Commentary

Disciples


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Wednesday, June 12, 1889

     8 P.M. It rained mildly, and I therefore found W. indoors. But he sat there at the parlor window with hat on, and appeared more quiet and silent than usual. He had not got out of doors at all—was really in rather indifferent physical condition—in his own words, "only so-so" and "not up to much."

     I had with me a stenographic copy of notes of the testimonial, furnished by the man Harned had placed there. I asked W.: "Do you wish us to use your remarks on Ingersoll's telegram? They are all here in this document." He responding: "Yes—why not? I should think they might be used." I had had a discussion with T. B. H. at home, arguing he would not—for I felt sure he did not wish that to stand as his mature utterance. Now, therefore, I said: "Well—let me read it—and you listen, whether he has caught you accurately." So I read, he intent upon my word and my face, as I saw in several times looking up. Then he remarked, what I always expected he would say: "Yes, that is what I said—the words of it—but now I hear it again, I should not advise that they be used. Why use it? Why use it? It is not called for." And after dreamily looking out the window, his hands folded as usual:

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"It has a harsh, rasping tone, as it comes there, that I do not like—that is not what went with the words—not at all. Besides"—and here he laughed— "'pudding-heads' is not so bad—it is a good old phrase—I have used it often myself—often—perhaps never printed it, but used it—and O'Connor, too." And after another pause, during which I said nothing: "No—no—we will not use that thing—I do not think I want it to go on permanent record as mine—as maturely uttered, endorsed." I was confirmed—as I was sure I would be, and I was glad of it for one reason, if for no other. Some who were present that evening had seized upon W.'s retort to the telegram as a "a mighty good rebuke of Bob!" W. told me tonight, when I spoke to him of these phrases caught, had "never in any way intended it for such."

     I read W. others out of the speeches in the notes—Gilder's and Hawthorne's—and his comment was exceedingly brief, though his interest was keen. He did say however: "It starts out to be a memorable pamphlet, don't it? When the fellows are all in, we'll see—what we see!" He rarely has more to say than that in dealing with matters of the sort. The only other remark he made concerned Gilder—that G.'s presence, "coming from such an environment" as he did, was "significant beyond statement." W. asked me: "And how about the title for the book?—have you hit one yet?—how does mine strike you?—'Camden's Compliment'?" We talked it over a little and he promised to "rake about" for a headline that "while having the local tinge, tone" would not have exclusively that.

     His poem did not appear in today's Herald. He said he was "not surprised." Photographs of the bust were taken today—two of them. I have seen negatives, but impression will not be ready till tomorrow. Ed carried the bust there from Harned's, and my father superintended the job. W. "Glad it is done." My stay but brief. Ed reported W. as "quite bad" today. W. sent me up stairs to get from his bed a little package containing Bucke's letter of the 9th, a copy of

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Baltimore Deutsche Correspondent containing a Whitman paragraph, which he could not read—and "a Childs' slip—and by the way, Horace, you will print that in full, won't you?—the Longfellow letter along with it?"


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