Commentary

Disciples


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Friday, September 14th, 1888.

     W. spent a bad day. Reading Emerson-Carlyle correspondence when I went in. Done with the Carlyle life. "You may as well take it home with you to-night." he said, as he looked about the floor for it. "Yes, take it. Have you the letters of Jane Carlyle—'the final memorials' as they call them?" I could get the book for him. "Do that, then, if it can be done without trouble. While I am in for it I want to go right through with these books—the whole of them. Nothing that I can read seems to change my opinion of Carlyle. The Carlyle books are rather black reading: but, for all in all, I get along reasonably well with their gloom. Carlyle was not first of all a cheery presence—he inspires, when he does inspire (and he often does that) by the vehemence and sweep of his faith." Did he wish to read Conway's Emerson and Carlyle? "Hardly—at present: sometime, maybe. I shrink from Conway."

     W. spoke of "the overplus of politics in the papers." Picked up a copy of the Book Maker and pointed out heads of Harrison and Cleveland. "As for me I shall be satisfied if Harrison is elected and satisfied if Cleveland is elected: my own faith (if I have any faith at all, which I doubt) is in Cleveland: but whatever the result the greater end I am after will come some day just as well." "What end?" "Some real democracy—a world-democracy: brotherhood (universal comradery): things these damned huckster parties at the best (and they have their virtues) never even dream of." W. read a W. W. parody in the Presbyterian Journal. Laughed over it. "It's not at all bad." He has finally decided to make price of complete Walt Whitman six dollars. He will call it an "author's edition," and put no

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publisher's imprint on the title page, though in the page of ads he wrote today it is announced as for sale by McKay. He will autograph the whole six hundred. "Perhaps I shall get a hundred up my own extra best way: I can do that without hurt to the rest and make a penny or two by it." W. is going on in this work without consultation with McKay, whom he tries to treat fairly and with courtesy. "I want to make this an author's book. Sometimes I think all books should be author's books. We have got the whole author business twisted into all sorts of devilish business tangles. The author needs to be rescued from the publisher." "Who will rescue him?" "He will rescue himself". "How?" "I don't know—but he will do it. He will some day make his own books, cover and all." Paid Ferguson today. W. said to me: "Keep a sharp lookout on all our affairs. I depend upon you absolutely—your cuteness, which—let me tell you the truth—is more than considerable." W. asked: "What about the Burroughs letter I gave you the other day? You have not mentioned it since." I still had it in my pocket. Produced it. "Is there anything you wished to ask me about?" "Do you remember its contents quite clearly?" "I think I do—but make sure, read it to me." This I did.


Esopus, N. Y.,
Aug. 10, 1877.

Dear Walt,

I am back only a few days from a three weeks' trip to Canada. The morning after my return some wretch poisoned my dog and the loss has quite upset me. I have not been myself since. Then I am out of sorts in body and wife is away under the doctor's care, so that I am not having a very good time. We travelled—Mr. Johns and me—about twenty-three hundred miles, and excepting a week spent in the woods north of Quebec, the trip was a good deal of a bore. We went by the way of Boston and I ran about there some. I called on Guernsey of the Boston Herald and found him a very likable young man—in fact a thoroughly good fellow. He said he had written to you but had received no reply yet. I told him you

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were probably away in the country. I liked the looks of Boston much. We poked about Cambridge some and then went over to Concord and spent a night there. I found Mr. Sanborn and was cordially received. I had seen him the day before in Boston. I like Sanborn all except his lofty coldness and reserve. It seems to be the style out there to affect ignorance of everything you are interested in. He showed me the home and some of the haunts of Thoreau, and then his grave and that of Hawthorne. He took me to see Alcott, whom I liked. Alcott praised my Emerson piece, but Sanborn appeared not to know anything about my writings. We were at Alcott's only a few minutes. He spoke in a friendly way about you &c. We passed by Emerson's house and I admired his woodpile. I did not feel like calling on him of my own motive. Alcott said he was well. I liked Concord, but I don't see how any great thing can come out of that place.


I got the Library Table with Blood's sanguinary review of my book. It is very petty criticism and I think I can stand it better than Blood can. He evidently wanted to pitch into my Eagle, but was afraid of the claws. I hope I shall see you soon, as I must go to W. this month unless the heat is too oppressive. Write me how and where you are.

Ever yours,

John Burroughs.


     W. said: "That's a suggestive picture of Concord. I wonder if he would stand by the letter if he saw it today. That touch on Sanborn is explicable but only deals with his surface. Sanborn is God's own! We often catch 'em in moods—bad moods and we hate 'em, good moods and we love 'em. The love may be as unreasonable as the hate. Though John is simple and true he is not a sample of the comrade par excellence: if he lacks at all (I suppose he does—we all do) it is on that side. He would not for such a reason make himself a companion to whom a stranger would surrender on sight. I had something the same feeling he had when I was in Concord. 'I don't see

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how any great thing can come out of that place.' I didn't see it, either—but it came: and so the case must rest."
William Ingram— "the dear old Quaker man," W. calls him—wrote this note to W.:


Telford, Bucks Co., Pa.,
Sept. 12, 1888.

Dear Friend,

I send today by express a basket of fruit. It ought to be emptied right away. The golden rod on the top will make a bouquet for you. Let me know if the two bottles of wine got broke. I hope you are feeling better. Mrs. Ingram still keeps weak but is able to be around. I am kept very busy looking after the fruit. We all send much love.

From your friend,

William Ingram.


     The bouquet was on the table before W., who remarked: "Ingram is the best salt of the earth: he is the finest sample of the democrat—of the plain self-sufficient comrade: a real man among real men: thank God, not professional—only human. He don't write about books and philosophy, though he is a philosopher. He just sends much love. I have thousands of ornamental letters that send me no love at all. 'We all send much love.'" W. gave me a letter from Bucke dated 12th. It contained a reference to the marriage of a young nephew of his wife's. "I know the young man," said W.: "he is a rather fine sample of the Englishman, Scotchman. Kittermaster is in the business line. The English business men seem superior: they are not so quick, nervous, as our fellows, but more solid—though we will come to all that, too, in time: our commercial hysteria is only a temporary shadow: it will pass off." I consulted W. about some errors in Specimen Days not indicated by him on the sheets sent to the printers. "Make the changes if you think they need to be made. You see to all such matters: I am absolutely in your hands."


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     The big book is already on press and will all be printed by the middle of next week. W. had not "yet settled with" himself "as to the character of the general title-page: yet it will come: everything to me finally must please the eye—must commend itself to my sight." Mr. Coates writes me—says he wants more books. W. exclaimed: "Books? God speed you!" Kennedy writes me another of his little notes. Read it to W. Kennedy enclosed some newspaper slip about Hartmann. W. said: "I have more hopes of him, more faith in him, than any of the boys. They all seem to regard him as a humbug—or, if not that, a sensationalist anyhow or adventurer. I can't see it that way. I expect good things of him—extra good things: not great but good. The Boston fellows seem to be particularly strong against him: some of them seem to think that if he is not a bad egg he is at least the raw stuff of a bad egg. That sounds very familiar: lots of the most amiable people have from time to time anonymously written me the same facts about myself."

     Read him a long letter from Morse, now in Chicago. Morse complains of Frank Harned's poor photos of the busts. "Sidney is right," said W.: "The pictures are poor—I see they won't do." I said "I am sorry the Morse head is not to go in the books." "So am I: but the books are now about done with—we can't alter the plans. Morse's time will come—he is secure: I have no fear that this work will be lost. A time for both—for the Hicks and for the Whitman—is bound to come. As to what you have said, Horace—I quite agree with you. I too see the great features in that portrait—that it is seamed over and over with tracings of power and truth: in fact, I may say I am willing to go down to the future, to be judged of in days to come—the long, long hereafter—by Sidney's head—by that more than any other—more than all others." Kennedy spoke in his note of Baxter's departure with Prof. Edward Morse to attend a Congress of Archaeologists abroad. W. said: "I am surprised at the absence of Dr. Brinton's name from the list of delegates. Brinton is the best one of them all: the first person I always think of in connection with that science." I took him back this evening

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Parodies and the little Australian volume of labor poems. W. was hit hard by one passage in Morse's letter—this:




"Love to Walt. I'm real glad, with your help, he has been able to get out his book. I should like to gather up all that remains of his material in a final waft of the spirit. There has been enough biography—enough analysis; now there needs a spirit touch or soul interest—not explanation or vindication, but ideal summary under ideal light. I know what that means but can't tell anybody who doesn't also know."


     W. made me read this a second and a third time—his head bent forward to listen. "That is good enough to go with the best," he said: "it is Sidney as he is in elect moments. We want to preserve it: it is for next year and any year as well as for this." As I left W. asked: "Did you write John about the grapes? They were oh! so fine! Send my love for them: tell him we sit here and enjoy them and the thought of them—of him."


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