Commentary

Disciples


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Thursday, July 25, 1889

     7.55 P.M. Again I had to wait till W. had returned from his chair-voyaging. But tonight he had proved for one thing—came home by way of P.O. and got his mail, which he always is pained to miss. I had a letter from Bucke, saying: "I must be away all day tomorrow in Sarnia, at Pardee's funeral—tell W. that Pardee passed away quietly at noon yesterday. It is well—his mind had been completely gone for weeks—did not know a single soul—could not speak a word—absolute eclipse." I asked W. if he had heard from Bucke recently? "Oh yes! a letter within a day or two." "Did he say anything in it of Pardee?" "No—why?" Then I explained as above. W. exclaimed, "Oh! I had heard nothing of that. Poor Pardee! Gone at last!" Then added, "Yes—he has been here to see me—I have met him: he was what you would have called a brainy man—a man of parts, intellectuality. He at one time

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occupied a position of importance under the government up there—as I understood, had weight in counsel—was a man rare in his way. And now he is passed away! Nor was he old, either—probably 60—if older, not much above it. Poor Pardee! It is the end of the drama, for him!"
Several times last year Bucke wrote me that it was singular, his three closest friends—O'Connor, Whitman, Pardee—down with like afflictions—and W. expected then to be the first to go. But first O'Connor, now Pardee, and still W. is in one sense whole and sound and gives us hope.

     When I asked him if he had looked up a picture for Bush yet he exclaimed— "O! bless my heart! I never thought of it at all, the whole day through. That's a good sample of my memory these days. And yet he must have it—it or something; for I want to prove to him that he is remembered!" I sent Gilder his "revise" today. W. remarked: "It was a horrible sight to look upon—wasn't it? And yet I know an author's temptation always to do likewise—I myself, for one—I am always tempted to put in, take out, change. Though, having been a printer myself, I have what may be called an anticipatory eye—know pretty well as I write how a thing will turn up in the type—appear—take form. But in spite of that, I remember how, years ago, I used to wish for the privilege for myself—the privilege to alter—even extensively. But various things have intervened—the doubt if I would better it if I did go at it again—the thought of the printer—such considerations!"

     Then: "That reminds me—I have a mission for you—a commission: I want you to buy something for me. Eddy," turning to Ed, who sat on the step next to me— "Ed, go into the parlor—you will find a little bit of a package there on a table—near it a big card—bring me both." Which Ed did—W. thereupon continuing, "They are pens. I want some of the big pens—Esterbrook's: I know you can find them—they come on a card—a dozen of them—with a holder along." It was Esterbrook's

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"Mammoth," of which I took due note. He added— "The old army passes were written with enormous big pens, sometimes: have you never seen one? I must hunt one up and give it to you. They were written immense—a letter an inch high often—intended to be read at night—by light of lamp, lantern, candle, what-not—anything. Yes, they were often forged—but not forged as much as you would suppose: the fellows grew to be very cute in detecting forgeries. Oh! how the past comes back, even by such a little memory as that!"

     Habberton in town recently—Ferguson printing a book of his. Had he been over? "No—you remember, I don't know Habberton personally: I am told he is very friendly to me, to Leaves of Grass—even warmly so—but I have never met him." W. wrote on the sheet that he gave me containing sample (old) pen: "Get me a card of, (or any other way) this kind pens W. W."


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