret or cellar of my new house where all things are at sixes and sevens.

The one as Richard is from a copper plate, taken in England about 1820; the frontispiece is from a daguerreotype taken in Albany 1848—the original is excellent; Posthumus is from an engraving—taken very early in his career at Covent Garden—which I never saw. [See indexical note p046.3] I am sorry that I can find none better than these poor reproductions. They give his face before and after his nose was broken, but are badly printed. I trust they will be of service to you.

Very truly yours,

Edwin Booth.


      "I have had no relations with Booth," said W. "Nothing beyond the sort of thing you see hinted of in this simply

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formal note. I've got a heap of admiration for him of the dramatic and personal sort, but we never really came to close quarters."
Describing the visit of Haweis (now put by H. into a book), W. said: "Haweis came here with his wife and one other woman, evidently, to judge from what he afterwards wrote, to quiz me, and they of course found I was not so brilliant, original, as expected: I was more bent upon hearing them talk than talk myself—so I just put enough in to keep him going. [See indexical note p047.1] He seemed to want to go. I was not attracted by the man. He was a striking counterpart of Hastings Weld, a literary minister from Washington, who comes to see me and whom I like—hair-dye, modern dress, unexceptionable appearance, immaculate, impeccable, just alike in both men. [See indexical note p047.2] I took no shine to Haweis. Not that I have the least thing against him: what have I against anybody? I am always uneasy about the inquirers when they come buzzing about: they get on my skin and irritate me!"


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