Commentary

Disciples


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Sunday, October 14, 1888.

     7.40 p. m. W. sat in his chair, the light turned half down, his head resting on his hands. I had not shaken him out of his abstraction. Stood at the foot of the bed a minute. He looked up, saw me: "Ah! Horace! is that you? Sit down—sit down!" I asked: "What's the matter, Walt? Are you not well?" Smiled. "Yes and no. I have not had a breezy day of it: the long confinement here in the one room—four or five months of it—is telling on me badly." Lindell gave me money for a copy of N. B. Would W. autograph it? "Yes, certainly: don't I autograph everything? and Lindell can have what he

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asks for from me. I shouldn't accept money from him for this book anyway."
Signed the book. At Germantown today. Clifford gave me his portrait. W. looked at it searchingly and with pleasure. "It is a splendid face—strong, courageous. Clifford deserves to be looked at, he presents so inspiring a front." Also showed him a portrait of Charles C. Burleigh given me by Edward, his son. "Yes, that's the man: what a beautiful face. I know his work, heard him speak. I can see him now: the Tabernacle there in New York, the abolition meetings. It's the man—the same man." The subject of the title portrait came up. "See here," he said, handing me a sheet of paper: "I've made a note on the subject which I want you to take over and read to Brown." This was his pencilled memorandum:

"The head is generally satisfactory and even fine—the main mar is 'the top-knot and Romeo Italian curls' (as a cynical person here calls it all) at the crest of the head and towards the forehead—Can this be combed out (so to speak) more in consonance with the copy?—Some hair should be left there brushed back—but not in a top knot or Italian curls—which are not now and never were worn there in that way—If remedied, corrected, it should be done with great delicacy—not to spoil it as existing. W. W. leaves it to you muchly—and thanks you all for the taste and care and success already achieved."

     W. then added, addressing me: "Why do they all set to and curl my hair? Look at that picture of Herbert's over there now. Look at those twinges of hair about the forehead: they make me up as if I was to figure as a snake-charmer." Said again of McKay: "Repeat to him what I said yesterday—give it to him straight—do not apologize for it. You have to knock some people down before they understand that you are saying no." Was it just the thing for authors to market their own books? "I used to have trouble with myself about the dignity of authors—whether it comported well with the rest of him that an author should peddle his own books. I got bravely over all doubts

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on that point. My theory is that the author might be the maker even of the body of his book—set the type, print the book on a press, put a cover on it, all with his own hands: learning his trade from A to Z—all there is of it. The literary craftsman should not be so helpless with his hands."

     Expressed curiosity to see the Critic piece on Gosse. His copy not yet here. "I guess the Critic people haven't much money. I always have had a soft spot for the paper—for the Gilders, in fact: of course chiefly for Watson—dear man!—and the Mrs. Gilder, his wife, who has shown me distinguished good will at all times." How had they paid him? "Oh! often my own price sent them with the piece. There were times when I named no amount myself, when they did not pay so well. Still, in the main, they paid well. I don't know who for, but they sent to me several times for written copies of poems. I did not send them, of course—it is not my practice. I did years ago do that thing for John Hay: copied My Captain for him: he paid me handsomely for it. Hay is a good friend—I have known him a long while." Who did Gilder wish his copies for? "I don't know—some lady this or that, who is collecting autographs. If I was inclined to do that thing, of course I would be willing to do it for Joe Gilder—for his sister." In this connection he had more to say of Hay: "John has helped me more than once in princely fashion. Ah!" said W.— "I think John sent me thirty dollars for one book in 1876—that was the amount?"—pausing thoughtfully: "And it was a friend in need: I was sorely down just then: a friend in need—Hay and one or two others: sales abroad of the ten dollar book—lifted me out of all the trouble, deep trouble, of that period."

     What had he been reading to-day? "Not much: not as much as usual: Tom was in, brought the Tribune: that and the Press have been about all. And by the way," W. continued, "I have sent the Tribune off to Bucke—sent it this evening: and now I am sorry I have done so. The Tribune contained a piece which you should have seen: I intended to have you take it first." He described "a fellow" who went during the War "from the Southern

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Confederacy to London—there edited the Index, the organ of the Confederacy abroad. This man came back to New York afterwards—became intimate with the Stoddards (Dick Stoddard, you know)—and it is, as I understand, Mrs. Stoddard who publishes these notes, which are interesting and vivid because they seem so thoroughly spontaneous, even awkward. They are jotted down like my notes: at the time—or the next minute —on the field—the memory not being much trusted. It reads like this: I went here, I went there, met so and so: met Carlyle, met Tennyson, met Browning: they looked well, ill—said one thing, said another: and so on."
At this point W. paused. On resuming he said: "It was for the Carlyle portion of this stuff that I had meant to save the paper unluckily sent away. But no doubt we'll hear more about it—the other papers will take it up." He considered the Carlyle evidence "conclusive." I questioned: "Has it finally convinced you?" "No—confirmed: it goes along with all the rest."

     By a natural stop and transition he then spoke of Hunter. "Hunter told a story when he was here last which is to the same effect. You know how cheery Hunter is—how well he can tell a story, laugh: what a good voice he has. Hunter knows all the Scotch country well. It was in one of the Carlyle neighborhoods. Mrs. Welsh was dead: her effects were to be removed, Carlyle superintending—irascible, nasty: had an immediate altercation with the hired mover: the boss mover arrived and neatly turned the tables on Carlyle: asked him, 'Do you want these things moved?' 'Yes.' 'Very well then, leave the room—we can't do it while you are here.' Carlyle got off the scene: afterwards invited the movers, boss and hired, to dinner, but all hands refused." In the midst of this story W. had suddenly turned my way: "It's a long tale: shall I go on?—do you want to hear it?" He saw the hat in my hand—thought I was impatient to go. I said: "You bet!" Then he went on: "I consider it so markedly significant I want you to hear it—want to tell it to you. I know Hunter tells it better—much better: he so enriches it with his Scottish twists of expression. You see what it all

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points to: sourness, chronic sourness, over all things: nothing, nobody, under the whole heavens, worth his consideration: all a devil of a bad lot."
"And yet," he continued, "I know this don't upset you: you seem bound to excuse Carlyle whatever is produced." I explained: "Not exactly that: I am only loyal to a principle which you yourself endorse." W. laughed: "I see that you stick to your point: it is a good one. John would always say (you know I endorse him in that): consider Carlyle scientifically: we have talked about it: consider him scientifically, judicially—not as if he was a man with one side only but as if he was composite." I added here: "Yes—the balance after he is summed up." W. then concluding: "True: true: Carlyle was three thousand miles away: Carlyle lived under peculiar local conditions: Carlyle is dead: such things: let us remember all that."

     The three drafts of old letters W. gave me the day before yesterday were brief. The one to Conway was endorsed: "Draft of note to Conway about personalism—went March 18, '68. Looked over July 29, 1885."


Washington, March 18, '68.

My dear Conway.

I send the accompanying article in hopes you can do me the favor to dispose of it to an English magazine. The one I first think of is the Fortnightly Review. If not that some other. I place the whole business, price, &c. in your absolute control. Only understand that the piece is to be published here in the Galaxy for May. Some English magazine for May is what would suit best. In haste.



Washington, Aug. 22, '71

Dear Mr. Dowden.

I have received your kind letter and your review in the Westminster, and thank you heartily. I wish to write to you at more length, and may do so before long. I take real comfort in the thought that I have such friends in Ireland including yourself. I wish to hear more of Mr. Tyrrell, whom you speak of.



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Washington, Jan. 17, '68

Edmund Routledge:
Dear Sir:


In compliance with request in your name in letter from George Routledge and Sons, New York, of December 28th and my own reply thereto of December 30th, I send you herewith a poem for the Magazine, if found acceptable. For my own convenience and to insure correctness I have had the manuscript put in type and transmit it to you in the shape of a printed proof. The price is one hundred and twenty dollars in gold, payable here, and I should like thirty copies of the magazine sent me here. It is to be distinctly understood that I reserve the right to print it in any future editions of my book. Hoping success to the Magazine, and that my piece may be found acceptable for it, I remain

Respectfully &c yours

Walt Whitman.


     Advised me to take Ibsen's The Pillars of Society and read it: "Take it—take it for a long while, take it for a long while"—then, laughingly: "Take it for good if you can make good out of it." "You don't seem to take any great shine to Ibsen." "No—it seems that way: and yet I realize him to be an immense power: he is dynamic, vital: I do not seem to find the exact place for him." "But you think he has a place?" "Do you?" "Sure—don't you?" He said quickly: "Sure—sure—but where is it?" I remarked: "You don't often give puzzles up: you generally find some way to solve them." He shook his head: "Did I say I gave Ibsen up? I'm a little slower than common making him out—that's all."


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