Commentary

Disciples


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Thursday, January 9, 1890

     7.30 P.M. W. in his room, reading the Boston Transcript. Asked me if I had heard "the good news about Kennedy." That K. had "got a place on the Transcript—is proof-reading there." Advised me to write K.— "You ought to write often—he would enjoy the notes." "If you must, write short notes—little touches—Kennedy himself does—then lets 'em go." He started out today— "but we stayed only a few minutes—I am very sensitive to the cold: but Warry thought we ought to go, if it was only round the block."

     I received today the following note from Adler, which I now read to W.


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The Society for Ethical Culture
Address
1025 Park Avenue New York, Jan. 8'th, 1890.

Dear Mr. Traubel:

Thanks for your lines. If there is any reluctance on Whitman's part, or if he has any scruples, no matter what they may be, please do not urge him in the least.

Yours sincerely,

Felix Adler


     W. said: "No—no—that is wrong—I have no such scruple. On the contrary I want to give it to him." So, as if to prove it, he took up a writing pad and pencil and on his knee wrote the following:


Mickle St Camden
Jan: 9 '90

Dear J B

This will be given you by my friend Felix Adler & I hope you will have a good talk & good time anyhow. Nothing very new or different with me—all is going on the same, & fairly— Write, & when you do tell me your P. address & any proposed movements

Walt Whitman


      "Send that to him," he said when it was done, "let him have that—and welcome, too."

     Returned me Harper's Weekly. Had read Winter's piece— "but it did not impress me—is absolutely wanting in content, as they say. There are very pretty pictures going along with it. But there is Mansfield—I am more and more certain that Mansfield amounts to little—is in no way our man. Indeed, when I look around—think of the men that have been on our stage—Booth the elder, Forrest, others—I am in a sort of despair—for we have no men to keep up the high standard of their work. There are some who believe, that among other qualifications to be one day assured, America has a dramatic future—a glorious play-future. "But"—shaking his head— "I

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don't know—I doubt it seriously. I have a young friend—oh! I forget his name now—an actor, a New Yorker—and a handsome man, too—who is quite eloquent to that effect—quite. But I can't share his enthusiasm—I see nothing just now to warrant it."
"Yet the little flies like Willie Winter go buzzing about that it is already accomplished—is already here."

     I showed W. a card the President of the Bank had given me today. He had passed 25 dollars each to the bookkeepers, and when one started to thank him drew this forth and said: "No, don't say anything about it: I believe this."

THINK OF THIS
"I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good thing, therefore, that I can do, or any kindness that I can show, to any fellow being, let me do it NOW. Let me not defer it or neglect it, for I SHALL NOT PASS THIS WAY AGAIN."


     Upon hearing it W. remarked: "There's a spice of humor in it—I'll bet it's Dutch in origin—and it has a kernel."

     Prof. Richey, writing to Dr. Thackeray about his book on the land question, said among other things: "I have to congratulate you on the accuracy with which it is printed, a thing not ordinarily met with in American books." W. insisted: "This is not wisely said: there may be said to be certain inevitable errors of typography, but these may be expected, and found, in other as well as American books. Now if he had said something about the printing of our books, he would have had more point."

     As I left he insisted on giving me three doughnuts to take along. "One for Tillie, one for your mother, one for Aggie—one for each. Mary Davis has been making them today—and they take my time—and we like to share a good thing when we have it." I did not go directly home—gave Aggie her doughnut in the city, at a meeting, when refreshment time came—she slicing it into 15 pieces and passing it around as W. W.'s doughnut—a muncher thereupon saying, "Here goes to Walt Whitman—may he live long" etc.


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