Commentary

Disciples


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Friday, August 9, 1889

     7.45 P.M. W. at parlor window. There had just been a tremendous rain, with thunder and lightning. He had kept by the open window through it all. But had not been well today. "It has been a poorly time with me—a poorly time. But now I am relieved." News? that is his invariable question. What had I brought? On his own part said, "Buckwalter has been in again—but he did not sit down—was only here very briefly." Said at one moment: "More and more do I see that it is with the young man, the young woman,—that there lies the future of Leaves of Grass—that its real constituency will be these newer personalities." I interposed— "Is not that what I have often argued?" He nodded assent. "I know you have argued it—often—but I have been slow to take it up—slow to admit it—giving in only gradually—though now it would seem surely. Look at such fellows as Richard Watson Gilder, Julian Hawthorne—others—what tremendous strides they have taken! There has been, for us, no more significant events of late days." The picture of Garland, which did not particularly strike me, W. liked very much. "As you look at it more and more, you will take it in: though considerably—too considerably—smoothed off, it is very just, apt." I renewed our insurance today for 6 months—W. acquiescent. "I wished to leave that entirely with you," he said. Asked about the book. "It must now nearly be done. When you have proofs with the whole mass—except, of course, the title-page—I want to see it—want you to bring it down to me—leave with me a day or two, I have wished for about a page—will no doubt have something to say myself—but cannot make up my mind exactly what till I see it in its entirety—the ensemble—so as to take in its

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full measure."
I told him I had reserved a page next "contents" and opposite his speech, clean at the front. "Well—that might do—though I had it rather in mind to come in at the very last—the final page or so. Is there nothing you can swing about so as to achieve this?" When I said "No"—he added— "Well—I'll see just how it appeals to me." I asked, "Can't you make up something that would fitly fill such a page?" "Perhaps I can: but till I see the sheets, I cannot say, even to myself. I always keep to my own method—to write as moved to write, and what: and what depends upon the moment."

     I had a letter from Morse today, in which he said the proof of bust looked "quite Whitmanish"—though pleasantly saying he had no doubt Gilchrist was more than half right about its defects. But W. still "believes in the bust." Morse likewise wrote: "I hear Julia Ward Howe's daughter, who resides here, is a liker of W. and his books. I shall probably see her in the Fall." W. took this as confirming what he had said— "of the youth—the younger generation—of America." Complained of our mail-facilities. "The books I send seem more promptly delivered abroad than at home: I have sent a book as far as Postdam—another into the wilds of Ireland—another to France—to Paris—from there to be forwarded way off into county districts—always, too, for only the 40 cents postage that is required of me here—and yet in every case the book went quickly and was quickly acknowledged. In England especially they seem to take pride in their mail carriage—and I do not wonder: they deliver everywhere—no man has to go-a-searching for his own." "I have sent some papers off to North Perry, to Mrs. O'Connor, again. And how about your friend—the old man—the old man out there in the Home? Did you say, you go tomorrow again to see him?" And when I had replied affirmatively— "Well—I surely must make up a bundle for him. What are his proclivities, is he religious? Serious? Did you say he was Scotch? Tell me his name, too," all of which he repeated quite deliberately after me, even

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spelling the name. "I always delight in this: so many papers come—and somebody there is always to enjoy them." Asked me then: "I had an old friend out there in the Home—Mr. Cane: did your man know him? Ask about it. He died recently—just last week." Would make me up a bundle for tomorrow. Quite laughingly, he said of someone who had thought he "would be damned for his heresies" "I am glad to hear it! Glad to hear it! It is a good thing to be dealt positively with, somehow: and the company on the road will be large." But in a more serious vein, "And yet that is a queer notion—don't you think? As if we needed to be damned anymore than to be the vermin many of us are at times!"


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