Commentary

Disciples


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Sunday, June 2, 1889

     10.15 A.M. W. was writing postals at this time. Looked exceedingly well. I had brought him a copy of Stepniak's "Underground Russia," of which he said, as he casually turned over the leaves,— "I have heard so often of this book—been spoken to so often about it—it is time I had it in my hands." Referred to its probably simplicity. "I remember Tolstoi's 'Sebastopol' vividly: a remarkable, powerful volume, in which I grew more and more interested as I went along." Also took him the June issue of Current Literature.

     He had reserved a little budget for me—telegrams from his brother Jeff, Adler, Fanny Taylor, Aldrich; letter from Dick Hinton; letter from George Hall, Curate of Normandy—(Lincolnshire, England); the letter from ward Carpenter, spoken of the other day which is as follows:

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Millthorpe
nr Chesterfield
18 May/89

Dear Walt—

I now send you on with loving remembrances & good wishes our little contribution to the record of your birthday—a draft for $19495 (£ 40) from Bessie & Isabella Ford, William, Ethel & Arthur Thompson, & myself. I hope it will reach you safely—you might send a line in reply. The draft is payable at the Tradesman's National Bank, Phila.

Glad that you notch another birthday among us—tho' I fear the time is often wearisome to you. The spring comes again with the cuckoo & the corncrake calling all day long, & the grass growing thick about our feet already (very early this year) and the trees all in leaf—the old vigor somewhere down, the perennial source which even in extreme age I guess people sometimes feel within them. I trust you have still good friends near you, and do not feel cut off from those that are remote. Ernest Rhys has just sent me some lines or verses of greeting to you—but perhaps he will send them on himself. I heard from Bucke a fortnight ago telling me he had been with you. I have just been weeding strawberries & come in to write you these few lines.

All goes well with me. I am brown, & hardy—& tho' I live mostly alone I have more friends almost than a man ought to have. Some kind of promise keeps floating to us always, luring us on. With much love to you, dear Walt,

as always

Edwd Carpenter

ans'd
May 28



and contained the following inscription by W. on the envelope: early forenoon May 28 '89.—Seems to me one of the leading best missives I ever had—goes to my heart—from Edw'd Carpenter England

     He had laid a couple of books out for me to do up for him, and he said laughingly after I was done with it: "It is as good as I could do it myself." One package contained two copies of the pocket edition for Edward Dowden: the other

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one, one copy for Sarrazin. "I never hear but that the books find their way in perfect order—and they go abroad for the same postage as I pay for them here: it is wonderful indeed, the cheapness with which we are served—the too-cheapness of it, indeed. I was never in favor of reducing the postage from 3 to 2 cents—and now somebody even proposes to make it one—I do not believe in it. We have such a vast extent of country; service is a wonder—yet is not at all complete. There is too much politics in it. I am in favor of having men like James Postmaster Generals and serve as Postmasters as long as they live. There is no other way of achieving effective service."

     We spoke of getting out a circular with respect to his book. He quite accepts the idea. He spoke affectionately of his Lachine Falls friend [H. D. Bush]: "We ought to give him a book or something, as a token of our remembrance and appreciation—something personal, that he would like to have." Spoke of the frightful disaster at Johnstown—the flood there. It had greatly aroused his concern. "It is beyond all precedent—almost incredible."

     While we were together, there came a light knock at the door, and Buckwalter entered. Thence talk once more of the dinner. Buckwalter spoke of getting more menu cards printed. We had just been lamenting their dearth, and this was therefore a great satisfaction to learn. W. dwelt upon the "spontaneity" of the banquet— "what I call the individuality of the occasion." As he expressed it again: "Things seemed to proceed so naturally—so easily—no shock or jar"—the policemen "hoisting us bodily"—chair and him—into the hall; "That itself a touch to be taken note of." He added: "I think one of us—one of you, or I—should write about this. What we should want would not be anyone's reflections, sentimentalisms—nothing ornate—but just simply a recital of facts: the hall, persons, what happened." Here a funny and vehement allusion to Ossian—spoke of himself as "one of the few persons yet living in whom there persists an admiration for

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Ossian."
Ossian's MacPherson— "introducer, what-not"—was "a bad egg." "It is one of my books there on the floor." MacPherson in many respects obstructive to the clear meaning of the poet by attempted exposition. "As some one has said, though, that was not Ossian's, but the work of that God-damned scoundrel MacPherson!" This was to admonish us, to write our honest description and let reflection thereon take care of itself.

     I left when Buckwalter started off. W. told me he had found the missing slips of his speech. "They were of course just where I put them myself." Would get books ready for Clifford and for me by afternoon if I called. Looked extremely well and said he felt well. "I have not felt so chipper for a year."

     2.15 P.M. He was reading the papers. Said: "Tom was in—brought me the Tribune—got William's book." He had said to Harned, speaking of the dinner: "The people were very glowing: they lauded me to the seventh heaven—and to the roof of that!" He had put up my book with Clifford's and had written our names therein, with this addition— "from his friend the author (on W. W.'s finishing the 70th year of his life May 31 1889)" not an abundance of punctuation or care for it. Thrust under the string of the package was an envelope and within it a note. W. said: "You will get 5 minutes when you reach the boat; go into the cabin and read it."

     Then his thought turned back again to the other night. "I haven't, as I said, in a year felt so chipper as I did the other night. I have been reading Tom's speech again: it is full of heart-ardor—direct, plain: I don't know but that—excepting Clifford's—it is the best of the night; it is so wonderfully charged with good quality—fire. Oh! the whole event was delicious—the transition so easy." I referred to his evidently weary look on entering the hall. "Yes—but if I looked weary I had no active sense of it. Ed took me easily down to the hall—everything there was genial and friendly—I slept well

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afterwards—have been well ever since."
He picked up Johnston's comb—as he had done in the forenoon. "I have discarded my old comb and brush—though I rarely use a brush. This is wonderfully adapted for use, in spite of its richness. Silver, isn't it? I was almost afraid of it at first, but it seems to take hold of me now. Johnston is a big-hearted, true, enthusiastic, ardent friend. Oh! as time passes, you will get acquainted with the whole family!" I asked W. if my observation of W.'s applause at Herbert's mention of Carpenter's name in the meeting was not true? And he said: "Yes—you have hit it. Herbert objected to naming him there: Herbert does not think him a big fellow."

     On the point of his own serenity he spoke at some length. He had not felt in any way unmoved. "I never get nervous: I have heard about it in others: it never affects me. I remember, my friends always remarked it, that in crises, I never was disturbed or gave out any consciousness of danger—as, indeed, I did not feel it. It has always been so: it is a part of my ancestral quality persisting and saving. Yet, Horace, this does not mean—must not be supposed to prove—that I am not susceptible—on the contrary, I am very susceptible—few more so: alive to all acts, persons, influences." Very amusingly last evening Mrs. Davis had come on the step and said, it was a bad sign; she had seen the new moon over the left shoulder. W. had repeated the word with his own— "And so did I—and they used to take it that way, Mary!"


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