Commentary

Disciples


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Tuesday, June 5, 1888.

     Took further copy to Ferguson today, concluding batch of poems for Sands at Seventy—also essays on Burns and Shakespeare and several shorter pieces. [See indexical note p264.5] No proofs received. We are getting an extra set of plates of the poems so that they can be annexed to Leaves of Grass. W. also asks for three sets of proofs from the type-pages just before they are

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cast. Went to W. at 9.15 finding him in the parlor at the window, serene and gentle. Looks and feels better. [See indexical note p265.1] "I am inert, feeble, borne down with lassitude—my head being sore and sick: but there has been no recurrence of such attacks as I suffered yesterday." Osler had been in to see him—Osler, who, W. says, "believes in the gospel of encouragement—of putting the best construction on things—the best foot forward." [See indexical note p265.2] But Bucke had not appeared. "Doctor sent word that he was called off suddenly to meet his Commission somewhere in New Jersey. He will be back tomorrow. You know Doctor came down into the States with a group of men on an investigating tour." [See indexical note p265.3] We talked of the book. He still hesitates over Hicks. "I want it to go in if I can get it in. I looked into it today—observed places where patches are obviously needed. It would add forty pages to the book at least. I do not feel bound to put it in—shall not feel guilty if it cannot be managed. If the book must be smaller than it must. So much is packed into our solid pages: I saw as soon as we got started that I was talking rather boisterously when I said the book would make a hundred and fifty pages. I know the danger of delay. [See indexical note p265.4] What bothers me is the fragmentary, discursive character of the Hicks material—it is more like detached memorabilia than anything else. Yet I must let it go finally at that, I suppose."

     When Sidney Morse was in Camden he took notes of his talks with W. Kennedy asked Morse for the notes for use in his book. Morse said: "It is absurd" and answered "no." W. said: "It does not seem absurd to me," adding: "Morse took the notes very carefully—often asked me to repeat things I had said. He seemed to be very conscientious about getting the right word as nearly as possible and putting it in the right place. [See indexical note p265.5] I do not think the notes were copious though there must have been fifty or more different entries." [Afterwards given by S.H.M to the editors of In re Walt Whitman and included in that volume.]


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     Drifted into further talk about W.W. portraits. "Herbert's picture," said W., "is in some ways unfortunate—is not what it ought to be: lacks in reality: I am sorry it is exhibited in London—it excites wrong impressions. [See indexical note p266.1] Morse's bust is much more faithful: I am satisfied with it: its points are incontrovertible. Look at Eakins' picture. How few like it. It is likely to be only the ususual person who can enjoy such a picture—only here and there one who can weigh and measure it according to its own philosophy. Eakins would not be appreciated by the artists, so-called—the professional elects: the people who like Eakins best are the people who have no art prejudices to interpose. Eakins is essentially a god man not a school man. I can well see why Gilchrist's picture should please those who frequent the galleries: but that very applause from such a quarter is to my mind an argument against the vitality of the picture. [See indexical note p266.2] Herbert is tickled half to death at the idea of being 'hung on the line,' they say, which, he tells me, for the Grosvenor Gallery, is great shakes for any man. That line in a conventional art gallery!—I am not so sure of it, my hearty. I wonder if Leaves of Grass would be hung on the line if the galleries had their way about it?—on the line or on a scaffold?" This seemed to amuse W. into a long laugh.

      [See indexical note p266.3] We talked a bit more about the book. "My idea of a book page is an open one—a wide open one: words broadly spaced, lines with a grin, page free altogether: none huddled. Some printed pages seem to have a hump in the back. Now, there at Ferguson's I want you to get and keep on good terms with the working printers. If I could get about that is what I should do. The whole affair is in your hands.  [See indexical note p266.4] I don't like to deal too much with proprietors—I like to deal with men: it makes the work more like work, less like trade." W. said there were two other things he would like to include in the volume. "But I am not free to do so. The Century

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Company has used and has paid for Old Age's Lambent Peaks and a hospital piece. They have held the hospital piece for over two years."
 [See indexical note p267.1] Walsh has never returned the Carol Closing Sixty-nine poem. W. unable to explain it. "I always designate my price when I submit a piece: it is far the simplest way: I make my own valuations. There was the Twilight poem, printed in The Century (a good many of my pieces are like it—only a few lines—a touch)—that was a mere thumb-nail, a hint—yet I named my sum and got it."

     Talking of Sunday agitation generally and Gloucester baseball in particular W. said: "I believe in all that—in baseball, in picnics, in freedom: I believe in the jolly all-round time—with the parsons and the police eliminated." [See indexical note p267.2] Said there had been no visitors during the day except Bucke and Harned. Visitors, at least for the present, are being avoided— "though I am not sure that I want to hermit myself, either, even in sickness. I like them to come in and stay a little while. A great big lubber like me (my burly body—red, full face)—gets very little credit for being sick—for being an invalid." Used "legatee" on tenth page of November Boughs. "Was it right?" continuing: "I often get myself mixed in the use of the simplest words." I postponed the Clapp letter to today. W. had written on the outside of the envelope: "Henry Clapp (Garibaldi) quite good read again."


18 City Hall [New York] Octo. 3d, '67.

My dear Walt:

 [See indexical note p267.3] I have this moment clipped the enclosed paragraph about Garibaldi from the Paris correspondence of this morning's New York Times. What a fine photograph of a splendid man! I wonder why it made me think of you! It did, though, and so I send it to you with the regards of

Yours truly

H. Clapp, Jr.



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     W. said before I had read the clipping: "William O'Connor was greatly pleased with it. He said to me: 'Do you know, Walt, that might easily have been written by me, about you! [See indexical note p268.1] Substitute your name for Garibaldi's and mine for Villemot and you have a complete case!' It didn't strike me quite so forcibly though I can see why it should in some ways seem to fit. [See indexical note p268.2] It is a gem for Garibaldi whatever it may be for me. Read it—see what you make out of it." Here it is:

      The last that I heard of Garibaldi's movements was that he was at the villa of his friend, the Marquis de Pallavicini, in the neighborhood of Milan. This was on the 16th, the day on which it was so confidently announced by his partisans in Florence that he had crossed the Papal frontier.  [See indexical note p268.3] In the last number of the Figaro I find the following 'physiology' of this remarkable man, by M. Villemot, which, though bordering on the caricature, is so correct in many points that I think it will interest as well as amuse your readers: "'Liberator' or 'heroical bungler' Garibaldi is a figure. Had I any disposition to believe in the supernatural he would have converted me. Against all reason and human wisdom, and to the professed humiliation of vulgar calculations, he has accomplished things which are to be classed among miracles and legends.  [See indexical note p268.4] He is not a great captain; as a tactician he is no better than Jeanne d'Arc, but like her he had a familiar demon; he hears voices and takes the field. When he captures a throne he seats himself upon it, eats a bunch of grapes and inquires after his goats. He has not got a sou, and if he is a Chevalier of St. Maurice and Lazare, he is profoundly ignorant of the fact. [See indexical note p268.5] Educated people say: 'You see now that he is nothing but a rowdy; he may have a palace, receive the diplomatic corps, and eat carp á la chambord, but he loves best to live on a crust of bread rubbed with garlic.' But Garibaldi likes to be judged from the

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point of view of his temperament, and on this side of the Alps he cannot be very well understood.  [See indexical note p269.1] He is reproached with not dressing himself like M. Rouher, and with wearing a boatman's shirt, a slouched hat and a Scotch plaid. They accuse him, moreover, of those turgities of style which wound ears accustomed to the small flute of the Academies. They forget that he is operating in the land of Tasso and Ariosto, and if our genius induces us to the search after simplicity that of Italy accomodates itself to a lyricism which with us is not in fashion except in the minor drama. Garibaldi is the expression of the land and the age that gave him birth. [See indexical note p269.2] You cannot get him to attire himself; you cannot get him to express himself otherwise than is his own nature. In his general physiognomy there is a mixture of the prophet and the child. Of our civilization, of our manners, of our vices and our crosses, he knows nothing. He marches ahead without seeing. He lives in an ideal world, and knows no more of the men of his time than a contemporary hero of the Iliad arising from his dust. His innocence exceeds all belief. The following is an example of it.  [See indexical note p269.3] A few years ago he said to a friend, 'You are aware that I gave notes to M. Alexander Dumas to write my memoirs from. Would you believe that he has added to them a number of things of his own invention?' Brave Garibaldi! Write not your memoirs and get no one to write them. Let the people whom you have fanaticised compose your legend, and you will take your place among the great Sphinxes of history."

     When W. saw I was done he asked: "Does it go home? Is it Walt Whitman or Garibaldi?" [See indexical note p269.4] "Neither and both." "I wonder? and after all that may be the way to see it. Let me see the slip." Put on his glasses. "William said: 'There you are, sure: He is nothing but a rowdy, wears a boatman's shirt and slouched hat, is not agreeable to the small flute of the Academies, you cannot get him to express

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himself otherwise than is in his nature, he is a prophet and child.' William said: 'Walt—it don't all fit but a good deal of it fits and what fits fits damned well.'"
 [See indexical note p270.1] I asked: "Well, how does it strike you? Can you see your face in the glass?" "I can see some of the features—yes." Then after an instant's quiet, laying his glasses down on the window shelf and passing the envelope back to me: "As to being any way associated with Garibaldi—that is the crowning tribute. Garibaldi belongs to the divine eleven!"


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