Commentary

Disciples

With Walt Whitman in Camden vol. 1 (1906)


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     WITH WALT WHITMAN IN CAMDEN

     (March 28-July 14, 1888)

     Horace Traubel

     BOSTON

     SMALL, MAYNARD & COMPANY

     1906

 
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     Copyright, 1906, 1906, by Horace Traubel

     Copyright, 1905, by The Century Company

     Entered at Stationers' Hall

     Published February, 1906

 
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To Readers

     My story is left as it was originally written. I have made no attempt to improve it. I have taken nothing off and put nothing on. I know that it has defects. I am not ashamed of defects. I know that it has virtues. I am not proud of virtues. Here is the record as it virginally came from my hands in the quick of the struggle it describes. It might have been made more literary. It might have been made more precise. Its loose joints might have been tightened. Some commas might have been put where colons are. Phrases might have been swung about. The formal grace of the recital might have been improved. I have preferred to respect its integrity. To let it remain untouched by a censorship. To let it continue, for good or bad, in its then native atmosphere. I do not want to reshape those years. I want them left as they were. I keep them forever contemporary. I trust in the spontaneity of their first inspirations.

     Did Whitman know I was keeping such a record? No. Yet he knew I would write of our experiences together. Every now and then he charged me with immortal commissions. He would say: "I want you to speak for me when I am dead." On several occasions I read him my reports. They were very satisfactory. "You do the thing just as I should wish it to be done." He always imposed it upon me to tell the truth about him. The worst truth no less than the best truth. He did

 
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not ask to have his failings paraded but he did ask that they should not be hid. He knew that imperfection is a part of perfection. He knew that our blood runs black as well as red. He did not like evil talked about as if it was fatal. But he knew that a place must be provided for it in any portrait of a person or in any portrayal of an event. So I have let Whitman alone. I have let him remain the chief figure in his own story. This book is more his book than my book. It talks his words. It reflects his manner. It is the utterance of his faith. That is why I have not fooled with its text. Why I have chosen to leave it in its unpremeditated arrangement of light and shade. Why I have not attempted to make it conform to any arbitrary humors of the bookmaker. It was not my purpose to produce a work to dazzle the scholar but to tell a simple story. Or, rather, in the main, to let a certain story tell itself. I have done nothing negatively to disguise any poverty in the portrait and nothing affirmatively to falsely enrich it. I have had only one anxiety. To set down the record. Then to get out of the way myself. To give the observer every privilege of vision. I do not come to conclusions. I provide that which may lead to conclusions. I provoke conclusions.

     A number of the collateral documents quoted are from Whitman himself. These are printed without repair. They are kept to his own text without elision and without change. The same thing may be said of the letters from others to Whitman. Nothing has been done to sophisticate the text. It occurs here in the rude dress natural to the incidents that produced it. I had no time then to polish. I have had no

 
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disposition since to do what I had no time to do then. The record begs no questions. Never makes worse of better or better of worse. Tries to explain away no sin. Tries to lug in no virtue. Whitman was not afraid of the man who would make too little of him. He was afraid of the man who would make too much of him. He knew that it was easier to survive some kinds of enemies than to survive some kinds of friends. Whitman did not insist upon his faults. But he wanted them all counted in. The last fault with the first fault. He would rather have been thought too little of than too much of. I have never lost sight of his command of commands: "Whatever you do do not prettify me."


Horace Traubel

Camden, February, 1906

 
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"Be sure to write about me honest: what-ever you do do not prettify me: include all the hells and damns."W.W. to H.T.
 
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WITH WALT WHITMAN IN CAMDEN

 
Wednesday, March 28, 1888.

     At Walt's this evening. Called my attention to an old letter in the Philadelphia Press describing a visit to Emerson with Louisa Alcott, and Emerson's senility. [See note p001.1] "The fact is pitiful enough but the narrative is more so: the letter is so uselessly literal, so much mathematical: has to tell it all and let it run over." He had himself seen Emerson "after the shadow." And he "saw nothing tragic or startling" in Emerson's condition. "The senile Emerson is the old Emerson in all that goes to make Emerson notable: this shadow is a part of him—a necessary feature of his nearly rounded life: it gives him a statuesqueness—throws him, so it seems to me, impressively as a definite figure in a background of mist."

     W. handed me a leaf from The Christian Union containing an article by Munger on Personal Purity, in which this is said:  [See note p001.2] "Do not suffer yourself to be caught by the Walt Whitman fallacy that all nature and all processes of nature are sacred and may therefore be talked about. Walt Whitman is not a true poet in this respect, or he would have scanned nature more accurately. Nature is silent and shy where he is loud and bold.""Now," W. quietly remarked, "Munger is all right, but he is also all wrong. If Munger had written Leaves of Grass that's what nature would have written through Munger. But nature was writing through Walt Whitman. And that is where

 
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nature got herself into trouble." And after a quiet little laugh he pushed his forefinger among some papers on the table and pulled out a black-ribbed envelope which he reached to me: "Read this. You will see by it how that point staggers my friends as well as my enemies. We have got in the habit of thinking Buchanan is not afraid of anything—is a sort of medieval knight militant going heedlessly about doing good. [See note p002.1] But Buchanan, who is not afraid of anything, is afraid of Children of Adam."

16 Up. Gloucester Place, Dorset Square,

London, Jan. 8, 1877.


Dear Walt Whitman:

     Pray forgive my long silence. [See note p002.2] I have been deep in troubles of my own. All the books have arrived and been safely transmitted. Many thanks.

     You have doubtless heard about affairs in England. The tone adopted by certain of your friends here became so unpleasant that I requested all subscriptions etc. to be paid over to Rossetti, and received no more myself. During a certain lawsuit against the Examiner, your admirers—notably Mr. Swinburne—pleaded against me that I had praised you, cited your words against me in court etc. [See note p002.3] I never was so shocked and astonished, for I would not have believed human beings capable of such iniquity.

     As I think I told you before, I shall ever regret the insertion of certain passages in your books (Children of Adam etc). [See note p002.4] I do not believe them necessary or defensible. These passages are quoted as being the work of an immoral writer, and, altho' I tried to show they were part of a system of philosophy, it would not do. I know the purity and righteousness of your meaning, but that does not alter my regret.

     I think your reputation is growing here, and I am sure it deserves to grow. [See note p002.5] But your fatal obstacle to general influence is the obnoxious passages. I wish you would make up your mind to excise them with your own hand.

 
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     God bless you!—May your trouble lift, and may happy days be in store for you!—Let me know about your affairs. I may soon be in a position to help you more definitely.


Yours ever,


Robt. Buchanan.

     W. watched me as I read the letter and when he saw I was through resumed: "Children of Adam stumps the worst and the best: I have even tried hard to see if it might not as I grow older or experience new moods stump me: I have even almost deliberately tried to retreat.  [See note p003.1] But it would not do. When I tried to take those pieces out of the scheme the whole scheme came down about my ears. I turned Buchanan's letter up today in a heap of nothings and somethings. I guess Buchanan and Munger would not agree about lots of the subsidiary things but here the preacher and the radical come together: though as for that there is a difference between them even in this thing: for while Munger talks of the 'fallacy' as though it was fundamental to Buchanan I am only guilty of a lack of taste.  [See note p003.2] Well—there are the pieces, to sink or swim with the book: and here is Walt Whitman to sink or swim likewise."

 
Thursday, March 29, 1888.

     "I have been making a few notes to-day," said W., "on the subject of my removal from the Interior Department. As you know, Secretary Harlan took the Leaves even more seriously than Munger: he abstracted the book from my desk drawer at night after I had gone, put it back again, and discharged me next day. [See note p003.3] I suppose I felt harder about the affair at the time than I do now: it is easy to be unjust to a man like Harlan. He was of the sincere fanatic type, given to provincial views, ignorant of literature, in many ways that I consider essential ignorant of life. To Iowa as Iowa Walt Whitman as Walt Whitman was not

 
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easily digestible: so Whitman as the author of an indecent book had to go. Harlan was so dead in earnest that when his action was disputed by influential people he simply declared that he would resign his folio rather than reinstate me: which was all right for Harlan and all right for his kind of Iowa. I was taken care of by being given a desk in the Attorney-general's office. [See note p004.1] The more or less anonymous young writers and journalists of Washington were greatly incensed—made my cause their own—wrote almost violently about it: but the papers generally as well as literary people either ignored the incident altogether or made light of it. This was the hour for O'Connor: O'Connor was the man for this hour: and from that time on the 'good gray,' William's other name for me, has stuck—stuck. I was told by a man then very close to Lincoln that this obtuseness in Harlan had gone a great way towards nullifying his ambitions for the Vice-Presidency: that the opposition underground from the press and even from the more tactical politicians had cut the foundations from under his feet. Not that this quarrel  [See note p004.2] with me could have had such an effect alone but because it was symptomatic—had simply served to accentuate certain unfortunate traits of character in the man. Long after Harlan acknowledged to one of the newspaper fellows in St. Louis: 'The removal of Whitman was the mistake of my life.'"

      [See note p004.3] In speaking on the subject today W. said to me that "the radical element in Lincoln was sadness bordering on melancholy, touched by a philosophy, and that philosophy touched again by a humor, which saved him from the logical wreck of his powers."

 
Friday, March 30, 1888.

      [See note p004.4] Happening to refer to something Ellen Terry had said about him in Chicago, which had been repeated to me in a letter, W. laughingly exclaimed: "We have heard from her

 
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direct on that point. Let me see—where is that letter? Oh, yes! I know!" He reached to the floor and picked up a book. "I remembered I had used it for a bookmark. It came several months ago. Here it is." This is the letter:

Grand Pacific Hotel, Chicago, January 4th, '88.


Honored Sir—and Dear Poet—

     I beg you to accept my appreciative thanks for your great kindness in sending me by Mr. Stoker the little big book of poems—As a Strong Bird, etc., etc. [See note p005.1]

     Since I am not personally known to you I conclude Mr. Stoker 'asked' for me—it was good of him—I know he loves you very much.

     God bless you dear sir—believe me to be with much respect


Yours affectionately,


Ellen Terry.

     W. had written on the outside of the envelope: "from Ellen Terry." He regarded me with a whimsical eye: "You have a hungry look: I think you want the letter. Well—take it along. You seem to cultivate that hungry look: it is a species of pantalooned coquetry." [See note p005.2] I put the letter in my pocket. "These actor people," pursued W., "always make themselves at home with me and always make me easily at home with them. I feel rather close to them—very close—almost like one of their kind. When I was much younger— way back: in the Brooklyn days—and even behind Brooklyn—I was to be an orator—to go about the country spouting my pieces, proclaiming my faith. I trained for all that—spouted in the woods, down by the shore, in the noise of Broadway where nobody could hear me: spouted, eternally spouted, and spouted again. [See note p005.3] I thought I had something to say—I was afraid I would get no chance to say it through books: so I was to lecture and get myself delivered that way. I think I had a

 
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good voice: I think I was never afraid—I had no stage reticences (I tried the thing often enough to see that).  [See note p006.1] For awhile I speechified in politics, but that, of course, would not satisfy me—that at the best was only come-day go-day palaver: what I really had to give out was something more serious, more off from politics and towards the general life. But the Leaves got out after all—in spite of the howl and slander of the opposition, got out under far better conditions than I expected: and once out went along— stormily, fiercely, rocked and shaken—until within hail of its audience. [See note p006.2] I have wandered some distance from Terry: her letter made me reminiscent—this largely because the actors have always been more friendly to me than almost any other professional class, and she reminded me of it. Great woman! She reminded me of it."

 
Sunday, April 1, 1888.

     At Harned's. A crowded table. W. in fine fettle. Felix Adler there: also Tom Dudley, once consul at Liverpool and now retired. Dudley is among high-tariff apostles as high as any.  [See note p006.3] W. is a free trader. The talk went hot, hit and miss, on the tariff. W. declared: "I am for getting all the walls down—all of them.""So I suppose," said Dudley, sarcastically: "even the walls between the planets, if you could.""If I could, yes," retorted Walt, with spirit: "that's what the astronomers are working all their days and nights, especially nights, to do!" He was even more explicit as the argument proceeded: "While I seem to love America, and wish to see America prosperous, I do not seem able to bring myself to love America, to desire American prosperity, at the expense of some other nation or even of all other nations." [See note p006.4] "But must we not take care of home first of all?" asked Dudley. "Perhaps," replied W.: "but what is home—to the humanitarian what is home?"

 
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     At the table Dudley toasted Lincoln. Opposite Whitman, on the wall, was a portrait of Lincoln. [See note p007.1] When Dudley offered the toast, W. lifted his glass, turned his eyes up to the picture and exclaimed: "Here's to you! Here's to you!" Adler cried: "I shall always wish to remember Whitman as he looked at that moment." And to the table in general Adler remarked: "I feel honored in having three things in common with Mr. Whitman—I like coffee, I admire Millet and I love the lilac!"

     W. caught at the name of Millet. [See note p007.2] "Yes, there's Millet—he's a whole religion in himself: the best of democracy, the best of all well-bottomed faith, is in his pictures. The man who knows his Millet needs no creed." Harned interjected this question: "If Millet is enough and to spare what's the use of Leaves of Grass?" "That's what I say," replied W.: "If I had stopped to ask what's the use I never would have written the Leaves: who knows, Millet would not have painted picture! The Leaves are really only Millet in another form—they are the Millet that Walt Whitman has succeeded in putting into words." [See note p007.3] Dudley broke in: "But what about the Constitution of the United States while all the rest is going on?" W. laughed: "Good for you, Dudley. After Millet and Whitman we seem to have left little room for anything else. What about the Constitution? What about last year's almanac, the weeds back there on the lot, the ash heap down the street? I guess these things crowd into the scheme after all; and after all Millet and Whitman need not feel so lonely."

     W. is often described as lacking humor. [See note p007.4] But this quiet play of pros with cons enters more or less into all his conversation. One of Harned's little boys slid himself off his high chair, after being thoroughly bored with our tiresome sallies in economics and philosophy, and remarked, to nobody in particular: "There's too much old folk here for

 
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me!" [See note p008.1] W. heard the youngster, laughed heartily, and declared: "For me too: let's all get young again. We are all of us a good deal older than we need to be, than we think we are. Most of the brilliant things we have been saying to each other here are very old, very few of them are very good. I don't know but I might as well say for us all, as well as for myself, that this is a sort of bankruptcy court of ideas. Yes—yes—there's far too much that's old here—far too much. That is, always excepting Dudley, whose seventy years don't count!"
 
Monday, April 2, 1888.
[See note p008.2]

     Mousing among some old papers on his table today, looking for something else, W. spilled out a letter which he first scanned himself and then passed over to me, saying: "If ever a fighter lived, Boyle O'Reilly is that fighter: he writes me fiery letters, he tells me fiery stories. Have you never met him? No? I shall never forget the first time he spoke to me about his prison life. He was all alive with the most vivid indignation—he was a great storm out somewhere, a great sea pushing up the shore. Read this letter. It is mild for him. Then read the letter he enclosed."


The Pilot Editorial Rooms,

Boston, Feb. 11, 1885.


Dear Mr. Whitman,

 [See note p008.3]

     I have received the enclosed letter today from one of the ablest men I have ever known; and I send it to you as another little proof that Irishmen understand and honor you. I hope you are well. Somebody told me lately that you had been in Boston within a month; but I could not believe that you would have gone away without letting me have the pleasure of seeing you.

      [See note p008.4] Bartlett is happy, and busy; but he has no more money than he had two years ago. His son is now with him, and they are finishing two portrait busts of rich men.

 
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     Mrs. Fairchild, whom you will remember, is never done preaching you and your work. [See note p009.1]

     Good-bye.


Faithfully yours,


Boyle O'Reilly

     The enclosed letter follows:


39 Bowdoin Street [Boston]

10, 2, '85.


My Dear Boy,

     I am very grateful to you for inducing me to read Walt Whitman. He is to me that which he claims to be to all his readers, a Revelation and a Revealer. He has marshaled facts and sentiments before my mind's eye which have been floating, vaguely and transiently, through my consciousness since I commenced to be untrammeled in thought: he has given me views which help to render my 'dark days' endurable and my nights teem with companions. [See note p009.2] When I read Walt Whitman nature speaks to me: when I read nature Walt Whitman speaks to me. He travels with me and he points out the goodness of men and things and he intensifies my pleasures by his presence and sympathy. Leaves of Grass! so like "the handkerchief of the Lord"! covering the face of creation with love and pity and admiration for "man and bird and beast" and thing! How sad that for a few 'bare' expressions it should be kept out of the hands of the multitude and the women and the children!

     I thought I knew the greatest American in my dear friend Henry George, but no! [See note p009.3] Walt Whitman (whom he admires) is still greater, as a philanthropist, a democrat and a philosopher. He also excels your greatest theologians, naturalists, scientists and poets. He is an intellectual colossus or individuality, which admits of no comparison. He is not a poet and still he is greater than any—no dramatist and yet his characters breathe and strive and even smite you at his will: he knows little of the names of plants and animals,

 
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but he makes nature a domestic panorama: he can hardly be termed a religious man, yet he overflows with Faith and Hope and Love: he has no rank as a politician, yet his principles, if grasped, would revolutionize the world. [See note p010.1] Thus, he is everything and yet—nothing but Walt Whitman, a distinction which should satisfy the most craving ambition.


I am your friend and debtor


I. G. Kelly.

     W. had pencilled this on the note: "Sent me by Boyle O'Reilly Feb. 85." [See note p010.2] When he saw I had got through with the second letter he asked: "What do you think of that for a broad summing up? Barring any extreme statement, he seems to hit several real proper nails on their heads—gets pretty close to my ribs. The man with eyes to see that substance in my work must first of all have had it all in himself: we know that so well, so indubitably, so without disposition to quarrel or doubt, that it saves us from vanity. That man Kelly must be of the most real kind of real stuff. I like especially what he says about religion. [See note p010.3] I claim everything for religion: after the claims of my religion are satisfied nothing is left for anything else: yet I have been called irreligious—an infidel (God help me!): as if I could have written a word of the Leaves without its religious root-ground. I am not traditionally religious—I know it: but even traditionally I am not anti: I take all the old forms and faiths and remake them in conformity with the modern spirit, not rejecting a single item of the earlier programs."

 
Tuesday, April 3d, 1888.

     W. in good shape. Speaks optimistically about his health. [See note p010.4] "I am of course only gradually though surely losing strength, but the experiences going with this do not disturb me: no man housed up as I am could expect to hold his ground against old age. But I am convinced that I can

 
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feint off the end for a long time to come: I am not anxious to, only determined upon it: we are not going to expect to lose even a losing fight—that would not be like us: we are not easily subdued: we must stick, eternally stick, until sticking itself will stick no more." [See note p011.1]

     He gave me some books to deliver to two or three persons in Philadelphia to whom he felt indebted for courtesies. He is always giving away books. He sent copies of the two volumes 1876 edition by me to Adler.  [See note p011.2] "Adler," he says, "is first rate soil. He is all gone on ethics. Worse things might happen to him, though ethics is bad enough. I do not see how these Ethical fellows can expect to do much as an opposition to the church: they may stir the church up, plague it into reforms, changes, even revolutions—but the church is bound to continue to be the church imminent—imminent, imperative. [See note p011.3] People have thought I was powerful 'set agin' the church: but the church has not bothered me—I do not bother the church: that is a clean cut bargain. I am done with the letter of the church—with its hands and knees: but that part of the church which is not jailed in church buildings is all mine too, as well as anybody's—all of it, all of it!"

     My mother had sent W. some cookies. "The best part of every man is his mother," said W. [See note p011.4] I told him of one of his girl friends who had just given birth to a boy baby. "She will be too proud to go with us when she gets up," he jocularly remarked—adding: "But any mother of any baby has a right to be proud."

     Back of him on the wall was a pencilled figure of a rather ragged looking nondescript. "Where did you get that?" I asked. "Would you believe it—the tramp himself was here this morning." [See note p011.5] He was a curious character—an itinerant poet: and he read me some of his poems: Lord pass him, what stuff! But it was his own, written on the road. It made me feel bad to think that he could go along in the

 
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sun and rain and write while I am housed up here in the dust of a dead room eking out my substance in coalstove words." "Coalstove" was good. [See note p012.1] But he burns wood in his stove. But how did he come by the picture? "The poet said he had drawn it himself sitting on a field outside Camden somewhere before a bit of a broken looking glass, which he had balanced on his knee." He reflected as I left: "When I said goodbye to the tramp I was envious: I could not see what right he had to his monopoly of the fresh air. He said he was bound for some place in Maryland. I shall dream of Maryland tonight—dream of farm fences, barns, singing birds, sounds, all sorts, over the hills."
 
Wednesday, April 4, 1888.

     W. not so well. [See note p012.2] "I am not down in the mouth about it," he explained, "but I am still jealous of that tramp: I suppose he's bummin' along somewhere on the road eatin' apples and feelin' drowsy and doin' as he pleases—and here am I in this room growlin' with a bellyache. What is the use of poetry or anything else if a man must have a bellyache with it?"

     W. gave me an old letter from Linton. "This stuck its head out from a bunch over there this morning and I grabbed it. Take it along—put it among your souvenirs. That bunch of your souvenirs must be getting a bay window on it."


New Haven, Conn., May 19, 1875.


My Dear Whitman:

      [See note p012.3] Why have I not written to you? Why has not spring come? I have waited for that, waiting a little also till I could get through some work which would have made me uncompanionable.

     Now—I go to New York on Saturday June 5 to the Century meeting and remain in New York till Tuesday or Wednesday after. Can not you meet me so as to return

 
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home with me? Apple blossoms surely will be out by then, and some summer warmth to enable you to enjoy your hammock (did I tell you I have one?) on the piazza. [See note p013.1] I want you here and to set you to rights. Can you come then (not for a night or two but to stay indefinitely) or will you rather come later?

     Do which may best suit you; but come; and let me know as near as you can when I may look for you.


Affectionately yours


W. J. Linton.

     I want a copy of your Mystic Trumpeter for England.


 
Thursday, April 5, 1888.

     "I feel so good again today," W. assures me, "that I no longer envy the tramp. [See note p013.2] I think that dusty cuss did me lots of good: he left me temporarily in a quarrelsome mood: I hated the room here, and my lame leg, and my dizzy head: I got hungry for the sun again, for the hills: and though Mary brought me up a good supper she didn't bring the sort of food required to satisfy a fellow with my appetite. She didn't bring the sun and the stars and offer them to me on a plate: she brought muffins, a little jelly, a cup of tea: and I could have cried from disappointment. [See note p013.3] But later, next day, yesterday, the tramp's gift got into my veins—it was a slow process, but got there: and that has made me happy. I thought he had taken everything he had brought away with him again: but I was mistaken. He shook some of his dust off on me: that dust has taken effect."

 
Friday, April 6, 1888.

     "Not the negro," said W. today: "not the negro. [See note p013.4] The negro was not the chief thing: the chief thing was to stick together. The South was technically right and humanly wrong." He discussed the present political situation in a

 
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rather more explicit way than is usual with him. He "cares less for politics and more for the people," he explains: "I see that the real work of democracy is done underneath its politics: this is especially so now, when the conventional parties have both thrown their heritage away, starting from nothing good and going to nothing good: the Republican party positively, the Democratic party negatively, the apologists of the plutocracy. You think I am sore on the plutocracy?  [See note p014.1] Not at all: I am out to fight but not to insult it: the plutocracy has as much reason for being as poverty—and perhaps when we get rid of the one we will get rid of the other." W. will not talk persons in his censure. He says he will talk persons only in his love. "When I hit I want to hit hard, but I don't want to hit any man, the worst man, even the scoundrel, one single blow that belongs to the system from which we all suffer alike." [See note p014.2] Could this suffering have been avoided? "No more than the weather: it is as useless to quarrel with history as with the weather: we can prepare for the weather and prepare for history." Then was history automatic? "Not at all: it is free in all its basic dynamics: that is, the free human spirit has its part to perform in giving direction to history." Was this statement not self-contradictory? "I shouldn't wonder: in trying to represent both sides we always run some risk of finishing on the vague line between the two." He admitted that there was "no practical politics in this kind of talk," but then:  [See note p014.3] "What do I want with practical politics? Most all the practical politics I see anywhere is practical villainy." Did he see anything within the political life itself in America at present to excite his hope? "Absolutely nothing: not a head worth while raised above the surface: not a cross section of a party, or a clique even in any party anywhere, to promise a formidable reaction and advance." Then he was despondent? "Not a bit so, for you see I am not looking to politics to renovate politics: I am looking
 
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to forces outside—the great moral, spiritual forces—and these stick to their work, through thick and thin, through the mire and the mirage, until the proper time, and then assume control."
Finally he said: "The best politics that could happen for our republic would be the abolition of politics."

 
Saturday, April 7, 1888.

     W. is always a good deal interested in public discussions of the college.  [See note p015.1] How much freedom could be expected in the atmosphere and teaching of the schools? "To what extent can professors and editors, scholars tied up with institutions and writers writing for their daily bread (and writing under the severest conditions) be expected to talk out and defy the formal monitors of speech?" W. says the college is "of necessity an aristocracy." We have often gone over that same ground.  [See note p015.2] Today he revived the subject by producing a letter from Lathrop written to Burroughs in 1877. "This," W. contended, "shows how serious such difficulties are—how far they crawl serpent-like out from the college walls into the general world." To him Lathrop's letter was "touched with spiritual tragedy." "Hope deferred makes the heart sick—so does speech deferred." But what can a man do when he finds himself driven up against that wall? [See note p015.3] "Come forward and make a peaceful surrender, be dragged out and grudgingly capitulate or stand where he is and be shot." This confession from Lathrop, W. contended, served to show why it would "be impossible for such a man, fine as he is, fine as his letter is, to really build up and round out a capacious career": there was a "lesion somewhere in his marrow." He looked at me and seemed to see some distrust in my face. "You think I am condemning Lathrop? Thousands from it! I love him—honor him: if there's anything comes short it excites my regret: I judge no one." This is the letter:

 
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Cambridge, May 19, '77.


My dear Mr. Burroughs,

      [See note p016.1] I have just finished your book on Birds and Poets. I like your writing, always, and I have keenly enjoyed this. But you will not quarrel with me if I pass that matter over, in order to speak of Walt Whitman. Ever since I first gained some fragmentary knowledge of him thro' the pruned and lopped English edition, I have not for a moment flagged in the belief that he is our greatest poet, altogether, and beyond any measurement. He threw open a wide gate for me, and I passed through it gladly—thinking to be able in my separate way to make a kind of companionship with him. [See note p016.2] From the start, my intentions have been very different in some respects from those of which he has given such huge exemplification; but, as I took to his poetry without any premonitory shrinking, and felt that at last here was something real, I knew that I should in some measure respond to his voice in what I should do, however far off, however fainter, and however much unlike in seeming it might be.

     But my circumstances have been strangely hampering. I find myself in the midst of the camp which adheres to the old and the conventional. I am an accepted servant in it, trying to pass through my bondage patiently, working year after year in a roundabout way slowly trying to secure my position, and hoping at last to be able to let out the accumulating thunder in my own way. I get my hands loose now and then, and feel that I have done a little something. This much I thought it necessary to say because I suppose you at a distance hardly imagine that a young Cambridge literary apprentice can say his soul's his own or cherish in himself a whole revolution against the powers whom for a time he is working with. [See note p016.3] I say it also, to explain why I would like now to convey through you to Walt Whitman some message expressing the fact that I have long wished to speak a word of gratitude to him. To a man so wronged

 
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even this little tribute may have its value. It is also a great satisfaction to me to think of speaking the truth about him to him and through one who understands it. [See note p017.1] There are two persons hereabouts who appreciate Whitman, whom I know. Doubtless there are many more who are unknown to me. But I can believe that the scoffing narrowness which meets any avowal of their appreciation has driven them, as it has me, to preserve silence.

     It is a great pity his works are not really published, and I have been wondering, long, how to get them. I have nothing but Rossetti's edition. Is there no way of obtaining them? I should be very glad if you would inform me as to this.

     I frequently debate plans of some change of base, so as to secure something approaching independence. I was not born in New England, tho' of Puritan descent, but in the tropics. [See note p017.2] I like many things here and dislike others as much. I am a great lover of cities for their crowds, their human sublimities and horrors, yet carry always an insatiable yearning for the wilds. I don't know where to go, if I go from here, where I am now editing the Atlantic with Mr. Howells; but I have before now thought of your region. I have no map showing Esopus. Is it in the Highlands—anything like Milton? Would you be willing to tell me something of your mode of life, or whether one can subsist in that vicinity on slender means?


Sincerely yours,


G. P. Lathrop


 
Sunday, April 8, 1888.

     "We are having our troubles in getting out that book," W. reflected, speaking of the German Whitman: "though as for that matter I do not know any edition with which we didn't have enough trouble and trouble running over." [See note p017.3] We had got upon this subject because of an old letter from Rolleston which Walt had given me to read. "There's a

 
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lot in that letter describing the way the book is coming about: it is typical history—especially that possible encounter with the German police.  [See note p018.1] The Leaves have had several set-tos with the state, none of them serious, all of them serving to advance the book—Harlan's, to begin with, then Stevens', in Massachusetts, then that fool postmaster Tobey's. The funny underground in all this was the warning I got now and then from good attorneys general and their heirs and assigns that if I didn't modify my literary manners something would happen to me. Something has happened—but not just the something that was conveyed by their warnings." This is Rolleston's letter:

Glasshouse, Shinrone, Ireland,

September 9, 1884.


My dear Walt—

     I got your second letter yesterday, forwarded here from Dresden. [See note p018.2] Don't be uneasy about the English text in translation. I fully see the advantages of it and have mentioned it in my Preface. Only, as I had had no opinion on the subject from anyone in the publishing line I didn't know what they might not have to advance, so did not like to speak so decisively about it. I should not have given you to understand that a publisher's mere opinion would weigh with me, for it would not.

     Now, as to progress made. I have met with difficulties more serious than I expected. The work is ready, and could go to the printer any day. But the printer is not equally ready for the work. [See note p018.3] I offered it to four publishers before I left Germany, agreeing to pay all expenses myself, and all refused to take it up. I sent with my MS. a copy of Freiligrath's article, and did all I could to secure a favorable hearing, but in vain. I am told there would probably be difficulties with the police, who in Germany exercise a most despotic power. Then other publishers I thought of trying are, I have been informed, rogues; and others again are

 
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dependent in various ways on court or official patronage—others wouldn't touch it with the end of a poker. I finally came to a resolution a good deal confirmed by what you said of the probable circle of readers of the first edn—namely, to let the work appear in America, and thence make its way into German circulation. [See note p019.1] Once in print and fairly before the public it will of course weather every storm, but the thing is to get it fairly started. Had I been living in Germany longer I should have tried selling the book myself—but that I can't do from here. Now in America, where your position is assured, I suppose some German publisher would take it up readily enough. [See note p019.2] I am going then to ask you to take what steps can be taken towards finding a willing publisher with some German connection. No doubt Dr. Karl Knortz would be a useful person to apply to. (If you know him, and could get him to glance through my proofsheets, I don't doubt that the work would be considerably improved.)

     As to terms, of course if any enterprising publisher would give me one hundred dollars or so for the book I would let him have it (it being understood that you and I should have our way about the form of the book, English version, &c.). [See note p019.3] But I would be willing also to bear the expenses and keep the copyright, if the former were not out of the way large. I suppose it would cost a good deal more in America than in Germany, where everything is very cheap, and I have not much ready money to spare now. But I think I can rely on my father's helping me to the extent needed. If the book is printed in America you will be able to oversee technical matters connected with the printing to your own satisfaction.

     So the upshot of this is that I will send you my MS. as soon as it reaches me (it is coming in a box which was sent after me via Hamburg with other heavy luggage), and you can do as you think well with it. [See note p019.4] Let me say again that I should greatly like the proofsheets, before coming here, to

 
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pass through the hands of some German scholar who knows the L of G. I should be grateful for any annotations he might wish to make.

     I have grieved to hear of your increased illness. It is very hard to be persecuted by such things when you ought to have peace and freedom. But I know how you are "armed with patience." Silence is a great comforter.

      [See note p020.1] We are now back in our own country for good and are greatly delighted to be so. The people are much more congenial to me than Germans, though these latter are more so than English. I was born in this town and know every field and nearly every tree since my childhood. It is wonderfully beautiful to me—a rich, undulating, wooded land—deep grass and crops—blue mountains of Slieve Bloom on the horizon, and the stateliest trees, mostly ash and beech, I ever saw. I have a great love for ash trees—such sinewy strength, and a free powerful method of branching, showing through the light foliage. What a country this is! or would be but for savage misgovernment, and Protestant bigotry. The Orangemen in the North are a source of much evil, and will be of more, unless some miracle should turn them into human sympathetic Irishmen. There was a time when I thought that Ireland could never be set free from English rule because the Catholic Church would instantly become dominant and inaugurate a system of religious tyranny which would crush liberties more important than national liberties. Now I begin to see that this would not be so for long. [See note p020.2] The Irish are much less Catholic than they were—dogmatic religion is loosening its hold upon them in a very remarkable way, and hatred for Protestant England as Ireland's ruler is a most potent cause at present in supporting the Catholic religion here. This is felt even by the more cultivated and far-seeing of the clergy, who consequently oppose the national movement as far as they dare. I have no doubt that in a free Ireland the Church would

 
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persecute as naturally as a wasp stings, but I am equally certain that a revulsion of feeling would come which (though attended perhaps with terrible struggles) would mark a real moral and intellectual advance such as seems out of our reach at present. The people about us here are very poor, reckless, friendly, "full of reminiscences" both of good and evil. My father is greatly loved far and wide because when County Court Judge of Tipperary he protected the tenants as far as the laws allowed against the rapacity of the landlord class. [See note p021.1] He is a man you would like to see. He is over seventy now, more than average height even for our family, where men grow very tall (about six feet four inches), and still sturdy. At present he is suffering from a strain got a few days ago while riding a restive horse. They tell me that a few days before I came there was a storm, and a fine sycamore he was fond of was being blown down. They saw the roots heaving through the loosened earth—and my father sat down upon them until heavy weights could be brought to keep them down till the storm blew out, a device which was perfectly successful. He and my mother are greatly delighted with the two grandchildren we have brought them home. I'll send you a photograph of them soon, which has been done in Dresden just before we left.

     I will have the poems arranged in the order I find best, but you of course may wish to alter my arrangement, in which case I shall have nothing to object. I couldn't make out what 'teffwheat' is (Salut au Monde)—is there a German equivalent? I have written Teff-Weizen.


Yours,


T. W. R.

     "Rolleston," said W., "has proved to be one of my staunchest friends. [See note p021.2] He is a man without extravagance or excuse: he never says I am the only man that ever was, he never says I need to be apologized for." [The translations that

 
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form the chief subject matter of the letter did finally come out (1889) from Zürich, under the imprint of J. Schabelitz, with the names of both Knortz and Rolleston on the title page as translators. Harned happening in while we were in the midst of this talk W. explained: "We are canvassing the yeas and noes on the Rolleston book: it will come out but it is having the usual amount of stops, starts, stumbles."

 
Monday, April 9, 1888.

      [See note p022.1] "Tucker," said W., "has been giving me the very devil in Liberty for calling the Emperor William a 'faithful shepherd' in my poem. In fact, Tucker is not alone: I have got a whole batch of letters of protest—one, two, three, a dozen; but too many of the fellows forget that I include emperors, lords, kingdoms, as well as presidents, workmen, republics." We talked the matter over for some time. W. was good natured about it all. Yet he was disposed to regard the criticism rather seriously. As he said: "It is all from my friends. Take William O'Connor—take Tucker himself—they deserve to be listened to." In winding up our chat he said: "I see I must be careful in such things or maybe the boys will think I am apostate. [See note p022.2] Yet they ought to be just to me, too. There was nothing in this little poem to contradict my earlier philosophy. It all comes to the same thing. I am as radical now as ever—just as radical—but I am not asleep to the fact that among radicals as among the others there are hoggishnesses, narrownesses, inhumanities, which at times almost scare me for the future—for the future belongs to the radical and I want to see him do good things with it."

      [See note p022.3] Matthew Arnold was mentioned: "Arnold has been writing new things about the United States. Arnold could know nothing about the States—essentially nothing: the real things here—the real dangers as well as the real promises—a man of his sort would always miss. Arnold knows

 
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nothing of elements—nothing of things as they start. I know he is a significant figure—I do not propose to wipe him out. He came in at the rear of a procession two thousand years old—the great army of critics, parlor apostles, worshippers of hangings, laces, and so forth and so forth—they never have anything properly at first hand. Naturally I have little inclination their way. [See note p023.1] But take Emerson, now—Emerson: some ways rather of thin blood—yet a man who with all his culture and refinement, superficial and intrinsic, was elemental and a born democrat." I put in: "I think Emerson was born to be but never quite succeeded in being a democrat." W. was still for an instant. Then: "I guess the amendment is a just one—I guess so, I guess so. But I hate to allow anything that qualifies Emerson."

     Just as I was about to leave W. reverted to the Emperor William affair: "Do you think I had better write a little note to my friends making that line a little clearer?""I thought you never explained?""I never do explain—rather, I never have explained: yet the rule is not arbitrary.""A rule you can't break is no good even as a rule.""That is true—true—if I wrote I would do no more than make it clear that my reference was to the Emperor as a person—that my democracy included him: not the William the tyrant, the aristocrat, but the William the man who lived according to his light: I do not see why a democrat may not say such a thing and remain a democrat." [See note p023.2]

 
Tuesday, April 10, 1888.

      [See note p023.3] Happening to mention John Swinton, W. said: "By the way—here's an old letter of John's that will interest you—it was written four years ago: yes, fully four years ago, and in one of his milder moods. John, you know, is stormy, tempestuous—raises a hell of a row over things—yet underneath all is nothing that is not noble, sweet, sane. This letter is almost like a love letter—it has sugar in it: I don't

 
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think America has ever realized, perhaps ever will realize, John's greatness—the significance of his work: his dynamic force. I don't suppose John has written anything that will live—yet something else of him will live—something better than things people write." I sat down on a pile of books and read the letter.

134 East 38th St.,

New York, Jan. 23, 1884.


My beloved Walt—

     I have read the sublime poem of the Universal once and again, and yet again—seeing it in the Graphic, Post, Mail, World, and many other papers.  [See note p024.1] It is sublime. It raised my mind to its own sublimity. It seems to me the sublimest of all your poems. I cannot help reading it every once in a while. I return to it as a fountain of joy.

     My beloved Walt. You know how I have worshipped you, without change or cessation, for twenty years. While my soul exists, that worship must be ever new.

      [See note p024.2] It was perhaps the very day of the publication of the first edition of the Leaves of Grass that I saw a copy of it at a newspaper stand in Fulton street, Brooklyn. I got it, looked into it with wonder, and felt that here was something that touched the depths of my humanity. Since then you have grown before me, grown around me, and grown into me.

     I expected certainly to go down to Camden last fall to see you. But something prevented. And, in time, I saw in the papers that you had recovered. The New Year took me into a new field of action among the miserables. Oh, what scenes of human horror were to be found in this city last winter. I cannot tell you how much I was engaged, or all I did for three months. I must wait till I see you to tell you about these things. [See note p024.3] I have been going toward social radicalism of late years, and appeared here at the Academy of Music lately as President and orator of the Rochefort meeting. Now I would like to see you, in order to temper my heart, and expand my narrowness.

 
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     How absurd it is to suppose that there is any ailment in the brain of a man who can generate the poem of the Universal. [See note p025.1] I would parody Lincoln and say that such kind of ailment ought to spread.

     My beloved Walt. Tell me if you would like me to come to see you, and perhaps I can do so within a few weeks.


Yours always,


John Swinton.

     I quoted W. that phrase from Swinton's letter: "I have been going toward social radicalism of late years.""Yes," said W., "I remember it. Are we not all going that way or already gone?"

     I picked up a stained piece of paper from under my heel and read it, looking at W. rather quizzically. [See note p025.2] "What is it?" he asked. I handed it to him. He pushed his glasses down over his eyes and read it. "That's old and kind o' violent—don't you think—for me? Yet I don't know but it still holds good." I took it out of the hand with which he reached it back to me. "Put it among your curios" he said, "you'll have enough curios to start a Walt Whitman museum some day." The note is below:

      [See note p025.3] "Go on, my dear Americans, whip your horses to the utmost—Excitement; money! politics!—open all your valves and let her go—going, whirl with the rest—you will soon get under such momentum you can't stop if you would. Only make provision betimes, old States and new States, for several thousand insane asylums. You are in a fair way to create a nation of lunatics."

     Some neighbor had sent W. a plate of doughnuts. [See note p025.4] He put four of them in a paper bag and gave them to me for my mother. "Tell her they are not doughnuts—tell her they are love."

 
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Wednesday, April 11, 1888.

      [See note p026.1] A hospital talk with W. led him to speak of a letter he had just recieved from a western man, now prosperous, who had as a soldier been nursed by W. and was offering to send money, "with love and out of my great surplus." W. was visibly touched. We had a fine hour together, W. full of reminiscence. "I got lots of help those days from noble people all over the North—especially from women." He stopped and pushed his forefinger among some papers on the round top, drawing forth an old yellow envelope, unstamped, which he shoved over toward me. [See note p026.2] "That was a great woman." I saw that the letter was addressed in his hand to "Hannah E. Stevenson 86 Temple st, Boston Mass." This memorandum was made on the envelope: "sent Oct. 8, '63." "That," he explained, "was the rough draft. Take it along: it will give you a little look in on the sort of work I had to do those days." The letter is given in full.


Washington October 8 1863


Dear friend

      [See note p026.3] Your letter was received, enclosing one from Mary Wigglesworth with $30 from herself and her sisters Jane and Anne—As I happened stopping at one of the hospitals last night Miss Lowe just from Boston came to me and handed me the letters—My friend you must convey the blessings of the poor young men around me here, many amid deepest afflictions not of body only but of soul, to your friends Mary, Jane, and Anne Wigglesworth. Their and all contributions shall be sacredly used among them. I find more and more how a little money rightly directed, the exact thing at the exact moment, goes a great ways. [See note p026.4] To make gifts comfort and truly nourish these American soldiers, so full of manly independence, is required the spirit of love and boundless brotherly tenderness, hand in hand with greatest tact. I do not find any lack in the store houses, nor eager willingness of the North to unlock them for the

 
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soldiers—but sadly everywhere a lack of fittest hands to apply, and of just the right thing in just the right measure, and of all being vivified by the spirit I have mentioned—Say to the sisters Mary and Jane and Anne Wigglesworth, and to your own sister Margaret, that as I feel it a privilege myself to be doing a part among these things, I know well enough the like privilege must be sweet to them, to their compassionate and sisterly souls, and need indeed few thanks, and only ask its being put to best use, what they feel to give among sick and wounded. [See note p027.1] —I have recieved L. B. Russell's letter and contribution by same hand, and shall try to write to him to-morrow—


Walt Whitman

     Address Care Major Hapgood Paymaster U S A
cor 15th and F St Washington D C


 
Thursday, April 12, 1888.

     W. sometimes has what he calls "house-cleaning days." [See note p027.2] He puts aside some waste for me on these occasions. I always take along what he gives me. I know what will be its ultimate value as biographical material. He rarely or never takes that into account. For instance today he said: "I would burn such stuff up—or tear it up—anything to get it out of the road." He laughed in handing me three letters done up in a string. "They are all declinations of poems," he remarked: "from different men at different times.' [See note p027.3] Then after a pause: "These editorial dictators have a right to dictate: they know what their magazines are made for. I notice that we all get cranky about them when they say 'No, thank you,' but after all somebody has got to decide: I am sure I never have felt sore about any negative experience I have had, and I have had plenty of it—yes, more that than the other—mostly that, in fact. [See note p027.4] But take these letters—it is interesting to read the reasons they give for saying no. Bret Harte has become considerably

 
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more famous since those days: I used to think he was one of our men, or about to be—destined for the biggest real work: but somehow when he went to London the best American in him was left behind and lost."

Rooms of the Overland Monthly,

San Francisco, Apr. 13th, 1870.


My dear sir,

 [See note p028.1]

     I fear that the Passage to India is a poem too long and too abstract for the hasty and the material minded readers of the O.M.

     With many thanks, I am,


Your obt svt


F. Bret Harte, Ed. O.M.


Harper & Brothers' Editorial Rooms,

Franklin Square, New York, June 8, 1885.


My dear Whitman,

      [See note p028.2] The Voice of the Rain does not tempt me, and I return it herewith with thanks.


Yours ever, &c.


H. M. Alden.


The Nineteenth Century, 1 Paternoster Square,

London, E.C., May 19th, 1887.


My dear Sir:

 [See note p028.3]

     I greatly regret being unable to avail myself of the Poems November Boughs which you so kindly sent me with your note dated May 2d. In order not to put you to inconvenience by delay, I return them at once enclosed herewith. With very many thanks for your kind thought of me I remain


Yours very truly


James Knowles.


 
Friday, April 13, 1888.

      [See note p028.4] "This," said W., handing me an old O'Connor letter, "this will give you some more of the Osgood history: the whole history of the Osgood affair will, I suppose, never come out, but one thing and another adds light to it as time

 
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goes on. I see more and more that it was not Walt Whitman who was hurt by Osgood; it was rather Osgood who hurt himself. I guess some of our fellows made a good deal too much fuss about it all: we might have rested on our case and let the other side do the fussing. [See note p029.1] However, no one could say how much such tilts as O'Connor has always been having for the Leaves may not have aided in showing the world that the natural laws were on our side." After reading the letter I asked W.: "Do you accept the whole Bacon proposition, too?""Not the whole of it: I go so far as to anti Shakespeare: I do not know about the rest. I am impressed with the arguments but am not myself enough scholar to go with the critics into any thorough examination of the evidences."

Washington, D.C., February 1, 1885.


Dear Walt:

      [See note p029.2] I have long wanted to write to you, but have been shockingly crowded down with work, and I have nearly forty letters unanswered. Your postal of Monday last came duly. Also the Springfield Republican. How deliciously like my old friend Henry Peterson is that critical exegesis on your lines! I shall certainly send it to Bucke that he may be convinced of the error of his ways by it, as I have of mine!

     Your poem about the Arctic snow-bird is beautiful. I send a slip from the Washington Hatchet to let you see your article on Shakespeare reproduced. Did I tell you (probably not) about getting a letter from Mr. Gibson, the Librarian of the Shakespeare Memorial Library at Stratford-on-Avon? [See note p029.3] This is a gorgeous stone building, all carved and paneled oak inside, containing a library, a reading room, a grand hall, a museum of Shakespeare memorials, etc. The librarian wrote me, very liberally asking me to send to the Library anything I had written in favor of the Baconian theory, saying that the management wished to give house-room to anything related to the subject (fact is, those fellows

 
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over there are beginning to feel the force of the Baconian claim. It is a sign of the rising of the tide, and ten years ago such a request would not have been made.) I at once sent Mr. Gibson a copy of Bucke's book, writing on the fly-leaf— [See note p030.1] "To the Stratford Memorial Library," together with this line, a sort of twistification of a line from Sophocles, "May the truth prevail!" In December last, I got a very polite and cordial acknowledgement from the librarian, in which he says: 'Many thanks for your kind remembrance of my letter and the welcome gift of the life of Walt Whitman, in which is included your letter to Dr. R. M. Bucke, referring to the Bacon and Shakespeare controversy, which renders the volume admissible to our library. I am gald to handle the volume and hope, ere a few days are over, to become better acquainted with the personal history of your great American Poet. The beautiful portrait of the Poet in 1880, to Chapter 2, is exquisite and adds much to our interest in reading his life. His poems are not so well known here as Bryant, Longfellow or Whittier, but they are gradually becoming better appreciated as they are studied. Of all the American poets Longfellow has the widest popularity, and his writings are better known than most of the English poets.'... So, you see, there you are lodged in the great Memorial at Stratford, close by Shakespeare's tomb.

     I must tell you something funny. You know what I say in Bucke's book, page 91, about Dr. Kuno Fischer, ending with the observation that it is strange that having gone so far in seeing the Shakespearean connection with Bacon, he did not take the step that would seem inevitable.  [See note p030.2] Now comes the news that he has taken the inevitable step! Mrs. Pott writes me from London that he has come out squarely for the Baconian theory, and was to give a course of lectures on the subject this winter at the University of Heidelberg, where he is professor of philosophy and literature. So it would seem my words were prophetic. This is the most

 
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important accession to the theory yet made. Dr. Fischer is a very eminent man, widely known in Europe, and his advocacy will carry weight. There is a string of eminent German professors who have also come out for the cause, notably among whom is Dr. Karl Müller of Stuttgart. [See note p031.1] He has translated our Appleton Morgan's Shakespeare Myth into German, and it will have the honor of being published by the great house of Tauchnitz. All this will be gall and wormwood to the literary gang here who, for years, in their effort to suppress us, have acted like the Dragon of Wantley in his dying moments.

     Mrs. Pott writes me that the cause grows daily in England, a number of old scholars, not publicly known, but men of learning and judgment, having given their adhesion, and the young men at Oxford and Cambridge also joining in numbers, are getting ready to fight for Bacon. Hooray! Meanwhile, I bide my time in the cellar.

     Here is something decidedly rich which I heard a couple of weeks since, and tell you in confidence, so as not to compromise the narrator. It is extremely creamy. You know, or you do not know, that Osgood and Co., besides being publishers, also run the Heliotype Company, which does beautiful work in that line, in reproducing maps, plans, engravings, illustrations, etc. They have an office here and their agent is a Boston man, a very nice fellow, named Coolidge. [See note p031.2] I am interested in a little enterprise in his line which brings me into connection with him. The other day I was in his office, and in chatting, referring to a beautifully published life of Home sweet Home Payne by the firm, I remarked that Osgood got out books in splendid style. Coolidge assented, but somewhat wistfully. "Why," said I, "don't you think so?" "O yes," he hastily answered, "but"—"But what?"—I asked, laughing. "Well," said Coolidge slowly, after a pause, "Osgood's a good fellow, and we all like him, but I'm afraid, as a publisher, he's going down."

 
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"Going down!" I repeated. [See note p032.1] "Why how's that?" "Well," returned Coolidge, "I mean that he's losing his grip." "Losing his grip as a publisher!" I exclaimed: "Why, Coolidge, how has that happened?" "Well," he returned; then after a long pause, he continued briskly, "Did you ever hear of a man named Walt Whitman, who wrote a book called Leaves of Grass?" I admitted that I had heard of this man, and of his book. Then he went on to tell me, very circumstantially, that Osgood had solicited the publication of the book, got it out in good style, and was selling it right along, when the District Attorney threatened him with prosecution, etc., etc., (you and I know all this), when he got scared, broke his contract and stopped the publication. "What an infernal fool!" I exclaimed, just here. "Fool!" returned Coolidge. "I should say so! Why that was his chance! He ought to have told the District Attorney to go to hell, publicly defied him, and set all his presses to work. He'd have sold a hundred thousand copies in a month, and nothing could have been done to him." Then he went on to tell me that the affair made a great buzz, that Osgood was universally condemned for his cowardice, and thought to have acted dishonorably, that in consequence a blight fell upon him, and that he had lost his grip as a publisher for the present, and might be going down. [See note p032.2] "If he does go down," concluded Coolidge, "it will be because of his conduct towards Walt Whitman."

     Such is the outline of what Coolidge said, and considering that it was told me as to one who knew nothing of the matter, and by an intimate agent of the house, you may imagine my satisfaction. It was a real comfort to know that although we got so little support in the matter from "the organs of public opinion," there was a public feeling broad and deep enough to put the brand upon the miserable peddler who did this mean wrong. I rejoiced exceedingly to have learned it.

 
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     Isn't it a sweet sequel? Don't let Scovel print it (as the divvle did my note to him—wasn't I astonished!) for I wouldn't have Coolidge injured in Osgood's regard for the world, though I wouldn't care a continental how widely it was known that a blight had fallen upon Osgood for his treatment of you, provided the news came without a source being specified.

     Gosse's visit to you, and his kind and respectful words, inexpressibly gratified me. [See note p033.1] What gave it all point was that he had been feted to the very top by the literati and aristocracy everywhere in this country, and I "phansy their pheelinks," in Yellowplush phrase, in contemplating the tableau.

     But I must break off. I wonder if my life-saving career draws to an end. March fourth comes near. Despite the terrible routine of the office work, so wearying and confining, I am deeply interested in the noble work of the service, and should be sorry to leave it. I think, however, the pressure for Kimball's place and mine will be terribly urgent, and already we hear of many aspirants. Our successors will never do what we have done—fill the stations with the best professionals, no matter what their politics, and so make the life-saving work part of the National glory. Well, we'll see what Cleveland will do. [See note p033.2] What a chance he has generally to break down the infernal spoils system!

     I have a fine picture of Bacon, after Vandyck, which I am going to send you soon.


Good bye, Faithfully,


W. D. O'Connor.

     As I was putting up the letter W. remarked: "William is always a towering force—he always comes down on you like an avalanche: his enemies are weak in his hate, his friends are strong in his love. William should have been—well, what shouldn't he have been? [See note p033.3] He was afire, afire, like genius." Referring to Gosse's visit: "I have a letter

 
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here somewhere in which Gosse announced that he would come. I can't put my hands on it just now."

 
Saturday, April 14, 1888.

      [See note p034.1] W. is not insensible to professional applause, but he is emotionally most moved by the accessions of obscure persons who have no axes to grind and are not bothered by the pros and cons with which culture is apt to wear itself out. He spoke of this today and as illustrating his notion gave me a letter from his table and called my attention to a note he had made on the envelope: "from a lady—a stranger—Washington—1870 (a letter to comfort a fellow and brace him up)." He waited while I read.


June 14th, 1870.


To Walt Whitman, Gentleman.
Sir.

      [See note p034.2] You have had many tributes from the learned and great of Europe and America, yet you will not despise that of a simple, honest woman who writes to thank you, in all sincerity, for those Leaves of Grass from which her soul has drawn such health, freshness, and aroma. I visited Washington for the first time this May, the guest of Mrs. Schwartz (who one night in passing off the platform of a car gave you a rose). I was compelled to [take] many car rides in my transit to "the city." On car No. 14 I encountered you more than once. Your face, which I chose to think a fac simile of the grand old patriarch's, Abraham, attracted me. Through Mr. Devlin, from Mr. Doyle, I was allowed to read your—I prefer saying—I was permitted a long look into the wonderful mirror of your creation, where I saw the reflex of your soul, and felt the influence of your divining power. [See note p034.3] Mr. O'Connor's manly, eloquent, but most unnecessary vindication of your purity was also given me.

     Only themselves understand themselves and the like of themselves,
As souls only understand souls.

 
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     I needed no one to translate for me the language of yours, written so plainy in every line and furrow of your face, and revealed to the world in the many gracious deeds of love to your kind.

     I closed your book revelation, a wiser and more thoughtful woman than when from idle curiousity I first opened it at the very stanza, Perfections, which I have just quoted. [See note p035.1] Life held grander possibilities to me from that hour, and the mission of a soul born into this world to love, influence, and suffer, was invested with profounder responsibilities.

      [See note p035.2] To whoever is granted the power to make another long for Truth for its own beautiful sake; love the lowly and opressed for the sake of the divinity spark which is in each human body and see in Nature the heart of the great Mother-God who concieved and gave it birth—to such an one there is a debt due of allegiance and profound gratitude.

     I thank you Sir, with all my heart, and pray for you the abiding Presence and hourly comfort of the divine Pure in Heart whom you worship.

     I need make no apology for this note. You will not misunderstand it. I go to my home in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, tomorrow. I may never again chance to see you, but you will believe, nevertheless, that I will wish for you—and teach others to do the same—a long earth life of usefulness, and an eternity of appreciation and renown.


Reverently yours


Mrs. Nellie Eyster.

     When I was through he asked: "What do you think of that? Would a thousand dollar bill do you as much good as that? [See note p035.3] I think I never got a letter that went straighter to what it was aimed for: it's better than getting medals from a king or pensions from Congress."

     W. had been burning some old manuscripts today. A piece had dribbled at the foot of the stove. I picked it up.

 
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"Shall I take it?""If you choose—but what's the use." He laughed.

      [See note p036.1] "Eighty millions of Tartars may shave the top of the head from Comparison to Self-Esteem, and so on down to the ears; and this may be done for thirty centuries, and be one of the institutions of the Empire.—But if a man appears at the end of that time in whose eyes the custom is unnatural and therefore ungraceful, this man will be none the less right because he is denied by a hundred generations, whose coronal fronts were well scraped, and whose pig tails hung down behind."

     Above this note, which was of an old period, probably the fifties (the ink was much faded) W. had written in pencil: "Japanese women (mothers) shave their eyebrows."

 
Sunday, April 15, 1888.

     To W.'s in the forenoon. "I'm going up to Tom's for tea—you will be there?" He was trying on a new red tie. "Red has life in it—our men mostly look like funerals, undertakers: they set about to dress as gloomy as they can."

     As I was about leaving W. said suddenly: "By the way, I have found the Tennyson letter I promised you.  [See note p036.2] Take it along—take good care of it: the curio hunters would call it quite a gem." [W. borrowed this letter back from me several times in after years and several times sent people to me to look at it.] "Tennyson has written me on a number of occasions—is always friendly, sometimes even warm: I don't think he ever quite makes me out: but he thinks I belong: perhaps that is enough—all I ought to expect." I read the letter. "It is a poem," I said. "Or better than a poem," added W. "Tennyson is an artist even when he writes a letter: this letter itself is protected all round from indecision, forwardness, uncertainty: it is correct—choice, final."

 
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Farringford, Freshwater, Isle of Wight

Jany. 15th, 1887.


Dear old man,

      [See note p037.1] I the elder old man have received your Article in the Critic, and send you in return my thanks and New Year's greeting on the wings of this east-wind, which, I trust, is blowing softlier and warmlier on your good gray head than here, where it is rocking the elms and ilexes of my Isle of Wight garden.


Yours always


Tennyson.

      [See note p037.2] Later at Harned's. No strangers present. "With each month that passes I feel more and more uncertain on my pins.""But you don't worry about the pins as long as you are all right at the top?""I don't worry either way. But I guess I am all right at the top—at least as near right as Walt Whitman ever was: you know how crazy I have always been to some people."

     W. talked with us in the parlor a long time.  [See note p037.3] "When I got up Monday morning last I had three sets of verses in hand. I sent one to the Herald, one to the Century and one to the Cosmopolitan. The Century folks sent me a check at once. The piece sent to the Herald was used according to our standing arrangement. The Cosmopolitan editor rejected me. He wrote a note saying the poem did not attract him—he suggested that I should submit other matter." The poem refused was To get the final Lilt of Songs.

      [See note p037.4] W. got hold of a San Francisco portrait of Ingersoll from Harned's mantel and regarded it long and intently. "That is a grand brow: and the face—look at the face (see the mouth): it is the head, the face, the poise, of a noble human being. America don't know today how proud she ought to be of Ingersoll." Harned read aloud some paragraphs from Ingersoll's North American Review paper on Art and

 
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Morality. W. exclaimed: "Don't stop there, Tom: read it all— read it all." And several times in H.'s pauses W. cried out: "Go on! Go on!" When H. was through W. said: "I'm sorry there's no more, though I guess he has said all: it's every bit fine, every bit. A little of it here and there I might say no to, but I guess my no wouldn't be very loud." [See note p038.1] W. said: "Ingersoll's gone to New York to live.""Yes," replied H., "it's the Lord's own country.""But say, Tom" retorted W., "isn't it a sort of delirium tremens?" Then he reflected: "I used to to love it. Perhaps it'll do from seven or eight to fifty or sixty—but not before, not after!"

     "What do you think?" W. asked: "I've received an invitation to embark on a lecturing tour in England—a real invitation with dollars, pounds, back of it. [See note p038.2] Of course, it's impossible, but it's interesting. My friends here and there, both sides, do not realize how badly broken up I am. Another thing. Hollyer, over there in New York, who is getting up some etchings of the writers—Carlyle, Whittier, Longfellow, Tennyson, and so forth—has written me for my portrait, sending along some specimens of his work, with which I am but little impressed. [See note p038.3] I assented to his request and sent him a copy of what Mary Smith calls the Lear picture: you all know it. Of course I am a lot curious and very little certain about Hollyer."

      [See note p038.4] At the table W. raised his glass before the others had done so and glancing at the picture of Lincoln on the wall opposite exclaimed: "Here's to the blessed man above the mantel!" and then remarked: "You know this is the day he died.""After my dear, dear mother, I guess Lincoln gets almost nearer me than anybody else." W. borrowed Boswell's Johnson from Harned, saying: "I have never so far read it." [See note p038.5] "Tom," he said, "when I was out in the carriage I picked up a lame fellow on the road—a sort of tramp, limpsy, hungry, a bit dirty, but damned human,

 
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much like your uncle here, bless his buttons!" H. exclaimed: "Walt—that sentence is as good as a sermon." W. put on a look of mock inquiry: "Is that all it's worth—is that the best you can say of it?"

     W. is writing about Hicks. Morse, now in the west, has made and sent W. a copy of a Hicks bust. W says: "The box is still unopened.  [See note p039.1] I told Sidney I was writing a Hicks piece which I would deliver in a lecture and give to Lippincott's to print (Will Walsh says he wants it). The bust has been along two or three weeks. I want Horace to come down with his hatchet or come down and use my hatchet and open the box."

     Eakins' portrait of W. being mentioned, W. said: "It is about finished. Eakins asked me the other day: 'Well, Mr. Whitman, what will you do with your half of it?' I asked him: 'Which half is mine?' Eakins answered my question in this way: 'Either half,' and said again regarding that: 'Somehow I feel as if the picture was half yours, so I'm going to let it be regarded in that light.' [See note p039.2] Neither of us at present has anything to suggest as to its final disposition. The portrait is very strong—it contrasts in every way with Herbert Gilchrist's, which is the parlor Whitman. Eakins' picture grows on you. It is not all seen at once—it only dawns on you gradually. It was not at first a pleasant version to me, but the more I get to realize it the profounder seems its insight. I do not say it is the best portrait yet—I say it is among the best: I can safely say that. I know you boys object to its fleshiness; something is to be said on that score; if it is weak anywhere perhaps it is weak there—too much Rabelais instead of just enough. Still, give it a place: it deserves a big place.  [See note p039.3] I seem to be in great request for portraits just now. The last request was from Warren Miller—he is in Brooklyn—who wants to know whether I will give him some sittings for a portrait in oil. I told him I would—yes, I would."

 
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     When W. was leaving H. said: "I hope you have enjoyed yourself today enough to come again." [See note p040.1] W. replied merrily: "Better than that, I have enjoyed myself today enough to hate to go at all."

 
Monday, April 16, 1888.

     "I found the Gosse letter today," said W. as I entered: "I knew it was about somewhere. I wasn't looking for it—it just turned up." I took it and read it.


1 East 28th St.,

New York City, Dec. 29, 1887.


Dear Mr. Whitman:

      [See note p040.2] I am very anxious not to leave this country without paying my respects to you, and bearing to you in person the messages which I bring from Mr. Swinburne and other common friends in England. I propose, therefore, if it be not inconvenient to you, to call upon you in Camden on Saturday next, in the forenoon.

     Pray believe me to be, Dear Mr. Whitman


Faithfully yours


Edmund Gosse.

     "This was the letter—this was the meeting—that O'Connor seemed to think was so significant. [See note p040.3] I do not know about the significance—I was glad to hear from him, glad to have him come. Gosse is very largely a formal craftsman but he has a little disposition our way."

     W. was in excellent humor. He directed me to the hatchet and had me open the Hicks box. Meanwhile he kept up a running talk. "Half an hour ago I was wired by The Herald for some word on Matthew Arnold, who died suddenly today, and that is already finished and mailed. [See note p040.4] Did you ever know me to be so fast before? What's to be said of Arnold? Do you know? My judgment would, on the whole, the judgment I sent to The Herald, be considered

 
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unfavorable." The bust was taken out and set on a box, displacing a Whitman, which I took up stairs and deposited in W.'s spareroom. "Morse has done well, better, almost best. [See note p041.1] It more than meets my expectations: its serenity, its seriosity—which stops finely short of ministerial goody-goodishness. It impresses me, with regard to the head above the eyes, however, that Morse has given it too much mass—has idealized it; in fact, I never knew of but one artist, and that's Tom Eakins, who could resist the temptation to see what they think ought to be rather than what is. And yet I am pleased. Morse, you have done first rate. A good piece of work I should say. Its points strike you as you stay with it. Morse is getting stronger. He never could have done such work till last summer, when he got in the back yard here, away from the art schools, and slashed and dashed away—and hit it!"

     Gilchrist sends W. a card invite to an exhibit of his Whitman in London. [See note p041.2] W. said: "Horace, I can't go. You go as my representative.""All right. And what shall I say of the picture when I get there?""Nothing unless you must.""And if I must?""Well, if you must be careful what you do. Don't set it very far up—but don't damn it, either." Arnold was referred to again. Arnold had recently said of Lincoln that he "lacked distinction." This seemed to irritate W. [See note p041.3] "That makes me think of some one who once said there were two kinds of jokers—the damned good one and the damned bad one. Arnold is a damned bad one. Swinburne resorted to similar strategy to destroy Byron but it would not work. Byron has fire enough to burn forever." [See note p041.4] W. continued: "I have a warm place even for Shelley. He seems so opposite—so ethereal—all ethereal—always living in the presence of a great ideal, as I do not. [See note p041.5] He was not sensual—he was not even sensuous."

     The poem The Cosmopolitan rejected was sent by W. to The Herald, in which it appeared this morning. His con-

 
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tract with The Herald calls for ten pieces (no size stipulated) a month, for which he is paid one hundred dollars. W. has hung the Eakins portrait in a better light. "Does it look glum?" he inquired: "that is its one doubtful feature: if I thought it would finally look glum I would hate it. [See note p042.1] There was a woman from the South here the other day: she called it the picture of a jolly joker. There was a good deal of comfort to me in having her say that—just as there was when you said at Tom's the other day that it make you think of a rubicund sailor with his hands folded across his belly about to tell a story."

     Speaking of the "strain of American life" W. declared that "every man is trying to outdo every other man—giving up modesty, giving up honesty, giving up generosity, to do it: creating a war, every man against every man: the whole wretched business falsely keyed by money ideals, money politics, money religions, money men." [See note p042.2]

 
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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.


 
Wednesday, April 18, 1888.

     Whitman adds as to Arnold: "He will not be missed. [See 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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!"

 
Thursday, April 19, 1888.

     In with W. Alluded again to Arnold. "I am apt at times to go back on my pieces: this Herald piece, now—it's not all that could be said: it don't say my say for me in the most conclusive way. [See note p047.3] I'm not sure it's well to put yourself on record with such dispatch. I always say I won't do it: then I go do it." Still reading the Boswell. "I am convinced as I get farther along that Johnson was none too veracious—that he was on stilts, always—he belongs to the self-conscious literary class, who live in a house of rules and never get into the open air. Take Arnold, again. I have been looking a little into his poetry today. [See note p047.4] It is fine—wonderful fine—like some delicate, precious bit of porcelain, of china, but it is fragile, it lacks substance." W. went back to Johnson. "As I read I think of a funny story Mary Davis tells me of some one who said once in a sudden humor: 'I feel like eating dough!' I don't feel like eating dough

 
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—I feel as if I had eaten it. Johnson fills me with a great heaviness. He gives me no lifts—never takes me up anywhere; always fastens me to the earth." Again: "I reckon I was not made to understand the scribbling class—perhaps they were not made to understand me. We seem to have been made for different jobs. I am doing my job in my way: it don't suit them: they growl, curse, ridicule: but what is left for Walt Whitman to do but complete the job in the most workmanlike fashion he knows?"

     W. quizzed in this way: "When you write do you take anybody's advice about writing? [See note p048.1] Don't do it: nothing will so mix you up as advice. If a fellow wants to keep clear about himself he must first of all swear a big oath that he'll never take any advice."

     W. brought up the subject of November Boughs. When would he bring the book out? "I don't know: I get up some mornings and say, this is the day: but somehow before the day is over I see this is not the day: yet it will come out, and before long, God willing, and you, Horace Traubel, willing: for I shall need you to help me through with this expedition. [See note p048.2] If you go back on me now I might just as well fold my sails." He produced the mass of papers going to make up the copy for November Boughs: a bundle of letters, reprints, new manuscript, pictures, tied together with a bit of coarse string. "This is the sacred package," he explained, solemnly. "It is ready for the printer, ready this minute, but I do not seem to pluck up the courage to get the enterprise under way." [See note p048.3] Alluded to his memory: "It lasts—lasts wonderfully well: it plays me some tricks—but then it always did: it is not a marvellous, only a decently good, memory. I remember that the Broadway stage-coachmen could turn back over a month's confusion of trips—tell with readiness and accuracy the tally-numbers of passengers of the up and down rides of any hour that could be named—the records being always kept in this simple fashion by the

 
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then illiterate men. What kind of a light would my little memory make alongside such faculty as that?" W. brought out a soiled letter written on a couple of sheets of common proof paper and suggested that I should see what he had inscribed upon the corner with red ink: "beautiful good letter June '82."

Chicago May 21.


Walt Whitman.

     I don't feel that I should apologize for writing to you. I have wanted to do so for years. [See note p049.1] I have loved you for years with my whole heart and soul. No man ever lived whom I have so desired to take by the hand as you. I read Leaves of Grass, and got new conceptions of the dignity and beauty of my own body and of the bodies of other people; and life became more valuable in consequence. After a year or two—always carrying you in my thoughts—holding imaginary conversations with you and dreaming of you day and night, I came across a lady who knew you, Miss Lizzie Denton Seybold, now Becker. She had your portrait painted in oil. I made every effort to induce her to let me have the picture, but she would not. [See note p049.2] Since that time—I was living in glorious California then—I have read with deepest interest every word about you in the papers and magazines, as well as everything you have written. Sometimes I have been furious at what immodest people, idiots, have dared say of you and have longed to write my own pure and true convictions of you. But I cannot—I am too impetuous; I feel my subject too deeply. And yet I am a writer and make a living by my pen. Now that I have come east this far, where I am employed as editor on the Saturday Express, I have the hope that I may sometime see your dearly beloved face, touch with my hand your beautiful gray hair, and possibly feel your arm about my waist. Because I love you so I have written these lines. It is nothing to me who sees them. I am proud of my feeling for you. It has educated me; it has done more to raise

 
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me from a poor working woman to a splendid position on one of the best papers ever published, than all the other influences of my life.

      [See note p050.1] I know you must have many letters from strangers, and so I will not take any more of your time in reading what I have to say. Of course I have no hope of recieving an answer to this. But I thought it no harm to let you know that my love went with you, and perhaps in some unknown way was a blessing to you all these years.

     Good-bye dear Walt Whitman— my beloved, and may every influence in life contribute to your happiness.


Most lovingly your friend


Helen Wilmans.

     W. waited till I had read this letter. Then he exclaimed: "Well, how does that strike you? [See note p050.2] Don't you think that's a bright letter for a dark day? I like these letters from people I don't know, from people who don't know me, these confessions of love, these little 'how do you dos' that appear every now and then out of mysterious obscure places. I know some people will damn me and some will save me—the big guns who noise about the world: I don't know as it affects me either way. But such a letter as this has a verity, a sureness, a solid reason for itself, which gives it special value. I confess it pushed clean into my vitals."

 
Friday, April 20, 1888.

     "Emerson's objections to the outcast passages in Leaves of Grass," said W. tonight, "were neither moral nor literary, but were given with an eye to my worldly success. [See note p050.3] He believed the book would sell—said that the American people should know the book: yes, would know it but for its sex handicap: and he thought he saw the way by which to accomplish what he called 'the desirable end.' He did not say I should drop a single line—he did not put it that way at

 
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all: he asked whether I could consent to eliminate certain popularly objectionable poems and passages. Emerson's position has been misunderstood: he offered absolutely no spiritual argument against the book exactly as it stood. Give it a chance to be seen, give the people a chance to want to see it—that was the gist of his contention. [See note p051.1] If there was any weakness in his position it was in his idea that the particular poems could be dropped and the Leaves remain the Leaves still: he did not see the significance of the sex element as I had put it into the book and resolutely there stuck to it—he did not see that if I had cut sex out I might just as well have cut everything out—the full scheme would no longer exist—it would have been violated in its most sensitive spot."

      [See note p051.2] I read W. a story about Turner—how he had on varnishing day once blacked out one of his brilliant canvases in order to save some adjacent pictures of other men from the destructive contrast. W. exclaimed: "Beautiful! beautiful! It's as fine as anything in Plutarch. The common heroisms of life are anyhow the real heroisms; the impressive heroisms; not the military kind, not the political kind: just the ordinary world kind, the bits of brave conduct happening about us: things that don't get into the papers—things that the preachers don't thank God for in their pulpits—the real things, nevertheless—the only things that eventuate in a good harvest."

      [See note p051.3] As I left W. put into my hands an O'Connor letter, old date, of which he said: "Put this with your Emerson papers: it throws more light on Emerson matters: O'Connor is always throwing light on things—lavishing light, we might say: vehement, penetrating light: light that nothing can stand up against. William is a torrent—he sweeps everything before him. [See note p051.4] This letter is only one letter of many letters—all of them alike in that: alike in their power to make themselves felt. I don't believe William ever wrote

 
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an inconsequential letter—ever wrote in a muffled key: ever was commonplace, ever was in the evil sense of that word diplomatic. No—no. He was always outright—took the immediate course—refused all roundabout methods. But read the letter. It is like a plunging, irresistible overflow of mad waters: read the letter."

Washington, D.C., June 3, 1882.


Dear Walt:

     Your two letters, full of memoranda, of May 28 and 30, came duly. [See note p052.1] I have "toiled terribly," as Cecil said of Raleigh, and sent off another letter to The Tribune, which I think will make Mr. Chadwick wear a toupee, for I have snatched him baldheaded. It has cost me great labor, though you may not think so when you read it, it runs off so savagely easy; but the difficulty in a controversy of this kind is to mould everything so as not to lay yourself open, and to give no points to the enemy, and this costs time and care. My old fencing-master, Boulet, (no better ever lived; he taught once at West Point,) taught me always to cover my breast with hilt and point, even in the lunge, and I think of his lessons when engaged in fence of another kind. [See note p052.2] I hope I have succeeded in being both guarded and bold in this new encounter with Chadwick.

     I have freely used the memoranda you sent, and got in as much of it as I could see my way to employ, and as much as I dared. I think you will feel satisfied with the use I have made of it. Some things I thought it prudent to withhold, because they might provoke replication when we are not in a position to defend ourselves, not being ever sure that a single organ is open to us.

     You must be very careful in this matter. [See note p052.3] Even words must be carefully chosen, for the enemy is unscrupulous and uses every advantage we give him. I came near getting into a pretty scrape by trusting to your memorandum about the appearance of Emerson's letter in Cooke's memoir published

 
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by Osgood. It was a splendid point to make, that the letter appeared verbatim in a book issued with Emerson's own sanction a year ago, and I worked it in and made the most of it. But at the last I thought it would be prudent to see the book, and there was the letter sure enough, but with a lot of remarks by the editor to the effect that "it is understood" (the usual sneaking lie in putting it) that Emerson had considerably modified his feeling, and regretted, etc. etc. [See note p053.1] Fortunately, there is not a word in the preface to show that the book had Emerson's sanction,—but just see the scrape I would have been in had I used the information in the shape you sent it!! Indeed, Walt, you ought to be more careful. "A wild and many-weaponed throng, hang on our front and flank and rear." [See note p053.2] If I had said that the letter was reprinted in a book with Emerson's sanction, Chadwick would have had me. Our stronghold is the Emerson letter, unretracted by himself. Next thing we shall have to meet will be the stories of what Emerson said to this man and that man. We must deny them all, and call for proof. Let us admit nothing. Make the other side prove their allegations.

     I hope my new letter will be as successful with you and the public as the first. [See note p053.3] My aim has been to shut Chadwick up for good, for I don't want to be bothered on a side issue by this egotistic jackass

     Letters are pouring in upon me. One from John Hay, very cordial. One from the Melancholy Club of New York, very overflowing, inviting me to a grand supper to be given on Saturday (this) evening in honor of you and of my letter. Have you been invited? And who are the Melancholy Club men of Lexington Avenue? [See note p053.4] I returned them a civil letter of regret at my inability to be present, etc., and consoled them by offering as a toast "old Selden's trumpet sentence—'Before all things, Liberty!'"—"Words," I said, "which are good to remember when thought is menaced by

 
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law." I have had a number of other letters from persons unknown. [See note p054.1] One from Bucke, quite jubilant over my letter, and telling me the fix I have got his book into, which is comic as a scene from Moliere. You will see the fun when you know that he had sent his MS. to Osgood!! I also got a letter from John Burroughs, announcing his arrival, and I at once sent him a Tribune containing the letter. [See note p054.2] I also have a letter from Dr. Channing at Providence, red-hot for you, and proposing to reprint my Good Gray Poet at his expense!!

     There has been quite a swarming of people after me. The press notices are generally favorable and hearty. I hope nothing adverse or disastrous will happen. I want the matter to result in your getting a publisher, as it ought.

     Watch the Tribune for my anti-Chadwick. [See note p054.3] I hardly think it will fail to bring him down. At the last moment, after two days of anxious cogitation, I cut out of it several pages of really withering ridicule, excellent in itself, but positively injurious to the main effect. You see how solely I consider the interests of our cause—sacrificing thereto my choicest satirical felicities!

     Good bye!


Yours faithfully


W. D. O'Connor.

      [See note p054.4] When W. saw I was through reading this vigorous letter he said: "That's like a battle-ship firing both sides and fore and aft: no man in America carries as big an armament for controversy as William—can do as heavy immediate execution. I would hate to be in his way myself—to have him feel me to be an obstruction, that he had to strike me down; I'd far rather have him on my side. I was going to say What a fighter! I won't say that: I will say: What a lover! For, after all, William is a lover: after all? yes—and before all, too."

 
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Saturday, April 21, 1888.

     In with W. Complains of headaches. "Rather, not aches, but a sort of congestion. [See note p055.1] I have felt myself for two weeks back to be in a rather dubious condition. Today I have felt worse than any day previous. But what's the use complaining?—Why should I trouble you with my pains? You have pains of your own." He paused for a minute. I said nothing. He then continued: "I don't believe you have any pains of your own: I believe you are a sickless animal—I don't believe you know what it is to be on your back." I confessed that I did not. "Neither did I for the most of my life: I hardly knew I had a stomach or a head for all the trouble I had with either."

     He got talking about New York—its literary men. [See note p055.2] "They are mainly a sad crowd: take the whole raft of them—Stoddard, Fawcett, the rest—what are they saying or doing that is in the least degree significant? I am told that Stoddard is pretty sour on me—hates even to have my name mentioned in his presence, never refers to me with respect. [See note p055.3] I do not blame him. But—I am sorry for Walt Whitman. There is Taylor. He was first rather friendly. Then he went to New York and experienced a change of heart. [See note p055.4] Yet I have been told by a man who was very near to Taylor that he was melting towards me again when he died. I had a couple of letters from Taylor back, back, years and years ago. I don't know where they are: they were good letters. When they turn up, if they turn up, you shall have them. They will add a bit to the material you have collected about me. Did I tell you that I dined with Stoddard at the house of a Mrs. Bleecker? He was courteous but not friendly on that occasion. New York gives the literary man a touch of snow: he is never quite the same human being after New York has really set in: the best fellows have few chances of escape. Take John himself. Burroughs, I mean. [See note p055.5] He lives just far enough off. Even John barely

 
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got off with his skin. Stedman? Stedman is all right—I love him. But after all I do not think that Stedman ever drew very deep water. His estimate of the American poets misses the chief points—is wide of the truth: he is too judicial, too much concerned about being exactly just. [See note p056.1] The man who tries a too delicate operation with his scales breaks the scales. Don't Stedman break down in the process of his own criticism? He is generous, inclusive, hospitable, a bit overripe here and there, too much cultivated, too little able to be foolish, to be free, (we must all be foolish at times—it is the one condition of liberty)—is always precisely so, always according to program." W. still talked on, hitting at different themes: "I sometimes waver in opinion as between Emerson and Bryant. Bryant is more significant for his patriotism, Americanism, love of external nature, the woods, the sea, the skies, the rivers, and this at times, the objective features of it especially, seems to outweigh Emerson's urgent intelligence and psychic depth. [See note p056.2] But after every heresy I go back to Emerson. Stedman is cute but he has not attached to Whittier, Emerson and Bryant anything like the peculiar weight that I should, rebel as I am. [See note p056.3] Stedman is cute but hardly more than cute—not a first hander—a fine scholar, with great charms of style, fond of congregating historic names, processional, highly organized, but not in the windup proving that he is aware of what all his erudition, even all his good will (he has plenty of that, God bless him!), leads up to. I should not say such things, should I? I am a hell of a critic. But I just get going and go and can't even stop myself, especially when you come round, damn you! [See note p056.4] You have an odd effect on me—you don't ask me questions, you have learned that I hate to be asked questions, yet I seem to be answering questions all the time whenever you happen in." I laughed at this sally, whereupon he continued: "Well—ask Stedman to forgive me.""To forgive you? He need never hear!""Ask
 
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him to forgive me anyhow!"
He chuckled a little. "I am always sure that in some way my friends hear all that I say about them: all the love I say about them, all the questions I ask: don't you think our minds go outside us and meet and exchange life for life?"

     W. gave me another Miller letter. [See note p057.1] "I guess I belong to Miller: he has proved himself in so many ways—his books have proved him, his personal affection has proved him."


Revere House, Boston, May 27, '75.


My dear Walt Whitman,

     Your kind letter is received and the sad news of your ill health makes this pleasant weather even seem tiresome and out of place. I had hoped to find you the same hale and whole man I had met in New York a few years ago and now I shall perhaps find you bearing a staff all full of pain and trouble. [See note p057.2] However my dear friend as you have sung from within and not from without I am sure you will be able to bear whatever comes with that beautiful faith and philosophy you have ever given us in your great and immortal chants. I am coming to see you very soon as you request; but I cannot say today or set tomorrow for I am in the midst of work and am not altogether my own master. But I will come and we will talk it all over together. In the meantime, remember that whatever befall you you have the perfect love and sympathy of many if not all of the noblest and loftiest natures of the two hemispheres. My dear friend and fellow toiler good bye.


Yours faithfully,


Joaquin Miller.


 
Sunday, April 22, 1888.

     I took W. a volume Goethe-Carlyle correspondence. [See note p057.3] "This Goethe-Carlyle business seems to have been an affair of respect rather than of love. It was not beautiful to me, like Goethe's love for Schiller, like Schiller's love for Goethe."

 
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I said: "You never seem to enter into such literary companionships.""No—I do not: they are hardly possible to me: I do not seek them. [See note p058.1] I do not value literature as a profession. I feel about literature what Grant did about war. He hated war. I hate literature. I am not a literary West Pointer: I do not love a literary man as a literary man, as a minister of a pulpit loves other ministers because they are ministers: it is a means to an end, that is all there is to it: I never attribute any other significance to it. Even Goethe and Schiller, exalted men, both, very, very, were a little touched by the professional consciousness." [See note p058.2] "Then you do not accept the notion of art for art's sake?""Not a bit of it—that would be absurd on the face: the phrase seems to me to mean nothing. [See note p058.3] Take Tolstoy: there are things about him that do not attract me—some that are even offensive—his asceticism, for instance—and yet Tolstoy comes to about the right amount: he counts up to a high figure." [See note p058.4] Referred to Kennedy. "He is one of my most ardent—I often say, granitic—admirers. Indeed, he out-Buckes Bucke." To Tucker: "He has thumped me some for my emperor piece but is still my friend as I am still his friend: I don't think a fall or two taken out of a fellow hurts him in the long run. [See note p058.5] Tucker did brave things for Leaves of Grass when brave things were rare. I couldn't forget that." To O'Connor: "He, too, fell afoul of me for my emperor piece. Why, that piece almost threatens to create a split in the church! [See note p058.6] William is quite as radical as Tucker though much less interested in political study—is more fond of fooling with old books, ancient lores—is himself an Elizabethan student of almost miraculous erudition. I stand in awe before William." Rhys once said to W. in reply to W.'s question: "William Morris always mentioned you kindly, genially, in fine friendly fashion, admiringly, with full acceptance." [See note p058.7] Spoke of Nihilism in Russia. "That seems about the only thing left to a Russian. Revolution may be the only conservatism."
 
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     W. said to a visitor in my hearing: "The American people wash too much.""See," said the visitor: What did I tell you? His gospel is a gospel of dirt.""What did you say to that?" asked W. [See note p059.1] "I only said you were misunderstood—that what you meant was that the American people did not sufficiently honor the trades, the physical occupations.""Of course, and wasn't that obvious?""Not to your vistor.""I suppose not. But what do such visitors come for anyhow? To be confirmed in their prejudices. I think our people are getting entirely too decent. They like nice white hands, men and women. They are too much disturbed by dirt. They need the open air, coarse work—physical tasks: something to do away from the washstand and the bathtub. God knows, I'm not opposed to clean hands. But clean hands, too, may be a disgrace. It was the disgraceful clean hands I had in mind."

     W.'s friends often rally him about his aristocracy. [See note p059.2] W. says for himself: "I appeal to no one: I look in all men for the heroic quality I find in Caesar, Carlyle, Emerson: yes indeed—find it, too, it is so surely present. If that is aristocracy then I am an aristocrat."

     I spoke of Lincoln—of the Nicolay-Hay biography. W. said: "That reminds me." Reaching forward to the table and pulling a letter out from under a block—"Here's a letter from John Hay to me written long ago—twelve years ago. [See note p059.3] I laid it aside for you. It illustrates the friendly basis upon which our acquaintance rests. When Hay was with Lincoln I used to see a great deal of him. He has been loyal—has always watched my work, has inevitably appeared at the right time with his applause. Here is the letter. [See note p059.4] It is mighty decent of John to talk out in meeting as he has—to avow his faith. But read the letter." W. had written some memoranda on the letter, which was without an envelope. "July 25, '76, Letter from John Hay (Custer poem slips and paper sent him July 25)."

 
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Century Club, 109 East 15th St.,

[New York] July 22.


Dear Mr. Whitman,

      [See note p060.1] I thank you heartily for my share in your Custer poem, which I have just read. It is splendidly strong and sustained and full of a noble motive. I am especially glad to learn, in such an authoritative way, of your health and vigor.

     I wish you would take the trouble to let me know when your volume of collected works is to be published and where I can subscribe for it. I have heard that it was to be published by subscription, but have not heard any further details.

     My address is now 506 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio; and I would be very much obliged if you would spend a moment in letting me know how to get an early copy of the book for which many are looking.


Yours faithfully,


John Hay.

      [See note p060.2] "There's no use talking," said W., after I had finished reading the letter, "I no doubt deserved my enemies but I don't believe I deserved my friends."

 
Monday, April 23, 1888.

     To see W. He said: "I gave you some notes from editors the other day—notes declining the poems. I have found you another to add to the collection. This is from Alden: it is more recent than one or two of the others. You see, I have been declined everywhere more or less. Alden is friendly. I never quarrel with the editors. [See note p060.3] Besides, it's best not to have a royal road—it stiffens a fellow up to be told all around that he is not wanted, that his room is better than his company, that he has a good heart—that he can nurse soldiers but can't write poetry. But read Alden's little note: it's all in his own hand, polite but rigid: rigid? yes, almost frigid."

 
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Harper & Brothers' Editorial Rooms,

Franklin Square, New York, May 12, 1885.


My dear Whitman,

     I have your kind favor of the 11th with the enclosed poem—or series of poems, rather. [See note p061.1] It does not seem to me that Fancies at the Navesink will make a favorable impression upon our readers—though they might upon a select few. I must therefore return them.


With thanks, Sincerely yours,


H. M. Alden.

      [See note p061.2] W. got talking of Emerson again: "The world does not know what our relations really were—they think of our friendship always as a literary friendship: it was a bit that but it was mostly something else—it was certainly more than that—for I loved Emerson for his personality and I always felt that he loved me for something I brought him from the rush of the big cities and the mass of men. We used to walk together, dine together, argue, even, in a sort of a way, though neither one of us was much of an arguer. We were not much for repartee or sallies or what people ordinarily call humor, but we got along together beautifully—the atmosphere was always sweet, I don't mind saying it, both on Emerson's side and mine: we had no friction—there was no kind of fight in us for each other—we were like two Quakers together. Dear Emerson! [See note p061.3] I doubt if the literary classes which have taken to coddling him have any right to their god. He belonged to us—yes, to us—rather than to them." Then after a pause: "I suppose to all as well as to us—perhaps to no clique whatever."

     W. wandered into some side remarks on what he calls "the New York crowd of scrawlers." Winter, for instance. "There's little Willie Winter— miserable cuss!" [See note p061.4] Of Stedman: "Stedman's judgment sometimes has a grandmotherly tinge." Of Stoddard: "I allow for Stoddard what he will not allow for me—that he has written good things. He

 
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wrote a fine Lincoln poem. Then he wrote a poem called On the Town, I think—about a girl: a superb poem." [See note p062.1] Of Ripley, now dead: "He was a noble scholar: I read him at one time with great assiduity. He never struck anything off with his own fire but he knew what to do with the fire of other men." He summarized on New York in this way: "It is life to the letter but death to the spirit. It is a good market for the harvest but a bad place for farming."

     W. spoke of Washington as "a big man after all." I said: "But I think Lincoln was a bigger man after all." [See note p062.2] W. laughed and replied at once: "I know you are right—Lincoln was more likely as a Walt Whitman Horace Trauble man: Washington belonged to another period, to another social era: and Washington is too big to be trifled with. I allow him his full measure. But Lincoln? Well, we are very near Lincoln. He is like somebody that lives in our own house." [See note p062.3] Described Kennedy's conversion: "It was slow, gradual—won out of an actual radical antipathy. Kennedy is the mixed fruit of the Puritan consciousness. Think of Walt Whitman and Plymouth Rock getting somehow together. It is hard to think out. Kennedy could not think it out at first: it was the most difficult problem he ever tackled: but finally the snarl was escaped. Kennedy came out of it on our side." [See note p062.4] W. further: "Tom was in today—brought some kind of a preacher along: I don't even remember his name—a clever fellow but preachery all over, like a man in a lather. It did my eyes good to look away from him towards Tom—Tom, who is a normal man, gruff, honest, direct, simple, strong."

 
Tuesday, April 24, 1888.

      [See note p062.5] In to W. with the Millet picture from Adler. I do not know a title for it. It represents a peasant putting on his clothes after the day's work is done. W. took it from my hands and held it off from himself, regarding it with im-

 
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mediate approval and fondness. "After all, Horace—it's almost the Sower—it comes to almost as much: it is a piece out of the same cloth. Millet is my painter: he belongs to me: I have written Walt Whitman all over him. [See note p063.1] How about that? or is it the other way about? Has he written Millet all over me?"

     W. had been to Gloucester to a planked shad dinner and was unusually tired. Remarked his bad ears. "I am getting a little deaf—I don't hear little things. [See note p063.2] I have to be pounded and yelled at to hear." This was an exaggeration called out by the fact that I had knocked a long time at the door and rang the bell and was not heard. W. was alone in the house. I asked him how he was managing to go about so readily. He prefers to be alone on these excursions. "The worst of it is I not only sit here and simmer all day long but am growing contented to do it—losing the desire to move. [See note p063.3] I do not enjoy the sign—it seems like the beginning of the end: yet it is more and more marked. I resolutely say I won't get tired and won't stay at home—yet I am tired even while I speak and settle down into my chair as if I was never to leave it. I do not hide the facts from myself. They do not concern me. I never invite trouble to hurry up." I found W. reading Louise Chandler Moulton's book on Marston. "How is that?" I asked. [See note p063.4] W. explained: "She was here yesterday. She left me the book. I have been trying to make something out of it—so far have not succeeded. Marston did some creditable work—work, however, that can hardly live. It lacked grit—it lacked the requisite organs: it was largely in the air. A sweet enough fellow, though, with a life tragedy, which should have taught him how to write. Literary men learn so little from life—borrow so much from the borrowers."

     W. was joyous over what he called "a piece of the best news." [See note p063.5] What was the best news? "The Whitman Club in Boston has petered out. It failed because I sat down on

 
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it. I wrote Sylvester Baxter, who, you know, is on The Herald there—yes, and to Kennedy, too—discouraging the idea. I said I had no objection to being studied by anybody who thought I was worth studying—God knows I ain't worth it: ask Willie Winter if I am!—I never wish to be studied in that way. [See note p064.1] I seem to need to be studied by each man for himself, not by a club. Anyway, I was agin it. My word was not law, of course: they could have done anything they chose about it: but they asked my opinion and I gave it in a way that seems to have made itself felt." I referred to the Browning clubs. He waived the comparison by saying: "They no doubt have their own excuse for being."

      [See note p064.2] W. alluded to Goldsmith as "the Jim Scovel of literature," (J. S. a local man "of flaring but unreliable qualities," to quote W's words), and added: "I have not read The Deserted Village and The Traveller, but have read The Vicar of Wakefield more times than I can count."

     Walsh has been saying something in Lippincott's to this effect: Whitman stands for idea, Tennyson stands for expression. [See note p064.3] W. said: "It seems hard to justify such a hard and fast judgment. The idea must always come first—is indispensable. Take my own method—if you call it that. I have the idea clearly and fully realized before I attempt to express it. Then I let it go. The idea becomes so important to me I may perhaps underrate the other element—the expressional element—that first, last and all the time emphasis placed by literary men on the mere implement of words instead of upon the work itself. [See note p064.4] You see it in Doctor Johnson—expression always paramount: you see it in Walsh himself here, who is one among the many who write down everything that comes into their minds without reference to their ultimate meanings. I avoid at all times the temptation to patch up and refine, preferring to let each version or whatever go out substantially as it was first sug-

 
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gested. This does not mean that I am not careful: it only means that I try not to overdo my cake."
 
Wednesday, April 25, 1888.

     Some anarchist was in to see W. today. [See note p065.1] W. did not know his name. "He was a stranger to me—a Russian, I think: clean, earnest, with a beautiful face—but too insistent: he would have me, whether I would or would not, say yes to his political, or revolutionary, program. We had no quarrel—I only made it plain to him that I was not to be impressed into that sort of service. Everybody comes here demanding endorsements: endorse this, endorse that: each man thinks I am radical his way: I suppose I am radical his way, but I am not radical his way alone. Socialists, single tax men, communists, rebels of every sort and all sorts, come here. [See note p065.2] I don't say they shouldn't come—that it's unreasonable for them to come: the Leaves is responsible for them and for more than them. But I am not economically informed—I do not see the fine—even the coarse—points of difference between the contestants. I said to the Russian today: 'Don't ask me for too many definitions. Be satisfied with my general assurance. My heart is with all you rebels—all of you, today, always, wherever: your flag is my flag. Why should you want me to give you more?' The fellow was sensible—said he had learned a thing or two—and went away. [See note p065.3] I think Emerson was sweeter with such men than I am—was more patient, was more willing to wait their talk out."

     Something I said induced him to talk of the New York reception last year. [See note p065.4] "I did not enjoy it: it was too sudden a change from my passive life in Camden: it was too much the New York jamboree—the cosmopolitan drunk. Some of my best friends, coming into the suite of parlors, seeing the crowds about, with me in the midst sitting there dazed, at a loss to know what it all meant, went away, satisfied to

 
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meet me in an environment more domestic—more cozy. I was glad to get home, though I recognized whatever was spontaneous, simply human, in the New York affair: the root of it, so to speak, and what of the rest was left after the fuss was all over."

     Urged me to read Stedman's American Poets. [See note p066.1] I had read the essays as they appeared in The Century. That was not enough. "Read the book: the book is somewhat different—modified. Stedman has both injured and stengthened his book: it is powerful in spots—rather few spots—and then goes to pieces in general. I should not say this: I should be as fond of Stedman's book as I am of Stedman. How can I? I am making a confession. How can I?" He could not find the book for me. It had got mislaid. "Every time I criticise a man or a book I feel as if I had done something wrong. [See note p066.2] The criticism may be justified in letter and spirit—yet I feel guilty—feel like a man who ought to go to jail. I guess I am weak just there—the love in me breaks loose and floods me. I hate to think any man may not write the best books—any man. When I find any man don't I am disappointed and say things. How lucky is the man who don't say things!"

     As I was going he called after me. I was already outside the parlor door. "Here's something for you to take along—something for your archives: another of William's letters: a bit sad (he speaks of his sick girl here—it was in 1883)—but powerful: a look into our work-shop while we were putting the timbers together for Bucke's life. [See note p066.3] William could not be uninteresting: this is a sort of executive letter, so to speak, yet it is racy, sparkling—a real flame out of William's irrepressible fire." W.'s allusion to the archives followed naturally upon his knowledge that I was systematically collecting W. W. data. Once he said: "I will be handing you stuff from time to time for yourself—for use—perhaps for history: it would get lost here, most of it: some of it

 
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gets stolen—I miss many things: be careful to put it away safely but in some accessible place." The O'Connor letter:

Washington, D.C., April 4, 1883.


Dear Walt:

     I arrived here last night, ill and exhausted. The parting at Providence was hard. [See note p067.1] I fear I shall never see Jeannie well again.

     Although I had a racking headache all the way, I spent time in the cars reading the proof, which I herewith return corrected. I have followed your wishes, and made only verbal corrections, which I wish you would see carried out carefully by the printer, as I know you will.

     Of course I yield about the paragraphs, although I can't think I shall ever like them. No matter: the text is the main thing, and every consideration is swallowed up in the consciousness that you like what I have written—that you feel that my utterance has power and fills the bill. I hope, for your sake, that the public will think so also.

     My principal corrections—the ones I feel specially desirous to have made—are as follows:

     I. Page 78. Small k in the word "Knights.' [See note p067.2] The obstinate printer has twice made this a large K, the effect of which is absurd.

     II. Page 82. "Quaternion," not "quarternion."

     III. Page 82. "Irresponsible." The allusion, which is one George William will keenly feel, is to Tennyson's "O irresponsible, indolent, reviewers," which is very witty, and sticks to the tribe like a burr.

     IV. Page 86. "And it is grand." I think italicising "is" helps the sense.

     V. Page 92. I hope I don't bother the printer, but the change here is necessary, for this is the passage I wrote you about, and I don't want to be picked up by some malevolent reviewer. Please see to this yourself, if you can. It should read "to ride with bared head in the warm and

 
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perfumed rains of Spring that he might feel upon him, he said, the universal spirit of the world." (How this anecdote reveals the poet in Bacon!—how it allies him to the Shakespeare literature!) [See note p068.1]

     VI. Page 94. I am not sure I understand the printer's work here. But there should be a paragraph—which I think the fiend tried to abolish.

     VII. Page 95. "Furthest," not "furtherest," good printer's devil!

     The Good Gray Poet.

     VIII. Bucke sent me my foot note, and I have made the change (Page 100). [See note p068.2] I think it better, and the five words which commence it, are a blow at Lowell, planted straight home.

     IX. Page 113. I hope it won't bother the printer to take out Munro's name. I don't know how I ever made such a blunder. Munro's translation (prose) is really admirable for courage and fidelity, so far as I can judge.

     X. Page 124. For heaven's sake, make the diabolical printer-man restore the two articles—"the" and "the"—to their proper places. The effect of the sentence is ruined by their elision.

     The remaining corrections are trifles.

     I'll write again soon. This is hurried, to go off with the proof, which I don't want to delay.

     Bucke wrote me to find an epigraph for the appendix—leaving the matter entirely to me!!! So you didn't make anything by soliciting him. As yet I have not been able to think of anything—in fact, I have been in too much trouble to think effectually—that is to give my mind to it.

     More anon. [See note p068.3] Have you seen Grant White's article in the Atlantic for April on the Bacon-Shakespeare craze? It is rich. Supercilious ass!


Faithfully,


W. D. O'C.

 
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Thursday, April 26, 1888.

     With W. Read him a letter I had from Morse about the Hicks bust. [See note p069.1] "The bust wears well. Say so to Sidney for me. Tell him I've had a bad head on me lately—have written few letters and nothing else. Say the bust wears best—tell him that. It will please him: I want to please him." W. not very well. Had been in excellent condition for three or four days. "Now I suffer the old heady feeling again. I wonder what it is all coming to? Something is brewing."

     Talked of Marston. I said M. did not attract me, W. replying: "I can see why and approve why; but then you know Mrs. Moulton is a gushing woman. [See note p069.2] Marston did not have the good fortune to be thrown up against the rough of the world—to get out into affairs, the trades—but was taken care of in parlors by friends who were never forgetful of his affliction. This shows in his verse. Day by day, in these older years of my life, I see how lucky I was that I was myself thrown out early upon the average earth—to wrestle for myself—among the masses of people—never living in coteries: that I have always lived cheek by jowl with the common people—yes indeed, not only bred that way but born that way. I was in a sense a boy of the farm and the streets; it was my fate, my good fate. Marston needed such an encounter (which was impossible in his case) to complete his education."

     W. had been reading Gladstone's reply to Ingersoll in the North American Review. [See note p069.3] W. shook his head: "It won't do, Mr. Gladstone: you may try: you have the right to try—you try hard: but the Colonel carries too many guns for you on that line." And after a pause he added: "Besides, Gladstone's day for that work is gone. Old men are too apt to insist upon being in the swim after their virility is departed. [See note p069.4] It was so with Bryant, all of whose late work was poorer than indifferent—who should have retired and

 
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taken it easy twenty years before he died. This was not, I know, true of Emerson. [See note p070.1] Emerson was gently snuffed out—the mind of Emerson—before he had quite reached the danger line. The essential Emerson was there to the last, but his faculty was passive—it no longer asserted itself. Gladstone has a great personality, or had, no doubt, but he stands his ground now more because of his proximity to great events than because of his own necessary superiority.

     I asked W. about the Boswell—would he finish it? He seemed so little interested. "O yes! I'll whack away at it. I don't care much for it, but shall finish it as a duty. [See note p070.2] I always remember that sometimes a fellow has to choose to do the unpleasant thing. 'Doing your duty' the preachers and the mothers call it. Sometimes I do my duty: not always: not because I live by any special method. Duty, duty. It is a free word—it is a slave word. The mothers make it a free word—the preachers make it a slave word." [See note p070.3] W. said of Sidney Morse: "If he is not actually a genius he is the sort of stuff out of which genius is made." I spoke of Morse as "a non-organized, not a disorganized man"—as "lacking in consecutiveness." W. assented. "That's as good as it could be about Sidney: a sort of thumb-nail sketch, profound and complete. I think of him as lacking in coherency, which is about the same thing."

      [See note p070.4] W. had found the Stedman book. It is inscribed in this way: "to Walt Whitman with the love and sincere admiration of Edmund C. Stedman. New York April 14th 1887. Dies memoriae et lachrymarum." W. said the book "interested him.""But it is not convincing. With all its scholarliness, it kindliness, its receptivity, its genuine and here and there its striking talent, it still lacks root—still misses a saving earthiness: what shall I call it?—a sort of brutal dash of elemental flame, which burns, burns, oh, burns, but saves." [See note p070.5] Then after a stop: "How strange it is how much better all these fellows are than their books.

 
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Stedman is full of this brotherliness—full of affection—is always doing good deeds—is always reaching out, reaching out, for something he knows but never can quite master, quite make his own: he sees, yes, he sees—he almost gets it, it seems almost in his grasp: yet that last spark, that sharp flash of power, that something or other more which gives life to all great literature, is not his or possible to him. [See note p071.1] It was in Emerson—it was in Carlyle: Hugo had it. What is it? God knows. But it is. Just the other day at the dinner someone quoted a sentence from Emerson—I do not remember it now—which is the best summing up of that idea I have ever heard.""And yet you advise me to read Stedman?""I advise everybody to read Stedman: Stedman is an education. [See note p071.2] I do not deny him power. But I do not think him conclusive—beyond him is another Stedman whom he never seems able to reach: I have been talking about that other Stedman."

     W. remarked that three Englishmen had been in to see him today. [See note p071.3] "They were not celebres but were none the less—perhaps the more—welcome on that account. They talked about matter of fact things in a matter of fact way—about their aunts and uncles and my aunts and uncles: about their voyage over—some mighty interesting experiences. They were the best kind of plain men—you know the sort I mean: the best plain men are always the best men, anyhow—if there is any better or best among men at all. The cultivated people, the well-mannered people, the well-dressed people, such people always seem a trifle overdone— spoiled in the finish."

     W. loves to receive letters—any letters, provided they are in the true sense human documents. [See note p071.4] He is always disappointed if the postman passes without stopping. This evening, while we talked, Mrs. Davis stuck her head in at the doorway and W. quickly asked: "Any letters?""No, not one.""Not one? Not one? That's bad luck." W.

 
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suggested that I should read Mrs. Moulton's book. He expressed no sort of interest in it. [See note p072.1] He has hung the Millet. He welcomes every allusion to Millet—every anecdote, every criticism. Parkhurst across the river, has studied Millet some and lectures about him, illustrating the talks. I said to W.: "I will ask Parkhurst over.""Yes, do—ask him at once—have him come—come any time—as soon as you can.""You seem very eager.""It's never too early to hear about Millet. Millet is our man—we must make the most of him." [See note p072.2] W. has some framed photographic reproductions of Gerome's work left there by Eakins. He sometimes speaks of these, comparing them with the Millet work. "But the grand does not appeal to me: I dislike the simply art effect—art for art's sake, like literature for literature's sake, I object to, not, of course, on prude grounds, but because literature created on such a principle (and art as well) removes us from humanity, while only from humanity in mass can the light come." Had he read The Critic's criticism of Arnold's recent essay on America? [See note p072.3] No, he had not read it. I described its chief features. He said: "I most likely agree with it. I don't object to Arnold's trip or his writing his trip up. But how can his three months' journey equip him for the real task of the traveller? A traveller must first of all write from the starting-point of sympathy. Every antagonistic word is wasted—strikes wide of the mark. Arnold was not inside himself friendly to America. He always approached it with a question mark."

      [See note p072.4] Speaking of great men W. said: "It is hard to make or justify comparisons of great men: stars differ in glory: who shall say one star is eminent beyond the rest of the stars? But we have an instinct in the matter—you have yours, I have mine. Shall we quarrel about the stars?—have wars of the stars, as one time they had wars of the roses in England?" [See note p072.5] When I got up to leave and went across the room to W. he took and held my hand and said very seriously:

 
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"It's about time we were thinking of bringing out the Boughs, don't you think? I am reckoning upon you to help me—indeed, I cannot bring them out very well if you say no: I am depending upon your good will (your love?) to stick by me for this job. [See note p073.1] We ought to make a good team working together. I could do little or nothing alone: I am lame, housed up, physically useless." I did not say a word. I only pressed his hand. He laughed merrily: "I knew you would say yes." Then I left.

 
Friday, April 27, 1888.

     Talked an hour or more about Symonds. W. very frank, very affectionate. [See note p073.2] "Symonds is a royal good fellow—he comes along without qualifications: just happens into the temple and takes his place. But he has a few doubts yet to be quieted—not doubts of me, doubts rather of himself. One of these doubts is about Calamus. What does Calamus mean? What do the poems come to in the round-up? That is worrying him a good deal—their involvement, as he suspects, is the passional relations of men with men—the thing he reads so much of in the literatures of southern Europe and sees something of in his own experience. He is always driving at me about that: is that what Calamus means?—because of me or in spite of me, is that what it means? [See note p073.3] I have said no, but no does not satisfy him. But read this letter—read the whole of it: it is very shrewd, very cute, in deadliest earnest: it drives me hard—almost compels me—it is urgent, persistent: he sort of stands in the road and says: 'I won't move till you answer my question.' You see, this is an old letter—sixteen years old—and he is still asking the question: he refers to it in one of his latest notes. He is surely a wonderful man—a rare, cleaned-up man—a white-souled, heroic character. [See note p073.4] Look at the fight he has so far kept up with his body—yes, and so far won: it is marvellous to me, even. I have had my own

 
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troubles—I have seen other men with troubles, too—worse than mine and not so bad as mine—but Symonds is the noblest of us all." [See note p074.1] This had been all called out by an old Symonds letter which he had been reading and which he gave to me. "You will be writing something about Calamus some day," said W., "and this letter, and what I say, may help to clear your ideas. Calamus needs to clear ideas: it may be easily, innocently distorted from its natural, its motive, body of doctrine."

Clifton Hill House,

Near Bristol, Feb 7, 1872.


Dear Mr. Whitman,

     Your letter found me today. [See note p074.2] This is my permanent address. I live here in a large old house which belonged to my father—a house on a hill among trees looking down upon Bristol with its docks and churches—a picturesque labyrinth of marts and spires and houseroofs.

     Your letter gave me the keenest pleasure I have felt for a long time. I had not exactly expected to hear from you. Yet I felt that if you liked my poem [See In Re Walt Whitman] you would write. So I was beginning to dread that I had struck some quite wrong chord—that perhaps I had seemed to you to have arrogantly confounded your own fine thought and pure feeling with the baser metal of my own nature. What you say has reassured me and has solaced me nearly as much as if I had seen the face and touched the hand of you—my Master! [See note p074.3]

     For many years I have been attempting to explain in verse some of the forms of what in a note to Democratic Vistas (as also in a blade of Calamus) you call "adhesiveness." I have traced passionate friendship through Greece, Rome, the medieval and the modern world, and have now a large body of poems written but not published. [See note p074.4] In these I trust the spirit of the Past is faithfully set forth as far as my abilities allow.

 
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     It was while engaged upon this work (years ago now) that I first read Leaves of Grass. [See note p075.1] The man who spoke to me from that Book impressed me in every way most profoundly—unalterably; but especially did I then learn confidently to believe that the Comradeship which I conceived as on a par with the sexual feeling for depth and strength and purity and capability of all good, was real—not a delusion of distorted passions, a dream of the Past, a scholar's fancy—but a strong and vital bond of man to man.

     Yet even then how hard I found it—brought up in English feudalism, educated at an aristocratic public school (Harrow) and an over refined University (Oxford)—to winnow from my own emotion and from my conception of the ideal friend all husks of affectations and aberrations and to be a simple human being! [See note p075.2] You cannot tell quite how hard this was, and how you helped me.

     I have pored for continuous hours over the pages of Calamus (as I used to pore over the pages of Plato), longing to hear you speak, burning for a revelation of your more developed meaning, panting to ask—is this what you would indicate?—are then the free men of your land really so pure and loving and noble and generous and sincere? [See note p075.3] Most of all did I desire to hear from your own lips—or from your pen—some story of athletic friendship from which to learn the truth. Yet I dared not to address you or dreamed that the thought of a student could abide the inevitable shafts of your searching intuition.

     Shall I ever be permitted to question you and learn from you?

     What the love of man for man has been in the Past I think I know. What it is here now, I know that also—alas!  [See note p075.4] What you say it can and shall be I dimly discern in your Poems. But this hardly satisfies me—so desirous am I of learning what you teach.

 
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     Some day, perhaps—in some form, I know not what, but in your own chosen form—you will tell me more about the Love of Friends. [See note p076.1] Till then I wait. Meanwhile you have told me more than any one beside.

     I have been led to write too much about myself, presuming on what you said, that you should like to know me better.

     It will give me sincere pleasure to recieve a copy of your book from you. I am grateful to you for purposing to give me so great a gift. Will you complete the benefit by sending me a portait of yourself?

     It is good to hear that your work does not deny you leisure. Work with an ample margin of freedom is the best thing for man; but I cannot believe in the modern Gospel of Work and no leisure. [See note p076.2] This ends in a Science of Human Mechanics.

     When I am free enough from home duties I hope to go to America on a tour with my wife. Then I shall request to be permitted to pay respect to you in person.

     That you may know my face I enclose two portraits. The little girl in one of them is my youngest child.


I am your ever grateful and indebted


John Addington Symonds.

     Said W.: "Well, what do you think of that? Do you think that could be answered?" [See note p076.3] "I don't see why you call that letter driving you hard. It's quiet enough—it only asks questions, and asks the questions mildly enough.""I suppose you are right—'drive' is not exactly the word: yet you know how I hate to be catechised. Symonds is right no doubt, to ask the questions: I am just as much right if I do not answer them: just as much right if I do answer them. [See note p076.4] I often say to myself about Calamus—perhaps it means more or less than what I thought myself—means different: perhaps I don't know what it all means—perhaps never did know. My first instinct about all that Symonds writes is violently reactionary—is strong and brutal for no, no, no.

 
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Then the thought intervenes that I maybe do not know all my own meanings: I say to myself: 'You, too, go away, come back, study your own book—an alien or stranger, study your own book, see what it amounts to.' [See note p077.1] Sometime or other I will have to write him definitively about Calamus—give him my word for it what I meant or mean it to mean."

     Symonds spoke of two portraits. The portrait of himself was still enclosed. The child portrait was missing. W. said: "It's around the house somewhere."

 
Saturday, April 28, 1888.

     Asked W. "How is November Boughs?""Still getting ready.""I thought you said it was ready?""So I did—so it is: about ready: but that about sometimes covers a multitude of cautions. You know I am a conservative animal—I don't jump till I must—till I'm pretty sure I can jump right." [See note p077.2] "Well—I'm ready any time the book is ready.""I know—I know: we haven't said much about that between us, but you know, I know: give me a little more time, a little more room—then we can get our start: yes, start right."

     Early evening. W. had just been out on his drive. Not over well. Complains some. "I keep so congested—head, belly. The truth is, I have no desire to go out, though I do go—going mostly because I feel it to be a duty. There was a time—not long ago, either—when the mere pleasure of locomotion—of having my arms and legs going out of doors—was a joy to me."

     W. said: "I have this afternoon mailed two pieces to the Herald—two more throws against oblivion." I laughed—W. adding: "It does seem funny. [See note p077.3] A man makes a pair of shoes—the best—he expects nothing of it: he knows they will wear out: that's the end of the good shoe, the good man. Any kind of a scribbler writes any kind of a poem and expects it to last forever. Yet the poems wear out, too

 
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—often faster than the shoes. I don't know but in the long run almost as many shoes as poems last out the experience—we put the shoes into museums, we put the poems into books." He had watched at Gloucester the drawing of the seine. "I will put it into a poem: it was dramatic: it would make a wonderful picture."

     Frank Stockton has recently lived at Merchantville near by. [See note p078.1] Had Frank called? "I do not think so, though I do not remember all my callers. I confess that my curiosity is slight, though I might like Frank at close quarters. The story writers do not as a rule attract me. [See note p078.2] Howells is more serious—seems to have something to say—James is only feathers to me. What do you make of them?—what is their future significance? Have they any? Don't they just come and go—don't they just skim about, butterfly about, daintily, in fragile literary vessels, for awhile—then bow their way out? They do not deal in elements: they deal only in pieces of things, in fragments broken off, in detached episodes." [See note p078.3] Mentioned Stedman again: "Stedman always feels that he must be judicial—the dominance of that principle has held him down from many a noble flight. Stedman seems so often just about to get off for a long voyage and stops himself on the shore. Why shouldn't we just let go—let life do its damnedest: take every obstacle out of the way and let it go? Why should being thought foolish or unreasonable or coarse hold us back? We can go nowhere worth while if we submit to the scorners."

     W. said: "Too much is often said—perhaps even by me—about my Quaker lineage. [See note p078.4] There was some of it there, but back, altogether among the women, with my own dear mother and grandmother and her mother again. It is lucky for me if I take after the women of my ancestry, as I hope I do: they were so superior, so truly the more pregnant forces in our family history. The Quakers are very clannish, though I am not that way myself. I am like the

 
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cabbage in the fable which forgot it was a cabbage: a very varied experience has washed me clean of that fault." He got talking along in matters of family history. Said some things about his father. "He knew Thomas Paine. [See note p079.1] Did history ever more thoroughly victimize a man? The most of things history has to say about Paine are damnably hideous. The polite circles of that period and later on were determined to queer the reputation of contemporary radicals—not Paine alone, but others also—Fanny Wright, Priestly, for instance. The young radicals of that time have never had justice done them: they rallied—such of them as were in New York—about Paine and were far in advance of their time. Paine himself did signal, lasting work—work to which our people have been disgracefully oblivious. I used to meet Colonel Fellows four or five times a week in Tammany Hall. [See note p079.2] I liked to draw him out reminiscently. He was an intimate associate of Thomas Paine—a man of imposing presence, of judgment, of recognised character, abilities. From him I learned the truth about Paine—how literally nothing true was at the bottom of all the vile slanders. Paine did drink: who did not drink then? The stories might just as well have be told of me—yet I never tasted strong liquor till I was thirty and heaven knows I drink little enough now. Fellows said Paine was sometimes somewhat hasty in speech, generally justifiably so, though sometimes also unnecessarily sharp and decisive, making enemies thereby. We talk of 'facts' in history. What are facts? [See note p079.3] A good deal that gets written once is repeated and repeated, until the future comes to swear by it as a gospel. I have always determined that I would do all I could to help set the memory of Paine right. From my young days, with Colonel Fellows, I determined I would some day bear my testimony to that whole group of slandered men and women. My speech on Paine at a Liberal League meeting in Philadelphia some years ago was only a sliver—a little bit of rever-
 
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ence done at a neglected shrine. I do not know that the audience cared at all, but I cared a good deal: it made me infinitely happy. [See note p080.1] Think of Fanny Wright. She had all of Ingersoll's magnetism and perhaps more than his tact, though I don't know that the Colonel travels on his tact. She was a brilliant woman, of beauty and estate, who was never satisfied unless she was busy doing good—public good, private good."
Why did he not himself write up this story? "I ought to do it: I have often said to myself that I would do it: I may perhaps be the only one living today who can throw an authentic sidelight upon the radicalism of those post-Revolutionary decades. The average historian has either not seen the facts at all or been afraid to do anything with them."

 
Sunday, April 29, 1888.

     W. took a drive at eleven, forenoon, and came in at Harned's after we were done supper at 6:30. Had been to see the Staffords at Glen Dale. [See note p080.2] In good feather, "feeling rather peart," as he said. Drove up alone. No one at Harned's door. I saw him from the window. He held the reins and called out, waiting for some one to see or hear. When we had helped him into the hallway he said instantly: "I came for a drink—oh! I am that thirsty for it. I could wait no longer—have had it in mind, could not get rid of it, for an hour past." Someone remarked the fine day and he exclaimed: "Oh! it is perfect! And I saw out there such a field of fine new sweet wheat."

     W. sat up at the table. We were gathered about him, he eating and drinking and talking. Got telling about the dinner the other day at Gloucester. "They wanted a toast from me—a toast to three eminent good fellows—and I gave them President Cleveland, Gladstone, and the Emperor of Germany. [See note p080.3] I got myself into trouble. You should have heard the uproar. They all kicked on one or another of

 
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the three—some of them kicked on all three. But I held my own. [See note p081.1] I don't believe in Cleveland because I think he is any great shakes in himself but because he has done some honor to his office—has done his best: not your best or my best but his best. I never knew a President to totally fail." Johnson was mentioned. But W. stuck to his plea. [See note p081.2] "Even Andy Johnson. In all the line of Presidents I do not think we have had one absolute failure—I think every President so far as made more or less honest use of the office. You object to the Emperor Frederick William? [See note p081.3] Well—object: objection is right, too. I called him a good fellow—he is one, too. He is one of the very best Emperors in all history—tries to do right—makes a big strain to size up to the emperor ideal he has had in his mind: why should we gag at it? As long as we consent to have emperors why shouldn't we be glad to have the good fellow emperors? Someone cried out there at Gloucester: 'You're damned tolerant, Walt!' Am I? Call it toleration, if you choose. [See note p081.4] I only call it common sense—philosophy. I am extreme? Perhaps. But then it is with America as it is with nature: I believe our institutions can digest, absorb, all elements, good or bad, godlike or devilish, that come along: it seems impossible for nature to fail to make good in the processes peculiar to her: in the same way it is impossible for America to fail to turn the worst luck into best—curses into blessings."

     Harned told W. that Gladstone had come out with a reply to Ingersoll. This excited W.'s humor. He laughed gently. Said: "Gladstone is no match for Ingersoll—at least not in such a controversy. Of course, he is a great man, or was—has had a past—but in questions of the theological sort, in questions of Homeric scholarship, he is by no means much. [See note p081.5] Oh! There will be a funny time of it!" Here he put his two hands together scoop-wise. "Bob will take him up this fashion, turn him over (all sides of him), look at him sweetly, ever so sweetly, smile, then crunch him!"—to illus-

 
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trate which he worked his two hands together as if to crush their imagined burden—"Yes, crunch him, much as a cat would a mouse, till there's no life left to fool with." [See note p082.1] Someone present demurred somewhat as to Ingersoll. "Ain't you exaggerating his importance, Walt?""Not a bit: Ingersoll is a man whose importance to the time could not be overfigured: not literal importance, not argumentative importance, not anti-theological Republican party importance: but spiritual importance—importance as a force, as consuming energy—a fiery blast for the new virtues, which are only the old virtues done over for honest use again." [See note p082.2] Futher of Ingersoll: "It was one of the mistakes of Jerry Black's life that he got into that fight with the Colonel. I knew Black—he frequently came to see me in Washington—was a good fellow—but in that discussion he met, as he deserved, with the most scathing chastisement."

     My sister Agnes remarked: "The drives are certainly doing you good—you show it." He assented. "They do indeed: yes they do. [See note p082.3] I have been out each day now for three or four days—the season is opening some: I had got to feeling so I knew I had to do something or go flunk." He turned to Tom: "I say Tom what's the matter with that tipple? Did you put in the cork again? What's the good of a tipple with the cork in?" Then after his glass was filled. "Well, I forgive you. I forgive everybody: I am in a good mood for gentle things: the beautiful day, my hearty reception here, all of you about me: there's no room left for malice." [See note p082.4] "Do you know, my philosophy sees a place and a time for everybody—even Judas Iscariot—yes, for all: all of us are parties to the same bargain: the worst, the best, the middling—all parties to the same bargain. We are as we are, all of us—and that's both the very bad and the very good that's to be said."

     I was to go to Philadelphia to hear Adler speak. Had W. any message? "Yes, surely. Give him my love: describe

 
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the last hour here at Harned's—the talk, the good feed, the good drink; say to him that Walt Whitman had been out in the country for a long drive and at the end of the drive had come to Harned's and asked for something to eat and drink and had not been refused—was in fact royally entertained: tell him about the Millet—that I thank him for it: it is so much Millet—three times over and more: not the Sower, with the strong arm casting forth the seed, so, so [indicating it by a fling of the hand] but a quieter motif—a passive bit of atmosphere for a moment of prayer. Tell him such things, and other things. [See note p083.1] Tell him he must come over to Harned's soon again and spend an hour and a half with Walt Whitman and the rest." [See note p083.2]
 
Monday, April 30, 1888.

      [See note p083.3] W. said: "I want you to have this letter of William's for your archives. It would be valuable enough if it was only William's—but it happens to be more than that. You see the date—1865. He encloses a letter from George William Curtis—it makes good history. Curtis always had the big manner—yes, big without being offish: his personality has a large swing, as if it had plenty of time and space in which to live. [See note p083.4] William elicited a noble reply. I don't know which is finer, the man who could have provoked such a letter or the man who wrote it: I suppose neither is finer—one is necessary to the other: it takes both to make the complete affair." Again: "It is an eloquent letter all through—rather silent, still, pastoral, for William: his tempest is lulled: the best soldiers are often the best men of peace." [See note p083.5] This is the letter:


New Ipswich, New Hampshire, October 19, 1865.


My dear Walt:

     The article you sent Nelly from the London Leader is in my possession. Good! I shall incorporate it. Part of it is very fine.

 
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     I wonder if young William Allingham wrote it? The Leader is the paper he is on. He is a poet, you remember—one of the most promising of the young British choir. He is an Irishman and a reverent lover of Emerson's genius. [See note p084.1] I shouldn't wonder if he wrote this critique.

     Anyhow it's good and I shall put a great deal of it in.

     If, ever since I have been here, I have not had the worst cold I ever had in my life—a cold which has made me really sick and spoiled the pleasure of my visit—I should doubtless have ere this sent off the MS. to Curtis. [See note p084.2] It will probably go soon. It is just as well and even better than I have delayed it, for in the first place it will be enriched with this quotation, and besides you will like it better by the excision of nearly all the personality, new light having come to me on this point as time has passed and the sweet country air and relief from labor cleared and refreshed my poor boiled brains.

     On my way through New York I enquired at Harper's for Curtis and found he was out of town. So I brought the MS. with me up here. [See note p084.3] Then came Curtis' answer; of which I send you a copy that you may see how true the reply this splended gentleman and noble heart sends back to my call.

     I really did not expect so much from Curtis. I relied on his literary chivalry, but did not look for the rest. As George would say, he has "elements"!

     I have written to him saying that I want him to endeavor to find me a publisher and mentioning Hurd and Houghton: also saying that in a few days I shall send him the MS.

     I wish you could come up here. The landscape is exquisite. Fields, farms, the quiet rustic town, the gorgeous foliage, the Temple and Peterboro hills enclosing all. And then, drive out a few miles and lo! [See note p084.4] Monadnoc! O Walt, what a sight! A purple breadth of mountain, spreading calm in sleepy light and filling the landscape with grandeur.

 
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It is the finest mountain I have seen. Its characteristic is breadth.

     I am staying here at the house of Miss Jenny Bullard, a friend of whom I believe I have spoken to you. [See note p085.1] I wish you knew her. You would like her. She is handsome, bountiful, generous, cordial, strong, careless, laughing, large, regardless of dress or personal appearance, and appreciates and likes Leaves of Grass. The first thing she read in the book was Enfans d'Adam, which she cordially liked and wondered how anyone could mistake its atmosphere and purport. She is a very particular friend of mine. I wish you knew her. She told me today that she wanted me to invite you to come up here for a few days before I go, but I said I wouldn't because I knew you wouldn't come. [See note p085.2]

     I shall probably leave here about the twenty-fifth and go to Boston. Then home.

     Spite of dear friends and respite from the treadmill and the superb scenery, I have had considerably of a bad time, chiefly owing to the horrible cold I have had and the weary state I have been in. But I am better now and the world looks brighter.

     Now I hope to be able to announce to you that the MS. has a publisher. But oh, Walt, the literary shortcomings of it oppress me. It is not the thing that should be said of your book—not the thing that it is in even me to say—as I feel. However. Good bye. I will write you again.


Your faithful


W. D. O'Connor.

     The enclosed letter of Curtis follows:


Ashfield, Mass. 30 Sept. 1865.


My dear O'Connor:

      [See note p085.3] Here, up among the Autumn Hills, I get your interesting letter of the 20th and you may be very sure that I will do all I can to redress the wrong of which you speak.

 
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     The task you undertake is not easy, as you know. The public sympathy will be with the Secretary for removing a man who will be considered an obscene author and a free lover. [See note p086.1] But your hearty vindication of free letters will not be less welcome to all liberal men.

     Personally I do not know Whitman; and while his Leaves of Grass impressed me less than it impressed many better men than I, I have never heard anything of him but what was noble nor believed anything of him but what was honorable.

     That a man should be expelled from office and held up to public contumely, because of an honest book which no candid mind can truly regard as hurtful to public morality, is an offence which demands exposure and censure. [See note p086.2]

     I know Carleton but he has several times asked of me favors which I could not grant and I do not believe your offer would be strengthened if made through me. If you think otherwise, I shall most cheerfully go to him,—but would it not be better for you to write to him and refer him to me, saying, if you choose, that you had asked me to call upon him? Think of it and let me know.

     It was very pleasant to see your comely chirography again, altho' I wish I could think of you as having had some vacation. We have been here for two months, far from railroads, telegraphs, and gossip, and are just going home. My wife returns your friendly remembrance and yours, I hope, has not forgotten me. [See note p086.3] I should be glad, too, if I thought you felt as cheerfully as I feel at the real gain in the Good Fight made by the war. Andy may Tylerize but the country will not. The wave may be lower, but the tide is rising.

     Good bye. Let me hear as soon as you will. You know how gladly I shall serve you and how truly I am


Your friend


G. W. Curtis.

 
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Tuesday, May 1, 1888.

     Called W.'s attention to some announcements of November Boughs already finding their way into the papers. [See note p087.1] "That ought to spur me on." he said, "though as you know I am not easily spurred. I always argue that all the time there is is my time: so I go slow with what I do—take the reasonable maximum of liberty." Then: "Yet you are right. We should get at that job. I'm in a pretty shaky condition, physically, right along these days—never know what may not happen overnight. I'm not afraid but I face the facts. I want the book to come out—I wouldn't like much to delay and delay and then die off with the thing hanging fire or half done. You are right—yes, you are right—we will attack the problem at once." He laughed a bit and broke out into a little recitative: "A minister was in here today—he came to give me advice—he said he had come from St. Louis, or Denver perhaps (I forget which), to give me his opinion on Leaves of Grass. [See note p087.2] I told him that was hardly worth while—that I had plenty of opinions of Leaves of Grass nearer home—all sorts of pros and cons: damns and hallelujahs. But he didn't laugh or seem deterred—he went right on with his message. I must have done something to make him think I was inattentive—I didn't do it purposely—for he suddenly stopped: 'I don't believe you're hearing a word I say, Mr. Whitman,' he said. It was a good guess. I didn't mind his knowing it—so I said: I shouldn't wonder—I shouldn't wonder.' That seemed to open his eyes a little. He went very soon after that, saying to me: 'I was told you wouldn't take any advice—even good advice.' [See note p087.3] I said again: 'I shouldn't wonder—I shouldn't wonder,' and while he was trying to intimate his disgust I added: 'You know I get so much good advice, and so much bad advice, so much nearer home.' The thing seems incredible: I don't believe anybody but a minister of the

 
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gospel would do such a thing—would have been guilty of so egregious an impertinence. When he was all gone I had a long laugh all to myself." [See note p088.1] Then W. burst into laughter again, exclaiming: "That's a tale worth putting down in the book." I assented, but said: "So it is. But I've got a match for it.""I don't believe it—but let's hear.""My grandmother was sitting on the front step one day—she was well on to eighty, you know—quietly looking about at things. A clerical came along and saw her, stopped and sat down on the step at her side. 'Madam,' he said, 'you are very old: are you prepared to die?' She was of course annoyed and said to him tartly: 'Sir! if you were half as well prepared to die as I am you would be a happy man!'" W. was very much amused. [See note p088.2] "Yes, that's a good match: that's worth being put down in the same book!" And after a little interval in which nothing was said by either he remarked: "The ministry is spoiled with arrogance: it takes all sorts of vagaries, impudences, invasions, for granted: it even seizes the key to the bedroom and the closet."

     W. talked again about literary honesty. [See note p088.3] "It's not quite the thing to take language by the throat and make it yield you beautiful results. I don't want beautiful results—I want results: honest results: expression: expression. You know we talked about this the other day: you may have thought I was over vehement, thought, as for that, I don't see how a fellow can say too much on that score. Since we talked I have come across a letter from John Burroughs that finely illustrates my point. [See note p088.4] It is an old letter, written by John from England in 1871: a letter in which he lets himself go—talks out—isn't trying to be judicial or qualified—which is on the square all through. See what I wrote on it then at the time in red ink." I took the letter from his hand and read the memorandum: "splendid offhand letter from John Burroughs—? publish it." W. resumed: "John

 
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has a few of the simply literary habits—not many—not enough to spoil or even much hurt the batter. You will notice the postscript, written the next day. [See note p089.1] He asks himself then whether he hadn't gone too far the day before—shows that after all he was a little bit afraid of his enthusiasm. He had slept over night—the judicial atmosphere was returning. But the letter itself? There is no discount on the letter—it is a superb example of let go: let hell come if it must, but let go. Does this seem lawless? [See note p089.2] Of course I mean let go within the law—within your own law, not somebody else's law: every individual within his own law."

Inns of Court Hotel,

London, W.C., Tuesday, Oct. 3d, 1871.


Dear Walt.

     I am writing to you on the spur of the moment in hopes it will bring me to my senses, for I am quite stunned at the first glance of London. [See note p089.3] I have just come from St. Paul's and feel very strange. I don't know what is the matter with me but I seem in a dream. St. Paul was too much for me and my brain actually reels. I have never seen architecture before. It made me drunk. I have seen a building with a living soul. I can't tell you about it now. I saw for the first time what power and imagination could be put in form and design—I felt for a moment what great genius was in this field. [See note p089.4] But I had to reteat after sitting down a half hour and trying to absorb it. I feel as if I should go nowhere else while in London. I must master it or it will kill me. I actually grew faint. I was not prepared for it and I thought my companions the Treasury clerks would drive me mad they rushed round so. I had to leave them and sit down. Hereafter I must go alone everywhere. My brain is too sensitive. I am not strong enough to confront these things all at once. [See note p089.5] I would give anything if you was here. I see now that you belong here—these things are akin to your spirit. You would see your own in

 
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St. Paul's, but it took my breath away. It was more than I could bear and I will have to gird up my loins and try it many times. Outside it has the beauty and grandeur of rocks and crags and ledges. [See note p090.1] It is nature and art fused into one. Of course time has done much for it, it is so stained and weatherworn. It is like a Rembrandt picture so strong and deep is the light and shade. It is more to see the old world than I had dreamed, much more. I thought art was of little account, but now I get a glimpse of the real article I am overwhelmed. I had designed to go on the continent, but I shall not stir out of London until I have vanquished some part of it at least. If I lose my wits here why go further? But I shall make a brave fight. I only wish I had help. These fellows are like monkeys. I have seen no one yet but shall try to see Conway tomorrow. [See note p090.2] I write this dear Walt to help recover myself. I know it contains nothing you might expect to hear from me in London, but I have got into Niagara without knowing it and you must bear with me. I will give facts and details next time. Go and see Ursula.


With much love,


John Burroughs.

      [See note p090.3] Oct. 4—I went today to see Conway but he was not in—so I went back to St. Paul's to see if I really make a fool of myself yesterday. I did not feel as before and perhaps never shall again. Yet it is truly grand and there is no mistake. It is like the grandest organ music put into form.

     P. S. I hope you and O'Connor will make an effort to come over here. You need not mention it but I know it is not settled at all who will come. This you can rely upon, but there will be no more bonds sent until in November.

     "Now I see what you mean by your reference to the foot-note." [See note p090.4] "Yes," replied W., "the letter is perfect—it deserves to go alone. The footnote is an impertinence. The foot-

 
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note, however, helps to clear up the sort of literary questions we have been turning over together."

 
Wednesday, May 2, 1888.

      [See note p091.1] Returned to W. the Marston volume containing Garden Secrets and the memoir from Mrs. Moulton, who had written on one of the fly-leaves: "To Walt Whitman, Poet, These poems, by an English poet who delighted to do him honor. Louise Chandler Moulton, April 23, 1888." W. not well, had been feeling out of sorts again since Sunday. This is Wednesday. Same symptoms—the insistent headache, congestion, &c. Lay on sofa in parlor in some exhaustion. The Marston book I had noticed was not cut throughout. W. smiled. "No—I did not read the book; I looked into it: the bit I read did not lead me on: I dropped the trail—or lost it, perhaps." How about the lecture trip to England? Would he take it? [See note p091.2] "No. It was tempting up to a certain point. But I would rather finish, as I have grown up, here. I could not stand the excitement of travelling and meeting people—of being lionized and denounced. This is a safer place for me—this little town, this little room, my own bed and chair." Said he had been reading Gladstone's reply to Ingersoll—"It is a great weariness—but I stuck to it, thinking it probably my fault. [See note p091.3] Its protestations seem to me a sort of Captain Cuttle busines—the 'yes I do,' 'no I don't,' 'perhaps,' 'Oh no': Gladstone is neither here nor there: he is longwinded and indefinite—he doesn't make his mark clear and then drive to it: he goes all over the country looking for his game. Ingersoll is everyway different—knows exactly what he wants and gets it at once."

     Had W. ever heard directly from Carlyle? "No—never directly. [See note p091.4] I once heard a report that Carlyle had made some foul allusion to the Leaves, but we had reason afterward for believing that he was not responsible for the nasty

 
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rumor. Yet Carlyle could never have understood me—could never have comprehended the Leaves, which are outside his spiritual latitude and longitude altogether. Carlyle was not an apt student of the modern, of literary rebellion—he was raised, imbedded, in older routines. [See note p092.1] He did not understand humanity—had no faith in humanity, in fact—more than that, he lacked unction: don't you think that's the word to describe it?—he had no religious faith—I am sure he lacked conviction in the triumph of the good. I do not intend to say Carlyle did not contribute—did not do this and that for which humanity will be eternally richer and grateful. What I am trying to say is that he had no avenue of approach to the people; he lost his way in the jungle: the people were not a beautiful abstraction—they were an ugly fact: he shrank from the people. [See note p092.2] Carlyle was a good deal of a democrat in spite of himself. Carlyle was incapable of seeing men generously, even his friends. One thing Carlyle did understand—the incessant caterwauling of radicals—their unceasing complaints against everything—their inability to appreciate the importance of conservatism, of restraint, even of persecution." I never knew W. to quote Ruskin. [See note p092.3] This evening I said so. He responded: "I don't quote him—I don't care for him, don't read him—don't find he appeals to me. I've tried Ruskin on every way but he don't fit."

     W. spoke about the first edition of the Leaves: "It is tragic—the fate of those books. [See note p092.4] None of them were sold—practically none—perhaps one or two, perhaps not even that many. We had only one object—to get rid of the books—to get them out someway even if they had to be given away. You have asked me questions about the manuscript of the first edition. It was burned. Rome kept it several years, but one day, by accident, it got away from us entirely—was used to kindle the fire or to feed the rag man."

 
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     W. said about Franklin Evans: "I doubt if there is a copy in existence: I have none and have not had one for years; it was a pamphlet. Parke Godwin and another somebody (who was it?) came to see me about writing it. Their offer of cash payment was so tempting—I was so hard up at the time—that I set to work at once ardently on it (with the help of a bottle of port or what not). [See note p093.1] In three days of constant work I finished the book. Finished the book? Finished myself. It was damned rot—rot of the worst sort—not insincere, perhaps, but rot, nevertheless: it was not the business for me to be up to. I stopped right there: I never cut a chip off that kind of timber again."

     As I was about to leave W. rose painfully from the sofa, saying: "A minute—yes, wait: there is a little thing I am going to ask you to do for me. [See note p093.2] I have received word that someone in England—a lady—a very great lady—indeed, no less a person than Lady Mount Temple, daughter of Lord Palmerston—has sent me a scarf or waistcoat. This letter speaks of it and I am going to have you see what we need to do to get possession of the dainty gift." W. handed me the letter:


Phila. Apr. 28, '88.


Mr. W. Whitman, Camden, N.J. Dear Sir:—

     We will receive your acct by the "Br. Prince," now due from Liverpool, consigned to us for your acct., one package containing apparel valued at £1. [See note p093.3] We would thank you for your invoice covering same as early as possible in order to clear through customs on arrival. The package will come to us through the medium of Messrs. G. W. Wheatley & Co. If the apparel contained therein is worn at all, kindly say so when replying to the above; and oblige


Yours truly


O. G. Hempstead & Son.

 
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     W. wrote to Hempstead on the face of an envelope: "Please treat with the bearer of this, Mr. Horace Traubel, a personal friend of mine, the same as you would with me, and consider him as my fully authorized agent in the matter." [See note p094.1] To me W. said: "I have no word from Lady Mount Temple direct but from Wheatley, as in Hempstead's letter. I suppose this means the usual rigmarole and expense: by the time we get the thing in our hands we will have paid out more than it is physically worth. Of course the gift is the gift—we appreciate that: we will not lose sight of the gift in our struggle to rescue it from customs.  [See note p094.2] This whole tariff business is an insult to our good sense besides being a palpable impertinence and invasion. But we'll get the waistcoat if it takes our last cent—at least you'll get it: I am no good anymore, that way speaking: I am tied down here fast to my infirmities."

 
Thursday, May 3, 1888.

     In with W. "I've had a bad day of it," he said as I raised the light—"a bad day altogether." He was on the sofa. I told him I had seen the Hempsteads about the Mount Temple gift. [See note p094.3] Who was the Lady Mount Temple? What had she done? "I know little about her. She is not literary: but she is evidently a reader of books. I have had several letters from her—she has bought several copies of Leaves of Grass direct from me. She is a friend of my Quaker friend, Mary Costelloe: it was no doubt through Mary that we came together.""You are constantly getting gifts. You take them very composedly.""Why shouldn't I? They are pleasant—we all like to be tickled, to be soft-soaped: we like to have our fur rubbed the right way."

      [See note p094.4] W. again: "I had a Boston visitor today: Thayer, a young man, a Cambridge man, author of The Confessions of Hermes, published last year—a good fellow, interesting, of means I judge, who has travelled and makes a facile talker.

 
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Thayer," he reasoned, "is fairly a type of the literary feller—the class that looks upon literature as an exercise—as a bit of legerdemain—who have nothing native to themselves to give, but who keep right on writing, for what end God only knows. [See note p095.1] The Confessions was written in the form of Pope—of the Essay on Man.""Well—what did the thing come to?""He unpacked himself in it—that's about all I can say.""Is Thayer radical?""I think so—in his proclivities—but, like men of that class, always making I would not wait upon I should."

     W. said he had just heard from Rhys, writing from the Union League, New York, on his way to Baltimore and to Philadelphia. [See note p095.2] "We will see him again before he takes his steamer for the return trip.""What do you think, Horace? He didn't, he will not, go to see Niagara. Think of a man coming to America and not seeing Niagara! It's refreshing. All the strangers come over and see a few of the ostentatious things and then feel satisfied that they are equipped for literary service. The foreign professionals cross the sea, visit Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago—see a few elect people—hurry, skurry—then go back again and write a book: all in a breath—all over night, metaphorically speaking. [See note p095.3] Do you think they know America? Not a bit of it. I do not mean to connect these people with Rhys—I am only speaking of the average traveller and his less than average work. I do not know that his position, or his offense, is a singular one. Don't most men who write write without knowing life? Write all over the surface of the earth, never dig a foot into the ground—everlastingly write."

     W. talked of Arnold. "Arnold had no genius—only a peculiarly clever order of refined talent. [See note p095.4] Arnold is much that sort of man who would be in his place as Keeper of Her Majesty's Despatches, careful that never a word be misapplied or misspelled—or he might serve as a tutor for

 
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gentlemen's sons, or sons of lords: but as for genius—no—no—not at all—that is not there. These men have their functioning to do—they are not waste, they are not useless: but they do not inspire—they do not lift you off your feet—they are without inspiration. [See note p096.1] They make more fuss over foliage than root, if that may be: think the foliage may be superior to the root—neglect the root. Well—I mustn't go on too much about Arnold. I do not feel myself to be against him in any way: but so much is made of the Arnold type of man that we are liable to miss our normal gauge of value."

     I mentioned Lafcadio Hearn. [See note p096.2] W. said: "My attention was first called to him by William O'Connor, who may have met him personally—I don't feel clear on that point—but who at any rate entertained great hopes for his future—hopes that are being justified. I had one of his books here which Dr. Bucke carried off with him. Hearn has a delicate beautiful nature: he got into instant rapport with the Japanese. These story writers do not as a rule reach me—I find they stay too much on the surface of the ground. [See note p096.3] I have tried to read Cable—have read several of his stories—Madame Delphine for one, brought here by Logan Smith. They are modelled on the French—show great delicacy, precision, analysis: a capacity for taking up a single act or character—a fragment—and working it out to an extreme individual conclusion, meanwhile missing the law, missing the general atmosphere. [See note p096.4] I think the American theory would be, should be, must be, something different. My taste has been modelled on another theory—in the school of Scott, of Cooper, of some others of the older writers. How much I am indebted to Scott no one can tell—I couldn't tell it myself—but it has permeated me through and through. If you could reduce the Leaves to their elements you would see Scott unmistakably active at the roots. [See note p096.5] I remember the Tales of my Landlord, Ivanhoe, The Fortunes of Nigel—

 
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yes, and Kenilworth—its great pageantry—then there's The Heart of Midlothian, which I have read a dozen times and more. I might say just about the same thing about Cooper, too. [See note p097.1] He has written books which will survive into the farthest future. Try to think of literature, of the world of boys, today, without Natty Bumppo, The Spy, The Red Rover—Oh the Red Rover—it used to stir me up clarionlike: I read it many times. Is all this old fashioned? I am not sworn to the old things—not at all—that is, not to old things at the expense of new—but some of the oldest things are the newest. I should not refuse to see and welcome anyone who came to violate the precedents—on the contrary I am looking about for just such men—but a lot of the fresh things are not new—they are only repetitions after all: they do not seem to take life forward but to take it back. [See note p097.2] I look for the things that take life forward—the new things, the old things, that take life forward. Scott, Cooper, such men, always, perpetually, as a matter of course, always take life forward—take each new generation forward."

     I asked W. whether he had met Cable. [See note p097.3] "Yes—once: and he is the thinnest, most uninteresting, man I ever struck—the typical Sunday School superintendent, with all that that signifies. I am told that he has a class, a Sunday School class, in Boston—that he conducts it from Sunday to Sunday. I don't see how such a man could interest anybody for ten minutes, much less an afternoon. In fact, the last person from whom I should expect any inspiration would be the average Sunday School teacher—the typical good man of the churches—the pillar—the money bag of the parish, though I do not, of course, class Cable, who has undisputed parts, with the money bags. [See note p097.4] To me the negative virtues of the churches are the most menacing, to me the most abhorrent, of all professed virtues." W. stopped. I waited, knowing he would go on. "The morals of the churches: they might be morals if they were not something

 
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else. I have always looked about to discover a word to describe the situation: how Jesus and the churches have got divorced; how the institution has destroyed the spirit. [See note p098.1] It is an old story. Don't you remember how Wanamaker used to treat the Leaves in his store when McKay first published it? I understood from McKay that they originally had the Leaves in the store—considered it—but decided finally that it would not do for them in any way to seem to back up the book. I can see how all this should be all right from the dyed-in-the-wool shopkeeper point of view. [See note p098.2] The store is full of goody-goody girls and men—full of them: people who have been foully taught about sex, about motherhood, about the body. It is easy to see what Leaves of Grass must look like to people with such eyes. The Leaves do not need any excuse: they do need to be understood. If I did not understand them I would dislike them myself, God knows!  [See note p098.3] But all this fear of indecency, all this noise about purity and sex and the social order and the Comstockism particular and general is nasty—too nasty to make any compromise with. I never come up against it but I think of what Heine said to a woman who had expressed to him some suspicion about the body. 'Madame,' said Heine, 'are we not all naked under our clothes?'"

     I have not yet succeeded in getting the waistcoat out of customs. "A lot of red tape has first to be encountered and escaped: then the customs bill will have to be paid: that damned customs bill, as utter a piece of piracy as being held up by a robber on the high seas." [See note p098.4] As I left W. called after me: "Don't think I have forgotten about the Boughs. A few days more and we will be ready. You can roll up your sleeves any time now."

 
Friday, May 4, 1888.

     Down to W. Found him sitting up in the parlor reading. "I am not much better, only a little more resolute. I have

 
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to give in." He exhibited a customs bill for three dollars and fifteen cents for the waistcoat. He quite tartly denounced the tariff. "The waistcoat (aside from the sentiment attached) is probably not worth in itself ten cents to me—indeed, I have a dozen vests which I cannot even give away. [See note p099.1] And now comes another, which I am hardly likely ever to wear. The spirit of the tariff is malevolent: it flies in the face of all American ideals: I hate it root and branch: it helps a few rich men to get rich, it helps the great mass of poor men to get poorer: what else does it do? Nothing that I can see. If America is not for freedom I do not see what it is for. We ought to invite the world through an open door—all men—yes, even the criminals—giving to everyone a chance—a new outlook. My God! are men always to go on clawing each other—always to go on taxing, stealing, warring, having a class to exclude and a class excluded—always to go on having favorite races, favorite castes—a few people with money here and there—all the rest without anything everywhere? [See note p099.2] That is what the tariff—the spirit of the tariff—means. Chatto & Windus printed Leaves of Grass in England—pirated it—never even sent me a copy of the book until Rossetti suggested they should do so. The book came—the books—and I was taxed for duties. Yes, three dollars and a half. One day I recieved a mail package on which sixty cents was levied by the tariff. [See note p099.3] Some fellow in England had sent me a copy of his useless Introduction to the Study of Browning. So it goes. It is a robber age: the maxim of the law is, rob or be robbed. Of all robbers I think the tariff is the meanest robber. It has such sneaky, sneaking ways: it hits you in the back—hits you when you ain't lookin': gives you no sort of chance to protect yourself."

     In touching upon some Washington episodes W. said: "I never had any desire to hunt up, even to see, the great men—indeed, avoided the magnates. [See note p099.4] I was quite contented to be

 
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with plain people—to keep close to the ground. I didn't do much with pedestals. Forney often expressed his regret to me that we had failed to meet in Washington. [See note p100.1] I first met him after my sickness, on coming north. He was full-blooded, large, splendid—a real human being—full of unction—a man after my own heart: much more of a democrat than he realized himself. He knew everyobdy, was on intimate terms with politicians, actors, doctors, literary men: who didn't he know? Have you read his book of Anecdotes of Public Men? [See note p100.2] It overflows with pithy description. I often went to Forney's office. There was a fine big chair in the bay-window on Seventh Street—much like this—I would sit there—Forney would walk up and down: we would have a running chat. Forney liked drink, eating, society, better than he knew—better than was good for him: and the women came to see him—very often, many women; and no wonder: he was handsome, magnetic, big—oh, very satisfying magnetically."

      [See note p100.3] W. spoke of newspapers: "I suppose the news in newspapers gets better every year. But as the news gets better the rest of the paper gets worse. I read editorials from force of habit, now and then: what else could excuse such a waste of time?" He called my attention to a remark of a Methodist minister at a recent conference: "I propose to discuss this subject from a minister's point of view.""What in hell's name is a minister's point of view? [See note p100.4] He does not approach life as a man or as an American or as a lover or even as a hater but from a minister's point of view. Emasculated—yes, sexless; yes, with no power to produce, reproduce—a sterile sort of affair altogether. He's just like schools of art—the French school, the German school, the English school. [See note p100.5] What do I care for a school? any school? There's only one school, after everything's said and done—only one school: I don't know what to name it: I belong to that school, whatever its name: the human school, the man

 
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and woman school, the heart school: it is not professional, a class affair: a thing for priests to closet for themselves."

     W. had seen Ingersoll's endorsement of Gresham for President. [See note p101.1] "Yes," said W., "I am for Gresham too if he has all them virtues. But has he? The political class is too slippery for me—even its best examples: I seem to be reaching for a new politics—for a new economy: I don't know quite what, but for something." Touching E. L. Youmans, whom he had met several times, he said: "I like the scientific spirit—the holding off, the being sure but not too sure, the willingness to surrender ideas when the evidence is against them: this is ultimately fine—it always keeps the way beyond open—always gives life, thought, affection, the whole man, a chance to try over again after a mistake—after a wrong guess." [See note p101.2] W. in rather happier mood than for some days. "I've got a little memorandum here for your archives," he said: "take it along with you: tell me tomorrow what you think of it: that Emerson matter sometimes seems to have two sides." He handed me an envelope bearing the printed legend: "Attorney General's office, official business" with W.'s script added to this effect: "J. T. Trowbridge's anecdote (Sept. 6, 1865) of Rich. Moncton Milnes' letter." [See note p101.3] I went off without reading it, simply saying good night, kissing W. as I left. Inside the envelope, still on the stationery of the Department of the Attorney General at Washington—Sep 6, 1865—W. had set down this brief narrative:

     "J. T. Trowbridge has called on me today, stopt an hour. Told me, on authority of Mr. Emerson, the following. An English gentleman who came to America, and among the Boston literati, not long since, was the bearer of a letter to me from Lord Houghton (Richard Moncton Milnes, the poet)—a friendly and generous letter about Leaves of Grass and also intended as a letter of introduction for the gentleman bearing it. [See note p101.4] But the Boston literati talked severely and

 
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warmly about the author of Leaves, dwelt on the manner in which he treated Mr. Emerson, and, in short, made such a story that the gentleman changed his plan of visiting W. W. and never delivered the letter sent him. [See note p102.1]

     "J. T. T. told me of Mr. Emerson's lectures—one in which he said, speaking of the very few who wrote English greatly—'there is also Walt Whitman, but he belongs yet to the fire clubs, and has not got into the parlors.'

     "By J. T. T.'s account it is plain that Mr. E has quite thoroughly shifted his position from that taken in the letter of 1855, and makes the largest qualifications."

 
Saturday, May 5, 1888.

     7.30 P.M. Found Harned at W.'s with Corning, candidate for the pulpit of the Unitarian church on Benson street. W. in a questioning mood. [See note p102.2] "I like to cross-examine," said W. to me, once, "but I don't like to be cross-examined." He was in a mood to cross-examine. He found Corning a willing witness. C. told W. he had spent ten years travelling in Europe. He was particularly interested in Greek art. W. quizzed him freely. After he was gone W. said: "He was talkative enough but I like his voice. I am particularly susceptible to voices: voices of range, magnetism: mellow, persuading voices. [See note p102.3] Corning hadn't much intrinsically to say, but his voice was worth while." W. asked Corning: "And what may be the subject of your sermon tomorrow?"My subject? Why—the tragedy of the ages.""And what may be the tragedy of the ages?""The crucifixion.""What crucifixion?""The crucifixion of Jesus, of course.""You call that the tragedy of the ages?""Yes—what do you call it?""It is a tragedy. [See note p102.4] But the tragedy? O no! I don't think I would be willing to called it the tragedy.""Do you know any tragedy that meant so much to man?""Twenty thousand tragedies—all equally significant.""I'm no bigot—I don't think I make any unreasonable fuss over

 
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Jesus—but I never looked at the thing the way you do.""Probably not. But do it now—just for once. Think of the other tragedies, just for once: the tragedies of the average man—the tragedies of every-day—the tragedies of war and peace—the obscured, the lost, tragedies: they are all cut out of the same goods. [See note p103.1] I think too much is made of the execution of Jesus Christ. I know Jesus Christ would not have approved of this himself: he knew that his life was only another life, any other life, told big; he never wished to shine, especially to shine at the general expense. Think of the other tragedies, the twenty thousand, just for once, Mr. Corning." C. said: "I have no doubt all you say is true. You would not find me ready to quarrel with your point of view." W. laughed quietly. "The masters in history have had lots of chance: they have been glorified beyond recognition: now give the other fellows a chance: glorify the average man a bit: put in a word for his sorrows, his tragedies, just for once, just for once." [See note p103.2] Corning said: "You ought to be in that pulpit instead of me, tomorrow, Mr. Whitman. You would tell the people something it would do them good to hear.""I am not necessary," replied W. graciously: "You have the thing all in yourself if you will only let it out. We get into such grooves—that's the trouble—passing traditions and exaggerations down from one generation to another unquestioned. After awhile we begin to think even the lies must be true."

     I had the waistcoat with me. It is knit, in red silk, and much too small for W. He examined it critically and said little. [See note p103.3] "I suppose it will never be of the least practical use to me. The Lady Mount Temple meant well but hardly used good judgment. She must have made a guess on my size and guessed wrong." He said he had received two books from authors today—one from Harriet Prescott Spofford, Ballads about Authors, and another from Edward Carpenter, Songs of Labor. "Mrs. Spofford, as well as Dick Spofford,

 
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her husband, are good friends of mine; in fact, I have been told that at a meeting in Boston she declared openly that Walt Whitman had said the right thing in the right way about woman and her sphere—about sex—as no other writer in history has done. [See note p104.1] This was a bold thing—a very bold thing. I do not know that she endorses me but she is that much and more my friend. The other Spofford, A. R., [the Librarian then at Washington], does not admit me. [See note p104.2] I mean by that that he has no use for me—that he suspects my work, sees no excuse for it. He throws nothing in my way, but he does nothing to welcome me. I don't blame him—I am only putting down history for you to study—Whitman history. Spofford opposed when he might have benefited me.""Did I say I got a book from Edward Carpenter today? [See note p104.3] O yes—so I did. Carpenter is a man of means on whom his estate sits lightly: is intensely interested in the radical problems: is of a religious nature—not formally so, but in atmosphere. He has been here to see me. I think he has given his book a Whitmanesque odor. He is ardently my friend—ardently. He will yet cut a figure in his own country. He is now just about climbing the hill: when he gets up to the top people will see and acknowledge him." [See note p104.4] Someone asked W. whether Caird and Shairp had ever paid him their respects. "You have been so generally acknowledged in England.""Hardly by that class: I must seem like a comical, a sort of circus, genius to men of the severe scholarly type. I am too different to be included in their perspective."

     Matthew Arnold's Milton address appears in the Century. [See note p104.5] W. discussed it: "When you talk to me of 'style' it is as though you had brought me artificial flowers. Awhile ago, when I could get out more, I used to stop at Eighth street there, near Market, and look at the artificial flowers made with what marvellous skill. But then I would say: What's the use of the wax flowers when you can go out for yourself

 
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and pick the real flowers? That's what I think when people talk to me of 'style,' 'style,' as if style alone and of itself was anything. I have tried to be just with Arnold: have taken up his books over and over again, hoping I would at last get at the heart of him—have given him every sort of chance to convince me—taking him up in different moods, thinking it might possibly be the mood that prejudiced me. [See note p105.1] The result was always the same: I was not interested: I was wearied: I laid the book down again: I said to myself: 'How now, why go any further with a thing that in no way either assists or attracts you?'""Speaking of style in that way," I said, "makes me think of something Lincoln said about policy—that it was his policy to have no policy.""That's just it," exclaimed W. delightedly: "the style is to have no style." [See note p105.2] W. called my attention to some newspaper criticisms of his books. "All such criticisms, such threats, such warnings, go to show how necessary it is to leave the poems just as they are—to keep them intact: to weather out all the objections, sincere and insincere. The poems are not only fit for the future—they are also fit for today. Today is their day—I stick to it, is their day." Again: "You can detach poems from the book and wonder why they were written. But if you see them in their place in the book you know why I wrote them."

     Mail not very heavy just now. "Mostly requests for autographs, which, as a rule, I do not send." [See note p105.3] Had been out for a drive. "I feel in much better feather today—I was out and happy in being out. I am an open air man: winged. I am also an open water man: aquatic. I want to get out, fly, swim—I am eager for feet again! But my feet are eternally gone." I happened to say to W.: "I will be honest. I don't care much for Milton or Dante." [See note p105.4] W. laughed: "I'll be honest, too. I don't care for them either. I like the moderns better. I agree with you that Millet says more, much more, to us today than Raphael or the

 
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medieval painters. He is more immediate—I can feel his presence; he is no half mythical personage: he is a living man." [See note p106.1] This, too, is from W.: "The world is through with sermonizing—with the necessity for it: the distinctly preacher ages are nearly gone. I am not sorry." W. had been reading Heine again—The Reisebilder. "I have the book here: it is good to read any time—Heine is good for almost any one of my moods. [See note p106.2] And that reminds me: the best thing Arnold ever did was his essay on Heine: that is the one thing of Arnold's that I unqualifiedly like."

     I had been seeing Verdi's Otello. "Is it our opera—the vocalism of the new sort? or is it still the old business lingering on?""It is both, though mostly new.""Good—we have rather expected Verdi to do heroic things." [See note p106.3] "I thought you liked the old operas—preferred them?""I do like them—at least, I did—but their age is gone: we require larger measures, in music as in literature, to express the spirit of this age."

     Touched upon a practical item. "I have been sending monthly bills to the Herald but tired of it—it seemed so commercial. [See note p106.4] May 1st I did not do so. Yet the check came. They are very systematic—they have treated me handsomely. You sometimes hear me tell the truth about the editors who turn me face down, kick me out, advise me to go to a nunnery: now I am telling you of an opposite case—of another editor, who can find some wood for me to saw." As I was getting ready to go W. handed me an envelope: "Here's another little scribble from Joaquin—it has several fine little touches—one especially sweet to me towards the end. [See note p106.5] You see, I too can be flattered—I too may give in. Why should we resent any honest friendliness? If a fellow don't give up his soul to get it, why is it not squarely his, to be cherished, for comfort, solace? the real capital is love, after all: just love. Take Miller along with you." I took Miller along. This is the letter:

 
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Easton, Pa., Sept 30, 71.


My dear Mr. Whitman:

      [See note p107.1] I have many messages for you from your friends in Europe which I promised and so much desired to deliver face to face: and day after day and week after week I promised myself and hoped to come to you, but now I shall not see you till I return; for I am tired of towns and tomorrow set my face to the West. I am weary and want rest, and I cannot rest in cities. My address for a time will be San Francisco and since I cannot see you I should be proud of a letter from you. I am tired of books too and take but one with me; one Rossetti gave me, a Walt Whitman—Grand old man! [See note p107.2] The grandest and truest American I know, accept the love of your son,


Joaquin Miller.


 
Sunday, May 6, 1888.

     W. drove up to Harned's at six, evening. Seemed rather feeble as he alighted, but joyous. The open air had done him good. "It's fine to see the green again. I wonder how many more springs I will last? [See note p107.3] Not many, I guess. You should see the wheat—wheat, wheat, everywhere. How tired, how good, I feel! Very tired, O very—but not sick. The sweet sun has got into all my old bones."

     Here are a few of W.'s detached sayings from the talk today: "I believe in the eligibility of the human soul for all perfect things.""All the 'great phases' in history are no doubt fictions." [See note p107.4] "There's a beautiful woman: she is not beautiful alone or chiefly because of her eyes, her complexion, the mellowness of her body, though these, too, play their parts, but because of a certain unity, atmosphere, a certain balance of light and shade, which accounts for every detail—finally gives the detail its proper environment: yes, takes leave of the detail in the whole.""I believe in saints if they're far enough off."

 
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     W. spoke of "the nebulous South American republics which one day will melt in our North American sun." [See note p108.1] Corning present. Talked again of Greek art. W. said: "I have always wished to know more about certain mysteries in Greek art—of Greek painting and music—their comparative primitiveness as compared with their literature and sculpture." [See note p108.2] Had been looking over Notes and Queries. "It is a sort of small bug business. You have to take a magnifying glass to inspect the arguments.""I have this morning sent to The Herald the last little poem I had."

     W. talked humorously of portraits, of traditions about public men. "I meet new Walt Whitmans every day. There are a dozen of me afloat. [See note p108.3] I don't know which Walt Whitman I am. Now, there's Abraham Lincoln: people get to know his traits, his habits of life, some of his characteristics set off in the most positive relief: soon all sorts of stories are fathered on him—some of them true, some of them apocryphal—volumes of stories (stories decent and indecent) fathered on him: legitimate stories, illegitimate: and so Lincoln comes to us more or less falsified. [See note p108.4] Yet I know that the hero is after all greater than any idealization. Undoubtedly—just as the man is greater than his portrait—the landscape than the picture of it—the fact than anything we can say about the fact. While I accept the records I think we know very little of the actual. I often reflect, how very different every fellow must have been from the fellow we come upon in the myths—with the surroundings, the incidents, the push and pull of the concrete moment, all left out or wrongly set forth. [See note p108.5] It is hard to extract a man's real self—any man—from such a chaotic mass—from such historical debris.

      [See note p108.6] At the table there was a discussion started upon the need for preaching. "I am radical, severe, on that point," said W., "I am not willing to admit that we have any further serious use for the old style authoritative preacher. As I

 
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was telling Horace yesterday, we might as well think of curing people of the measles, the smallpox, what not, by mere sermonizings, yawpings, as of saving their souls by such tactics. [See note p109.1] The world has got away from that. I do not mean by this that the mind may not be an aid in the cure of disease, in the saving of souls, as they call it—yes—I only mean that no amount of formal, salaried petitioning of God will serve to work out the result aimed for." But were not the old orthodoxies necessary? Would they still exist if they were not necessary? "Necessay? In a sense, yes. In another sense, no. Take that Methodist church we were talking about awhile ago—do you call that necessary? [See note p109.2] It exists, therefore it's necessary. That is good enough as far as it goes. If it is necessary the symptom it exposes is a sad one. You speak of that particular church? If the truth was told about it—the record compiled of things begun there, finished there, of things conceived and executed there—you would find it was a house of assignation—a bagnio—rather than a church. Have you ever been to a darky camp-meeting in the south? Do you know what it signifies? Well—that is the church we have been speaking about. It is a darky camp-meeting with all the attachments thereof—the foul attachments. You think I stand for freedom and that this is only freedom. No—no—no—it is not freedom. [See note p109.3] It is abandon, surrender." Corning interjected a few mild protests which, however, had no effect on W. "The whole ideal of the church is low, loathsome, horrible—a sort of moral negation—as if men got down in the mud to worship—delighting in the filth: out of touch entirely with the great struggles of contemporary humanity."

     W. talked then of America: "It is said reproachfully of America that she is material, but that to me is her glory—the body must precede the soul: the body is the other side of the soul." [See note p109.4] Corning asked: "Is that not like putting off the good thing for the bad?""No—not at all—not more

 
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than youth is a putting off of maturity. It is the necessity of the process: the railways, mines, markets—the eatings and drinkings—all steered for one end in America's purpose. I do not believe in the body as an end, of course, but as a beginning, or rather, as a necessary item in the combinations of material that go to the making of a man."

      [See note p110.1] Of the announced reply of Ingersoll to Gladstone W. said: "I do not assent to Gladstone's claim upon the attention of scholars: I do not feel that he deserves it: either for his Homeric or theological—perhaps not even for his political—work—though, I acknowledge, something may be really said about his politics. I think Gladstone a wearisome old man determined to keep in the swim till he dies. Take Emerson's old age: how much more beautiful it was: not meddlesome, not insistent: yes, take Darwin's old age, too: how clean it was kept—how sanely and equably sufficient. [See note p110.2] Gladstone seems restless to be seen and heard like a fourth-rate theatrical star."

     In answering the question: "Do you think the church could be safely destroyed?" W. replied: "Yes, why not? Men make churches: men may destroy churches. I see no use for the church: it lags superfluous on the stage. Yet that is not the whole story. [See note p110.3] That's my part of the story. I suppose we must concede that all these things, these social furbelows, have a reason for being."

     W. said: "I believe in immortality, and by that I mean identity. I know I have arrived at this result more by what may be called feeling than formal reason—but I believe it: yes, I know it. [See note p110.4] I am easily put to flight, I assure you, when attacked, but I return to the faith, inevitably—believe it, and stick to it, to the end. Emerson somewhere speaks of encountering irresistable logic and yet standing fast to his conviction. There is judgment back of judgment—defeat only seems like defeat: there is a fierce fight: the smoke is gone—your enemies are nowhere to be seen—you are placidly

 
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victorious after all—the finish of the day is yours. Logic does very little for me: my enemies say it, meaning one thing—I say it, meaning another thing." [See note p111.1] This, also, from W.: "Howells, Aldrich, good fellows: I have met them and like them (Howells especially is genial and ample—rather inclined to be big—full size)—but they are thin—no weight: such men are in certain ways important—they run a few temporary errands but they are not out for immortal service: perhaps even Hawthorne, though not surely Hawthorne: Hawthorne, in whom there is a morbid streak to which I can never accomodate myself. [See note p111.2] I call this thing in our modern literature delirium tremens." Some one kicked. Hawthorne deserved to be exempt from this classification. "Well—you may be right: I know he was a man of talent, even genius: he was even a master, yes a master, within certain limits. Still, I think he is monotonous, he wears me out: I do not read him with pleasure."

     Before I left W. asked me: "What did you make of the Trowbridge memorandum I gave you the other day?" [See note p111.3] I asked in return. "What did you make out of the Emerson item? You have said you thought Emerson never qualified. Here you say he did." W. replied at once: "There was an if attached. If Trowbridge understood right, if, if—but who can decide about that if? Since that story, since that if, other things have occurred to make the Trowbridge version seem impossible. I have had letters myself from here and there tending to show that Emerson was rather silenced than changed.""Don't you think we are making too much of this Emerson business any way?" [See note p111.4] "Yes I do—let us drop it—drop it right here. O'Connor used to make the plea that he kept harping upon it not because it would help Walt Whitman to have the thing settled right but because it would help Waldo Emerson. After all it don't much matter what Emerson thought of me or what I thought of him. The public want to know whether I have been an honest servant

 
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—whether I have stuck to my guns (to their guns): Emerson the same: I reckon that tells the whole tale so far as the public is concerned." [See note p112.1] W. futher said: "The New England crowd below stairs didn't like me—couldn't stand me—good or bad felt they must declare against me. And that was right. I could only have commanded their approval by being false to the job I had to do. I have been turning over that bit of ground a little today. This letter from Professor Palmer recalled it." Passing an envelope over to me. "See how he looks at me. He is sweet, affable, courteous: he takes me, not for all in all but for part in part, this or that—yes, with mild qualification: yet he takes me on good behavior. I like all these fellows—they are hearty, as far as they dare be, as far as their scholarliness will let them be, but they never quite know when to say yes and let yes be." This is the letter, which W. finally called "a characteristic whiff from Cambridge with a leaning towards mercy."

Cambridge, Feb. 20, 1885.


Dear Mr. Whitman:

     I want to thank you for the beautiful photograph of yourself sent through Miss Smith. [See note p112.2] It is too true a likeness of you as you are to represent the author of the Leaves of Grass. The picture which hung on yr wall showed that person better—his paganism, his full senses, his readiness to identify himself with all things, his insubordination, and his recklessness of the fine relations which change a world of things into a world of persons. If I could prefer a poet to a man, I should like that picture better. But this will be the best reminder of the beautiful ripened spirit who met me in Camden and said: "I did the work sincerely. [See note p112.3] So it is honorable. God shall use it to help men, or else let him throw it away."

     With warm regard, I am


Sincerely yours,


G. H. Palmer.

 
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Monday, May 7, 1888.

     W. spoke of material successes in civilization. "What do they show? Not necessarily much: we make a big noise about the things we have done, accumulated—what we can do and will do: with some of this I have some sympathy: but after all the main question is, what is all this doing for all the men, women, children of America? [See note p113.1] The goods are worthless alone: they might demonstrate failure as well as success. Do you think goods can succeed and men can fail? They must succeed or fail together—they are damned or saved together. Against the things we call successes I see other, counter, tendencies working—an increased indisposition of certain classes to do the honest labor of the world, and the solidification of the money powers against the fraternity of the masses. Either one of these might, both of them are sure, to ruin the republic if nothing appears to contravene them.

     Professor Adler and Tom Dudley had a hot discussion at Harned's in which D. spoke in severely disrepectful terms of the European masses, W. resenting it. [See note p113.2] "I will not believe it, Dudley—I will not believe it. Give them a chance—give them a chance—they will be as good as the rest. All that man needs to be good is the chance. History has so far been busy—institutions, rulers, have been busy—denying him of that chance." W. said again: "In that narrow sense I am no American—count me out." Bonsall argued in favor of restricting emigration. W. took him up: "Restrict nothing—keep everything open: to Italy, to China, to anybody. I love America, I believe in America, because her belly can hold and digest all—anarchist, socialist, peacemakers, fighters, disturbers or degenerates of whatever sort—hold and digest all. [See note p113.3] If I felt that America could not do this I would be indifferent as between our institutions and any others. America is not all in all—the sum total: she is only to contribute her contribution to the big scheme.

 
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What shall that contribution be? I say, let it be something worth while—something exceptional, ennobling."

      [See note p114.1] I read to W. a letter written by Ingersoll to the friends of Leonard Whitney, dead. (Published in Unity, Chicago. Whitney was a Unitarian preacher. In the Civil War was Chaplain of I.'s regiment.) W. said: "How graphic, touching, powerful that is! What a substantial, rounded fellow the Colonel certainly proves to be! He is in a way a chosen man. There always was something in the idea that the prophets are called. Ingersoll is a prophet—he, too, is called. [See note p114.2] He is far, far deeper than he is supposed to be, even by radicals: we get lots of deep sea fruit out of him. Read that over again: I want to hear it again." This was what I read:

     "During the time he was with us he was almost constantly by the sick and wounded, and was as kind to them as though they had been his own children. At the battle of Shiloh, he gave his blankets to the wounded, then slept upon the ground uncovered, with the chilling rain pouring upon him the whole dreary night, and at that time, as I believe, laid the foundation for the disease that terminated his life. [See note p114.3] Permit me to say that I sympathize with you deeply in your irreparable loss. Generous men are not indigenous to this world. They are exotics from the skies. There is no such thing as being consoled for their loss. Their memory is worthy of and demands the bitterest of tears. And yet, believing as you do in the immortality of the soul, the dark cloud of grief now enveloping your heart, if not dissipated, will at least be adorned and glorified by the sweet bow of Hope."

     "That," said W., "seems to catch the Colonel in his more affirmative mood. [See note p114.4] I know quite well why and where I must disagree with him. The Colonel and I are not directly at issue even about God and immortality: I do not say yes where he says no: I say yes where he says nothing. I do not know whether to object to or to agree with his statement

 
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that 'generous men are not indigenous to this world.' Why not to this world as well as to any other? The Colonel himself is indigenous. I don't feel as if I wanted to disparage this world in favor of any other—the worlds are continuous—one opens into another: there is no start or stop—there is no virtue open to one that is not open to all." [See note p115.1]

     W. handed me an envelope marked as follows: "Sent about Aug 15 or 16 '63—letter to S. B. Haskell Breseport Chemung Co N Y"—and said: "I promised to give you some sample memoranda about the hospitals. Here is a letter—the draft of a letter—I sent to the parents of a boy who died. It was a pitiful, though after all only a specimen, case: they died all about us there just about in the same way—noble, sturdy, loyal boys. [See note p115.2] I always kept an outward calm in going among them—I had to, it was necessary, I would have been useless if I hadn't—but no one could tell what I felt underneath it all—how hard it was for me to keep down the fierce flood that always seemed threatening to break loose." I read the letter. I must have shown I was much moved. W. said gently: "I see that you understand it. Well, I understand it too. I know what you feel in reading it because I know what I felt in writing it. When such emotions are honest they are easily passed along." I asked W.: "Do you go back to those days?""I do not need to. I have never left them. They are here, now, while we are talking together—real, terrible, beautiful days!" W. was in a very quiet mood. "Kiss me good night!" he said. I left.


Washington, August 10 1863


Mr and Mrs Haskell, Dear Friends

      [See note p115.3] I thought it would be soothing to you to have a few lines about the last days of you son Erastus Haskell, of Company K 141st N Y Vol—I write in haste, but I have no doubt any thing about Erastus will be welcome. From the time he came into Armory Square Hosp until  [See note p116.1] he died there was hardly a day but I was with him a portion of the time—if not in the day then at night—(I am merely a friend visiting the wounded and sick soldiers). From almost the first I felt somehow that Erastus was in danger, or at least was much worse than they supposed in the hospital. As he made no complaint they thought him nothing so bad. I told the doctor of the ward over and over again he was a very sick boy, but he took it lightly, and said he would certainly recover; he said, "I know more about these fever cases than you do—he looks very sick to you, but I shall bring him out all right"—Probably the doctor did his best—at any rate about a week before Erastus died he got really alarmed, and after that he and all the doctors tried to help him but it was too late. Very possibly it would not have made any difference. I think he was broken down before he came to hospital here—I believe he came here about July 11th—I took to him. He was a quiet young man, behaved always so correct and decent, said little—I used to sit on the side of his bed—I said once, jokingly "You don't talk much Erastus, you leave me to do all the talking." [See note p116.2] He only answered quietly, "I was never much of a talker"—The doctor wished every one to cheer him up very lively—I was always pleasant and cheerful with him, but never tried to be lively. Only I tried once to tell him amusing narratives &c but after I had talked a few minutes I saw that the effect was not good, and after that I never tried it again—I used to sit by the side of his bed generally silent, he was opprest for breath and with the heat, and I would fan him—occasionally he would want a drink—some days he dozed a good deal—sometimes when I would come in he woke up, and I would lean down and kiss him, he would reach out his hand and pat my hair and beard as I sat on the bed and leaned over him—it was painful to see the working in his throat to breathe. [See note p116.3]

     They tried to keep him up by giving him stimulants, wine, &c—these effected him and he wandered a good deal

 
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of the time—I would say "Erastus, don't you remember me—don't you remember my name dear son?" Once he looked at me quite a while when I asked him, he mentioned over a name or two, (one sounded like Mr. Satchell)—and then he said, sadly, quite slow, as if to himself, "I don't remember,—I don't remember,—I don't remember." [See note p117.1] It was quite pitiful—One thing was he could not talk very comfortably at any time, his throat and chest were bad—I have no doubt he had some complaint besides typhoid. In my limited talks with him he told me about his brothers and sisters, and his parents, wished me to write to them and send them all his love—I think he told me about his brothers being away, living in New York city or elsewhere.—From what he told me I take it that he had been poorly for several months before he came, the first week in July I think he told me he was at the regimental hospital, at a place called Baltimore Corners, down not very many miles from White House, on the Peninsula. [See note p117.2] For quite a long time previous, although he kept around, he was not well—didn't do much—was in the band as a fifer—while he lay sick here he had the fife on the little stand by his cot,—he once told me that if he got well he would play me a tune on it, "but," he says "I am not much of a player yet"

     I was very anxious he should be saved and so were they all—he was well used by attendants—he was tanned and looked well in the face when he came, was in pretty good flesh, never complained, behaved manly and proper—I assure you I was attracted to him very much,—Some nights I sat by his cot till far in the night, the lights would be put out and I sat there silently hour after hour—he seemed to like to have me sit there, but he never cared much to talk—I shall never forget those nights, in the dark hospital, it was a curious and solemn scene, the sick and wounded lying all around, and this dear young man close by me, lying on what proved to be his death-bed. [See note p117.3] I do not know his past life,

 
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but what I saw and know of he behaved like a noble boy. [See note p118.1] I feel if I could have seen him under right circumstances of health &c I should have got much attached to him—he made no display or talk—he met his fate like a man—I think you have reason to be proud of such a son and all his relatives have cause to treasure his memory. He is one of the thousands of our unknown American young men in the ranks about whom there is no record or fame, no fuss made about their dying unknown but who are the real precious and royal ones of this land, giving up, aye even their young and precious lives, in the country's cause. [See note p118.2] Poor dear son, though you were not my son, I felt to love you as a son, what short time I saw you, sick and dying there.—But it is well as it is—perhaps better. Who knows whether he is not far better off, that patient and sweet young soul, to go, than we are to stay? Farewell, dear boy,—it was my opportunity to be with you in your last days,—I had no chance to do much for you, nothing could be done—only you did not lay there among strangers without having one near who loved you dearly, and to whom you gave your dying kiss. [See note p118.3]

     Mr and Mrs Haskell, I have thus written rapidly whatever came up, about Erastus, and must now close. Though we are strangers, and shall probably never see each other. I send you and all Erastus' brothers and sisters my love.

     I live when at home in Brooklyn, New York, in Portland Avenue, 4th floor, north of Myrtle.


 
Tuesday, May 8, 1888.

     W. asleep on the sofa when I got to the house. 7.30 evening. I sat there and read for awhile. When he was aroused we had a talk. [See note p118.4] "I had a volume from France today—poems—Les Cygnes—written by Francis Viele-Griffin—accompanied with a letter from the author which I will get your father to translate for me." In the volume was this inscription: "To Walt Whitman—the homage and sym-

 
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pathetic admiration of the author, Francis Viele-Griffin." This is a translation of the letter:

15 Quai de Bourbon.

Paris, April 26, 1888.


Sir and Dear Poet,

     In admiration of some of your poems, which I read in an edition, ridiculously "expurgated," published by Chatto & Windus, in London, I feel constrained to have the Parisian people share the estimation in which I hold your high lyrical talent. [See note p119.1]

     Would it be too much to ask of you that you indicate the volume (the edition) which you would prefer having rendered in the French? My friend, Jules Laforgue (who died only too prematurely) has already given to the public two of your poems, and the reception they met with seems to presage a new victory for your works. [See note p119.2]

     In expectation of your kind reply, Sir and dear poet, permit me to assure you of my sympathy in art and of my profound admiration.


Francis Viele-Griffin.

     W. said: "I have never been translated into the French except in bits. It is an interesting mystery to me, how I would pass the ordeal of getting into another language. I shall never know, of course: I know no language but my own. [See note p119.3] William used to say the Leaves would before their work was done make all tongues of the earth their tongue." W. added: "I had a good friend in Washington who translated for me viva voce from the French and did it well. Through him I got rather directly acquainted with some of the French master-craftsmen—with Hugo, for instance. My whole—not exactly that: my best—knowledge of Hugo was derived from that man."

     Referring to The Path (Theosophic) which he had on his lap: "Even the Theosophists claim me. [See note p119.4] How much of me is going to be left for myself after all the claims of the radicals are satisfied?" N.Y. Herald today contains W.'s poem—

 
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The United States to Old World Critics. W. asked: "What did it mean to you?" I explained. He asked again: "Did that occur to you at once or with a struggle?" [See note p120.1] "At once.""Good! then the poem is better than I believed." W. recalled a Robert Collyer incident. W. had said to him of preaching what he has so often said to us—that the day of the preacher is past. "Collyer turned the statement back upon the poets: 'Why write poetry any more? All the songs were long ago sung.' It quite embarrassed me on the instant—was an unexpected shot: I had no answer ready for it: indeed, I don't know that there is an answer. Collyer's not deep but he's damned cute—for the preacher class very damned cute: for, as you know, I don't as a rule expect anything of the preachers. [See note p120.2] Occasionally one of them surprises me with a bit of well-borrowed wisdom. Collyer is a kind of reduced Beecher—a Beecher with much of the grace lopped off." W. again: "I notice that Morse in his recent writing drops his middle initial H. That is right. Rolleston has lately dropt one of his four initials: think of a man having four initials to contend with! It is asking too much. I used to be Walter—started that way: then I became Walt. [See note p120.3] My father was Walter. He had a right to Walter. I had to be distinguished from him so I was made Walt. My friends kicked: Walter looked and sounded better: and so forth, and so forth. But Walt stuck."

     Mrs. Moulton wrote up an account of her visit to W. W. for the Boston Herald. Talcott Williams sent a clip of it over to W. with this message: "I know you will be interested in this, which comes both from the Boston Sunday Herald and Mrs. Moulton, and feel sure that you will not object to her reference to you, all written in the great love each and all of us feel for one who has made life better worth living and to none more than to yours loyally and gratefully." [See note p120.4] "Well—were you interested?""Not much.""Why?""I don't know why. She is too effusive.""Then you would

 
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rather have people refrain from praising you?"I don't say that: there's no harm in the praise: but we must praise right and blame right." [See note p121.1]

     W. called my attention to a pamphlet of sixteen pages of doggerel inscribed: "To Walt Whitman (America's Great Poet)" written, as he says, "by a woman who evidently thinks I am in danger and wants to save me from hell fire. There are eleven poems in the book preceded by a Prologue, all directed to show that the religion of Jesus is superior to the religion of Walt Whitman. [See note p121.2] I always thought they came to about the same thing, but this woman evidently thinks they do not." W. much amused. "I ought to be saved in the end. I should say fifty or a hundred people are busy all the time trying to convert Walt Whitman from Leaves of Grass. Something ought to come of it all." Referring to Sylvester Baxter: "He is one of my cordial, truest friends—an out and out assenter to the Leaves: radical, progressive, with lots of look ahead. Baxter has gone off into Theosophy: all our rebels go off somewhere." [See note p121.3] Corning said to W.: "The Greeks still make excellent wines." W. replied: "Then you see they are not altogether degenerate!" My sister had sent W. some cakes. "I was up, it was near midnight: I felt a gnawing something here—a void"—indicating his stomach and laughing—"so I took some of the cakes and ate them alone, in the dark, in the dead silence. [See note p121.4] How much (perhaps all) the value of a thing—your joy, satisfaction, with it—consists in having it just at the right time: it may be a trifle but it is opportune. That's the way it was with the cakes. A little something at the right time is better than much and running over at the wrong time." Bucke likes Morse's first Whitman better than the second. [See note p121.5] I prefer the second. W. said: "You are right—Bucke is wrong. The second is decidedly the best—I would admit nothing the other way. The second has my vote." Referred curiously to the skyscrapers. "Are they building them to

 
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stand?" Spoke of Charles Lamb: "A dear fellow and a hero, too." [See note p122.1] W. gave me a Dowden letter and talked a little about Dowden. "This letter will give you a little notion of his private regard for me as well as of the reasons he is willing to give for his public espousal of my work. Dowden does not melt himself and melt me, as Symonds does: he is more stiffly literary: but he comes dangerously near to our standard. [See note p122.2] That talk that he winds up with about the pension is impossible talk, as you know. I have sat down on all attempts, new and old. I have no reasons against the pension. All my feeling is against it. My feeling decides the day."

Winstead, Temple Road Rathmines,

Dublin, March 16, 1876.


My dear Mr. Whitman.

     Yesterday your post-card and your very welcome books reached me. [See note p122.3] I spent a good part of the day over Two Rivulets, the Preface, and the Memoranda of the War, and was not far from you, I think, in feeling, however separated in place. I seem to see some gains from the illness which has grieved us. Tones and tints have passed from it into your writings which add to their comprehensiveness and their truth and tenderness. At the same time I hold to L of G and accept it,—taking it as a whole,—with entire satisfaction. [See note p122.4] It seems to me more for the soul, and for things beyond physiology, than you, contrasting it with your projected songs more specially for the soul, quite recognize. The non-moral parts of it, such parts as simply are the "tally" of nature, are taken up into other portions of L. of G. and are spiritualized, and each part belongs to the other. In L. of G. I find a complete man, not body alone, or chiefly, but body and soul. That its direct tendency (and not alone its indirect) is to invigorate and reinforce the soul I feel assured. But in contrast to the pride and buoyancy, and resonant tones, of L. and G., the

 
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tenderer, more penetrating, more mystic and withdrawn tones of Passage to India, and of the recent poems and prose, seem to me to be again as serving the same, and not other, purposes, but for other moments, other moods and natures—and I think many of your future readers may gain an entrance to your earlier writings through your latter and that for some persons this will be the fittest way. [See note p123.1]

      [See note p123.2] At present I have little doubt you ought not to set yourself to any brain work, but at the same time you ought not to think of ceasing to write, for every now and again the mood will come and you will write something as admirable as anything you have written heretofore. Your friends here want to think of you as free from all pressure to write, and anxieties about material well-being, with your spirit open to all pleasant and good influences the Earth and the Season and your own thoughts bring to you. The Newspaper paragraph you sent Rossetti and me has made us fear it may not be so with you, and we remain in suspense as to whether we might not make some move which would relieve us from some of this dissatisfied feeling on your behalf. [See note p123.3] Ought it not to be a duty, too, of—not the American public to recognize your gift to America as a writer, but—the American Government to recognize your services, as of one who saved the lives, and lightened the sufferings, of many American citizens? It would be honorable to the government and to you. I write knowing little of the actual probability of this, but I believe in England we would be careful of such a voluntary public servant.

     We are all well, my wife and children and I.


Always affectionately yours


Edward Dowden.

     W. added: "I hear every now and then from Dowden back there. He has not kept his ardor up, quite, I think.

 
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He hasn't beat a retreat—he is still my friend—acquiesces in me. Symonds is a persistent fire: he never quails or lowers his colors. [See note p124.1] Don't construe me too literally on all this: I am only nebulous about it: it would not do for me to give this opinion out for good and all."

 
Wednesday, May 9, 1888.

     Took to Whitman, who came to the door himself, my father's translation of Griffin's letter. [See note p124.2] W. read it and was pleased. He remembered the Laforgue renderings in the French. "I never could have known how they were done, of course, as I have absolutely no conversancy with the language. You ought to see the Laforgue poems—I want to hunt them up for you—I have them here. [See note p124.3] I try to look at my face in a French glass but somehow it don't work very well. I shall advise Griffin to use one of the later editions—not to fool with the older books—yes, to use McKay's. I may get you to write to him for me. What could I do nowadays if it was not for your busy hands and feet? My wreck is way up the shore." I exclaimed: "The gospel is spreading!""Yes—as fire once started in the grass." W. added: "It is a new experience to be successful: I always seem to know what to do with failure but success is a puzzle to me." Would Griffin likely publish an expurgated book? "Damn the expurgated books! [See note p124.4] I say damn 'em! The dirtiest book in all the world is the expurgated book! Rossetti expurgated—avowed it in his preface: a sort of nod to Mrs. Grundy: and it was much the same with Rhys—Rhys does not wholly endorse me—is shy of me in a way—having dug so deep into the old English balladry he becomes convinced of the necessity of the lilt, the regular flow, the notation, the steady movement back and forth—hence his lingering distrust of the Leaves. [See note p124.5] Rhys is coming along at a good pace but he has not yet come: he sort of feels his way—is resolved not to commit himself too far first lick." W. spoke

 
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of the Chatto & Windus Whitman as a steal. "I never got any money from it. But the Rhys book—the Walter Scott book—has a better record. They sent me fifty dollars. [See note p125.1] They sold twenty thousand copies. You don't think fifty dollars much return on twenty thousand copies? Neither do I: but I am grateful for what I get: the little dribbles of favor are all I have ever got anyway: I am not a favorite of fortune—except perhaps a favorite victim." He laughed very good-naturedly. "Is this my little growl? Well—you must let me have the growl—listen patiently—my growl is worse than my spring." [See note p125.2] W. liked Griffin's letter: "It is modest—it sounds well—I shall write him. The best part of Griffin's note is in what he refrains from saying: the best of us is never put into words."

     W. asked if I had read Mrs. Moulton's letter to the Boston Herald and described her as "an emotional, full-blooded, somewhat gushing woman.""But," he continued, "I always reflect that such characteristics carry with them their own excuse, being in their own way natural, as I prefer to say." [See note p125.3] W. proceeded: "You often hear me object to gush: I like love, I like freedom, I like any honest emotional utterance—but I hate to have people come at me with malice—throw themselves into my arms—insist upon themselves, upon their affection. I shy at it. William O'Connor used to say this was rather a contradiction between my life and my philosophy. I don't know—perhaps it is—but it is a feeling I can never rid myself of."

     W. never met John Weiss and Samuel Johnson and has never read their books. "I know pratically nothing of that group at first hand—the secondary transcendental group. Outside of Emerson, Thoreau, Alcott, I have not had any relations with the New England literati. [See note p125.4] This is probably because I taboo religious books—books on religion—even the broad ones. I know I ought to know Weiss and Johnson—they are my men, I am their man—but I

 
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own up to my entire ignorance. Frothingham I have met: he has quoted me favorably—has written me. [See note p126.1] You ought to sit down here sometime and tell me all about these fellows." We did then and there go on for an hour in that strain, I doing most of the talking, in answer to his questions. It was like being in the witness box at court. When we were through W. remarked: "I feel as if I was getting acquainted with a new world—I feel guilty—I have neglected those remarkable men: but I hate theological, metaphysical, discussion so heartily that I run at the sight of a controversial book—always, of course, excepting Huxley and Ingersoll, as you know." [See note p126.2]

      [See note p126.3] Talked of translations of Homer. "I have had different opinions about Palmer's prose Homer—have liked it and not liked it and liked it again and so on—it comes and goes like indigestion. I think Buckley's translation the best extant—I read it many years ago: the impression it made upon me has proved to be indelible. Bryant's and Derby's are damnable—I don't know which is worse than the other—they are both so stiff, so bad, it hardly seems anything could be worse than either. [See note p126.4] John Swinton sent me Derby's, for what reason I can't imagine. Pope was of course a machine—he wrote like a see-saw." Had never read Taylor's translation of Faust. [See note p126.5] Suggested that I should try to get him "a cheap copy.""I have always meant to read it—it always seemed so formidable."

     Fiction was debated the other night at a meeting of the Congregational Club, New York.  [See note p126.6] Gilder had referred to Cable as "perhaps the greatest artist since Hawthorne." W. said as to this: "The sense in which 'artist' is used there is to me as a bad smell to the nostrils. I refuse to consider literature in that light. [See note p126.7] Gilder himself writes poetry—his poetry is considerably better than the average. I have friends who see a greal deal in Gilder's work. Yet after all it never escapes being average, only average—it partakes

 
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of the general character of the characterless poetry of the magazines—that of porcelain, fine china, dainty curtains, exquisite rugs—never a look of flowing rivers, waving trees, growing lilies, floating clouds." [See note p127.1] W. had been looking over Lowell's Fable for Critics. What would have happened to W. if he had been contemporary? Would Lowell have scored him? "I rather doubt—it was the original policy of the critics, the professional literateurs, to ignore me—to freeze me out.""When they found they could not freeze you out they tried to burn you out.""Exactly—exactly: but neither heat nor cold has killed our bud: the Leaves have lasted, lasted, seasons in and out, hates in and out."

     W. has never met Whittier. [See note p127.2] "I wrote him on his last birthday and had a short note in the winter from him—a note, however, that was purely formal." Was Whittier adverse to Leaves of Grass? "It is hard to say yes, it would be harder to say no. A correspondent went out to see him some time not long ago from Boston—they discussed literary matters together, my name being brought up with others—but he was very dextrous in evading any committal phrase pro or con. [See note p127.3] I know, however, from Sanborn, I think—that Whittier years ago started to read the Leaves and when he came to what are called the indelicate passages threw the book into the fire."

     Something Joesph Cook has been saying about Paine aroused W. [See note p127.4] "It is always so: the tree with the best apples gets the worst clubbing." I put in: "Because they are best able to stand it"—he repeating the phrase after me—"That's ever so true—ever so true—they are best able to stand it." This reference to Percy's Reliques: "It takes you in to the birth of man: it is always a young book." [See note p127.5] The Book News contains a frontispiece portrait of Mrs. Moulton. W. says: "It shows the best of her." I asked: "When will they put your phiz in their gallery?""Never! I don't believe in their gallery—the Louise Chandler Moulton,

 
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Matthew Arnold, George Cable gallery. Not a few people would say my phiz belongs only in the rogue's gallery!"

      [See note p128.1] "Tom," said W., "has been in: sometimes he is like a blustering day. Well, a blustering day is part of a year, too: I like all kinds of days: Tom's kind the same's any other kind. Tom's chief trait to me, after his capacity for good will, is his honesty. Tom goes to a heap of trouble trying to hide his good traits at times—but he never fools me: I know him for what he is every time. [See note p128.2] Bucke? O yes, Bucke! Someone was here the other day and complained that the Doctor was extreme. I suppose he is extreme—the sun's extreme too: and as for me, ain't I extreme? Ask my enemies if I ain't extreme. It seems to be the notion of some people that I should 'select' my friends—accept and reject and so forth. [See note p128.3] Love, affection, never selects—just loves, is just affectionate.

 
Thursday, May 10, 1888.

     "Dr. Brinton," said W., "seems to be always busy." [See note p128.4] I reminded W. that B. was now absent in Florence pursuing studies in connection with his own work in American archaeology. I had just heard from B. W. continued: "His work is always true and of the right sort. Brinton is a master-man—stern, resolute, loyal—yes, what I like (in the best sense) to call adhesive: a good comrade, a ripe intellect. [See note p128.5] You say he will do no pot-boiling?—pot-boiling? I agree with you on that point—it is best for a man to do his one certain thing and do it well—to stick to it though all the devils (and the gods, too) are at his heels: to beat his way clear, to get out into the open. That seems like asking too much of most men: Brinton, however, is not most men—he is Brinton. I think now is the time for archaeology to be exploited here anyhow—especially American archeaology. [See note p128.6] I remember that when Lord Houghton, Moncton Milnes, called to see me years ago, the first thing he said to me was:

 
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'Your people don't think enough of themselves: are not in the good sense patriotic enough: they do not realize that they not only have a present but a past, the traces of which are rapidly slipping away from them.' [See note p129.1] He referred to the slack interest we show in 'remains'. We have our schools and expeditions for Greek exploration: the people concerned are begging, begging, all the time for money—which is all right, as far as it goes. I would not put a straw in the way of this—not a straw: I wish it well: it is important work. But I say, why not give our own evidences a chance to show themselves, too? Why not open up our own past—exploit the American contribution to this important science? Brinton is doing just that—he is eminent: he insists upon the work and does his part."

     W. was looking for a paper for me but could not find it. [See note p129.2] He went poking about the room with his cane. Finally he sat down and said: "I guess I'll stop right here—I will wait until we have daylight in this room—when I will come across it naturally: to try to hunt a thing in the dark in this confusion is out of the question—the more you stir things up the more you mix 'em." Gave me New York Herald containing Nineteenth Century Club's debate on "toleration" between Ingersoll, Coudert and Stewart Woodford. [See note p129.3] "I am done with it: you will like to see it. Ingersoll uses them both up as a matter of course—does it easily, nonchalantly—sits back in his chair—I should imagine, this way—shuts his eyes: as easily as this sweeps them right and left with a movement of his arm."

     Longfellow was mentioned. W. recalled a visit from L. "He came with Childs, but I was not at home—had just started off for the ferry. They came after me, followed me, and inquired of one of the men at the wharf, who told them I was on one of the boats, for which they waited, but our talk was very short." [See note p129.4] The man they questioned at the ferry was Ed Lindell. After they had gone, and as Walt

 
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came from the boat, Lindel asked him the name of the man with the gray beard. W. told him but was more inclined to talk of Childs than of Longfellow. I asked W. about L.'s port and manners. [See note p130.1] W. said: "His manners were stately, conventional—all right but all careful." Was his conversation striking? "Not at all—he did not branch out or attract." Was he at all like Emerson? "Not a bit. [See note p130.2] Emerson was as different as day from night—indeed, had the best manners of any man I ever met: by this I mean manners in the right sense: manners, words, thoughts, always right, yet never at any time suggesting preparation or design. Emerson always seemed to know what he wanted. If I was asked to put him into two words, I should give 'sincerity' first—always first—and—oh! I had a more apt word a minute ago, but now it is gone: I may call it 'definiteness': yes, sincerity and definiteness. Emerson never lost this quality: in his last days, when it was said his mind had failed, he remained of this aspect: in fact, it seemed to me to be emphasized. [See note p130.3] Emerson only lost the outward, the superficial—the rest of him remained unharmed. I thought Alcott had really lost something. He came to see me in Brooklyn once just before Emerson. While Emerson was with me I asked him about this breakdown of memory or what-not in Alcott—but Emerson would not have it my way—he was gentle but firm—he opposed my observation. Emerson never lacked decision; he was indeed the firmest of men, never shaken from his place—unshockable—he never unhatted to any person or any power—any institution—never went out looking for things which did not come to him of their own accord. Alcott had a lot of queerities—freakishnesses: not vegetarianism—I do not count that—but transcendental mummeries—worst of all a most vociferous contempt for the body, which I, of course, opposed. [See note p130.4] I spoke to Emerson about these things that day—but my comments made no impression: I saw that Emerson had his
 
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own opinion of Alcott and was not going to let me disturb it—though that was not my intention: underneath it all I had every sort of respect for Alcott myself."

     I described a walk in the country beyond Camden. [See note p131.1] W.: "After all, it is the city man, often the book man, the scholar man, who best appreciates objective nature—sees nature in her large meanings, growths, evolutions: who enters most naturally, sympathetically, into the play of her phenomena, the divine physical processes." Again: "Ingersoll could not come to my reception in New York: was out of town or busy: but he sent a note containing excuses and some fine things (witty, beautiful things) better than excuses. The Colonel is always my friend—always on the spot with his good-will if not in person."

     W. talked of portraits. [See note p131.2] He affects "the unceremonious—the unflattered. Of all portraits of me made by artists I like Eakins' best: it is not perfect but it comes nearest being me. [See note p131.3] I find I often like the photographs better than the oils—they are perhaps mechanical, but they are honest. The artists add and deduct: the artists fool with nature—reform it, revise it, to make it fit their preconceived notion of what it should be. [See note p131.4] We need a Millet in portraiture—a man who sees the spirit but does not make too much of it—one who sees the flesh but does not make a man all flesh—all of him body. Eakins almost achieves this balance—almost—not quite: Eakins errs just a little, just a little—a little—in the direction of the flesh. I am always subjected to the painters: they come here and paint, paint, paint, everlastingly paint. I give them all the aid and comfort I can—I put myself out to make it possible for them to have their fling: hoping all the time that now the right man has come, now the thing will be done completely once and for all and hereafter I can hood my face. [See note p131.5] Take Gilchrist's—Herbert's: it missed the most of me, went all astray. Sometimes I think I like the best photographs best. They are called

 
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mechanical—Herbert used to say they were not art: maybe they are not art, maybe they are only portraits—and if a fellow wants a portrait then they are just what he wants. [See note p132.1] Alexander was here for some time working up some studies for The Century: this was last year: but whatever the outcome it has not yet appeared in the magazine. I liked to have Alexander here—he is the right stuff for a man though I am not sure he is the right stuff for a painter. He told me some good stories of Ingersoll—of his generosity, of his Shakespearean scholarship: Alexander is, or was, his next door neighbor."

      [See note p132.2] W. gave me two letters—one from William Rossetti and one from Edward Dowden—and said of them: "They are far back letters—1871: they belong together. Rossetti gives in his a rather apt sketch of Dowden—has some interesting things to say about the Commune: Dowden writes a little more about his own faith in the Leaves—makes a confession, hits off in a sketchy way some other fellows over there who are interested in my work. [See note p132.3] The main thing is not in what is said about the Leaves but the affection that is back of it all. I had no idea Rossetti could feel so radically about the Commune or about such things: I don't know why I should have expected him to be so conservative but I did. [See note p132.4] Well—I have been lucky in my friends whatever may be said about my enemies. I get more and more to feel that the Leaves do not express only a personal life—they do that first of all—but that they in the end express the corporate life—the universal life: the Leaves being in the wind-up just as much Rossetti's book or Dowden's book or your book as my book."


56 Euston Square, London, N.W., 9 July, '71.


Dear Mr. Whitman,

      [See note p132.5] I was much obliged to you for the kind thought of sending me your fine verses on the Parisian catastrophes. My own sympathy (far unlike that of most

 
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Englishmen) was very strongly with the Commune— i.e., with extreme, democratic, and progressive republicanism against a semi-republicanism wh. may at any moment (and will, if the ultras don't make the attempt too dangerous) degenerate into some form of monarchy exhibiting more or less of the accustomed cretinism. [See note p133.1]

     I fancy that unless some one sends it to you from here, you may probably not see an article on your position as a poet lately published in the Westminster Review. I therefore take the liberty of posting this article to you. I don't know who has written it; but incline to think the writer must be Edward Dowden, Professor of English Literature in Trinity College, Dublin—a young man who no doubt has a good literary career before him. [See note p133.2] He is at any rate, I know, one of your most earnest admirers. Lately he delivered at the College a lecture on your poems, with much applause, I am told: and the same week some one else in Dublin delivered another like lecture. There are various highly respecful references also to your poetry in a work of some repute recently published here—Our living Poets, by Forman (dealing directly with English poets only). [See note p133.3]

     You may perhaps be aware that the Westminster Review is a quarterly, founded by Jeremy Bentham, and to this day continuing to be the most advanced of the English reviews as regards liberal politics and speculation.

     I trust Mr. O'Connor is well: will you please to rememember me to him if opportunity offers.

     Believe me with reverence and gratitude.


Your friend,


W. M. Rossetti.


Montenotte, Cork, Ireland, July 23, 1871.


My dear Sir,

      [See note p133.4] I wished to send you a copy of the July No. of the Westminster Review containing an article by me which attempts a study of one side of your work in literature.

 
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I wrote to Mr. W. M. Rossetti to inquire for your address and he tells me that he has already forwarded a copy to you. [See note p134.1] But I will not be defrauded by Mr. Rossetti of the pleasure I had promised myself, and therefore you must accept a second copy of the Review (which I post with this letter) and do what you like with it.

     I ought to say that the article expresses very partially the impression which your writings have made on me. It keeps, as is obvious, at a single point of view and regards only what becomes visible from that point. [See note p134.2] But also I wrote more coolly than I feel because I wanted those, who being ignorant of your writings are perhaps prejudiced against them, to say: "Here is a cool judicious impartial critic who finds a great deal in Whitman—perhaps after all we are mistaken." Perhaps this will be unsatisfactory to you, and you would prefer that your critic should let the full force of your writings appear in his criticisms and attract those who are to be attracted and repel those who are to be repelled, and you may value the power of repulsion as well as that of attraction. But so many persons capable of loving your work, by some mischance or miscarriage or by some ignorance or removable error fail in their approach to you, or do not approach at all, that I think I am justified in my attempt.

     You have many readers in Ireland, and those who read do not feel a qualified delight in your poems—do not love them by degree, but with an absolute, a personal love. We none of us question that yours is the clearest, and sweetest, and fullest American voice. We grant as true all that you claim for yourself. And you gain steadily among us new readers and lovers. [See note p134.3]

     If you care at all for what I have written it would certainly be a pleasure to hear this from yourself. If you do not care for it you will know that I wished to do better than I did. My fixed residence is 50 Wellington Road, Dublin, Ireland.

 
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My work there is that of Professor of English Literature in the University of Dublin. We have lately had a good public lecture in Dublin from a Fellow of Trinity College on your poems—R. Y. Tyrrell, a man who knows Greek poetry very well, and who finds it does not interfere with his regard for yours. [See note p135.1] If the lecture should at any time be published, I shall send you a copy.

      I am, dear sir,


Very truly yours


Edward Dowden.

     W. said of the Dowden article: "It was written with restraint—it advanced, retired, gave, took back—finally came out with a balance on my side. That is the method of the literary historian—he is determined that no steam shall be wasted. [See note p135.2] The literary critic says: Keep your fires hot but don't keep them so hot they will burn you."

 
Friday, May 11, 1888.

     Took Whitman lilacs. W. said: "Tom has been in today. He brought Donnelly's book along—The Cryptogram: I told him I wanted to look it over. [See note p135.3] It is a formidable book: I do not feel strong enough to say I will read it all through: that would be almost a dare-devil thing to promise: but I'm going to tackle it. [See note p135.4] The subject is attractive to me—I do not deny it—although I have only got along as far as its preliminaries. In one particular I disagree with the critics both sides—I think both sides exaggerate the genius of Shakespeare—set it up too high, count it for too much (far, very far, too much). [See note p135.5] Do you suppose I accept the almost luny worship of Shakespeare—the cult worship, the college-chair worship? Not a bit of it—not a bit of it. I do not think Shakespeare was the all in all of literature. I think there were twenty thousand things coming before him and at his time and since—things, men, illuminati—and

 
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everything has to be counted. Shakespeare was the greatest of his kind—but how about his kind? I do not know that I really care who made the plays—who wrote them. [See note p136.1] No—I do not think it a supreme human question though it is without a doubt a great literary question. I am not as much interested in the question direct as in what it drags along with it—the great store of curious information that it turns up—information forgotten or near lost. I never met Donnelly, but he has written me. [See note p136.2] William O'Connor was a storm-blast for Bacon. I never saw anybody stand up against William when he really got going: he was like a flood: he was loaded with knowledge—yes, with knowledge: and knowledge with William was never useless—he knew what to do with it—how to put it to some use—he knew the law of knowledge, which is wisdom. I am firm against Shaksper—I mean the Avon man, the actor: but as to Bacon, well, I don't know.  [See note p136.3] If the theory be true as Donnelly puts it, it will not be one of the fortunate or savory exposures in literature: it will rather injure Bacon—for here it is shown—I mean here in Donnelly's book—that slanders, flings, hatreds, jealousies, constitute the staple of his motive in making the plays. I may be reading the story the wrong way about but that's the way it looks to me.  [See note p136.4] But after all Shakespeare, the author Shakespeare, whoever he was, was a great man: much was summed up in him—much—yes, a whole age and more: he gave reflection to a certain social estate quite important enough to be studied: he was a master artist, in a way—not in all ways, for he often fell down in his own wreckage: but taking him for all in all he is one of the fixed figures—will always have to be reckoned with.  [See note p136.5] It is remarkable how little is known of Shaksper the actor as a person and how much less is known of the perso n Shakespeare of the plays. The record is almost a blank—it has no substance whatsoever: scarcely anything that is said of him is authorized. Did you ever notice—how much the
 
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law is involved with the plays? Long before I heard of any cryptogram I had myself been conscious of the phrases, any characteristic turns, the sure touch, the invisible potent hand, of the lawyer—of a lawyer, yes: not a mere attorney-at-law but a mind capable of taking the law in its largest scope, penetrating even its origins: not a pettifogger, perhaps even technically in its detail defective—but a big intellect of great grasp. [See note p137.1] Now, I have talked a good bit about a thing I know nothing about. I go with you fellows when you say no to Shaksper: that's about as far as I have got. As to Bacon—well, we'll see, we'll see."

     Had W. yet written to Viele-Griffin? [See note p137.2] "No: but I intended doing so today. I am not much of a correspondent—never was—always wrote when I had something definite to say but never for the sake of writing—never for the sake of keeping up what is called a correspondence. Such correspondence as that of Carlyle and Emerson would be impossible to me, though I see it is all right in itself and for them. [See note p137.3] It is a matter of taste—of temperament. I don't believe I ever wrote a purely literary letter—ever got discussing books or literary men or writers or artists of any sort in letters: the very idea of it makes me sick. [See note p137.4] I like letters to be personal—very personal—and then stop."

     Something got us talking of Beecher. "Lots of people think it their business to damn Beecher: I say if that is their business let them damn Beecher: it won't hurt Beecher any and may help the damners some. I am not in the damning business.""Or the saving business either." [See note p137.5] "That's so—or the saving business, either: I'm just alive and interested in life. I met Beecher a number of times—half a dozen at least: once right here, in Camden, at the ferry. He was to lecture one night at Freehold (it was two or three years before he died)—had an hour of waiting at the West Jersey station. I met him there in that casual way—we

 
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had a good talk: we were at it probably half an hour. [See note p138.1] He was more than commonly cordial, and I hope I was, too, for I felt more than commonly drawn toward Beecher. I have heard it said of him as it has been said of Tennyson—that he would not go out of his way for a king—which means that if he pays you any attention he means it. Beecher was a friend of the Leaves from the first—even applied himself to it, I am told. He said to me this day that his first feeling about the Leaves had not vanished—had been rather accentuated." W. stopped a minute or so. I said nothing. [See note p138.2] Then he added: "Ministers are rarely friendly to me—perhaps are a little more tolerant than they were at the start, though damned little. There have been some exceptions—a few orthodox preachers who were far more revolutionary than they supposed themselves to be. It is only fair to say of Beecher that he was not a minister. You wrote a good line on that point yourself once.""What was that?""You spoke of some minister—I don't know who he was—and you said: 'There was so much of him man there was very little of him left to be minister.' That was very good. It perfectly describes Beecher." [See note p138.3] Alluding to Lyman Abbott, Beecher's successor in Plymouth church, W. said: "I know nothing against Abbott and nothing in his favor: I do not regard him as a positive force however he is looked at. After Beecher he is feeble enough—like a theatre-storm after a real storm out of doors."

      [See note p138.4] W. discussed Stedman's American Poets again. "The book is too deliberate—holds back too much: is like a conservative charge to a jury. There are touches in Stedman that seem like genius—but just as you are about to accept him as a luminary he snuffs the light out himself. Have you got so far as the Poe yet? [See note p138.5] Do I like Poe? At the start, for many years, not: but three or four years ago I got to reading him again, reading and liking, until at last—yes, now—I feel almost convinced that he is a star of con-

 
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siderable magnitude, if not a sun, in the literary firmament. Poe was morbid, shadowy, lugubrious—he seemed to suggest dark nights, horrors, spectralities—I could not originally stomach him at all. [See note p139.1] But today I see more of him than that—much more. If that was all there was to him he would have died long ago. I was a young man of about thirty, living in New York, when The Raven appeared—created its stir: everybody was excited about it—every reading body: somehow it did not enthuse me. Oh—I was talking of Stedman. I wanted to say I do not think Stedman did full justice to Bryant or Longfellow or Whittier—not even to Poe. [See note p139.2] I think that if Stedman had let himself go a little he would have made a book calculated for a long life. I have such personal respect, love, for Stedman, I wish his book made a stronger appeal to me. Now, if we could get Stedman himself into a book we would all bow down to it."

     W. had called on a rather testy Camden scholar, Dr. Reynell Coates, and had not met with a kind reception. W. said: "I may sum Coates up by saying that he invited me to a set dinner and had nothing on his table when I got there but pickles." [See note p139.3] W. described the Duyckinck brothers, whose Cyclopedia of American Literature was at one time rather authoritative. "I was left out. Why not? It was not surprising: I am not even today accepted in New York by the great bogums—much less then. [See note p139.4] I met these brothers: they were both 'gentlemanly men'—and by the way I don't know any description that it would have pleased them better to hear: both very clerical looking—thin—wanting in body: mean of truly proper style, God help 'em!"

 
Saturday, May 12, 1888.

      [See note p139.5] W. said: "I have often tried to put myself in the place of a minister—to imagine the forty and odd corns he must avoid treading on." Laughingly: "I often get mad at the ministers—they are almost the only people I do get

 
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mad at—yet they, too, have their reasons for being. If a man will once consent to be a minister he must expect ruin."

      [See note p140.1] To judge from Mrs. Moulton's Boston Herald letter it would look as though W. recited lines from his own poems on the occasion of her visit. W. demurred positively. "There was nothing at all like that: I never do quote, repeat lines—indeed, could not do it even if I wished to: I remember very few things out of the mass I have written—I could repeat but very few complete lines. Any one of you fellows knows more about my book than I do myself. I wrote the book—why should I be expected to rememeber it? The best people will tell you I ought to forget it as fast as I can. [See note p140.2] Anyway I am not a reciter. Every now and then some woman or man comes in here and chats a while with me—doing most of the chatting themselves, most of them—and then go off and picture me as standing out in the middle of the room and spouting my own poetry. I am not a poetic acrobat—not in the last. When the visitors come—you see lots of 'em youself—I sit very still and try to be good—don't I? But they won't let me be good—I am made in their reports to step out in the full light and go through contortions and behave queer. [See note p140.3] Then they say: 'See, this is Walt Whitman, didn't we tell you he was odd here and there and a bit off in general?'" W. got a lot of fun out of this recitative. I remember that W. at Harned's when called upon to do so could not repeat three lines of the little poem Twilight which recently appeared in The Century. We had to get the magazine for him. He tried on another occasion to recover the Death Carol but could only get a line here and there—not one whole verse: probably knew a dozen lines in all. By the way, the little Twilight poem, like his Emperor William poem, brought him some excited correspondence. [See note p140.4] "I suppose I had a dozen letters objecting to the last word, 'oblivion.' That word, they

 
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said, was out of place, not my word, inconsistent with my philosophy. I do not feel it to be necessary to fight for my words—I use them and let them go and that's an end on't. But oblivion as I use it there is just the word, both as furnishing sense and rhythm to the idea I had in mind. [See note p141.1] It seems strange to me (perhaps it shouldn't seem strange) how my friends always want to keep me on their track—want me to go the way they think I ought to go: choose even my words for me and declare penalties for disobedience. I suppose every writer has more or less the same experience: the world says jump and he must jump—the world says die and he is dead."

     Referring to Griffin again W. said: "I never knew any other language but the English. [See note p141.2] I never liked text books—could never study a foreign language. Did I say I never knew any language but the English? My enemies would even dispute my knowledge of the English." W. talked of "Shakespeare worship." "It is like Corning's tragedy of the ages: only one Christ, only one, for forever and forever. Only one Shakespear for forever to forever. To me that is rank nonsense—it leads to imbecility. Yet it may be a safety valve. Some people need harmless enthusiasms: better zest, ardor, warmth, decision, then nothing—than merely colorless inanity: better misapplied heat than no heat at all. [See note p141.3] But for any philosophic mind—for anyone capable of perspective, of seeing back and forward, of measuring here and beyond—the Shakespeare worship is poor business enough—poor business enough."

     Walt's great phrase of excuse for the prejudices and bigotries which he encounters—for frailties which in themselves are offensive to his perception of justice—is, "they justify themselves—they justify themselves." [See note p141.4] He first speaks of a writer in a manner the most freely critical and then says: "But she justifies herself by the fact of her temperament and the ways of her life." Coates' irascibility had super-

 
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ficially incensed W. Yet W. only said of Coates: "He was supremely irritable—he fired off almost before his gun was loaded: I must have cut a sorry figure in his eyes: he no doubt had the best of reasons for his outbreak." [See note p142.1] W. has a rather general objection to the clergy. "Their teaching is mostly impudence—their knowledge is mostly ignorance—they are arrogant, spoiled." Yet he suffers them because "they after all justify themselves in the scheme of evolution." [See note p142.2] He spoke last night of the great social whirl—of "the porcelains, chinas, hangings, laces, fine dinners, equipages, balls, shows, hypocrisies, hard-heartednesses that make it up," arguing: "I hate it—hate it with my body and with the rest of me: but what I am to do? Try to find a place outside the universe for it? It, too, justifies itself, don't you see?" Some one was saying severe things of someone else. [See note p142.3] W. put in: "Don't do it—save the severe things for yourself." The undercurrent of it all is a protest, but he tempers his mortal protest with the recognition of our immortal destiny. "Why should I take judgment in hand? I throw away all my weapons—all, all: all weapons of harm—every weapon: I want to meet every man, worst man or best man, with the open hand."

     W. had been reading Ingersoll's oration on Conkling. [See note p142.4] "It is not among the Colonel's best pieces: it is too usual for the Colonel: too much like what everybody thinks and says. The Colonel is best when he is off on his own account—letting himself go, go anywhere and however, not caring who is hit." W. again: "I have not been without friends even amoung the Catholics. I have had friends in the priesthood—half a dozen of them. [See note p142.5] So far concerns the Catholic church, however, I have had in the main to look at it from the outside—I have seen a little of its pageantry and read with deep interest of the royal, gorgeous, superb displays in the cathedrals, especially those down in Rome—in St. Peter's. It is grand, grand—O how grand! Yet it has

 
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one defect: it lacks simplicity—it has deferred too much to certain sensational elements in its history and environment. [See note p143.1] I could tell you of a wonderful experience—of a related but dissimilar experience—of an incident in which all the integers were simple—were more directly related to life. It was in Washington, during the war, in one of the wards of a hospital—a poor room, with cheaper furniture than this you see in my parlor, which is poor enough: a three legged stool for an altarpiece—no light but the light of a candle: then a priest came and administered the sacrament to a poor soldier. The room was spare, blank—no furnishings: the hearers in the other beds seemed altogether incredulous or else altogether convinced: there was a suspicion of quackery, humbuggery, in the whole performance: no one among the observers except myself perhaps was respectful. [See note p143.2] I stood aside and watched, aroused in places to sympathy, though mainly impressed by the spectacular features of the event—by its human emotional features. All was done solemnly, without noise—done in a way to appeal to your sense of right weight and measure—proportion, proportion. It is necessary for you to know with what sort of emphasis such an incident affected me if you want to get a just perception of my esthetics. [See note p143.3] No magnificent cathedral could quite so well have rounded up my simple picture. I remember another scene—a regiment, once made up of a thousand or twelve hundred men, returned from the war—from the battles, sieges, skirmishings, halts, marches, goings on—coming into Washington, perhaps on an errand only, for provisioning—God knows what: only there on duty for a day or more: now reduced from its proud twelve hundred to its humble one or two hundred men, trailing in, as it may be said, what remained of them, with their colors in rags and their faces emaciated, worn, but with their hearts true. [See note p143.4] Don't that beat a cathedral picture? I think it does—God! it does, it does! It makes your
 
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heart bleed. Then you worship—get down on your real knees." [See note p144.1]

     After a brief pause W. went on: "I have seen the preparations for the great dinners of state at Washingoton—then the sumptuous fare: the swell military grandees, the political fol-de-rol, the brilliant lights—social form and superficial manners: it is all very staggering in a hollow sort of way. But I have seen something more convincing than that—a simple group of half a dozen veterans gathered about a plain board table, with plenty and good to eat, in a house that was perfectly plain, telling their stories—stories of things done and missed being done, stories of heroism and cowardice, stories of meanness and generosity—stories, yes, of death, of suffering, of sacifice: all told so quietly, too, with no feathers, no tufts, no one wanting to call special attention to himself—everything being kept on a level lower than false ostentation, higher than false humility. [See note p144.2] Don't you think that, too, beats the cathedral picture? I do—I do!" After ruminating: "I may have written these pictures in words somewhere: have I? at any rate, they show what I mean. [See note p144.3] You know, Horace, I don't object to the refinements—to fingerbowls, to napkins, to fresh linen, to glassware, to costly china, to laces: I don't object to them: I only ask them some questions. I ask them why they think they are of equal importance with human affection—with what is directly and irrefragably the initialling root of the social organism. And as to the priesthood—well, I have nothing against the priesthood except my general objection to any class as a class. The priests—Protestant, Catholic, secular, I don't care which—don't study man as though they were themselves men but as though they were themselves priests. Now, I never object to a man—any kind of a man—but I object to a priest—any kind of a priest. [See note p144.4] The instant a priest becomes a man I am on his side—I no longer oppose him.

 
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Sunday, May 13, 1888.

     W. drove up to Harned's just after one. When helped into the parlor he announced that he felt "miseble, as the darkies say." [See note p145.1] After W. had got to his chair Harned started off to mix him his usual toddy but W. called him back: "Never mind the toddy today, Tom: I can't take it—it would finish me." W. was very pale—at dinner very abstemious. "I almost didn't get here," said W. "I feel damned bad today: some time before long I'll get one of these bad days and that'll be the end of me: then you fellows will have a funeral on your hands. Have you got a funeral ready?" W. laughed. Then: "I remember a darky story. [See note p145.2] Mose didn't report for work—didn't come morning, noon, evening. Where was Mose? 'Ah! Massa must 'scuse Mose dis time: Mose is dead!' Some day I won't come—some day: mornin', noon, evenin'—Mose'll be dead!" Corning said to W.: "I'd like to see you in a pulpit once.""Once, did you say? once? That's all it would be: I wouldn't last more than once but I'd make all the fur fly while I lasted!"

      [See note p145.3] Questioned regarding Robert Louis Stevenson, W. replied: "I never met him, but his wife has been here in Camden—visited me. I do not think I would have cared for him, all in all, for a companion: he was rather morbid and more than a bit whimsical—lacking, I am sure, in guts—guts: a man, a sure man, must have guts. Stevenson was friendly to me—has rare gifts: I do not dispute his powers: considering his persistent illness, his rather black background, is rather sunny, rather cheerful. Yes, he was complimentary to the Leaves: not outrightly so—saying yes with reservations: but being a man in whom I dare not waits upon I would he does not state his conviction unequivocally. [See note p145.4] You have seen what he has written about the Leaves—his first view, the after-qualifications. His wife assured me that he felt far more strongly on the subject than he

 
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wrote. I have read Stevenson—some, not much. I tried Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde but did not get along with it: I tried some of the short stories: I felt that I should know about them: but the thing wouldn't work: I couldn't make a connection, so I gave up trying."

      [See note p146.1] Of Browning W. said: "I have read Browning but I do not feel that I know him. I realize him—that is, I see him for a great figure—I see him for a proud achievement—O yes—I do—but I do not feel that I know his books. I have read The Ring and the Book, Paracelsus, some scattering poems (many of them, in fact)—that is all. My impression has been not that he was not for anybody but that he was not for me, though Professor Corson, who has been here to pay me a visit, says that I am mistaken, that Browning is my man, only that I have not so far got at him the right way. [See note p146.2] I do not assent to that—Corson does not know my appetite and my capacity as well as I know it myself. One thing I always feel like saying about Browning—that I am always conscious of his roominess: he is noway a small man: all his connections are big, strong."

      [See note p146.3] W. has never met Boyesen, "though I have had letters from him—two or three. I could not read his books—it was impossible, impossible: Boyesen depressed me by his inanity." W. finally has finished the Boswell. "I read it through, looked it through, rather—persisted in spite of fifty temptations to throw it down. [See note p146.4] I don't know who tried me most—Johnson or Boswell. The Book lasts—it seems to have elements of life—but I will do nothing to pass it on." W. to me: "Your father was in the other day—we talked about Goethe and Schiller—mostly about Schiller: Schiller's sickness—his victory over his sickness. [See note p146.5] That always impresses me—a man's victory over his sickness. I have thought something very interesting, valuable, suggestive, might be written about the influence, good influence, bad influence, of sickness (disease) in literature. Another thing: the in-

 
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fluence of drink in literature might also be written about—would also be instructive: it has so many sides, noble, devilish: it would need to be rightly interpreted—not by a puritan, not by a toper (the puritan is only another kind of topor). [See note p147.1] I have almost made up my mind to make some use of the themes myself, though I don't know as I'll ever get to them—so many physical obstacles drop into my pathway these years."

     Corning asked W.: "In your hospital work in Washington did you also come up against Confederate soldiers?""Yes indeed—lots of 'em—lots of 'em: in fact, some of my best friends in the hospitals were probably Southern boys. [See note p147.2] I remember one in particular, right off—a Kentucky youngster (a mere youngster), illiterate, extremely: I wrote several letters for him to his parents, friends: fine, honest, ardent, chivalrous. I found myself loving him like a son: he used to kiss me good night—kiss me. He got well, he passed out with the crowd, went home, the war was over. We never met again. Oh! I could tell you a hundred such tales. I don't know but I've put this case, this Kentucky boy's case, into Two Rivulets: maybe not—there's a lot of that stuff I never put down anywhere—some of the best of it. I could only give the typical cases."

     Politics. Talk of Cleveland and Blaine. [See note p147.3] W. said: "Four years ago I did not vote but would have voted for Cleveland if I had voted at all. Not that I prefer Cleveland personally: on the contrary I am not much impressed with his personality. I rather like Blaine—perhaps prefer him: he is strong, brilliant, with perhaps one drawback—he is a little shifty. But I felt that the election of Blaine would be a slap in the face of the South: we had already conquered, subdued, subjugated the South—got it right under our heel"—bringing his foot down with emphasis—"and why should we rub it in? [See note p147.4] As to the negro question—well, it is a question—a confounded serious question: but who can

 
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say the negro is more likely to get his due from the Republican party than from the Democratic party? [See note p148.1] I am inclined to repeat what you said to Bonsall the other day here.""What was that?""Harry was arguing for the Republican party: you said, 'the negro will get his due from the negro—from no one else.' I say so too: that is the whole story, beginning, middle and end."

     Some discussion of officialdom in Washington, W. arguing: "From my experience at Washington I should say that honesty is the prevailing atmosphere." Somebody laughed. [See note p148.2] W. stubbornly resumed: "Let me explain that. I do not refer to swell officials—the men who wear the decorations, get the fat salaries (they are mostly dubious enough, though not all): I refer to the average clerks, the obscure crowd, who after all run the government: they are on the square. I have not known hundreds—I have known thousands—of them. I went to Washington as everybody goes there prepared to see everything done with some furtive intention, but I was disappointed—pleasantly disappointed. I found the clerks mainly earnest, mainly honest, anxious to do the right thing—very hard working, very attentive. Why, the clerk jobs are often the worst slavery: the clerks are not overpaid, they are underpaid. [See note p148.3] Washington is corrupt—has its own peculiar mixture of evil with its own peculiar mixture of good—but the evil is mostly with the upper crust—the people who have reputations—who are better than other people."

     Donnelly's Cryptogram was mentioned. Moorhouse said: "It is indeed a cipher that is a cipher." This aroused W. who exclaimed: "Not so fast—I'm not so sure about that: there's a heap big lot of questions to be asked and answered before Shaksper can be allowed his fling. [See note p148.4] The easiest thing to do with a man like William O'Connor when he gets a-going about Bacon is to do nothing—to not try to answer him: the easiest thing to do is to dismiss the subject

 
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with a sweeping inclusive 'no—impossible': but that would hardly be taken for an answer in any court of simple reason." [See note p149.1] Harned asked: "Are you then prepared to say the plays were written by Bacon?""Not at all—I should not be prepared to go as far as that: I only say they were not written by William Shaksper the actor."

     W. speaking of the idea of immortality, of the "fact" as he prefers to call it, added: "When I say immortality I say identity—the survival of the personal soul—your survival, my survival." [See note p149.2] Moorhouse: "It could not be otherwise with a man of your optimism. It would be impossible for a man of your optimism to have any other belief." To which W. replied: "Optimism—pessimism: no one word could explain, enclose, it. There is more, much more, to be canvassed than is included in either word, in both words. I am not prepared to admit fraud in the scheme of the universe—yet without immortality all would be sham and sport of the most tragic nature. [See note p149.3] I remember, also, what Epictetus said: What is good enough for the universe is good enough for me!—immortality for the universe, immortality is good enough for me! These are not reasons—not reasons: they are impressions, visions. What the world calls logic is beyond me: I only go about my business taking on impressions—reporting impressions—though sometimes I imagine that what we see is superior to what we reason about—what establishes itself in the age, in the heart, is finally the only logic—can boast of the only real verification."

      [See note p149.4] W. explained his attitude towards free trade: "I am for free trade because I am for anything which will break down barriers between peoples: I want to see the countries all wide open." W. had not yet sent Griffin the book. "I am more famous for procrastination than for anything else: you write to him—tell him that Walt Whitman will be along by and bye—is rather lame in the legs and in several other

 
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things: is harder to move round than a sick elephant." W. said again: "To vary the monotony of my life I received a long letter of advice yesterday from a preacher up in Maine who said if I wrote more like other people and less like myself other people would like me better. [See note p150.1] I have no doubt they would. But where would Walt Whitman come in on that deal?" Just before he left he said: "It's been fine here today: I hate to go: I felt miseble when I came—I feel improved—O much improved. Sometimes I guess its not health I want—only people—the right kind of people—the Harneds, Traubels, Cornings—the right kind of people; who knows?" [See note p150.2] A little less of pallor when he left but not looking hopeful at all. We are concerned.
 
Monday, May 14, 1888.

     In with W. Harned already there. W. in excellent good humor, feeling much better than yesterday, his face ruddy again, his hand warm. [See note p150.3] Sat by the window, in the parlor, in one of the armchairs. Chatted freely, with vigor and expressive gesture. Not out today—weather too uncertain. When he left Harned's yesterday afternoon he took Corning along for a drive. Then home. "At the end I was rather exhausted but I slept very well."

      [See note p150.4] Discussed Stedman's Whitman. W. said: "One of Stedman's ideas seems to be that we need an expurgated Leaves. Well—perhaps we do: but who is the man to expurgate it?""Let him who is without sin cast the first stone!" I said. W. laughed: "Yes, let him expurgate. [See note p150.5] Well—I have heard nothing but expurgate, expurgate, expurgate, from the day I started. Everybody wants to expurgate something—this, that, the other thing. If I accepted all the suggestions there wouldn't be one leaf of the Leaves left—and if I accepted one why shouldn't I accept all? Expurgate, expurgate, expurgate! I've heard that till I'm deaf with it. Who didn't say expurgate? Rossetti

 
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said expurgate and I yielded. Rossetti was honest, I was honest—we both made a mistake. It is damnable and vulgar—the mere suggestion is an outrage. [See note p151.1] Expurgation is apology—yes, surrender—yes, an admission that something or other was wrong. Emerson said expurgate—I said no, no. I have lived to regret my Rossetti yes—I have not lived to regret my Emerson no. Expurgate, expurgate, expurgate—apologize, apologize: get down on your knees.""If you can't walk into popularity on your feet crawl in on your hands and marrows.""That's the point—that's just the point. Did the Rossetti book ever do me any good? [See note p151.2] I am not sure of it: Rossetti's kindness did me good—but as for the rest, I am doubtful." Laughed. "Why, what do you think I personally, selfishly, got out of that edition? Why, just three copies on which I had three dollars duty to pay. I don't blame Rossetti for that—that is only one of the humors of the incident. I was talking of expurgation—of Stedman. Stedman got that—I will not say 'bee'— cockroach into his noddle years ago, years ago—and it stays everlastingly there, stubbornly there, in spite of his honest desire to do me justice. [See note p151.3] I feel it right along that Stedman does wish to do me justice—to put me where I belong—to not set me too high or too low but just right: as a man, face to face, he shows this anxiety: as critic, too, he seems animated by the same instinct. But how much does a man succeed in setting me right, in arriving at my purpose, in getting my measure (yes, my motive) who wants to expurgate me?—to expurgate me? [See note p151.4] Expurgation and justice do not seem to go together: no, they do not. Stedman's great objection to Leaves of Grass on the questioned passages is that it offends against nature—runs counter to the modesty of nature: that Walt Whitman professes to follow the method of nature yet does not observe her restraints. So I must expurgate, expurgate, pick up my skirts and run back to nature: beg nature's pardon and be good hereafter.
 
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The contention reminds me of an incident that occurred in a play in one of the New York theaters in my early days. They were reviving a whole series of old English plays: very good, staple plays: I saw a good many of them. [See note p152.1] Harry Placide was one of the great actors of the time—Placide: spelled P-l-a-c-i-d-e: that's right. There was one play (I forget its name) in which Placide carried along a rather odd scene. A woman of exalted station was on the stage—an elegantly dressed daintily constituted woman. Something happened or was about to happen, I don't know what. Placide with peculiar finesse led her to one of the wings of the stage—his hands touching hers at the tips of the fingers only—so—he bowing with unmistakable respect—and said with a concerned air: 'Not that way, Madame—the cows have been there!' [See note p152.2] It seemed so irresistible; it seemed, and seems, to so illustrate some things, I never forgot it. Now, when they are all crying expurgate, expurgate, expurgate, the story comes back to me: the ghost of Placide comes back—warns me—waves me off: 'Not that way, Walt Whitman—the cows have been there!'"

     W. was silent for a few minutes during which I said nothing. Then he exclaimed: "Horace, take my advice: never take advice!" [See note p152.3] Breaking out into merry laughter: "That sounds like bull, Horace, but it's damned serious. No man who's got anything to do in the world can afford to take advice. Take my word for it—don't take advice!" Rabelais was somehow talked about. [See note p152.4] W. put in: "Some people think I am someway, in some part, Rabelaisian. I do not know where it comes in—just what induces the belief. But after all, I know little of Rabelias—have looked at him, picked him up, but have never given him any close attention. William O'Connor's explanation of Rabelias was, that he became disgusted with the cant of intellect, scholarship, in his time, and went off to his characteristic work as a protest.  [See note p152.5] But people do not agree: I remember another claim pressed upon me for Rabelias in Washington

 
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by somebody—who was it?—I don't think I could say: a higher claim—that his motive was spiritual; not of revolt alone, though that also, but affirmation. [See note p153.1] I don't know where I stand—I suppose I don't take sides."

     W. said, motioning towards Harned: "We have been discussing the cryptogram again.""Do you go in for it?""Well—no, but I read about it with interest if not with pleasure." [See note p153.2] "Are you still against Shaksper?""Yes, still against Shaksper—at least that if not more." Discussed the proposed French translation. "Let them make it—I encourage it: let results take care of themselves: but I do not think the French will take hold of me—that I come within their orbit. [See note p153.3] I am told that Madame Greville had very much the same opinion. She was not adverse to me—she was neither friend nor enemy—she was a cute critic. Another of the great critics there in France—a man—has discussed Leaves of Grass and said (as I thought, profoundly said): 'Without delicacy there can be no literature.' I have thought over that a great deal: it sounds right—I shouldn't wonder but I approved it. [See note p153.4] Yet there is a deeper point involved: what is delicacy?—what constitutes the delicate?"

     W. gave me to mail in Philadelphia (I was about to go over the river) a letter he had written to O'Connor enclosing a Gilchrist note recieved from London today. G. writes describing the fate of his W. W. picture in London—the impression it made on the public and the feeling of artists for and against it. [See note p153.5] W. in some measure amused and some ways evidently nettled. For instance: "Herbert says he is sure he would not like Eakins' picture: all Eakins' methods, he says, are tortuous. What do you take Herbert to mean by that? Tortuous? How?" [See note p153.6] W. argued oppositely: "The Eakins portrait gets there—fulfills its purpose; sets me down in correct style, without feathers—without any fuss of any sort. I like the picture always—it never fades, never weakens. Now, Herbert is determined to

 
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make me the conventional, proper old man: his picture is very benevolent, to be sure: but the Walt Whitman of that picture lacks guts." [See note p154.1] Harned said: "He gave you curls in your beard.""Yes, and more too: much more. You can see what Herbert made of me by the remarks of some of the visitors—two women—who were surprised to find that Walt Whitman was not after all a wild man but a rather tame man—almost a man of the world. But you see how it is. The world insists on having its own way: it don't want a man so much the way he looks as the way it is accustomed to having men look." After considerable conversation in this vein we discussed the question of the ownership of the Eakins picture (half of it Walt's, E. had said), W. remarking with a laugh: "But I'll kick the bucket some day—no doubt very soon now—and then some of these things will be of some value and be sought after." [See note p154.2]

     I asked W. about his projected Hicks volume. Was it all ready for the printer? He responded: "An hour's work would make it so: I have it right here"—rummaging among the papers on the floor with his cane and pulling out a tied package, which he opened, exhibiting a collection of notes, newspaper clippings, completed manuscript pages, &c. He handed me a book. [See note p154.3] "That is Hicks' Journal: it is a rare and precious book now." And said again: "I have here, as you see, about eighty pages of finished manuscript: it is about ready to be turned over to the printer—and this"—turning over some loose scraps—"I call Elias-Hicksiana." The Hicks matter is mostly written with pencil. I examined it. [See note p154.4] "I've got a lot of notes ready for November Boughs—disjointed notes: you had better take them some day—but you are to be extra careful of them—I have no copy of them." Harned asked: Why don't you push November Boughs along? The book ought to get out. Besides, it would mean money to you, and you say you need money." W. threw himself back in his chair and laughed: "What do

 
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I want with money? I have enough." But when I aksed: "Wouldn't it be safer to do the book?" W. grew serious at once and replied: "I know what you mean: you are right—it would be safer done than left straggled about this room—with me dead, maybe, some morning. [See note p155.1] I do feel as if I wanted to get this book issued before I light out." Added after a pause: "The Lippincott fellows have said they would take a bit of the Hicks—a good sized bit if I choose." He then carefully tied up the package again and put it back on the floor.

      [See note p155.2] There is all sorts of debris scattered about—bits of manuscript, letters, newspapers, books. Near by his elbow towards the window a washbasket filled with such stuff. Lady Mount Temple's waistcoat was thrown carelessly on the motley table—a Blake volume was used by him for a footstool: near by a copy of DeKay's poems given by Gilder to Rhys. Various other books. A Dickens under his elbow on the chair. He pushed the books here and there several times this evening in his hunt for particular papers. [See note p155.3] "This," he said once, "is not so much a mess as it looks: you notice that I find most of the things I look for and without much trouble. The disorder is more suspected than real."

 
Tuesday, May 15, 1888.

     Harned present. W., speaking of the Gilchrist-Eakins portraits, said they excited in him some remembrance of two Napoleonic pictures. [See note p155.4] "An actor who had no faith in the real, the tangible, in life, portrayed by Napoleon crossing the Alps on a noble charger, uniformed, decorated, having altogether a hell of a time" (W. indicating its grandiose spirit by half rising from his chair and throwing up his right hand as though it held a sword). "Delaroche, not satisfied with such a conception, took the trouble to investigate the case—to get at the bottom facts. What did he find? Why, just this: that Napoleon rode on a mule—that

 
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the mule was led by an old peasant—that the journey was hard, the manner humble—that the formal-picturesque nowhere got into it. [See note p156.1] This don't mean that it was less picturesque—it means that it was more—much more—picturesque: but the artists, many of them, won't have it that way. Well, Herbert painted me—you saw how: was it a success? Don't make me say what I think about that. I love Herbert too much. Then Tom Eakins came along and found Walt Whitman riding a mule led by a peasant."

      [See note p156.2] Brinton had said to W.: "You give us no consistent philosophy." W. replied: "I guess I don't—I should not desire to do so." I put in: "Plenty of philosophy but not a philosophy." To which W. answered: "That's better—that's more the idea." W. again: "Stedman thinks I should be happy to have my Lincoln poem classed with Lowell's ode. [See note p156.3] I am happy, of course—am bound to be happy—but not for the reason Stedman cites, I can assure you: and yet I do not myself consider the Lincoln poem the best of them." Brinton said: "Chanting the Square Deific is an immortal poem: I sometimes think it is the most subtle and profound thing you have written." [See note p156.4] W. said as to that: "Many of my friends have agreed with you, Doctor, about that. It would be hard to give the idea mathematical expression: the idea of spiritual equity—of spiritual substance: the four-square entity—the north, south, east, west of the constituted universe (even the soul universe)—the four sides as sustaining the universe (the supernatural something): this is not the poem but the idea back of the poem or below the poem. I am lame enough trying to explain it in other words—the idea seems to fit its own words better than mine. You see, at the time the poem wrote itself: now I am trying to write it." [See note p156.5] Referring to Passage to India: "There's more of me, the essential ultimate me, in that than in any of the poems. There is no philosophy, consistent or inconsistent, in that poem—there Brinton would be right—

 
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but the burden of it is evolution—the one thing escaping the other—the unfolding of cosmic purposes."

     W. has never read Buckle's History of Civilization. [See note p157.1] Quizzed Harned. "Tell me what it is all about. It always seemed to me so formidable: I never seemed to have the courage to attack it." Laughing: "You see conscience makes some people cowards. I don't have much bother with my conscience. But books—well, books make a coward of me." [See note p157.2] Again: "I have something of Shelley's distaste for history—so much of it is cruel, so much of it is lie. I am waiting for the historians who will tell the truth about the people—about the nobility of the people: the essential soundness of the common man. There are always—there have been always—a thousand good deeds that we say nothing about for every bad deed that we fuss over. [See note p157.3] Think of the things in everyday life—we see them everywhere—that never are exploited in print. Nobody hunts them up—nobody puts them into a story. But let one base thing happen and all the reporters of all the papers are on the spot in a minute. That don't seem to give goodness a fair deal—though I don't know: maybe goodness don't need a fair deal—maybe goodness gets along on its own account without the historian." [See note p157.4] Harned asked: "Have you ever had any experiences to shake your faith in humanity?""Never! Never! I trust humanity: its instincts are in the main right: it goes false, it goes true, to its interests, but in the long run it makes advances. [See note p157.5] Humanity always has to provide for the present moment as well as for the future: that is a tangle, however you look at it. Why wonder, then, that humanity falls down every now and then? [See note p157.6] There's one thing we have to remember—that the race is not free (free of its own ignorance)—is hardly in a position to do the best for itself: when we get a real democracy, as we will by and bye, this humanity will have its chance—give a fuller report of itself."

 
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     W. spoke of Sidney Morse. "Sidney, so much of Sidney, is abortive—he don't get anywhere: he is a child of ennui: a child—true, sweet, persuasive—has a beautiful personality: is never discouraged: things go wrong: he falls and picks himself up again. [See note p158.1] Sidney lacks altogether the world faculty—the power to turn the world to his uses. I don't feel sure—we shouldn't complain: perhaps it is better he should be as we find him. It is half tragic—the life he leads: the starts made—the ends that never come." Harned said: "You seem extra serious, Walt. You are not feeling sick?""No, not at all. As to serious—perhaps I am: I get news some days—bad news, good news: news that sets me up, throws me down: I get only serious, however, never despondent." He did not specify. Stopped there. W. today gave me a Carpenter letter, saying of it: "It is beautiful, like a confession: it was one of Carpenter's first letters. [See note p158.2] I seem to get very near to his heart and he to mine in that letter: it has a place in our personal history—an important place. Carpenter was never more thoroughly Carpenter than just there, in that tender mood of self-examination. Introspection! I am afraid of it, generally: just enough of it is good, too much of it is disease: most people don't stop with just enough. Carpenter is a thoroughly wholesome man—alive, clean, from head to foot." Carpenter's letter was addressed to W. at Washington and forwarded to Camden.


Trinity Hall, Cambridge, England, 12 July, 1874.


My dear friend

     —It is just dawn, but there is light enough to write by, and the birds in their old sweet fashion are chirping in the little College garden outside. [See note p158.3] My first knowledge of you is all entangled with that little garden. But that was six years ago; so you must not mind me writing to you now because you understand, as I understand, that I am not drunk with new wine.

     My chief reason for writing (so I put it to myself) is that

 
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I can't help wishing you should know that there are many here in England to whom your writings have been as the waking up to a new day. [See note p159.1] I dare say you do not care, particularly, how your writings, as such, are accepted; but I know that you do care that those thoughts you weary not to proclaim should be seized upon by others over the world and become the central point of their lives, and that something even transcending all thought should knit together us in England and you in America by ties closer than thought and life itself. When I say 'many' of course I do not mean a multitude (I wish I did) but many individuals—each, himself (or herself, for they are mostly women—fluid, courageous and tender) the centre of a new influence. [See note p159.2] All that you have said, the thoughts that you have given us, are vital—they will grow—that is certain. You cannot know anything better than that you have spoken the word which is on the lips of God today. And here, though dimly, I think I see the new, open, life which is to come; the spirit moving backwards and forwards beneath the old forms—strengthening and reshaping the foundations before it alters the superstructure: the growth is organic too here I believe, but the flower is very very far and we do not dare to think even what it will be like. There is no hope, almost none, from English respectability. Money eats into it, to the core. The Church is effete. At school the sin which cannot be forgiven is a false quantity. [See note p159.3] The men are blindly material; even—to the most intellecutal—Art and the desire for something like religion are only known as an emotional sense of pain. Yet the women will save us. I wish I could tell you what is being done by them—everywhere—in private and in public. The artisans too are shaping themselves. [See note p159.4] While Society is capering and grimacing over their heads they are slowly coming to know their minds; and exactly as they come to know their minds they come to the sense of power to fulfil them: and sweet will the day be when the toys are
 
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wrested from the hands of children and they too have to become men.

     You hardly know, I think, in America (where the life, though as yet material, is so intense) what the relief is here to turn from the languid inanity of the well-fed to the clean hard lines of the workman's face. [See note p160.1] Yesterday there came (to mend my door) a young workman with the old divine light in his eyes—even I call it old though I am not thirty—and perhaps, more than all, he has made me write to you.

     Because you have, as it were, given me a ground for the love of men I thank you continually in my heart. (—And others thank you though they do not say so.) For you have made men to be not ashamed of the noblest instinct of their nature. Women are beautiful; but, to some, there is that which passes the love of women.

      [See note p160.2] It is enough to live wherever the divine beauty of love may flash on men; but indeed its real and enduring light seems infinitely far from us in this our day. Between the splendid dawn of Greek civilization and the high universal noon of Democracy there is a strange horror of darkness on us. We look face to face upon each other, but we do not know. At the last, it is enough to know that the longed-for realization is possible—will be, has been, is even now somewhere—even though we find it not. The pain of disappointment is, somewhere, the joy of fruition. Perhaps it will be, in time, with you in the New as with us in the Old world. [See note p160.3] Slowly—I think—the fetters are falling from men's feet, the cramps and crazes of the old superstitions are relaxing, the idiotic ignorance of the class contempt is dissipating. If men shall learn to accept one another simply and without complaint, if they shall cease to regard themselves because the emptiness of vanity is filled up with love, and yet shall honor the free, immeasurable gift of their own personality, delight in it and bask in it without false shames and affectations—then your work will be accomplished: and men

 
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for the first time will know of what happiness they are capable.

     Dear friend, you are older and wiser than me and can accept all that I have said, with a smile perhaps, but without any ill will. It is a pleasure to me to write to you, for there are many things which I find it hard to say to any one here. And for my sake you must not mind reading what I have written.

     As to myself, I was in orders; but I have given that up—utterly. [See note p161.1] It was no good. Nor does the University do: there is nothing vital in it. Now I am going away to lecture to working men and women in the North. They at least desire to lay hold of something with a real grasp. And I can give something of mathematics and science. It may be of no use, but I shall see.

     You I suppose I shall not see. Yet if anyone should come from your side to England—this address will always find me. There are many who, if their pens were here, would send greetings to you across the sea.

     Farewell: wherever the most common desires and dreams of daily life are—wherever the beloved apposition is, of hand to hand, of soul to soul—I sometimes think to meet you.

     I have finished this at night. All is silent again; and as at first I am yours


Edward Carpenter.


 
Wednesday, May 16, 1888.

     Evening. [See note p161.2] W. at home. Lying on the sofa in the parlor and complaining of ill health—of being "constipated, listless"—and saying: "My blood is so sluggish—my pulse is so low." Then: "But what's the use growling? Everything don't come my way but lots of things do." Talked for a long time recumbent. Then sat up and faced me. [See note p161.3] "Rhys was here yesterday and the day before: he has now gone to New York. He intends to take in Niagara—then go

 
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over to Canada, spending a few days with Dr. Bucke—then home. He had at first intended not going to Niagara but he finally made up his mind to this: that he would not dare to return to England without having seen both Walt Whitman and Niagara. [See note p162.1] 'After I have seen Niagara, after having seen you,' Rhys said, 'I can fairly say I have been to America to some purpose.' That's what he says. He came up from Washington. What do you think? You couldn't guess. He never called on or saw O'Connor. I was amazed when he told me—it seemed such a woful omission: twenty thousand Niagaras would not make up to me for one O'Connor. [See note p162.2]

     Rhys had said to W.: "Since seeing America and seeing you many things in Leaves of Grass which formerly puzzled me are made plain." W. responded: "I shouldn't wonder. That book has an amazing elusiveness: I am still looking for some of its meanings myself." He laughed. [See note p162.3] "I don't wonder Rhys don't give himself airs about the book: the book, indeed, makes us all humble." Again of Rhys: "Just now his great point is to get along—to make a living—and at that I think he has a hard tug. He always has to think of it: he is as poor as any of us—you know that means a great deal. His first lecture in Boston was given the night of the blizzard—did not return the hall money. [See note p162.4] But people there were hospitable—they boosted him on afterwards: made up for the hard night in a hundred ways. By the way, you mustn't suppose Rhys swallows me whole: he takes me with lots of allowance—chokes over me, gags a little: I am not easy to him. Why, Rhys thinks the 'lilt' is indispensable to poetry—he says I haven't got it—therefore: well, you know that therefore: you have heard it before in connection with Walt Whitman. [See note p162.5] Well, I wanted to get into a dispute with Rhys on that point, merely to understand his grounds for it, but there was no opportunity—I was loath to insist upon my argument. Now he has gone—

 
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I shall never see him again.""You never were disputatious. Why did you want this fight?""Only to get the truth threshed out. [See note p163.1] I knew he had good reasons for his attitude: I wanted to learn them—I like to get at the fellows who oppose me—have them explain themselves.""But you and Rhys do very little fighting?""Very little—very little. Do you ever know me to do any fighting? A kind of love passage—that's my sort of fight. But let me tell you a little more about Rhys. He is very interesting to me. We talked of the poetic lilt. Rhys insists on it: insists on it, come good or bad. Well—the lilt is all right: yes, right enough: but there's something anterior—more imperative. [See note p163.2] The first thing necessary is the thought—the rest may follow if it chooses—may play its part—but must not be too much sought after. The two things being equal I should prefer to have the lilt present with the idea, but if I got down my thought and the rhythm was not there I should not work to secure it. I am very deliberate—I take a good deal of trouble with words: yes, a good deal: but what I am after is the content not the music of words. [See note p163.3] Perhaps the music happens—it does no harm: I do not go in search of it. Two centuries back or so much of the poetry passed from lip to lip—was oral: was literally made to be sung: then the lilt, the formal rhythm, may have been necessary. The case is now somewhat changed: now, when the poetic work in literature is more than nineteen-twentieths of it by print, the simply tonal aids are not so necessary, or, if necessary, have considerably shifted their character."

     Frothingham had somewhere said that Shakespeare "lacked the religious as distinguished from the poetic faculty." [See note p163.4] W. said: "That seems to me to be profoundly true. The highest poetic expression demands a certain element of the religious—indeed, should be transfused with it. Frothingham has hit upon the truth: scholars will not, dare not, admit it, but it is the truth. The time will come when

 
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Shakespeare will be given his right place—will be put on a low shelf, as the esthetic-heroic among poets, lacking both in the democratic and spiritual: a master, sure enough: yes, a master: but subject to severe deductions. [See note p164.1] People don't dare face the fact Shakespeare. They are all tied to a fiction that is called Shakespeare—a Shakespearean illusion. This is the idea in substance that I tried to exploit in The Critic: tried, I say (I reckon I didn't say the thing in the best style). I never have regarded Shakespeare as the heroic-heroic, which is the greatest development of the spirit: I call the heroic-heroic men the greatest men: Shakespeare is rather the poet oflords and ladies and their side of life. [See note p164.2] Even the Greeks were a little tinged with the same quality. It's very difficult to talk about Shakespeare in a frank vein: there's always somebody about with a terrific prejudice to howl you down."

      [See note p164.3] I asked W. about November Boughs. He replied: "The book will be about one quarter verse—the pieces (the heres and theres) of the last three or four years: the rest of the book will be scraps—little papers from different places: a bit of this, a bit of that, a bit of something else. I have kept all the material carefully together: I can't hurry—it's not in me to hurry: yet I'm anxious to get the book out. Some day I'll die—maybe surprise you all by a sudden disappearance: then where'll my book be? That's the one thing that excites me: most authors have the same dread—the dread that something or other essential that they have written may somehow become side-tracked, lost—lost forever." [See note p164.4] DeKay was referred to—his Nimrod, given to Rhys by Gilder and left by Rhys for W. to read. W.: "Rhys took it along with him yesterday." Had he read the book? "No indeed: but I probably read more of it than you would read if you took it up: I am more trained in patience than you are." He laughed. "It is a hideous mess—I cannot think of it except in connection with so much

 
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medicine." But "Stedman has always adhered to DeKay and Winter," he added, "especially to Winter—Winter, who, all in all, is about the weakest of the whole New York lot." [See note p165.1] Winter's English book of travels was mentioned. "Yes," said W., "He is always on his marrowbones to something or somebody—especially if that thing or that body is English. There is some stuff in some of the fellows in that New York crowd but in DeKay and Winter, in some others, there is absolutely nothing whatever. [See note p165.2] There's Stoddard, even, who might have blazed out a path for himself but who has chosen rather to spend his whole life in routine: and now he is gray, old, past retrieving. Stoddard's early work was most of it good—not giantesque but above the average: he immediately commenced to deteriorate and has continued to lose ground ever since. [See note p165.3] Our young men have a sneaking hunger for loaves and fishes: they look for fat berths—get them: settle down: they are under orders—they are to obey, obey: and so they succeed in destroying all their individuality. I have met George Edgar Montgomery, a young man who originally promised much: who went to The Times, became dramatic critic—worked hard, hard like a slave. [See note p165.4] He is perhaps another fine spirit destined for sacrifice—destined to the grind, the terrific strain, incident to metropolitan journalism."

      [See note p165.5] W. talked of Kennedy's Whitman [not published until 1896]. "He of course attaches more importance to it than I do—naturally does. I have seen some chapters of the book—I have helped him straighten out some biographical kinks—dates and the like: but that is all. As to the book—the whole: well, I don't know. [See note p165.6] I am a slow arriver: I get there but I always come in last. I will only come at an opinion of the book by waiting—very patient waiting. I read a book in which I have a special interest three times or more—once to get its capital feat-

 
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ures—then after some delay I go at it again—this time for its atmosphere, spirit, and so on: that's reading number two, remember: then comes number three: I read finally for conclusions. [See note p166.1] As to Sloane—well, he ought to be able to do something worth while: he's full of telling stuff: full of it: always, however, in a slightly disarranged, chaotic condition. Kennedy just misses being""Being Kennedy!" I put in. "That's just the word: being Kennedy: just misses being Kennedy. Some day he may get himself all together—then he'll do work his own size."

      [See note p166.2] Referring to Swinburne W. said: "He is always the extremist—always all pro or all con: always hates altogether or loves altogether: as the boys say, he goes the whole hog or nothing: he knows no medium line.""When he loved you he loved you too much. Now he hates you he loves you too little.""I suppose that's so: I don't know what I deserve or what I don't deserve. Tom said the other day: 'Swinburne either insults you or hugs you—he knows nothing between': that's just the point—yet that 'between' something or other is more worth while than all the rest."

      [See note p166.3] W. asked me: "You worked a long time ago in a print shop, didn't you?""Yes, for four years.""Good! good! that's better than so many years at the university: there is an indispensible something gathered from such an experience: it lasts out life. After all the best things escape, skip, the universities." W. again: "There was a kind of labor agitator here today—a socialist, or something like that: young, a rather beautiful boy—full of enthusiasms: the finest type of the man in earnest about himself and about life. [See note p166.4] I was sorry to see him come: I am somehow afraid of agitators, though I believe in agitation: but I was more sorry to see him go than come. Some people are so much sunlight to the square inch. I am still bathing in the cheer he radiated. O he was a beautiful, beautiful boy!""What

 
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was his name? Where did he come from?""I could not catch the name—he was from the west. [See note p167.1] He said he just came in to say 'how d'ye do' and go again: that he was sure Leaves of Grass would do more for the new dispensation than anything else he knew. I don't see how anything could do more for the new dispensation than such a boy himself. Horace—he had your blue eyes: there was a flavor of the German in him: he said he was the son of an emigrant. [See note p167.2] Well—you might crowd this room with emperors and they would only be in the way, but that boy—O he was a beautiful boy—a wonderful daybeam: I shall probably never see his face again—yet he left something here with me that I can never quite lose. Cheer! cheer! Is there anything better in this world anywhere than cheer—just cheer? Any religion better?—any art? Just cheer!"
 
Thursday, May 17, 1888.

     W. talked of Rhys again. "He made some kick or other against Kennedy: they don't seem to have got along well together: I don't suppose it was anybody's fault. I can take no sides in such a quarrel: I consign Kennedy to Rhys and Rhys to Kennedy—let them finish their fight together. [See note p167.3] Rhys complained of the nervousness of Kennedy and his wife—seemed to think it was alarming: I suppose Rhys got it all in the wrong perspective. That nervousness is constitutional: they have it—God knows! On the other hand I can see how Kennedy must have been irritated by Rhys' stolid ways. Kennedy is a proof reader with Houghton, Mifflin & Co.—works thirteen or fourteen hours a day—for poor pay, no doubt: his wife does the same sort of work for the Christian something or other. [See note p167.4] It's not a business to quiet the nerves—especially such nerves as Kennedy had to start with. It is poor work for Sloane to be doing—poor work: it breaks him down for anything else. It seems inevitable that two men like Rhys and Kennedy should fall

 
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out: you couldn't get 'em to fit nohow. Kennedy will hardly fit anything but a chestnut burr. [See note p168.1] Don't it seem to you all Kennedy's crosspatch qualities are on the outside? If a man will have patience to get through his skin he'll find a Kennedy he will forgive and love."

     W. advised me to "go and get acquainted with Dave McKay." He described McKay. "Dave is a canny Scotchman—thick-set, bluff, bustling, businessy—in a few ways of the Tom Harned style. Dave always knows how to keep to the windward of things. [See note p168.2] Some of my friends say, 'Watch Dave.' I do watch him, but not because I do not think him square. Dave knows how to butter his bread, to be sure: that is trade—trade will be trade any time: I have found Dave shrewd but at all times scrupulous. Authors always growl about publishers, probably with a good deal of reason, too: but I don't know as the publisher is any different from the shirtman or the shoemaker or anybody else with goods to sell. [See note p168.3] All the little inhuman trickeries current are referred back to business. Now there's John Burroughs—you ought to hear what he has to say about publishers: it'd make your hair stand on end. Why, John actually gets violent on the subject. The author is generally in the hands of the publisher. I try not to be. Emerson was very shrewd in this particular—very shrewd: he owned his own plates and always himself ordered the copies struck off when they were needed. When Emerson published Carlyle over here he protected Carlyle in the same way—yes, even attended to Louisa Alcott's affairs until Louisa grew up, when she was found to be more than able to defend the family interests singlehanded. [See note p168.4] An author ought to own his own plates—ought to alienate nothing from himself. I own the plates of Leaves of Grass—have ever been considering the propriety of buying the prose plates. Sherman, on Seventh Street, made these. Nobody cares a damn for the prose—it has the greatest battle simply to keep alive—

 
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the greatest. Dave is now producing a volume of extracts from the Leaves arranged by Elizabeth Porter Gould: a birthday book: I had a letter here today from her. [See note p169.1] She described a meeting of the Home Club in Boston the other evening at which a Mrs. Spaulding, together with Miss Gould, took up the defence of the Leaves against violent antagonism. This story contradicts Stedman's idea that my friends are in error when they contend that the Leaves are not everywhere hospitably recieved. It is indeed a favorite idea of Stedman's that American literary men are misjudged in that particular—that after all they love us instead of hating us: that if they knock us down it only means again that they love us. Stedman is way off on that—way off. Kennedy wrote me a while ago on this very matter: I have used the letter somewhere, I think, in writing on the subject. [See note p169.2] Kennedy said: 'Everywhere I go I meet with a solid phalanx of dissent'—or something of that tenor. Professor Gilman, however, declares that this is not true—he rather favors the Stedman notion."

     Someone asked W. why he was not received in The Atlantic? "How should I know? They will have none of me. I have met Aldrich—used to in New York, at the beershop—indeed, have met Howells often enough. [See note p169.3] They are friendly in all personal ways, of course. But when I was in Boston, although Aldrich called on me—and O'Reilly, who is my ardent friend (noble O'Reilly!), went several times to see him and induce him to invite me to contribute to the magazine—he made no tenders of literary hospitality: he was dead still and let me go." Had he ever tried them with verses? "Yes, years ago, with Elemental Drifts, for instance, which they published—and some others, I believe. [See note p169.4] Don't think I blame 'em—feel anyway hard about all this: it all belongs to the story—I always take what comes: kicks, blessings, anything. No man of that stripe could accept me on the whole—could

 
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say 'yes' without a touch of 'no.' Take Stedman. He is as warm as any: a splendid, openhanded, openminded fellow: I think Stedman likes me as a critter. [See note p170.1] He has been in Washington,—where he knew the O'Connors—is familiar with my hospital and other experiences—is generous, cordial, conciliatory. He likes me, as I say (or believe) as a critter—a human being—my build, port, practice: this perhaps more or less without qualification. But when it comes to my books he shies some—they are more or less suspected. Stedman may be right—the books may be wrong—I am not taking sides: I am only describing a situation. [See note p170.2] Stedman has a wife—a superb woman: her friendly disposition towards me has always been in evidence. Her influence on my side has perhaps helped some to save me with Stedman. Gilder is much the same as Stedman: is friendly, listens to me, admits my measure—yet looks with distrust on all the claims of my friends, especially at the fund from abroad, of which he said once to Talcott Willaims or Tom Donaldson: 'That galls me—I can't get over it!'"

      [See note p170.3] W. naturally diverted to Lanier. "The recent published adverse reference to me from Lanier as reported in the Memorial volume was objected to by his wife, I am told, on the ground of its unfairness, not only to me but to Lanier, since other things said by Lanier about me, reflecting a more favorable mood, should also have been given. [See note p170.4] I know nothing about that myself and care less. I had several letters from Lanier—very warm letters. One of them is still about here somewhere: I want you to have it some day: the severely critical paragraphs in the book were therefore rather a surprise to me. I suppose we will both survive the anomaly. [See note p170.5] Lanier was tragic in life and death. He had the soul of the musician—was a flute player: indeed, in the accounts, was phenomenally fine. This extreme sense of the melodic, a virtue in itself, when carried into

 
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the art of the writer becomes a fault. Why? Why, because it tends to place the first emphasis on tone, sound—on the lilt, as Rhys so often puts it. [See note p171.1] Study Lanier's choice of words—they are too often fit rather for sound than for sense. His ear was over-sensitive. He had a genius—a delicate, clairvoyant genius: but this over-tuning of the ear, this extreme deference paid to oral nicety, reduced the majesty, the solid worth, of his rhythms."

     W. kissed me good night. [See note p171.2] He said: "We are growing near together.That's all there is in life for people—just to grow near together." I was almost at the door. He laughingly called my name. I stopped. "I have a copy of DeKay's Nimrod, Horace: they sent it to me: it's quite a handsome book printerially speaking: you are a typo: I'll hunt it up and give it to you: you may take it away and keep it forever!""Shouldn't I read the book, too?" [See note p171.3] "If you read it you read it on your own responsibility. I advise you to study its mechanics: that's where my advice ends. Do anything you please with the book only don't bring it back!"

 
Friday, May 18, 1888.

     Mailed postal card for W. addressed to Mrs. Costelloe, London. Also package of papers for O'Connor and a McKay L. of G. to Griffin, France. W. gave me a letter of introduction to McKay. "Dave is not exactly your kind, but he is a kind you will like."


328 Mickle Street, Camden Ev'g May 17, '88


Dear D. McK—

      [See note p171.4] The bearer Horace Traubel is a valued young personal Camden friend of mine—American born, German stock—whom I wish to introduce to you with the best recommendations—He is of liberal tendencies and familiar with printing office matters and the run of books.


Walt Whitman.

 
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     Talked of Pearsall Smith. Smith is about to go to London and insists that he has two rooms in his house there retained unoccupied for Walt. [See note p172.1] "Of course this is all a dream,"says W., alluding to it—"one of Smith's dreams. But then dreams don't hurt.""Sometimes you can eat dreams when you can't eat food," I suggested. "How true that is, Horace," W. said: "How true! How true! How many's the time I've just lived for days and days practically on my affections alone—the sight of my friends, the sky: thinking life away from, outside, all appetites." [See note p172.2] Then he went on to talk about Smith. "Pearsall was always very kind to me—very kind. I used to visit them in their Arch Street house: they always treated me with peculiar consideration—made the home so much mine, its servants so much at my beck and call if I had wished it. The house could not have been more mine if I had owned it—the overflowing table, which contained about everything but a tipple (you know the Smiths were opposed to all tippling)—yes, everything but the tipple, which, by the way, some of us would now and then slip out and get round the corner. [See note p172.3] Mrs. Smith—Hannah—and I never hitched: she is very evangelical: she takes her doctrine, if she don't take her whiskey, very straight: the sort of get under my feet religion which gives hell out to the crowd and saves heaven for the few. [See note p172.4] Well—I didn't agree very well with Hannah—still, there was no demonstration. Pearsall himself, though once a missionary or something or other of that useless sort, is now agnostic—a man more or less of the world—fond of horses, good living, believing in goods—yet seeing more, too, than that. It was Smith who helped me to New York last year—arranged for the reception at the Westminster—got a suite or parlors at what must have been great expense—making this splurge in the face of my protest: arranging everything, however, with a certain grace and generosity that touched me. [See note p172.5] The reception, as you know, was a thing of which

 
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I didn't approve; first and last I opposed it—tried to beg off. Smith has two admirable daughters—I have a real affection for them—for their unusual qualities. [See note p173.1] When they went to London I broke an iron rule of my life, not to give letters of introduction to foreigners. I wrote to Tennyson in their behalf: they went and delivered the letter and spent a precious afternoon with Tennyson as a result. [See note p173.2] Well—I ought to like the Smiths even if they ought not to like me."

     W. spoke about prejudices against himself. "Sometimes they assume amusing forms. A few years ago the Association Hall Managers over in Philadelphia refused me the use of their public hall for a lecture on Elias Hicks on the ground that he did not believe in Atonement. [See note p173.3] On the face of it that seems like bigotry: it may be bigotry, but it is also consistency. I do not blame them. [See note p173.4] Such stuff as now passes for Christianity is liable to lead a man into any extreme of persecution—honestly lead him. I am against the whole business. I really think the Y.M.C.A. objection was not to Hicks but to me."

     Harned asked W. what he thought of the decision of Vice-Chancellor Bird on the George case. A man named Hutchings, of Camden County, left some money to George for the propagation of the idea of the Single Tax. [See note p173.5] The family fought the will. Bird decided for the family on the ground that his social doctrines contravened the law of the land. W. said: "The decision is vile—at least from the moral, abstract, point of view. There may be some legal warrant for Bird's decision, though I doubt it: but if there is any law back of Bird the sooner we kick it pot and kettle overboard the better for us all, even for Bird. [See note p173.6] Suppose we substitute Rabelais for George—would Rabelais meet with the same fate? I am always concerned over any interference with the expression of opinion: I want the utmost freedom—even the utmost license—rather than any censorship:

 
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censorship is always ignorant, always bad: whether the censor is a man of virtue or a hypocrite seems to make no difference: the evil is always evil. [See note p174.1] Under any responsible social order decency will always take care of itself. I've suffered enough myself from the censors to know the facts at first hand."

     W. said: "I had a letter of advice, advice, from Bucke today. I love Bucke enough, God knows, but I am as afraid of Bucke's advice as anybody's. [See note p174.2] And you, Horace: listen to this: Take one more piece of advice and then stop.""What piece?""Never take advice!" W. laughed heartily. "I am pursued, pursued, by advisers—advisers. They love me, they hate me—but they advise, advise! What would become of me if I listened to them? I am deaf to them all—deaf—deaf. The more they yell, the deafer I become. [See note p174.3] Why, I never move a step, write a word, that somebody don't object to: the thing that one likes another don't—the thing another likes one don't: it is God bless you for this or that, or God damn you for this or that. A fellow might easily be lost in the confusion: he's got no business to hear any of it: he's to hear only himself—that's his whole conern."

      [See note p174.4] Discussed good and bad men. Harned seemed to be in a sceptical mood. W. protested: "He's got it all, Tom—not only the cruel, beastly, hoggish, cheating, bedbug qualities, but also the spiritual—the noble—the high-born." Harned said: "Democracy, while abstractly right, is a hard doctrine to practise." W. shook his head: "I do not find it so." H.: "But you are rather an exceptional man." [See note p174.5] W. would not have that. "That is not the explanation, Tom. Democracy is the thing for us—for America: that's what we're here for—individuals, all of us: yes, and these States. America will not dare to be false to its promised democracy. We're heaping up money here in a few hands at a great rate—but our men? What's becoming of our

 
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men in the meantime? We can lose all the money and start again—but if we lose the men? Well, that would be disaster. But I have no fears. [See note p175.1] We will have our troubles getting on, but the end, the victory, is sure. I should feel like warning the moneyed powers in America that threaten to stand in the way: history will deal in a very drastic fashion with opposition like that should it become too stubborn." I related a couple of recent night experiences on the street. W. said: "That all goes to corroborate my argument—it confirms my own experiences—my own excursions everywhere among what we call the common people, even in rather notoriously criminal circles. You have heard what Horace says, Tom? [See note p175.2] He goes everywhere—he has never had any sort of encounter with anybody. That was exactly my case. It is the respect men pay to a young man who goes quietly about without the spirit of bravado observing, sharing, absorbing, the general life. I must insist upon the masses, Tom—they are our best, they are preservative: I insist upon their integrity as whole—not, of course, denying or excusing what is bad. Arnold is all wrong on that point: it is good, not bad, that is common. The older I grow the more I am confirmed in what I have done— in my earliest faith—the more I am confirmed in my optimism, my democracy."

     Harned made some allusion to Seward. W. took the name up. [See note p175.3] "I once heard a great speech from Seward—one of the greatest speeches, if not the greatest speech, I have ever heard. It was in Washington, in a negro case—a brutal, degraded specimen, with no more sense than a horse, or not as much. Seward made the case a race case: his appeal was a masterpiece in itself—yes, successful, too—though the man was undoubtably guilty." [See note p175.4]

     W. spoke of editions of Leaves of Grass. "The book no longer contains errors worth talking about—a few in spellings or words, but none that are damaging. I had three sets of

 
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proofs of the Osgood edition, and still a number of mistakes crept, or stayed, in. Books are like men—the best of them have flaws. [See note p176.1] Thank God for the flaws!" I said: "If it wasn't for the flaws love would be impossible!" W. looked at me a spell. Then he said: "That sounds startling. Say it again." I repeated it. W. was slow to speak. Then he pushed his fingers down upon the arm of his chair: "Horace, you are right. The idea scared me first. You are right. Tom, Corning, ain't he right?" W. again: "Awhile ago we were talking of Pearsall Smith. [See note p176.2] Pearsall, too, has his contradictions. For all his radicalism he likes the English life—likes to be near the big fellows there—likes to be served—obsequiously served—to get among people who don't consider themselves as good as he is—or a good deal better. But that whole serving business is a stench: it is offensive to me: besides, I believe people who serve you without love get even behind your back." [See note p176.3] W. addressed a question to Harned. "Horace contends that half of Shakespeare's greatness is in his reader—half at least—or Homer's—or any man's who writes or sings or what not. That is a favorite idea of his and it's a striking one, if not absolutely, literally, true—or perhaps it is even that. But what do you think of it, Tom? And you, Corning?" Corning said something to W. about the hospitality of the Harneds, W. assenting. "Yes indeed, they spoil me: it has come to be with me an essential point: I get to expecting it. I am greedy—never satisfied: their house is an oasis in my domestic desert." [See note p176.4] Harned broke in: "Don't put it on too thick, Walt." W. laughed. "Don't get conceited, Tom: that's not meant for you—that's meant for Mrs. and the children and the cook!"
 
Saturday, May 19, 1888.

     W. complained of his health. "I have been sicker the last four or five days than ever before." W. recieved a letter from O'Connor today—read it to us. Harned and

 
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Corning present. W. said. "It does a fellow good to receive such notes: William is always so breezy, so cute. [See note p177.1] He is better than the best medicine. By the way, Horace, here is an old letter of William's I have saved for you." Reached toward the little shelf at the window sill. "It is dated 1884—I guess it's almost all about the Bacon business: he says he could prove it if he only had time." This excited Corning to laughter. "He'd need a good deal of time," said Corning. This sally aroused W. who at once retorted: "I don't know about that—it's pretty well proved now!" [See note p177.2] Harned remarked "Walt, I never knew you to go as far as that before.""I don't believe you did. It was Corning's fault. What I mean is this—that William is a great scholar—has the whole business in his fingers—can reel off irrefutable arguments by the yard—is wonderfully equipped for the fight. I don't think any man living can stand up against him in that argument: I'd rather run than try it myself, I can tell you." This is O'Connor's letter:

Washington, D.C., October 2, 1884.


Dear Walt:

     I got yours of the 29th ultimo, with the slip from The Critic. [See note p177.3] It is a magnificent compliment, and was inexpressibly comforting. John Burroughs told me when he was here, and has since written to the same effect, that what I say on the question does not touch him at all, and although one does not mind such things at first, yet gradually, and especially when they are only part of one concurrent voice, they more than half persuade one that he is a visionary jackass, and have a deeply disheartening effect—all the more, I think, when one's convictions on the matter are clear and deep. [See note p177.4]  [See note p177.5] There is nothing more evident to me than what Machiavel in The Prince did for tyranny—i.e. sow death for it by simply showing it up without bias and with perfect candor—Bacon (i.e. Shakespeare) did for feudality. It is the old story of the basilisk—if you see him

 
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first, he dies. In the plays—the historical plays especially—Bacon sees the basilisk in all his nature and proportions.

     I regret I am not free of office life, for I am sure I could make Bacon's part in all this matter so evident that Time would remember it. [See note p178.1] Criticism on Shakespeare has not yet begun, nor can it begin, until the coincidence with the Baconian movement—the divine conspiracy of the Novum Organum against false civilization—is recognized. So far comment on Shakespeare has been merely esthetic. But the relation of that drama to that age—that marvellous "time-bettering age"— that is the main question.

     I am extremely gratified at the reinforcement your article brings. [See note p178.2] In this connection, plese read Coriolanus. The impersonation of the feudal military spirit in the hero is perfect, and there are scenes—notably that of the conference between the tribunes when they plan "to darken him forever"—which are revelations.

     I have an article before the Manhattan which I now hope more than ever they will publish, for it has some things about Bacon I would like you to read.

     There is a noble picture of him, from the painting by Vandyck, in the October Harper. [See note p178.3] Look at it, and ask yourself whether that face belongs to one who was "the meanest of mankind"! Nothing refutes a slander like a good portrait.

     I have been over today to the Surgeon General's office to see about data for you. I know Dr. Huntington, the Acting Surgeon General, very well. I am afraid that the quest will be fruitless. The only matter they have is the Medical and Surgical History of the War, now in process of publication, what you want— i.e. hospital matter—will be in the third volume, and this is now being made up, and will not be ready, unfortunately, for a year. I am sorry. However, I will go down tomorrow to the Medical Museum, (as Dr. Huntington suggested to me), talk with Dr. Wild, the li-

 
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brarian, and see if he can give me anything. [See note p179.1] I fear it is unlikely—the publications being inchoate. You shall hear duly.

     I am crushed with work at present. The weater is simply infernal. I wish you were better, and hope the coming coolness of October will revive you. More anon.


Faithfully,


W. D. O'C.

     (I hope you got the little Hearn book. The thieves' song in the Polynesian story is wonderfully fine.)

     W. saw I was through and remarked: "William is a master: his art is wonderful to me. [See note p179.2] He never writes a letter—even a business letter—without giving it that final touch of art which takes it out of the mass of epistolary writing. William is a constant marvel to me—like the sun each morning, like the stars every night: he nevers grow stale."

      [See note p179.3] W. asked: "Horace, who is the Louise Imogen Guiney who writes so everlastingly in Lippincott's about plagarism? I don't seem to know her at all." Described O'Connor's place in the Signal Service as that of "the one who does all the work for the fellow who wears all the ornaments." Went up stairs, alone, with much effort, to get slip copies of North American Review article, A Memorandum at a Venture, giving one to Corning and one to me. "It is nothing much," he explained, "simply a word or two: but we have often discussed that subject—you will recognize the things I say as familiar friends. [See note p179.4] No one can say too much to set people right on that subject of the nude—of sex."

     A Carol closing Sixty-nine, sent to Lippincott's, not appearing in the current issue, out today (for June), Walt wrote withdrawing it, at the same time sending a copy to The Herald. "It should be printed before my birthday, on the 31st. I do not understand why Walsh did not print

 
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it: I have always considered him friendly to me: yes, friendly: he surely is my friend: he has given all sorts of proof of it. [See note p180.1] But why should anyone try to prove why editors do or do not do things? There is no appeal from the editor: he is a necessary autocrat." W. told us his poem Old Age's lambent Peaks had been accepted and paid for by The Century and "is to appear soon." Then: "I am daily expecting The Century to shut down on me: too much of Walt Whitman won't do anywhere, especially in a magazine more or less Nancyish like The Century." W. showed us slips of the two poems but would give none of them out. [See note p180.2] "I want the poem to appear first. It is a point of honor with me. I would feel free at any time to give away manuscript copies of any of the poems, but somehow object to distributing the printed slips. Curtz makes these slips for me—Henry Curtz. You know him, Horace. He is rather an effete person—seems as if left over from a very remote past: his queer little office, the Washington press, the old faced letters, the wood type, Curtz himself: it's all odd and attractive to me. [See note p180.3] Be good to Curtz—he's the last of his race."

     Corning asked W.: "Do you finally think Emerson did not withdraw his opinion of you?" [See note p180.4] "From books I have read about him—from my talks with him, with his friends—I do not consider that Emerson withdrew that first opinion of Leaves of Grass. Ask Sanborn, ask anyone. I think it will stand. A lot of people are telling what they think and do not know about it, but who has any word in Emerson's own hand to that effect? I do not say I know, but who does know?"

      [See note p180.5] Reference was made to Richard Realf. "I am always interested in Realf: he was an exquisite, delicate spirit: we never met, but I am familiar with his career—with his earlier as well as his later career. His end was sad, tragic—but such cases are frequent: I have known many brilliant

 
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young fellows—in New York, in Washington, here—who went the same way. [See note p181.1] Realf wrote many indisputably beautiful things—he had a winged soul—he soared, soared, soared, then fell bruised to the earth—bruised, dead: dead by his own hand, by God's hand. Well, it is all so mysterious: I do not answer the questions it arouses."

      [See note p181.2] W. expressed regret that O'Connor had not written more. "It is almost tragic to see a man endowed as he is so largely silent—so much of him just fired up and never expressed. A nobler genius never walked the earth. William has a world all his own—a potential world: I used to think he would some day give it birth: but the days pass, the years pass, by and bye William will pass, I am afraid, with the work undone. That damned job in Washington ties him down to a few feet of grass: I ought not to growl at it: it is splendid work: but somehow I resent it—just a little, anyway."

     Griffin's poems have now joined the mass on the floor. But that implies no dishonor—note even disregard. [See note p181.3] For there in the mix-up are many of W.'s own manuscripts—his diary, for instance, which I kicked from one spot to another today, W. laughing over it. W. denotes that stuff as "in a sense so much truck." Harned showed him a portrait of Haweis in Harper's. [See note p181.4] W. said: "Good! that's very like him—he came here just in this sort of evening light. Haweis is the preacher sort: he does not dazzle me." Corning jollied W. "My sort, sort of!" To which W. replied: "Hardly—your sort of preacher is no preacher at all. You are a man before you are a preacher and after you are a preacher: that lets you out. [See note p181.5] As Horace here likes to say, you're so busy being a man you have no time to be a preacher." Corning said: "I am honored, Mr. Whitman: that's the best certificate of character I ever got from anyone." W. smiled and added: "Well, you deserve the diploma, Mr. Corning." I waited just a minute after Corning and Har-

 
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ned had withdrawn, and kissed W. good-night. W. said: "Some night it will be a last kiss—a last good-night—but I hope not just yet—not till the books are done!" [See note p182.1]
 
Sunday, May 20, 1888.

     A Carol closing Sixty-nine in today's Herald. W. said: "The list grows but what's the use of it?" [See note p182.2] Spoke of his health. "I'm going down hill—not hurrying at all, but going." Asked me about John Stuart Mill: "I have just been reading a little squib here that mentioned Mill. Tell me about him. What did he stand for, teach, saliently promulge? I have never read Mill—I know nothing about him but his name." [See note p182.3] I talked for some time, describing Mill. W. frequently broke in on my descriptions to say: "Well, that is beautiful to hear!" When I was through he said: "I see I ought to know Mill—but then, what oughtn't I to know?" I remarked to him: "I hear you were at the Unitarian church last night." He laughed quietly. "Yes—they wanted me to go: Tom particularly wanted me to go: so I went and saw all the pictures." But what of the sermon? "There was not much to it: the audience liked it: the room was crowded." [See note p182.4] But what of W. W. Did he like the sermon? "Not a bit: all preaching is a weariness to me—Corning's as much as any other's. We have the stock phrases in books—the stock canvases in art: well, so we have the stock stupidities in sermons. Corning is all right—the man Corning: I can like him, I do like him: but the Corning in the pulpit last night tried my corns. I am always impatient of the churches—they are not God's own—they rather fly in the face of the real providences."

      [See note p182.5] Ingram came in—an old Quaker who keeps a tea store in Philadelphia. Ingram is a man who frequents the prisons out of a really philanthropic motive which W. respects and with which he co-operates. Ingram brought a message of

 
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love from some Moyamensing prisoners whom W. knew. W. was visibly moved. [See note p183.1] "I have some books and papers to send by you, William," he said. Ingram brought with him a volume of selections from Jean Paul Richter, which he had promised W.: also, Thomson's Seasons, from a prisoner, and Clodd's Childhood of Religions. W. kept the Richter, passed the Thomson volume back without comment, and said with reference to the Clodd: "I see—I see: but I have never allowed myself to drift into such discussions: I have deliberately steered clear of them—of all theological, mystical, waggeries, respectable or not respectable: I am oppressed enough by the fact that men quarrel about their religions (as they do for that matter about their loves, strange to say) to wish to discuss them. Why should I addle the egg?" [See note p183.2] But Clodd was affirmative—not a quarreler: what of that? "Well, perhaps I wrong that particular man: he may be exempt: but I am not mistaken about the thing. [See note p183.3] To any man who thinks—to any man alive to the revelations of modern science—it is an insult to offer the doctrines of the church: it is as if you approached him to say: 'What a damned fool you are, anyway!'" Ingram had also brought W. on a former occasion Winwood Reade's Martyrdom of Man, which W. returned unread, taking care to repeat the fact of his distaste for literature of the polemical sort. "It is pessimistic, is it not?" he asked.  [See note p183.4] In reply to a question W. said he had never read William Morris' Earthly Paradise. "This is not because I do not honor Morris, for I do, but because—well, because. You see, I am not a constitutional reader: I do not apply myself to reading in the usual way. I have read, to be sure—read a good deal since I have been tied up indoors—but after all that has never been the chief thing with me." [See note p183.5]

     W. again: "We all hate the idea of the king, the emperor, but sometimes a good king, emperor, happens, who almost seems to excuse the tribe—just as a minister comes occa-

 
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sionally so good he excuses his tribe—yes, just as Emerson excused the literary tribe, in spite of all their frailties. Take the Emperor Frederick William—I have wished him to live—for years—to live to do his work, which is very important. [See note p184.1] His son is reactionary and dangerous." He talked of his experiences with editors. "Who has had more experience of the nether kind than I have? I think everything that could happen to a rejected author has happened one time or another to me. [See note p184.2] I could tell you some interesting stories. I just thnk of this one. John Swinton came to see me soon after I had settled in Camden—urged me to offer something to Dr. Holland for Scribner's—was very strenuous about it. [See note p184.3] I demurred but John persisted. 'Do it, do it!' he said. 'Why should I do it?—why?' I asked John. He still insisted. 'For certain reasons' he said. I sent a poem, which was rejected—not rejected mildly, noncommitedly, in the customary way, but with a note of the most offensive character. I was sick and blue at the time: the note provoked me: I threw it into the fire. I was always sorry I destroyed it: had I been well I should not have done so: it was a good specimen insult for the historian—for Horace, here, who likes something that piques in his sauce now and then. [See note p184.4] Of course this ended my relations with Holland. I never kenw John's mysterious 'reasons,' either. The Century under Gilder has always accepted my pieces and paid for them. Gilder is quite a different man—noway of the Holland type. Holland is a dead man—there's hardly anything of him left today: he had his strut and is passed on: he was a man of his time, not possessed of the slightest forereach." [See note p184.5] "Back of him everything, before him nothing." I said. "Exactly, exactly: the style of man who is adept in one two three—who can tell the difference between a dime and a fifty cent piece—but is useless for occasions of more serious moment. But Holland was all right: he did his deed in the Holland
 
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way: why should we ask or expect him to do more? Oh, I was talking of the editors. [See note p185.1] The Harpers once accpeted a poem, which induced me to send them others, but five or six were rejected in succession, some of them accompanied on their return with palliating notes: then I saw I was not wanted: I shut the door and withdrew. That was years ago. Latterly I have had verses in the Weekly. [See note p185.2] I never have any fight with the editors—they know what they are about—they know what they want: if they don't want Walt Whitman who can blame them?"
"They don't like to see you loafing around the throne.""That's so: and why should I criticise them for that? I don't blame myself for being Walt Whitman—neither do I blame them for thanking God they are not as I am! [See note p185.3] Some of my friends have quarrelled with the editors but they have never done it with my consent. The fact is I have been about as well received as I expected to be, considering the proposition I set forth in the Leaves, considering the rumpus I made, considering my refusal to play in with the literary gang."

     Ingram left. W. said of him: "He is a man of the Thomas Paine stripe—full of benevolent impulses, of radicalism, of the desire to alleviate the sufferings of the world—especially the sufferings of prisoners in jails, who are his proteges. [See note p185.4] He is single-minded—morally of an austere type: not various enough to be interesting—yet always so noble he must be respected. He is a questioner—a fierce interrogator: I am disturbed by his boisterous questions: rattled by them, as the boys say: I am not fond of being catechized—indeed, rather run from it: I am not fond of questions—any questions, in short, that require answers. [See note p185.5] Ingram plies me with his anti-theological questions—asks, asks, will not stop, let go." Ingram had said to W. about Reade's book: "It will show you how a man who was in got out." [See note p185.6] W. was merry over the matter. "I never was in," he said, "therefore I had no reason to come out. I never read books

 
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that have to do with such controversy, the more to muddy my brain."

      [See note p186.1] W. was hilarious over the Standard's witty assertion that Edward Everett Hale had "ceased being a Christian and had become a protectionist." W. broached the subject of November Boughs. "I have determined at last to start on the book: I shall need to enlist you as my co-worker. I am physically helpless. [See note p186.2] I could not do this work alone: I seem every day to be losing something—some atom of power. Now I feel as if we should commence, before the cloud that seems to threaten me falls—before I am bodily a total wreck—before I get beyond the power to follow my guides—to finish the work I have planned to do. [See note p186.3] I do not seem to lose my mental grip—I have myself that way well in hand: but the other me, the body me, has little to expect for itself in the future. Any day the slender thread may be cut—any day. Horace, we will take the book up and see it through—eh?" He looked out the north window: there was no sorrow in his grave face. Then he turned my way again and added: "November Boughs will probably keep within two hundred pages of printed matter—one quarter of it verse, to be used supplementally in later editions of Leaves of Grass, and to be called Sands at Seventy. [See note p186.4] I am glad you fellows like the title so much. I am well satisfied with my success with titles—with Leaves of Grass, for instance, though some of my friends themselves rather kicked against it at the start—particularly the literary hairsplitters, who rejected it as a species of folly. 'Leaves of Grass,' they said: 'there are no leaves of grass'; there are spears of grass: that's your word, Walt Whitman: spears, spears.' [See note p186.5] But Spears of Grass would not have been the same to me. Etymologically leaves is correct—scientific men use it so. I stuck to leaves, leaves, leaves, until it was able to take care of itself. Now it has got well started on its voyage—it will never be displaced."

 
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     W. stopped a few minutes. Neither of us said anything. Then he resumed: "When you come tomorrow you will probably find I have drawn up plans for the book. [See note p187.1] I am a very slow worker—I take my work easy—but when I get going I am quite steady and accomplish a good deal. This will mean a lot of extra work to you—it will tie you down every day to some routine. Are we to make a regular engagement? I haven't much money but such money as I have I ought to share with you. How can we get this delicate matter into the right shape?""I wouldn't be interested in doing the work for money." [See note p187.2] "It's not hire—it's only a sort of communism: why shouldn't we arrange that amiably together?""The arrangement was made a long time ago before money was mentioned.""What do you mean by that?""I appeal to the original arrangement!" W. looked at me and reached out both his hands: "By God, boy! By God!" He took me in his arms and kissed me and said: "This is a solemn pact to be ratified by love. You have saved my books: I could not do these books without assistance. [See note p187.3] Of all the people I have known or know you are the most fitted to help me just now. You know books, writers, printing office customs—best of all you know me—my ways and what I need to be humored in." As I was passing out the door W. waved his hand to me and cried: "I'm not saying things—but you know, you know! Good-night! Come tomorrow!"

 
Monday, May 21, 1888.

     W. in somewhat depressed mood. [See note p187.4] Physically depressed. He says: "I never get entirely down in the mouth—I do not seem to have any scare in me—but I am wide awake to the fact of my gathering physical disabilities. It don't take an expert weather prophet to see some storms coming." In rather humorous mood, too. For he said: "I have another letter from an adviser today. It's queer how the advisers

 
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spring up everywhere like mushrooms. I used to think God was everywhere. I was wrong: the adviser is everywhere!" [See note p188.1] "I suppose the best thing for you to do would be to throw the Leaves all away and make a new start. You might call your advisers together in a sort of parliament: they could instruct you by resolution: then we could have a new Leaves according to order." W. laughed for him a big laugh. He is a quiet laugher as a rule. "That's a striking idea—I can see the solemn assemblage—the big crowd of delegates. [See note p188.2] Call Walt Whitman to the bar! Here you, Walt Whitman—Know you by this resolution, and so forth, and so forth!" He stopped here and seemed to enjoy the contemplation of the fancy we had mutually conjured. Then he resumed: "That seems like fool talk, on the surface, for both of us—yet underneath it all is the best logic: for fool talk could never be as foolish as the fool adviser who undertakes to shift a serious man out of his determined course of life. Advice! Advice! Advice! It is a confusion of tongues!"

      [See note p188.3] Referring to Stedman W. said: "He is in a sense our most generous man of letters, distinctly so called: he is always helping somebody to something—always: I rarely hear of Stedman but I hear about his good deeds: sometimes I am cross about him—about the writer, Stedman: about the man Stedman I have never had a doubt. I find it hard to say what I think about the fellows without seeming to be extreme or harsh—yet I do not want to be either. My little quarrel with Stedman is not about anything he does but because of something I think he could do, does not do: Stedman never seems to ultimate himself, I may say, if that conveys any meaning to you." He paused. [See note p188.4] Then added: "Yes, I may say I love Stedman—love him: he has certain nervousnesses, he subjects me to certain irritations, which I find it difficult to bear patiently—but after all that is the small part of any man: a very small part: in a man like

 
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Stedman, so sterling in the trunk, they count for practically nothing whatever."

     W. gave me a letter from Carpenter. [See note p189.1] "It is an old letter, written in 1877. The best of Carpenter is in his humanity: he manages to stay with people: he was a university man, yet managed to save himself in time: plucked himself from the burning. I don't know of another living literary man of like standing who could write a letter like this. So many of them are good fellows—rather sympathize with the struggles of the people—but they are for the most part way off—remote: they only see the battle from afar. [See note p189.2] Carpenter manages to stay in the midst of it." Carpenter's letter was dated December 19th. I said: "That is my birthday." W. smiled and replied: "That coincidence won't hurt the letter or hurt you: the two things are worthy of each other."


Cobden Road, Chesterfield, England, 19 Dec. 77.


Dear Friend,

     I have (yesterday) sent a P.O. O. for £2 for your two vols. [See note p189.3] They are ordered by Edward T. Wilkinson, 13 Micklegate, York—to whom please send them. He is a haberdasher in a large way of business—a very straight and true man. I hear from Vines that your books have arrived. He and Thompson (to whom you sent before) are lecturers at Cambridge, Haweis is a popular London preacher, Templeton is working music in London—organizing cheap concerts &c.—and Teall is teaching science at Nottingham. [See note p189.4] Your other two vols. went to Carlile, a solicitor at Hull. So you see the kind of audience you have.

     I want to say how splendid I think your Children of Adam. I was reading those pieces again the other day, and of course they came back upon me, as your things always do, with new meaning. [See note p189.5] The freedom, the large spaces you make all around one, fill me with continual delight. I begin to see more clearly the bearing of it all on Democracy: that thought surges up more and more as the end and direction of all

 
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your writings. I don't know whether it is so. But this immense change that is taking place is absorbing to me now, and your writings seem the only ones that come close to the great heart of it and make it a living thing to one with all its fierce passions and contradictions and oceanic sort of life. [See note p190.1] I wish I could say what I mean. But it is to thank you. There is one thing that I never doubt for a moment—and that is your deepest relation to it all.

     I am very well and happy. My term's work is over and I am going away for a month, to Cambridge and Brighton. [See note p190.2] I should like to describe to you the life of these great manufacturing towns like Sheffield. I think you would be surprised to see the squalor and raggedness of them. Sheffield is finely situated, magnificent hill country all round about, and on the hills for miles and miles (on one side of the town) elegant villa residences—and in the valley below one enduring cloud of smoke, and a pale-faced teeming population, and tall chimneys and ash heaps covered with squalid children picking them over, and dirty alleys, and courts and houses half roofless, and a river running black through the midst of them. [See note p190.3] It is a strange and wonderful sight. There is a great deal of distress just now—so many now being out of work—and it is impossible to pass through the streets without seeing it obvious in some form or other. (A man burst into floods of tears the other day when I gave him a bit of silver.) [See note p190.4] But each individual is such a mere unit in a great crowd, and they go and hide their misery away—easily enough.

     Good-bye. With much love dear friend,


Edward Carpenter.

     I found a memorandum from W. on this letter: "Splendid letter from E. Carpenter Dec 19, '77." [See note p190.5] I read all the letter to myself except the phase, "they go and hide their misery away—easily enough." This I read aloud. It moved W. greatly.

 
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He said: "That is a wonderful tribute paid to the common man. How cheap, vulgar, nasty, such heroism makes the heroisms that are most fussed about in histories! [See note p191.1] 'They go and hide their misery away—easily enough.' It's wonderful—wonderful! It's that sort of thing in men which makes the race safe—which will finally see, assert, demand, produce, the new state, church—the new social compact. I never have any doubts of the future when I look at the common man."

     I asked W. about November Boughs. He shook his finger at me. "I was sure you would ask, of course. Well, it's nearly ready—only I play a little for time—I am fencing for another day or two. Don't you remember, I told you I was very slow. I have to be true to my reputation." [See note p191.2] W. just as I was going remarked: "I hear from Bucke right along—I rarely hear from Burroughs. I don't know about John—he stands aloof so much of the time: I have asked myself whether this betokens any change of feeling: I suppose it don't. When John writes things, has occasion to mention me, he seems to be of the old spirit—I can see no signs of retreat or compromise. [See note p191.3] But he don't come round much—he seems to avoid visiting me—which must have its good reasons too. On the simply convivial, social side—at the table, face to face, in the jolly hours when all the fences are down—John is not our sort, anyhow. I miss him a lot."

 
Tuesday, May 22, 1888.

      [See note p191.4] W. handed me a copy of The Journal of Speculative Philosophy. "I shall ask you to take that away and never bring it back," he said, laughing. Why? "There is nothing in it to interest me—nothing. I like Harris—we have met: he is friendly to Leaves of Grass—is rather inclined to accept it—is at least lenient—though I guess I am on the whole not occult enough—not obscure enough—to satisfy the particular brand of philosophy he professes. [See note p191.5] Mind you, I don't say read it—I only say, take it away."

 
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     Talked about November Boughs, W. showing me the copy and the plans as he had drawn them up. [See note p192.1] "I want you to see Mr. Bennerman—to get all possible information before we set out: if the Sherman people cannot do it we will have to look up somebody else. I have written a letter to Bennerman—letter of inquiry and introduction—both: here it is. I think it covers the case: he will be able to answer us yes or no. Then we will know where we are."


Tuesday, May 22, 1888.


To Mr. Bennerman:

      [See note p192.2] The bearer of this is Horace Traubel, a young friend of mine in whom I have confidence—I want to have printed stereotyped a book of (probably) 160 to 200 pages—maybe somewhat less—long primer—exactly same sized page as the Specimen Days you printed of mine six years ago—

     Can you and would you like to do it for me?— Have you some good long primer? The copy is ready—it is all printed matter—(or nearly all)—is all plain sailing—you could commence next Monday—sh'd want liberal proofs—

     You can talk with Horace Traubel just the same as you w'd with me—I am almost entirely disabled ab't walking or bodily locomotion—


Walt Whitman.

      [See note p192.3] "What portrait or portraits shall we put into the book?" asked W. "I have wavered between Eakins and Morse: Morse's, on the whole, seems to me best: is better for this purpose—as a distinct portrait. I think we should have the proper photos taken experimentally at once from the bust—or in a week or two. I am a little doubtful about getting the view I desire: I want your man to try and try and try again until the right one is secured. It is like ordering a suit of clothes: I can give the tailor a hint of what I want, but he must lumber out his stock—wait for me to recognize the right piece. I don't believe in the 'great' photographers—

 
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the swells with reputations—I think the other fellow is just as apt to hit it. [See note p193.1] There is so much in the atmosphere, surroundings—in the whole circumstance. The other fellow is less likely to be a slave to rules."

     W. alluded to Carlyle as "that terrible fellow—that terrible octopus—who kept forever growling out to us that we were all going wrong here in America—all the democrats—all the radicals: all going after a mistake—a delusion: all, all: going only to come back. [See note p193.2] Well, I am holding myself under restraint: as they say out West, I 'hold my horses': perhaps that best expresses me—radicalism plus philosophy. Tennyson is constantly saying the same things with regard to us—bringing us up against our conceit, perhaps: he seems to have no faith in our democracy. [See note p193.3] My leanings are all towards the radicals: but I am not in any proper sense of the word a révolutionnaire: I am an evolutionist—not in the first place a révolutionnare. I was in early life very bigoted in my anti-slavery, anti-capital-punishment and so on, so on, but I have always had a latent toleratin for the people who choose the reactionary course. The labor question was not up then as it is now—perhaps that's the reason I did not embrace it. [See note p193.4] It is getting to be a live question—some day will be the live question—then somebody will have to look out—especially the bodies with big fortunes wrung from the sweat and blood of the poor. This is all so—all of it so. Yet I do not feel as if I belonged to any one party."

     Reverting to November Boughs W. said: "I have money enough to see it through: I have some money, but am chary of putting it out, as you know. But I recognize that nothing can be done without it—therefore I pay my way right through, preferring to have it understood so at the start—being rather averse to arranging for my books on any other terms. [See note p193.5] You will see Bennerman. Tell him I want two men put on November Boughs from next Monday—proofs

 
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sent daily—each evening if possible: this is imperative, for the book must be out by fall. [See note p194.1] As to the manuscript, although it's all ready, I'll leave it mainly in your hands—appoint you sort of supercargo: not giving it all over to the printer at once—giving it to him piece by piece only as he needs it. I have never lost any manuscript with printers but I don't want to run the risk. It's such a hell of a job for me to write now—I mean physically a job—I don't want to have to do any of this work over a second time. Well—you will first see Bennerman: we have to know his pleasure before we can proceed."

      [See note p194.2] After a pause W. went on: "I have another errand for you. I do not own the plates of Specimen Days: I ought to, but I don't: they belong to Dave McKay. I want you to go to McKay and make him an offer of one hundred and fifty dollars spot cash for the plates." He laughed and asked: "By the way, what is spot cash?" after my reply adding: "I guessed right, anyway. Offer him the one fifty spot cash. I don't believe Dave will accept the offer—no business man could resist the temptation to put more on an article some one was eager for. [See note p194.3] But try him, anyway. If he says no then I guess it must be no: I don't think I am eager enough for the plates to increase my bid." Again: "I like to supervise the production of my own books: I have suffered a good deal from publishers, printers—especially printers, damn 'em, God bless 'em! The printer has his rod, which has often fallen on me good and powerful."

     W. said as I was going: "I am watching your pieces as they appear in the papers and magazines—reading them all: you are on the right tack—you will get somewhere. I don't seem to have any advice to give, except perhaps this: Be natural, be natural, be natural! [See note p194.4] Be a damned fool, be wise if you must (can't help it), be anything—only be natural! Almost any writer who is willing to be himself will amount to something—because we all amount to something, to about

 
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the same thing, at the roots. The trouble mostly is that writers become writers and cease to be men: writers reflect writers, writers again reflect writers, until the man is worn thin—worn through. I have been interested in your pieces—they are significant. [See note p195.1] You seem to want to be honest with yourself. I'm sure I couldn't think of a better start in anything for anyone." [See note p195.2] And finally: "I guess for one thing you will be our historian: we will have to rely upon you to review the field after the fight is all over. I do not mean a matter of mere biography: I mean the Walt Whitman movement, the Horace Traubel movement, that commenced long before either of us was born—that will go on forever after we are dead."
 
Wednesday, May 23, 1888.

      [See note p195.3] McKay wants four hundred dollars for the absolute surrender of the plates of Specimen Days or three hundred dollars for surrender with the privilege of printing an edition. He would not consider Walt's offer of one hundred and fifty. "That's nonsense," he said. The plates originally cost six hundred forty-six dollars. It costs thirty-five or forty dollars to print one thousand copies—press work." When I conveyed McKay's reply to W. he retorted: "It's nonsense, is it? [See note p195.4] Well let it remain nonsense and then done with it. I would not for a moment consider Dave's alternative." Adding: "Dave was always saying the book wasn't worth a damn as a seller: I thought he'd be glad to get rid of the plates."

      [See note p195.5] W. discussed the Thayer & Eldridge plates, in possession of Worthington, New York. Worthington prints edition after edition and sells them. Sometimes W. seems indignant. Sometimes he only laughs the affair away. "Worthington is a humbug—pays me nothing: yet I am averse to going to law about it: going to law is like going to hell: it's too much like trouble even if we win. [See note p195.6] Worthington no doubt has a theory justifying it which puts me out of his court. In

 
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a case so obvious it would seem as though things might very easily be brought to a head in my behalf. But who knows? The law's a tricksy thing to fool with, even for righteousness' sake." [See note p196.1] W. laughed: "It's really a long story. Worthington is known in his trade as 'holy Dick': he combines piety with his other virtues. 'Holy Dick'! Well—he has a lot of débris to unload before he can enter the Kingdom. Dave rails at me for not pushing Worthington—and Tom, too, says: 'You should drive him to the wall.' I say yes, yes, yes: but when it comes to doing anything I rather decide for no. Holy Dick! He's a sour mess to me: I don't feel much like having any sort of encounter with him, good or bad."

     W. then got to business, talking of November Boughs. [See note p196.2] "I propose first issuing November Boughs independently—then shall issue a superior edition of my complete works." At Sherman's today. Bennerman not in. They advised me to get plates made direct at some foundry under our own supervision. The idea rather hits W. "There are still a few errors in the plates of the Leaves. We must get them correctd. The complete edition will make a ponderous volume of eight to nine hundred pages—shaped like the Cryptogram—printed more or less like our present books. I am of course figuring on your assistance in all these plans—I could not accomplish them alone: indeed, I should stop right here and now if I did not think you would stand by me—see me through."

     W. gave me what he called a "document" to go amoung my "war records." The rough draft of a letter written by him (marked on the envelope "sent Oct 1 1863") to W. S. Davis, Worcester, Massachusetts. [See note p196.3] "It will help along some other memoranda you have—give you some more material. I clean house from time to time: save you the bits, hunt them, that I think will be of service to you—service or interest. The rest (the most of things) go into the fire." He

 
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laughed quietly: "I know you are jealous of that fire," he added. "Well—that stuff is trash, notwithstanding your appetite: I know best what it is: trash, trash, trash." [See note p197.1] This is the Davis letter, which I stopped right where we were and read.

      [See note p197.2] "The noble gift of your brother Joseph P. Davis of $20 for the aid of the wounded, sick, dying soldiers here came safe to hand—it is being sacredly distribtued to them—part of it has been so already—I may another time give you special cases—I go every day or night to the hospitals a few hours—As to physical comforts, I attempt to have some—generally a lot of—something harmless and not too expensive to go round to each man, even if it is nothing but a good home-made biscuit to each man—or a couple of spoonfuls of blackberry preserve—I take a ward to two of an evening and two more next evening &c— [See note p197.3] as an addition to his supper—sometimes one thing, sometimes another, (judgment of course has to be carefully used)—then after such general round I fall back upon the main thing, after all, the special cases, alas too common—those that need some special attention, some little delicacy, some trifle—very often far above all else, soothing kindness wanted—personal magnetism—poor boys, their sick hearts and wearied and exhausted bodies hunger for the sustenance of love or their deprest spirits must be cheered up— [See note p197.4] I find often young men, some hardly more than children in age yet—so good, so sweet, so brave, so decorous, I could not feel them nearer to me if my own sons or your brothers—Some cases even I could not tell anyone, how near to me, from their yearning ways and their sufferings— [See note p197.5] it is comfort and delight to me to minister to them, to sit by them—some wind themselves around one's heart and will be kissed at parting at night just like children—though veterans of two years of battles and camp life—I always carry a haversack with some

 
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articles most wanted—physical comforts are a sort of basis—I distribute nice large biscuit, sweet crackers, sometimes cut up a lot of peaches with sugar, give preserves of all kinds, jellies, &c. tea, oysters, butter, condensed milk, plugs of tobacco (I am the only one that doles out this last, and the men have grown to look to me)—wine, brandy, sugar, pickles, letter-stamps, envelopes and note paper, the morning papers, common handkerchiefs and napkins, undershirts, socks, dressing gowns, and fifty other things—I have lots of special little requests. [See note p198.1] Frequently I give small sums of money,—shall do so with your brother's contribution—the wounded are very frequently brought and lay here a long while without a cent. I have been here and in front nine months doing this thing and have learned much—the soldiers are from fifteen to twenty-five or six years of age—lads of fiteen or sixteen more frequent than you have any idea—seven-eighths of the army are Americans, our own stock—the foreign element in the army is much overrated and is of not much account anyhow. [See note p198.2] There are no hospitals (there are dozens of them in and around Washington) you must understand like the diseased half-foreign collections under that name common at all times in cities—in these here, the noblest cleanest stock I think of the world, and the most precious."

     When I was through W. said: "There is some history in that letter. Sometimes I am myself almost afraid of myself—afraid to read such a letter over again: it carries me too painfully back into old days—into the fearful scenes of the war. [See note p198.3] I don't think the war seemed so horrible to me at the time, when I was busy in the midst of its barbarism, as it does now, in retrospect."

     W. is thinking of getting the Morse head of himself cast in bronze. Asks me to make some inquiry as to the cost. "It ought to be preserved: the plaster is very perishable:

 
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it is the best of the heads, so far, if I know anything about my looks—which William O'Connor says I don't. [See note p199.1] William used to say: 'Give me a fool picture of yourself and you're sure to like it.' There was some reference to the Eakins and Gilchrist paintings in today's Press, but Sidney's bust was ignored. They passed the best by to speak of the worst.""Is Eakins the worst?" [See note p199.2] "That was a rather hard statement—it applied rather to Herbert's than to Tom's But no matter about that: no matter whose is the worst, Sidney's is the best." W. went on after a bit of silence: "When I look at Morse's present work I wonder that he could have made that head of me years ago—so inexpressive, so paltry, so apologetic." [See note p199.3] "You did not preserve it?""No indeed: I took it into the back yard there on Stevens street and dashed it to pieces."

     W. described his economies practised in Washington during Hospital days. "It is surprising how little a man may live on if he must: live not meanly but with about all that is needed to make him comfortable: a matter of three or four hundred dollars settles the whole case." [See note p199.4] I asked: "Don't that mean worry for a man—and don't his worry reduce his capacity for work?""Yes. I do not argue for three or four hundred—I only say it is possible. As a general rule it is true that we need something substantial at the foundation—all men—every man—but we can't set the same bounds for all men. There's Poe, for instance—poor Poe—to whose poverty, struggles, death at last in the gutter—sad, tragic, as it may seem—all his work, his quality, seems owing.""If you repeat these views to the rich they will think you are on their side." [See note p199.5] W. laughed: "If I had my way," he said more gravely, "I'd try my medicine first on the rich—make them live on three hundred a year for awhile—they would then be better able to understand the case of the under-dog. In the human sense I am on both sides—the side of the rich as well as the side of the poor: no one who

 
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understands me would quote me in any other way on the side of the rich.""Why, you're almost radical!""Almost! [See note p200.1] Why—I claim to be altogether radical—that's my chief stock in trade: take radicalism out of the Leaves—do you think anything worth while would be left?""But you said to Harned the other day: 'I am the most conservative of conservatives.'""You've got a damned good memory: so I did: but when I said conservative there I meant safe. I contend that I am the safest of men—that my gospel is the safest of gospels. [See note p200.2] What do you think of that?""Nothing: I only wanted to hear you declare yourself." W. laughed freely. "You're too cute—you've interviewed me in spite of myself: you ought to be a lawyer."

 
Thursday, May 24, 1888.

      [See note p200.3] W. received today a copy of The Gnostic, published by George Chainey in San Francisco, which, said he, "I could not attempt to read." Also a little volume of sonnets from Warren Holden, of whom he says he "knows nothing." [See note p200.4] "I met Chainey in Boston—saw him, received him, here in Camden on several occasions: am entirely familiar with his career. I could not easily forget how he stood up for the Leaves in Boston on the Tobey days." W. has been out driving but once this week. [See note p200.5] "I am getting more and more satisfied with my bed and chair, which is suspicious." Is at last full of his book, after "hesitations plenty," in his own words, "and delays to spare." Says he wants it out in two or three months—three at the most: is almost eager. Explains: "The fall in my pulse is getting more and more evident: I've got no time to lose." The Presbyterians are celebrating a centenary in Philadelphia. [See note p200.6] W. says: "Let them keep at it; it's like a cloudy day—it'll pass off by and bye." Woodrow is being tried before the Presbytery at Baltimore for his endorsement of the theory of evolution. "The question seems to be—did Adam come from the dust of the earth or

 
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from a baboon—isn't it? And now the Presbytery is to give high and mighty judgment in the matter. Good for the Presbytery! [See note p201.1] Let them go on: the globe will still go round whatever the way the Presbytery decides it. The universe may even survive the withdrawal of the endorsement of the Presbytery." In talking about signatures W. said: "O'Connor once took one of my signatures to a clerk in the Treasury who so cleverly duplicated it that I could not myself tell the two apart."

      [See note p201.2] W. gave me a piece of cardboard which contained a penciled profile over which he had written: "Pencilling by Edward Clifford English artist what struck him as an American type of physiognomy, head &c. Oct: 1884." I asked: "Did the drawing impress you?""It was very interesting—not necessarily convincing. Clifford has been about some—struck me as being a close observer. It was a point of view not quite to be assumed just yet: I feel myself that the American is being made but is not made: much of him is yet in the state of dough: the loaf is not yet given shape. [See note p201.3] He will come—our American. Such a drawing as this will have more value later on when the type of face that struck Clifford in individuals here and there may be more generally evolved. I don't think I have any views on the subject myself: I see our new man rather more in moral, spiritual, lines, than in physiognomy." I said: "I would give a good deal to own this card.""Don't give anything to own it: own it anyway: take it along: I shall never want it again."

      [See note p201.4] W. again: "I've got some news for you: I am going to accept Harned's invitation to a jamboree at his house next Thursday in honor of my own seventieth birthday: you must be sure to be there: and Aggie, too: tell her. I have about made up my mind to live another year: why not? Considering all the things I have to do I will need at least a year." Was there anyone he wished particularly to ask for the "jamboree"? "No—I am sure not—at least not anyone

 
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necessarily, though perhaps Tom Donaldson—perhaps Talcott Williams—though I don't know: I am so liable not to get there at the last minute that it seems like asking people from a distance to take too many chances." [See note p202.1] "You like Williams.""Yes, I do. Someone was here the other day—spoke of him as a prig. He is not that—he is a man, like Gilder, who possesses more regard for the conventionalities than we do, but he is square with it all: take even Emerson—he was somewhat of the same strain. [See note p202.2] But there is more to Williams than all that: he has original talent of no common order—but I guess it will never get out: a man tied up as Talcott is with a great newspaper in a big city has little chance to make the best of himself." How about Donaldson? "He, too, is all right—though not quite so much all right as Talcott. [See note p202.3] I feel that Tom Donaldson is my friend: he suffers from some severe shortages: but after that is said what is left is good stuff. [See note p202.4] Tom has got too close to politics—that is his worst fault: some things that have touched him have stuck: yet he is so genial, so red—so real—I don't want to put any ifs in my love for him." It would be fine to have O'Connor come up from Washington? W.'s eyes twinkled: "That would be the crowning triumph—but it is impossible. He writes me that he is worse disabled than I am."

      [See note p202.5] W. gave me a Symonds letter again, saying of it: "The New Republic he speaks of there was Harry Bonsall's paper here in Camden. It is a beautiful letter—beautiful: Symonds could crowd all the literary fellows off the stage for delicacy—directness—of pure literary expression: yes, honest expression. [See note p202.6] Symonds is cultivated enough to break—bred to the last atom—overbred: yet he has remained human, a man, in spite of all. You will see that he harps on the Calamus poems again—always harping on 'my daughter.' I don't see why it should but his recurrence to that subject irritates me a little. This letter was written thirteen years ago—thirteen years (that was the most depressed year or two of

 
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my life—1875—6): Symonds is still asking the same question. I suppose you might say—why don't you shut him up by answering him? [See note p203.1] There is no logical answer to that, I suppose: but I may ask in my turn: 'What right has he to ask questions anyway?'" W. laughed a bit. "Anyway, the question comes back at me almost every time he writes. He is courteous enough about it—that is the reason I do not resent him. I suppose the whole thing will end in an answer, some day. It always makes me a little testy to be catechized about the Leaves—I prefer to have the book answer for itself." I took the Symonds letter and read it."

Gais, Switzerland, June 13, 1875.


My dear Sir.

      [See note p203.2] I was very much delighted some weeks ago to receive a copy of the New Republic with a little memorandum in your handwriting. Time does not diminish my reverential admiration for your work, nor do the unintelligent remarks of the English press deter me from giving expression to the same in print. [See note p203.3] I hope soon to have an opportunity to explain at large, in a new series of critical studies of the Greek Poets, what I meant in the little note alluded to by the reviewer of the Quarterly, and to show how it is only by adopting an attitude of mind similar to yours that we can in this age be in true unity with whatever great and natural and human has been handed to us from the past. I was the more pleased to have this communication from you, because I feared that the last time I wrote to you I might perhaps have spoken something amiss. I then—it was about three years ago, I think—sent you a poem called Callicrates and asked you questions about Calamus. [See note p203.4] Pray believe me that I only refer to this circumstance now in order to explain the reason why since that time I have kept silence from a fear I might have been importunate or ill-advised in what I wrote. There was really no reason why you should have noticed that communication; and it gives me great

 
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satisfaction to feel that your friendly remembrance of me is not diminished.

     Now, though late, I may express the deep sorrow with which I heard of your illness. [See note p204.1] How Whitman must have borne such a trial, no one knows better than one who like myself has learned to have absolute faith in his manliness and rigor of soul. Yet it is not the less sad to think that he who could enjoy life so fully, has met with this impediment.

     I look forward with a keen foretaste of delight to your new volume announced.

     My permanent address is: Clifton Hill House, Clifton, Bristol. I should have written earlier had I not been moving rapidly from place to place during an Italian journey.


Belive me ever gratefully and indebtedly yours


John Addington Symonds.

     I said to W.: "That's a humble letter enough: I don't see anything in that to get excited about. [See note p204.2] He don't ask you to answer the old question. In fact, he rather apologizes for having asked it." W. fired up. "Who is excited? As to that question, he does ask it again and again: asks it, asks it, asks it." I laughed at his vehemence: "Well, suppose he does. It does no harm. Besides, you've got nothing to hide. [See note p204.3] I think your silence might lead him to suppose there was a nigger in your wood pile.""Oh nonsense! But for thirty years my enemies and friends have been asking me questions about the Leaves: I'm tired of not answering questions." It was very funny to see his face when he gave a humorous twist to the fling in his last phrase. [See note p204.4] Then he relaxed and added: "Anyway, I love Symonds. Who could fail to love a man who could write such a letter? I suppose he will yet have to be answered, damn 'im!" I remarked: "Symonds here addresses you as 'sir.' You were not yet 'master' at that time.""No—not master.

 
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I don't know which I like least—sir or master: they both leave a bad taste in the mouth." [See note p205.1] When I left W. cried after me: "Whatever you do forget don't forget the thirty-first: and push along November Boughs the best you can: I lean on you for this job, so you must stiffen up enough for two!"

 
Friday, May 25, 1888.

      [See note p205.2] W. said: "McKay came over to see me yesterday—I forgot to mention it to you—and conceded a point or two. For instance, he said I might use the Specimen Days plates in the complete book. He wanted to renew his expired contract—asked for five years more: said that after that time he would sell me the Specimen Days plates at my own figure—one hundred and fifty dollars." [See note p205.3] "What did you say to that? Yes?""I made no concessions: I prefer to let the matter rest as it is." McKay advises us to get our plates made by Ferguson. He thought Ferguson would do them not only better but cheaper. I got an estimate from Sherman, who wants one dollar fifty-five cents per page, brevier. W. said: "That seems dear. After all Dave may be right—Ferguson may be our man.""I am quite possessed with the idea of getting the book out. It has hung fire here for two years or more. [See note p205.4] All this time I have been getting physically weaker—less capable of the strain of producing the book. It may be a whim or a conceit—I believe in both whims and conceits: I must go on with the work. You are a godsend to me just now. Back of the whole business, of course, is a precedent fact—the world don't need the book anyhow. [See note p205.5] But one man has the presidential bee in his bonnet—another has the book bee there: I have the book bee. I believe everybody I know writes books or something—everybody: some of them write everything—poetry, stories, essays, God knows what not. I believe if I met a man who had not written a book I should hug him—he

 
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would be a monumental exception—an honorable exception."

      [See note p206.1] W. said: "I had a letter from Bucke today: he says he likes the sixty-nine poem. But then Bucke likes me. I wonder what the people who don't like me think of the poem?" I didn't put in an answer, so he said: "I guess I know—I guess you don't need to tell me." Talked some about Specimen Days. "It don't sell at all—only a copy here and there. Dave simply carries it because he carries the Leaves—it amounts to nothing as a selling article in itself. [See note p206.2] He submits me reports now and then—I don't attempt to examine them: I can never understand them: I always take a publisher's royalty report for granted." Speaking of McKay: "Dave is shrewd, canny, but honest: crude, almost crusty sometimes—but sqare. I like Dave. I have offered him five hundred copies of November Boughs—a sort of lump proposition. If he takes them I will put his name on the title page."

     The foregoing are forenoon notes. I saw W. again in the evening. [See note p206.3] In the meantime I had got November Boughs on the move. Went to see McKay first and then Ferguson, with such a result as made W. exlaim: "I guess we can conclude that Ferguson is our man: you had better leave word with Bennerman tomorrow to that effect." Ferguson will give us plates (long primer) for one dollar and thirty cents a page. W. wants, as he says, "copious proofs—three or four or five if necessary." [See note p206.4] Then: "I want you to reach the workmen direct—treat with the craftsman without an intermediary—with the man who sets the type, the man who puts it into form, the man who runs the foundry: reach them, yes, with a dollar now and then. We will keep the troubled waters oiled. Bennerman would not permit this—he never wanted me to go up stairs into the composing room: but I am sure you can accomplish this point better than I did." I go to Ferguson's tomorrow for samples of type

 
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faces. W. did not "think much of American presswork—it seems to be slighted.""I know of no book printed on this side quite so beautiful in that respect as a book I have received from Dowden—his book on Shakespeare. [See note p207.1] Some of the fellows have been at me to produce a folio of the Leaves as they are today. It is a favorite notion of Talcott Williams: to have a big broad page to save me as much as possible from breaking my long lines. [See note p207.2] But that is only a pleasant dream—it is impossible: at present I must meet the case as I find it. The real case amounts to this: that it's all I can do to get the book out in any form."

     W. has an Epictetus volume (The Enchiridion)—the Rolleston rendering. He is very fond of it. I often surprise him reading it. [See note p207.3] He quotes it often though never literally—always rather in substance. Rolleston sent the book to W. W. writes his name in the more serious books sent him and treasures them, in spite of what he says about books in general. [See note p207.4] Told him Frank Williams had written a W. W. article which I expected to see in this week's American. W. said: "I must see it at once. I am in safe hands. Frank knows what I am about—is loyal to the bone. God bless Frank!"

     W. was very affectionate in his manner tonight. "Come here, Horace," he said. I went over. He took my hand. "I feel somehow as if you had consecrated yourself to me. [See note p207.5] That entails something on my part: I feel somehow as if I was consecrated to you. Well—we will work out the rest of my life-job together: it won't be for long: anyway, we'll work it out together, for short or long, eh?" He took my face between his hands and drew me to him and kissed me. Nothing more was then said. [See note p207.6] I went back to my chair and we sat in silence for some time. Then he quietly remarked: "I've got a real fillip for you tonight—a Lanier letter, written in the seventies, while he thought better instead of worse of me.""Why do you think Lanier's notion about you has changed?""Things have been repeated to me: there

 
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seems to be no doubt about it. He finds me too strong meat—yes, meat on the turn. [See note p208.1] There was a time—but read the letter for yourself." I waited to hear more but he added nothing. Then I read:

33 Denmead St., Baltimore, MD. May 5, 1878.


My dear Sir:

      [See note p208.2] A short time ago while on a visit to New York I happened one evening to find your Leaves of Grass in Mr. Bayard Taylor's library; and taking it with me to my room at the hotel I spent a night of glory and delight upon it. [See note p208.3] How it happened that I had never read this book before . . is a story not worth the telling; but, in sending the enclosed bill to purchase a copy (which please mail to the above address) I cannot resist the temptation to render you also my grateful thanks for such large and substantial thoughts uttered in a time when there are, as you say in another connection, so many "little plentiful mannikins skipping about in collars and tailed coats." Although I entirely disagree with you in all points connected with artistic form, and in so much of the outcome of your doctrine as is involved in those poetic exposures of the person which your pages so unreservedly make, yet I feel sure that I understand you therein, and my dissent in these particulars becomes a very insignificant consideration in the presence of that unbounded delight which I take in all the bigness and bravery of all your ways and thoughts. [See note p208.4] It is not known to me where I can find another modern song at once so large and so naïve; and the time needs to be told few things so much as the absolute personality of the person, the sufficiency of the man's manhood to the man, which you have propounded in such strong and beautiful rhythms. [See note p208.5] I beg you to count me among your most earnest lovers, and to believe that it would make me very happy to be of the least humble service to you at any time.


Sidney Lanier.

 
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     Part of this I read aloud. W. argued: "He first tells me he disagrees with me in all points connected with artistic form and then speaks of me as the master of strong and beautiful rhythms. [See note p209.1] That hardly seems to gee: I don't say I am one or t'other but I know I ain't both." [See note p209.2] He chuckled a little and went on: "Lanier was a beautiful spirit: he had his work to do: did his work: I can see how the Leaves may at first blush have carried him by storm—then how, analyzing his feeling, he became less sure of his enthusiasm. [See note p209.3] It was after all rather a rough dish for so delicate a palate. The young fellows seem rather bowled over by me: then they get respectable or something and I will no longer do. I do not attempt to explain it. [See note p209.4] Bayard Taylor is quoted as saying unkind things about me: I do not say he is not right—perhaps he is: but I had letters from Taylor, long ago—letters, several of them—in which he expressed quite other views: I do not know where the letters are—I will find them for you some day. [See note p209.5] There was Gosse, too: he was originally on my side—very warm (almost effervescent)—he, too, they tell me, though so new, has weakened just a bit." W. paused for an instant and added merrily: "I suppose I don't wear well—that's what's the matter: I fool 'em for a time, when they're in their teens, but when they grow up they can no longer be deceived—they take my true measure—set me down for what I am. [See note p209.6] As some fellow said to some other fellow back in the fifties when a few people got a good deal excited about me: 'If this Walt Whitman ain't a damned humbug—then what is he?' That's so: what is he? Some people are still asking that question. Lanier thought he knew and said so but I am not sure that upon reconsideration he was so sure he knew. The vitiating fact is—the bother of it all is—that men of the Matthew Arnold type dominating contemporary literature judge all men (not literary men alone but all men) by bookish standards." [See note p209.7] W. said: "Keep on with the book. November Boughs will be my good bye."

 
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Saturday, May 26, 1888.

     Got type-face samples from Ferguson today. W. will "look into it." [See note p210.1] He is always slow in making up his mind in such things. Contract is to be drawn up and signed on Monday. Ferguson has agreed to give me the freedom of the office. "That's decent—very decent," said W.—"that's at least one point gained over the Sherman establishment." Ferguson had asked whether W.'s proof changes were many or extensive, I saying, "No." I repeated this to W. who reaffirmed me. "They never are—none at all, in fact."

     W. was in rather jolly mood tonight. [See note p210.2] I kicked a folded and taped bunch of paper on the floor. W. noticed it. "What's that?" he asked. I picked it up and handed it to him. He put on his glasses, opened it and after surveying its pages looked at me and laughed. "It's a draft of an old letter I wrote Hotten when he was getting out the London edition of the Leaves. Did you know I was something of an artist?" [See note p210.3] I looked at him without understanding the nature of his allusion. "An artist? What sort of an artist?""Well—a portrait artist," he answered. He was a bit waggish. "You don't believe it. Look at that and be convinced." He handed one page of the letter to me—then the two other pages. On page two was an attempt at autoportraiture in pencil. "Is that your work?""Yes—they are my fool lines. I was giving Hotten some advice and tried to illustrate it. Read the letter—then you will see what it is about." [See note p210.4] I read the letter clean through at once and then said: "Your letter contains a portrait, but it's not in the pencilled lines—it's in the words.""Do you think so? I was only trying to give him an idea how I seemed to myself in my own eyes." I asked W.: "Is this letter of any use to you any more?""None whatever—is it of any use to you?" I didn't say a word. He looked at me. "I see you want

 
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me to say, take it. Well—I say it. [See note p211.1] You are the victim of a disease I should not encourage—but then we've agreed to work together—you're my partner—there's no use quarrelling over trifles. Take the letter—and the devil be with you.""Is that a blessing?""Hardly—but it might be stretched into a joke." I copy the letter:

April 24 '68


To Mr Hotten.

      [See note p211.2] I am glad to hear you are having Mr Conway's photograph engraved in place of the bad print now in the book. If a faithful presentation of that photograph can be given it will satisfy me well—of course it should be reproduced with all its shaggy, dappled, rough-skinned character, and not attempted to be smoothed or prettyfied—(if in time I send the following hints)—let the costume be kept very simple and broad, and rather kept down too, little as there is of it—preserve the effect of the sweeping lines making all that fine free angle below the chin—I would suggest not to bring in so fully the shoulders and bust as the photograph does—make only the neck, the collar with the immediately neighboring part of the shirt delineated. [See note p211.3] You will see that the spot at the left side of the hair, near the temple, is a white blur, and does not belong to the picture. The eyes part and all around the eyes try to re-produce fully and faithfully, exactly as in the photograph. I hope you have a good artist at the work. It is perhaps worth your taking special pains about, both to achieve a successful picture and likeness, something characteristic, and as certain to be a marked help to your edition of the book. Send me an early proof of the engraving.

     Thank you for the papers with notices in them—and for your Academia criticism. Please continue to send any special notices. [See note p211.4] I receive them safely and promptly. The London Review article is reprinted in Littell's Living Age. I should like to know who wrote the piece in the Morning Star—it flushed my friends and myself too, like a sun dash, brief, hot, and dazzling.

 
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     I have several things more to say and will write again soon—Also to Mr. Rossetti to whom meantime, please offer my friendliest, truest regards.

      [See note p212.1] I read some of the portrait sentences aloud and said to W.: "If not a portrait, this is material for a portrait." W. assented, "I suppose—I suppose," then laughed again: "But I am proud of my drawing—you don't say anything about that."

     Harned and Corning came in. After several how do you dos they got talking of Thoreau. Corning had been reading something new about Thoreau. [See note p212.2] Said he knew Thoreau's mother and sister. W. was drawn out. Gave his own description of Thoreau—of his several visits to W. in Brooklyn. "Thoreau had his own odd ways. Once he got to the house while I was out—went straight to the kitchen where my dear mother was baking some cakes—took the cakes hot from the oven. He was always doing things of the plain sort—without fuss. [See note p212.3] I liked all that about him. But Thoreau's great fault was disdain—disdain for men (for Tom, Dick and Harry): inability to appreciate the average life—even the exceptional life: it seemed to me a want of imagination. He couldn't put his life into any other life—realize why one man was so and another man was not so: was impatient with other people on the street and so forth. We had a hot discussion about it—it was a bitter difference: it was rather a surprise to me to meet in Thoreau such a very aggravated case of superciliousness. [See note p212.4] It was egotistic—not taking that word in its worst sense." Corning broke out: "He was simply selfish, that's the long and short of it." W. replied: "That may be the short of it but it's not the long. Selfish? No—not selfish in the way you mean, though selfish, sure enough, in a higher interpretation of that term. We could not agree at all in our estimate of men—of the men we meet here, there, everywhere—the con-

 
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crete man. Thoreau had an abstraction about man—a right abstraction: there we agreed. We had our quarrel only on this ground. Yet he was a man you would have to like—an interesting man, simple, conclusive. [See note p213.1] When I was at Emerson's Mrs. Emerson told me Thoreau stayed with her during one of Emerson's trips abroad. She said that Thoreau, though odd, was good, equable, assiduous, likeable, throughout. [See note p213.2] I asked Sanborn that time at Concord who of all men of Concord was most likely to last into the future. Sanborn took his time in replying. I thought he was going to say Emerson, but he didn't. He said Thoreau. [See note p213.3] I was surprised—looked at him—asked: 'Is that your deliberate judgment?' and he said very emphatically: 'Yes!' I thought that very significant. Considering who Emerson was, Thoreau was, Sanborn was, very, very significant." Pursuing the subject W. added: "When I lived in Brooklyn—in the suburbs—probably two miles distant from the ferries—though there were cheap cabs, I always walked to the ferry to get over to New York. [See note p213.4] Several times when Thoreau was there with me we walked together." Corning referred to something Lowell had written about Thoreau. [See note p213.5] W. said: "I have never read it: I do not seem to care much about Lowell's work."

     Harned and Whitman got into a spirited discussion over the confession of Barclay Peak today in the Anderson murder case, Harned presenting the legal and Walt the moral argument. [See note p213.6] W. repeatedly spoke of certain rulings in the case as being "possibly good law but bad sense,""the refinement of refinement of refinement of technicality,""instances in which justice is surrendered to legality," adding: "I supposed judges were more independent and juries had more freedom of disposal." [See note p213.7] Harned said something about "the truth," W. interrupting him to cry out: "Little do judges and juries—especially judges—know about the truth: lots of men are just liars—remember that, too. On the whole

 
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the law is as likely to defraud you as to give you justice—quite as likely." Corning asked: "What are we to trust in if we tear down the courts?" [See note p214.1] W. unhesitatingly replying: "We don't build on the courts—the courts build on us." Corning is to speak tomorrow on The Moral Dignity of Minorities. W. advised C.: "Tell your people that the most hopeful sign of the times is the growing number of men the land through who are not pledged to the programs of the old parties—who vote independently or do not vote at all—who are waiting or working for the new idea, which will before long formulate itself in unequivocal political statements." [See note p214.2] Frank Williams did not get in The American this week after all. W. said: "That's just as good as not. If it's a bad word we won't miss it, if it's a good word it'll keep." [See note p214.3] Gave me a copy of the Ledger (Phila.) containing an account of the printers' dinner at which Childs had been present. "Childs is eighteen carat root and branch."

 
Sunday, May 27, 1888.

     W. said today: "You will have to know something about Henry Clapp if you want to know all about me." [See note p214.4] Clapp, New York. How was I to know Clapp? "I will tell you, sometime or other. We were very intimate at one time—back around the sixties: he edited the Saturday Press, in New York: was my staunch friend—did the honorable with me every time. [See note p214.5] I am sure you will get a lot of good material out of Clapp's letters. I must have a lot of these letters here somewhere—I don't know where. My friends! Well—I've had good friends as well as good enemies: a man who has had the friends I have had can afford to forget that he has enemies."

      [See note p214.6] W . spoke of something I had written: "You are steadying yourself—you have things to say: yes, I am sure of it: some day you will get them said—people will listen to you." About November Boughs: "I have the book in good shape

 
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for you to take. I am feeling pretty sick, sore, done up, these days. If I get through with this book I shall feel lucky: it will be my last. Even as it is I could not do it but for you. [See note p215.1] You will have to be a very good boy until this book is out: then you can go on a big spree at my expense." I asked: "How about the thirty-first? Do you feel equal to it?""O yes! I shall buckle to for it—hold in my horses till then: we might 'celebrate' by getting the book started that day!" [See note p215.2] Referring to Frank Williams: "Frank has written poetry—a good deal of it, I judge: some of it first rate, though all of the formal order. Frank deserves better recognition than he has achieved: lots of so-called big men, rhymesters, are less well equipped than Frank. The main thing about Frank is, he's a man—that's the main thing about anybody. A big man is nobody in particular, but a man—he's enough." [See note p215.3] This of Lowell: "Lowell was not a grower—he was a builder. He built poems: he didn't put in the seed, and water the seed, and send down his sun—letting the rest take care of itself: he measured his poems—kept them within the formula." And yet? "I know what you mean to say. He was a man of great talent—I do not deny it: and skill, yes, skill—I do not deny that. But inspiration? I doubt it."

     I said to W.: "Corning was saying to someone the other day that he thought you were rather conservative on the labor question." W. demurred: "Mr. Corning does not know. [See note p215.4] I am a radical of radicals—but I don't belong to any school: after I got done with it there wouldn't be much wealth left in private hands—that is, if my say was final. We are growing: this present mad rush for money—every man robbing from every man—cannot last. Our American people after all have enough sense to revise themselves when there is need for it." [See note p215.5] Was the immediate outlook very encouraging? "Not very: but the seed is being planted—the harvest will come." I said: "You are quite a revolutionist."

 
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He exclaimed: "If that is a revolution I am a revolutionist! But the word hardly applies. [See note p216.1] I don't expect an upset—I expect a growth: evolution." W. said: "I gave you some letters awhile ago from editors declining my pieces. Here is a letter of a more favorable character—it is from John Morley: he was editing the Fortnightly at the time. Put it into your pocket." [See note p216.2] I did put it into my pocket. When I got home I found the Morley letter enclosed in a rough draft of a letter written to James T. Fields by W. Here is Morley:

3 Garden Court, Temple, E.C.: London, Jan. 5, 1869.


Dear Mr. Whitman:

      [See note p216.3] I cannot find room for the poem which you have been so obliging as to send me, before the April number of the Review. If that be not too late for you, and if you can make suitable arrangements for a publisher in the United States so as not to interfere with us in a point of time, I shall be very glad. Perhaps you will let me know as early as you can.


With my kind regards—


Always yours sincerely,


John Morley.

     W. wrote on this: "Ans. Jan. 20, '69." The same day he wrote to Fields on a letter head of the Attorney General's Office, Washington."


Jan 20, 1869

James T. Fields,


Dear Sir:

      [See note p216.4] The package of February Magazines sent on the 16th arrived safely yesterday. Accept my thanks. I am pleased with the typographical appearance and correctness of my piece.

     I enclose a piece, Thou vast Rondure swimming in Space, of which I have to say to you as follows. [See note p216.5] It is to appear in the April number of the London Fortnightly Review. Having just received a note from the editor of that Review, Mr.

 
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Morley, in which he intimates that he has no objection to its appearing simultaneously in America, I thought I would show it to you. [See note p217.1] Very possibly you will not care to print a piece any how which is to appear elsewhere. Should that, however, be no objection, and should you consider the piece available for your purposes, the price is $20. Of course it would have to go in your number of April. I reserve the right of printing in future book.

     W. said: "I sometimes growl a little about the editors but after all they are a good lot—they do the best they can. [See note p217.2] Besides, I am an incongruity to most of them—I make the sort of noise they don't like—I upset some things they do like: why should I expect to be received? The wonder is not that I am sometimes kicked out—the wonder is that anybody will receive me. I used to worry over it, just a little—resent it, too, just a little: I am past that now. The fact is, a few people are now listening to me—just a few: I am getting a foothold: I ought to be, I am, satisfied." [See note p217.3]

     W. asked me how my father was. Then said: "Your father is a great man. He was here the other day—sat over where you are sitting now—spouted German poetry to me—Goethe, Schiller, Heine, Lessing. [See note p217.4] I couldn't understand a word but I could understand everything else. Your father has the fire, enthusiasm of a boy: he would have made an actor—he has a noble baritone voice—moves me very much. [See note p217.5] I was never so struck with the conviction that if everything else is present you do not need words. There he was, spouting away in a language strange to me—yet very much of it seemed as plain as if it was English. I can understand now why you like to go to see Salvini act and are not confused with his Italian." [See note p217.6] I said: "What is mere words I miss, but so much of it is not mere words.""Exactly—exactly: that's what I said to your daddy. I suppose

 
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men will go on and on and on until they won't need words at all: a look and all will be said!—a sort of presto process!"

     We have often talked together about Anne Gilchrist and A Woman's Estimate of Walt Whitman, made up by William Rossetti from letters written to him by her. [See note p218.1] W. played with some sheets of paper on his table and recurred to the subject today, finally handing me the paper with these remarks: "This is a draft of a letter I wrote Rossetti while Mrs. Gilchrist was still a mystery to me. [See note p218.2] You can imagine what such a thing as her Estimate meant to me at that time. Almost everybody was against me—the papers, the preachers, the literary gentlemen—nearly everybody with only here and there a dissenting voice—when it looked on the surface as if my enterprise was bound to fail—bound to fail. Then this letter—these letters: this wonderful woman. [See note p218.3] Such things stagger a man—leave him without words to say. I had to recognize her in some way at once—did so: you will see how I did so. There was some unaccountable element in it at the time: I had got so used to being ignored or denounced that the appearance of a friend was always accompanied with a sort of shock.""But you survived the shock.""Yes—there are shocks and shocks—shocks that knock you up, shocks that knock you down. [See note p218.4] Mrs. Gilchrist never wavered from her first decision. I have that sort of feeling about her which cannot easily be spoken of—put into words—indeed, the sort of feeling that words will not fit: love (strong personal love, too), reverence, respect—you see, it won't go into words: all the words are weak and formal." I asked W.: "Do you mean me to keep this letter?" [See note p218.5] "If you say so, yes. It is an index to my emotions at the time: it is a part of that history: it will inform you. I always assume in giving you such things that you will know finally what use to put them to. If you keep getting closer, closer, to Leaves of Grass, it will after a while get to be 'I, Horace Traubel, a cosmos, of Camden a son' and so

 
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forth." W. laughed at his notion and added: "That's what the Leaves amount to anyhow—that's what I mean them to amount to: there is a certain point in their evolution where they cease to be my creation, possession." [See note p219.1]

     Referring again to my own writings W. said: "I am always telling you not to take advice. I mean it—every word of it: but that don't mean that you are not to advise yourself or take your own advice." [See note p219.2] "Do you mean that a man who systematically takes other people's advice is bound to be a failure and that a man who cannot take his own advice is bound to be a failure?" "You've said it for me: that's the substance of my philosophy. I wouldn't make it a stiffnecked rule—I would only make it a rule."

     W. spoke last thing about the book. "You will see Ferguson tomorrow. Make the best terms you can with him. [See note p219.3] Above all, insist upon having direct relations with the men who do the work: tell him we don't want to operate through the clerks."

     I add the letter to Rossetti:


Washington December 9, 1869.


Dear Mr. Rossetti

      [See note p219.4] Your letter of last summer to William O'Connor with the passages transcribed from a lady's correspondence, has been shown me by him, and copy lately furnished me, which I have just been rereading. I am deeply touched by these sympathies and convictions, coming from a woman and from England, and am sure that if the lady knew how much comfort it has been to me to get them, she would not only pardon you for transmitting them to Mr. O'Connor but approve of that action. [See note p219.5] I realize indeed of this emphatic and smiling well done from the heart and conscience of a true wife and mother, and one too whose sense of the poetic, as I glean from your letter, after flowing through the heart and conscience, must also move through and satisfy science as much as the esthetic, that I had hitherto received no eulogium so magnificent.

 
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     I send by same mail with this, same address as this letter, two photographs, taken within a few months. One is intended for the lady (if I may be permitted to send it her)—and will you please accept the other, with my respects and love? [See note p220.1] The picture is by some criticised very severely indeed, but I hope you will not dislike it, for I confess to myself a perhaps capricious fondness for it, as my own portrait, over some scores that have been made or taken at one time or another.

     I am still employed in the Attorney General's office. [See note p220.2] My p. o. address remains the same. I am quite well and hearty. My new editions, considerably expanded, with what suggestions &c I have to offer, presented I hope in more definite form, will probably get printed the coming spring. I shall forward you early copies. I send my love to Moncure Conway, if you see him. I wish he would write to me. If the pictures don't come, or get injured on the way, I will try again by express. I want you to loan this letter to the lady, or, if she wishes it, give it to her to keep.

      [See note p220.3] [Memo. 1904. In Rossetti Papers, 1903, compiled by William Michael Rossetti, I find this diary reference to the Whitman letter: "Received an interesting letter from Whitman, relative to the extracts I sent over in the summer from Mrs. G.'s letters, which he regards as, under all the conditions, the most 'magnificent eulogium' he has yet received. The letter must have been written before the complete papers which I posted towards the end of November had been seen by Whitman. Two copies of the last photograph taken for him are to reach me." [See note p220.4] A letter from Anne Gilchrist is quoted in the same volume in which she says: "Will you please tell Mr. Whitman that he could not have devised for me a more welcome pleasure than this letter of his to you (now mine, thanks to you and him), and the picture; and that I feel grateful to you for having sent the extracts, since they have

 
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been a comfort to him." O'Connor described W.'s sensations at the moment in a letter which Rossetti includes in the same narrative.]

 
Monday, May 28, 1888.

     Received from Ferguson today formal engagement for November Boughs and took it to W. this evening. [See note p221.1] W. will not accede to Ferguson's condition that fifty dollars advance should be paid. "I am willing to pay a good instalment when the work is half done and the entire sum remaining on the completion of the plates. Any other conditions I shall decidedly oppose." Gave me My Book and I to take over in the morning—that "to be the opening piece." He has changed the headline to A backward Glimpse o'er travel'd Roads and has put two papers in one—the Lippincott piece being reinforced by another. Long primer finally chosen."

     Rhys, he said, had been in today—was going to New York to stay with Stedman for some days and would then sail, June 2d or 3d. [See note p221.2] W. was happy that Rhys had seen Dr. Bucke and Niagara, saying smilingly: "I am proud of both.""Rhys is the type of the young men who are to come our way and learn the best we have to teach—of the young men who will rightly perceive, measure, us, and then go back and democratize Great Britain." [See note p221.3] Reference having been made to William Morris W. said: "Rhys and those fellows set great store by him—seem to rally about him as the one who best expresses the things that noble group of English socialists stand for.""Do you have any sympathy for the socialism of these men? " [See note p221.4] "Lots of it—lots—lots. In the large sense, whatever the political process, the social end is bound to be achieved: too much is made of property, here, now, in our noisy, bragging civilization—too little of men. [See note p221.5] As I understand these men they are for putting the crown on man—taking it off things. Ain't we all socialists, after all?"

 
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"But about their political program—how about that?""Of that I'm not so sure—I rather rebel. I am with them in the result—that's about all I can say."

      [See note p222.1] Talking of his art W. said: "People often speak of me as if I was very new—original. I am in fact very old as well as very new. I don't so much come announcing new things as resuming the correct perspective on old things. I am very homely, plain, easy to know, if you take me right. Three or four years ago I spoke to some soldier boys in Brooklyn. I started by saying I did not come to reveal new things but to speak of those particular things about which all of them knew. [See note p222.2] When I see how damned hard everybody strains to say bright things, I think it well to recall them to plain facts—plain divine facts—from time to time."

     W. had been reading in Liberty Tucker's account of his encounter with a tax collector. "Tucker is like Thoreau: why should they pay taxes to a government they do not believe in? [See note p222.3] That's so—why should they? And it's also so—why shouldn't they? Tucker made his protest and paid. Didn't you tell me once that he refused to pay and went to jail up there in Massachusetts? It seems like kicking against night and day—the course of nature—the rainfall."

     W. showed me some literary item concerning Stedman. [See note p222.4] "You can't put a quart of water into a pint bottle: Stedman holds a good pint, but the pint is his limit. It seems ungracious to say that—I do not mean it for being severe. Stedman is miraculously deft—does certain things with wonderful precision. He is after all our best man in his specialty—criticism. He can measure some of the fellows—Longfellow certainly—perhaps Whittier and Bryant—though hardly Bryant—Bryant is a bit Greek. [See note p222.5] As for Emerson—I do not think he can touch Emerson at all." I put in: "Your opinions about Stedman do not always agree.""I suppose not. That's because I don't always agree with my-

 
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self about Stedman. If I could admire Stedman as much as I love him I wouldn't have much trouble making up my mind."

     W. jumped on me for my "radical violence." [See note p223.1] "Some of your vehemence is all right—will stand: some of it is the impatience of youth. You must be on your guard—don't let your dislike for the conventions lead you to do the old things any injustice: lots of the old stuff is just as new as it is old. There is no doubt more than most of us see even in the stagnant pool. [See note p223.2] Be radical—be radical—be not too damned radical!" W. wrote to Walsh for the return of the "sixty-nine" poem which was to have been used in Lippincott's. "He has not sent the poem back—has not answered my note in any way. I do not understand it."

     W. spoke of Hugo. [See note p223.3] "I do not like his insularity. He never said a good word for us—was rather inclined towards the Carlylean point of view with respect to America. Hugo was full of contempt for all things not Parisian—at least, not French. [See note p223.4] Castelar: Oh! How much greater—how quickly, surely, through his poetic insight, did he catch our points—do us justice. [See note p223.5] And I think of Garibaldi—a beautiful character—nobly noble—the most unworldly man of them all. How much comes from the South—from Italy, from Spain—that is rich and permanent! I have such vast love for Mazzini—he, too, was so unworldly, so sacrificing, full of dreams, dreams of human progress—full, too, of courage, courage!" [See note p223.6]

     Some one spoke today of a "pee-a-nist". [See note p223.7] W. laughed and asked: "Do you mean a pianner player?" W. objected to the piano anyway. "It seems to be so unequal to the big things." When some dissent was expressed W. added: "I know. The obvious retort is, that I have never really heard it played. That may be true: I wouldn't go to the stake for my opinion on this subject."

     W. gave me a Dowden letter. "That last passage hits me very hard—is memorable for letter writing. 'You make

 
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no slaves, however many lovers.' Dowden has divined the whole secret. [See note p224.1] Any love that involves slavery is a false love—any love. If I wished to put a final signature upon the Leaves, a sort of consummating entablature, some phrase to round its story—give it the seal, sanction of my motive—I would use that epigram of Dowden: 'To make no slaves however many lovers.' Dowden is a confirmed scholar—the people who call my friends ignoramuses, unscholarly, off the streets, cannot quarrel with the equipment of Dowden. [See note p224.2] Dowden has all the points they insist upon—yet he can tolerate Walt Whitman. There is something to be explained in that.""Explain it.""I don't have to—let the other fellows explain it. Again: That is one of Dowden's early letters—one of the first: he has lasted, still firmly adheres to his original view. [See note p224.3] I have seen many defections—have had quite an experience of that sort: young fellows who take to me strong, then, as they get older, recede—sometimes come to entirely disavow me. Dowden is still haunting the corridors."

8 Montenotte, Cork, Ireland, Sept. 5, 1871.


My dear Sir.

      [See note p224.4] It was very kind of you to send me the photographs of yourself, which I value much. I had previously received one, carte de visite size, from Mr. Rossetti, in which you wear your hat. These I like better, though I liked that.

     I will name some of your friends on this side of the water whom I know myself. I wish I could make it appear how various these natures are which have come into relation with you. [See note p224.5] There is a clergyman, who finds his truth halved between John H. Newman (of Oxford celebrity) and you. There is a doctor—a man of science, and a mystic—a Quaker, he has had a wish to write on the subject of your poems, and may perhaps accomplish it. There is a barrister (an ardent nature, much interested in social and

 
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political principles), he overflows with two authors, Carlyle and yourself. There is a clergyman (the most sterling piece of manhood I know) he has I daresay taken you in more thoroughly than any of us, in proportion to his own soundness and integrity of nature. [See note p225.1] There is an excellent Greek scholar. There is a woman of most fine character and powerful intellect. She, I hope, will at some time write and publish the impression your writings have made upon her, as she is at present about to do in the case of Robert Browning. Then I know three painters in London, all men of decided genius, who care very much for all you do (one of them has, I believe, in MS. some study of your poems, which at some time may come to be printed)—and Nettleship, whom Rossetti knows, and who has published a book on R. Browning. I have been told that Nettleship at one time when Leaves of Grass was out of print and scarce, parted with his last guinea or two to buy a copy.

     All I have named, (and I myself may be included) are young, and may, I think, be fairly taken to represent ideas in literature which are becoming, or which will become, dominant. [See note p225.2]

     One thing strikes me about every one who cares for what you write—while your attraction is most absolute, and the impression you make as powerful as that of any teacher or vates, you do not rob the mind of its independence, or divert it from its true direction. [See note p225.3] You make no slaves, however many lovers.


Very truly yours,


Edward Dowden.

     Should you care to carry out a half intention you had of writing me diret to 50, Wellington Road, Dublin.

     I said to W. "There's some interesting history in that letter.""Yes there is. And by the way, talking of history

 
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—I have found you a letter or two from Henry Clapp to me. [See note p226.1] They, too, are good history: I will give them to you the next time you come, or some time. I can't just put my fingers on them: I had them out today—found them in a bunch of old smeared letters—such things: then laid them down again, I don't know where."

     W. said he has received "no less than three invitations to dinners the last week." Did he decline all of them? "All of them—all. Old men who have enjoyed a certain amount of fame—done great work—require to be fêted, noticed, flattered, commended, cultivated by the ladies, taken the rounds of clubs, of the towns, of meals—of dinners and suppers. [See note p226.2] I don't seem to like that sort of attention myself. [See note p226.3] I have heard that Bryant—still a cute, wise old man—would go of an evening from club to club—the Union League, the Goethe club, what not—being everywhere deferred to—meetings often 'perceiving the great so and so present,' inviting him to the platform, and so forth and so forth. [See note p226.4] I except Emerson from the catalogue of the honeyfugled old men—and Tennyson—though I believe Browning was a club man. Even Longfellow yielded to some extent. The best thing I have lately heard about Browning is that he disapproves of the Browning clubs. Bravo for Browning! Down with the clubs! [See note p226.5] Good bye clubs! Bryant was anyway a good fellow—I always liked to meet him—to have him around, to be around with him—liked to sit next him: I often met and debated with him. When I last saw Bryant he was the very color of death—like this paper here"—reaching forward and touching the cover of a brown-yellow magazine—"the very color of death. [See note p226.6] He never had a ruddy face, but until that occasion had never seemed to me of a sickly hue."

 
Tuesday, May 29, 1888.

     Discussed Ferguson with W. Ferguson is willing to have W. make the payments according to his own custom. W.

 
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said: "I've got no money to speak of but I've got money enough to take care of that book." [See note p227.1] W. said: "My brother Jeff, from St. Louis—civil engineer there: until nine months ago for some time in the Water Department—has been here today." [See note p227.2] Remarked in this connection: "No one of my people—the people near to me—ever had any time for Leaves of Grass—thought it more than an ordinary piece of work, if that." Not even his mother? "No—I think not—even her: there is, as I say, no one in my immediate family who follows me out on that line. My dear mother had every general faith in me; that is where she stopped. She stood before Leaves of Grass mystified, defeated." [See note p227.3] How was George? W. smiled. "You are waggish. You know that George believes in pipes, not in poems."

     W. said: "I picked up this old letter of Herbert Gilchrist's from the floor just now: it will interest you." [See note p227.4] W. had written on the margin of the letter in red ink, at the time the letter was received: "isn't there something pretty consoling and deep in this letter?—deeper than Herbert knew when he wrote?" I read this aloud and asked W.: "Do you still stand by it?""Yes: why not? Read the letter for yourself—see if I have written anything there that the letter don't deserve."


Griff, Warwickshire, August 16th, 1882


Dear Walt.

      [See note p227.5] So glad to hear of your health and spirits being so good and that your book too has gone off so admirably in Phil. That Boston lawyer must be a curiously ignorant fellow or something much worse? However, all's well that ends well. [See note p227.6] I and mother do not think very highly of O'Connor's blustering defence; we think that he is on the wrong tack when he justifies you by the classics and by what Emerson says as if that made any difference one way or the other; it makes some to Emerson but it doesn't substantiate anything one way or the other except to show that Emerson was what everyone already knows him to have

 
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been, a shrewd good man: as far as I can see. But people must find out for themselves, it's no use throwing big adjectives at their heads.

     I don't, dear Walt, think that you have improved upon your early poems either the titles or arrangement. [See note p228.1] I can't see that they needed improvement of any kind. And I fear that people of the next generation will be sadly puzzled to know which is the edition? whether to adopt your early or your later readings? depend upon it William Blake's maxim is a sound one, "First thoughts in Art, second in other matters." And neither do I think that your last edition is as artistically printed or bound as those early volumes. (The English edition).

     I am staying down at George Eliot's native place and am seeing a good deal of her brother whom I like very much indeed. [See note p228.2] Am sketching her house—Griff House—the house in which she lived so many years of her early life. The country here is flat but the land is fertile and the people are a fine stalwart race of men and women. Although I had not seen the Evans family before they are very hospitable and friendly. Wednesday afternoon I played the delightful game of lawn tennis with them and their friends and the following day I was asked to go and play tennis at the Rectory two miles off. Miss Nelly Evans, George Eliot's niece, has just returned from the Highlands: a fresh jolly natural lively candid cleverish woman without beauty is Miss Nelly.

     A Scotch mist this morning so I could not go on as usual with my out-door painting but the afternoon is going to be lovely. Expect to stay in the neighborhood another week, when I shall shift my diggings as my bedroom window will not open: a small cottage, otherwise to my mind.

      [See note p228.3] I am wondering whether you are following our foreign policy as closely as I am: what a splendid fellow Gladstone is—I wish our Premier was thirty years old instead of seventy

 
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something! What a safety valve he is to English politics! and yet thousands of his countrymen hate him as though he had wrought them some personal injury. [See note p229.1] I have just finished reading Democracy. I think that it is inimitable of its kind and quite a new kind to me. How ably the political shark is drawn and what a charming heroine!


Herbert H. Gilchrist.

      [See note p229.2] I read the O'Connor passage aloud, asking W.: "Do you endorse that?""Yes and no: I don't think O'Connor's note was indispensable—or the Emerson letter—or anything, for that matter: so far Herbert was right. But we could just as well say that the storm is not indispensable—or that peace is not indispensable: it is a doctrine that works both ways. The fact is that they are all elements going to complete an episode. Somewhere in the Leaves I say: 'Everything in its place is equally great with everything else in its place.' Apply that doctrine here and you have the truth.""What, then, was the 'consolation' of the letter?""Its genial feeling—its calm: its insistence all through that the Leaves are competent to take care of themselves. [See note p229.3] Yes, that is very true. If they do not take care of themselves I am afraid they will not be taken care of.""But where does that leave O'Connor?" W. laughed. "I am not to be confused, defeated. What shall we say to it if the Leaves choose to take care of themselves, for one way, through O'Connor?""But where does that leave Gilchrist?" W. laughed again, heartily. [See note p229.4] "See here now: I'm not here to prove things but to say things!""What do you say to his kick against your later editions?""Nothing. William O'Connor seems to feel the same way about it—Bucke too: perhaps even Burroughs.""But you—what do you believe?""I don't believe—I work: I make the changes when they seem to be necessary and that's an end of it." One other thing I asked W. "You do not have any strong

 
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feeling of admiration for Gladstone?""I'm afraid I do not: I am sure not. My feeling about him is not condemnatory—only indifferent." [See note p230.1] I told W. Rhys had happened back in Camden today, unexpectedly, and appeared at Harned's, W. expressing surprise that R. had not stopped in on him. But R. is to get in to see W. in the morning.

     W. remarked to me: "I have seen a statement attributed to Matthew Arnold—the statement, that goodness is not common—and feel inclined to quarrel with it. [See note p230.2] In masses of men, as I have always observed, the trend seems to me to be towards the light—towards life, growth: yes, I may even say decorum. You have told me some things in your own personal experience lately that go a long way to confirm me. [See note p230.3] That, after all, is my message—what I am here for—what I am to testify. I am not a witness for saviors—exceptional men: for the nobility—no: I am a witness for the average man, the whole. That is where I quarrel with Arnold—that is why we stand in a sense for different things." W. had never read Mill's autobiography. I had it with me. [See note p230.4] He said: "I should like to read it—must read it. Is it a big volume? I should like to borrow it. I ought to know more about Mill than I do." Reverted to Arnold: "Perhaps it is the literary habit, which grows on all the fellows, and sets them far apart from men, from life, from sympathy, by and bye. [See note p230.5] Arnold is a critic—a critic. Do you know a more dangerous business? A critic writes about a book—says yes to it, or no: blesses it, curses it. How does he come to his result? When he takes up a book he is himself uncertain—what he finally decides to say about it depends upon his mood—perhaps upon the condition of his stomach, the liver. [See note p230.6] I know this don't apply to Arnold's pet doctrine of the saving remnant—that, I am aware, was no accidental judgment passed in some moment of stomachic disturbance. With Arnold such a negative humor is constitutional. He does not know the people: how, then, could he have faith in

 
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them? Look at Thoreau. Even his love of nature seems of the intellectual order—the bookish, library, fireside—rather than smacking of out of doors. [See note p231.1] This is not the general view: it is my view. With Burroughs it is different: Burroughs has told me of his youth, spent in one of the still more or less crude counties of New York State, among trees, the corn, the wild flowers. Outdoors taught Burroughs gentle things about men—it had no such effect on Thoreau. [See note p231.2] After all I suppose outdoors had nothing to do with that difference. The contrast just shows what sort of men Thoreau and Burroughs were to start with. I only mean to say that while I have no distrust of Thoreau I often find myself catching a literary scent off his phrases."

     Ferguson today sent a signed contract to W. but asked for no contract in return. We are to get our first proofs day after tomorrow, W.'s birthday. [See note p231.3] W. said tonight as he in substance has said to me before: "My relations with William Rossetti have always been the friendliest—the most reassuring: but I am never quite sure I did right to permit any sort of qualification of the Leaves in the Hotten edition produced under his editorship. No doubt Rossetti was right to propose it: his logic was good enough—Like Emerson's, on Boston Common, irrefutable. [See note p231.4] No doubt, too, I was right to assent. But I have often asked myself since whether I would not have been righter if I had said no. However, the course we pursued seemed at the time to be the only one. That is our excuse. We had considerable correspondence about it—Rossetti, Conway. If I ever turn any of those letters up they will provide a nice milky cocoanut for your literary feast. There's Conway—I have not wavered in my faith in him, notwithstanding the irritations to which he at certain times subjected me." [See note p231.5] "What irritations?""I'll tell you about all that some other day. It's too long a story to begin on just as you are about to go home."

 
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Wednesday, May 30, 1888.

     Decoration Day. [See note p232.1] Saw W. in forenoon. Alone. In very good shape, for him. I have been a little anxious. Would he be in trim for the 31st? I confessed my concern. He said: "I've had the same concern myself: my body is nowadays so easily shoved off its balance: but I am feeling quite myself today—head, belly, all."

     W. said after a pause: "You remember our talk over Arnold yesterday? [See note p232.2] I was mousing about, looking for something else, awhile ago, and came across this. It explains itself. It bears more or less upon the thing I was saying in connection with Arnold—you remember? I was contending for the average good heart of the people: the sterling common soil of the race. [See note p232.3] Arnold always gives you the notion that he hates to touch the dirt—the dirt is so dirty! But everything comes out of the dirt—everything: everything comes out of the people, the everyday people, the people as you find and leave them: not university people, not F.F.V. people: people, people, just people!" [See note p232.4] W. laughed. He had handed me a folded sheet of paper. I opened the paper and read it. It contained the penciled draft of a note written by W. to a Miss Gregg, a hospital worker, during the war. "Read it," said W., "if you can: it is a chirographic mixup, but you are a printer and will get through with it. [See note p232.5] It cuts to the marrow—at least to my marrow: is a sort of confession of faith on my part. Can you imagine Arnold going into such work, standing all its wrenchings, wreckings—coming out whole?" Before I started to read W. added: "I don't mean that for egotism: I mean it only as indicating a distinction which it is entirely proper for us to make. [See note p232.6] You of course understand that plenty of others then did and always will do as I did: I do not admit that we will ever fall short of that simple first sympathy man for man which drove me as it drove others into hospital work during

 
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the war. What I object to in so much that we call education, culture, scholarship, is that it seems to invest its avatars with contempt for the elemental qualities in character. [See note p233.1] The hospitals put our feet right on the ground—put us into immediate association with the bottom facts of virtue." I read W.'s note.

Sept. 7, '63


Dear friend.

      [See note p233.2] You spoke the other day, partly in fun, about the men being so undemonstrative. I thought I would write you a line as I hear you leave the hospital tomorrow for a few weeks. Your labor of love and disinterestedness here in Hospital is appreciated. I have heard the ward A patients speak of you with gratitude, sometimes with enthusiasm. They have their own invariable ways (not outside éclat, but in manly American hearts however rude however undemonstrative to you.) I thought it would be sweet to your tender and womanly heart to know what I have so often heard from the soldiers about you as I sat by their sick cots. I too have learnt to love you, seeing your tender heart, and your goodness to these wounded and dying young men—for they have grown to seem to me as my sons or dear young brothers. [See note p233.3]

     As I am poor I cannot make you a present, but I write you this note dear girl, knowing you will receive it in the same candor and good faith it is written.

      [See note p233.4] W. said: "I can hardly wait for tomorrow: I want to see my first proofs." Left him. Went to Harned's for dinner. Kennedy came in at Harned's while we were eating and stayed there two hours, talking of various matters, but mostly about W., to whom the three of us afterwards went. W. at the front window as we arrived. W. waved his right hand, crying: "Walk in! Walk in!" Kennedy asked: "Don't you get tired of having so many callers?" [See note p233.5] W. answered gaily: "Oh! No—come right in—all of you"—laughing—

 
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"I'll take the whole dose at once!" Stayed the best portion of two hours, W. talking very freely all the while. [See note p234.1] Kennedy said to me: "I hardly expected to find the old man so wide awake. He's as lively as a cricket!"

     W. talked of the Donnelly Cryptogram again. "It is my final belief that the Shakespearean plays were written by another hand than Shaksper's—I don't say whose that other hand was—but I am confident it was another hand." [See note p234.2] Kennedy asked: "Why is it necessary to infer the other hand?" To which W. answered: "It is not necessary to infer it: I infer it: that's all there is to it, to me. Donnelly's book has only served to confirm—to bring to a head—certain ideas which have long lain there in my mind nebulously—half formed—though the cipher argument, attaching the authorship to Bacon, is by no means so convincing. [See note p234.3] You see, I am much less sure for Bacon than I am sure against Shaksper." W. discussed with Harned some legal features involved in the plays. "I know it is said that that legal knowledge is very faulty, imperfect. Suppose it is—grant it: still, it is there: the legal phrase: the legal habit, atmosphere, what not. I am more and more amazed at the little verity we can attach to the man, the player, the Stratford Shaksper. [See note p234.4] There is much in the plays that is offensive to me, anyhow: yes, in all the plays of that period: a grandiose sweep of expression: forced, false, phrasing: much of it, much of it: indeed, I find myself often laughing over its sophistications."

     Kennedy spoke to W. about his own Whitman volume, which is to come out through Wilson, of Edinburgh. [See note p234.5] McKay has offered to market it on this side of the Atlantic. K. said: "It's no use even asking a Boston publisher to handle the volume." McKay is to bring out a Whitman book compiled by Elizabeth Porter Gould—selections. [See note p234.6] W. assents to it. "I don't like the idea of having it done but I like still less the idea of telling her not to do it." Harned asked: "Have

 
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you written anything for Decoration Day?""Yes—a bit for The Herald, which probably was published this morning, though my today's paper is not yet here. [See note p235.1] Tomorrow is my real Decoration Day: the Harneds are going to take me in hand tomorrow—garland me: set me up. You will be there, of course, both of you"—nodding to K. and to me. "I have already had four or five little remembrances by mail—two from Rhys: a bouquet of roses and two bottles of Jersey champagne. And by the way, that champagne—let's have some of it now—let's open one of the bottles." [See note p235.2] The bottle was opened. I took a sip from W.'s own glass—he barely tasted it—W. then sending this glass out by me to Mrs. Davis in the back room. "I am right up against my birthday now—feel quite chipper, for me: I am sure I can go through with it without lowering my colors. I am always more or less on tenter hooks about my health these times."

     W. showed us a Walter Scott volume—an edition of 1833—with a title page drawn and written in his own hand, in red and black ink. [See note p235.3] Pasted on the inside of the front cover was a process facsimile of Governor Dix's "shoot him on the sport" order, made for W., as he explained, "by a clerk in Washington, a girl, who was sweet on me." [See note p235.4] We laughed. W. added: "I used to get love letters galore, those days—perfumed letters—from girls down there." Reference being again made to Scott, W. said: "I prefer the Border Minstrelsy to anything else: it is to me the richest vein he worked." Harned and Kennedy talked some together about Europe. Both had been abroad. [See note p235.5] As to monuments W. said: "I don't think I'd take any interest at all in them." A neighbor's little girl came up to the window. W. greeted her and smiled and handed her out one of the Rhys roses. The report that Rhys was in town yesterday was false. [See note p235.6] Harned's maid mistook the name. This seemed to comfort W. "I would find it hard to believe Rhys could come to Camden

 
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and skip me." W. finally said: "Well—we will all meet tomorrow: good luck! good luck! [See note p236.1] And you, Tom—let me thank you in advance—and Mrs. Harned, too—thank her, too: tell her I told you to say this." And addressing me as I hesitated a minute after the other two had withdrawn: "God bless you, boy! And don't forget the proofs: the birthday won't be complete without the proofs."

     Among the notes above, made in the morning, I forgot to say that W. gave me one of the promised Clapp letters. "Henry Clapp was always loyal—always very close to me—in that particular period—there in New York. [See note p236.2] You can get much significant material out of his notes. I want to talk with you at length some day about Henry Clapp. In the meantime take this letter with you—read it—see if what I tell you is not true. Henry Clapp stepped out from the crowd of hooters—was my friend: a much needed ally at that time (having a paper of his own) when almost the whole press of America when it mentioned me at all treated me with derision or worse. If you ever write anything about me in which it may be properly alluded to I hope you will say good things about Henry Clapp: indeed, I charge you to say them. [See note p236.3] To ignore him, or to say what should not be said about him, would be more unjust to me than to him." Clapp wrote on a letter head of the New York Saturday Press.


New York, Mch 27, 1860.


My dear Walt

      [See note p236.4] I am so busy that I hardly have time to breathe; moreover, I am in the greatest possible difficulties on account of one or two past liabilities still.

     This must explain my not answering your letter promptly.

     Do write and let me know about when the book is to be ready.

     I can do a great deal for it.

 
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     I meant to have done more last week, but followed your advice and made a modest and copyable announcement. [See note p237.1] The papers all over the land have noticed your poem in the Atlantic and have generally pitched into it strong; which I take to be good for you and your new publishers, who if they move rapidly and concentrate their forces will make a Napoleonic thing of it.

     It just occurs to me that you might get Messrs. T. & E. to do a good thing for me: to wit, advance me say one hundred dollars on advertising account—that is if they mean to advertise with me. Or if they don't to let me act for them here as a kind of N.Y. agent to push the book, and advance me the money on that score. [See note p237.2]

     I must have one hundred dollars before Saturday night or be in a scrape the horror of which keeps me awake o' nights. I could if necessary give my note at three mos. for the amount and it is a good note since we have never been protested.

     Of course I know how extremely improbable it is that Messrs. T. & E. to whom I am an entire stranger will do anything of the kind: but in suggesting it, I have done only my duty to the Sat. Press, and, as I think, to the cause of sound literature.


Yrs truly,


H. Clapp Jr.

 [See note p237.3]

     I need not say, we are all anxious to see you back at Pfaff's, and are eagerly looking for your proposed letter to the crowd.

      [See note p237.4] This letter was addressed to W. care of Thayer & Eldridge, Boston. W. added to me: "Poor Henry! He, too, was always hard up. Poor Walt! Poor most everybody! Always hard up!" And as to the papers that "pitched into" him W. said: "Henry was right: better to have people stirred against you if they can't be stirred for you—better that than not to stir them at all. I think I first thrived on opposition: the allies came later." W. reverted to

 
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Clapp. "You may think Henry was hard up because of his extravagance—of something personal. That is not the point: he was generous, careful: the trouble was, he tried to carry an impossible load. [See note p238.1] Henry was in our sense a pioneer, breaking ground before the public was ready to settle."

 
Thursday, May 31, 1888.

     W.'s birthday. [See note p238.2] Dropped in on Mickle street on my way to work in the morning. W. in bed but awake. Little talk. I kissed W. my congratulations. He was very fine about it. "Seventy years—seventy failures—seventy successes: which do you say?""It amounts to success, whatever may have been the failures by the way." [See note p238.3] "Good! Good!" I asked W.: "And don't every life amount to success?" He looked at me an instant, then said: "I see what you mean. Yes—every life amounts to success." I hurried off, W. calling after me: "I'll see you at Tom's: don't fail us at Tom's. In the meantime see Ferguson—bring me something from Ferguson: I am hungry for something from Ferguson."

     I did see Ferguson. [See note p238.4] W. yesterday told me he had written to Ferguson formally with regard to printing matters, stating that his "friend, Horace Traubel," had no doubt made all the required arrangements. "I told Ferguson that my note was sent by way of clinching what you had done." F. showed me the note today. Was greatly amused by one sentence in which W. advises F. to put "two good men on it (no sloucher)." <