Commentary

Disciples


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Tuesday, January 14, 1890

     7.15 P.M. W. in his room, but not reading, though the light was full on. Not out today—it was too cold.

     I have been reading Roden Noel's Whitman. I said of it, for one thing, this evening: "However friendly and admiring, he still takes scarce measure of Leaves of Grass." W. thereupon: "Well—our utmost anyhow would be to say: it is very friendly. I have always felt that the book was amateurish—the work of a young man. That copy I have I suppose Noel sent"—but there was no name in it. I resented also the notes of Noel—stating Buchanan and Whitman in too-close terms. W. laughed at my warmth: "Do you know much about Buchanan?" Adding, when I asked him about B.'s "genius." "I don't know. Buchanan has a great idea of making money—has written plays, novels. He lost a wife of whom he was very fond: it was a great change for him. She left him a niece—a fine young girl, Harriet Gay, who afterwards went on the stage. It is for her Browning writes plays—makes a part for her—to fit her. She has been here a couple of times—has grown up a handsome, bright girl. Although decidedly girlish, crude, youthful, now—she is of the Byron kind: I should not be surprised any morning to wake up and find her famous. Yes—I have seen Buchanan, too—twice, if I remember right—he has been here. He is a typical John Bull—short, thick, ruddy, assertive, brusque—thick-necked. He came once—I think I have told you—we sat down-stairs—in the sitting-room—the room underneath this. It was a cold day—I found it difficult to get comfortable even with a fire—was hustling up the fire. Buchanan came in a carriage—jumped out and came indoors. After he had been in some time—a half hour at least, he said something about the carriage and some one he had left in it—and when I inquired who he told me Harriet Gay, the wife's niece. I asked, 'What,

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and you have left her there and in the cold all this time? Go out this instant and bring her in: she must be frozen to death.' And he did so—I not keeping her in the parlor but sending her back in the kitchen, where it was warmer and where Mrs. Davis gave her a cup of tea to thaw her out."
He told this story with great vehemence and then said, "But of course Buchanan is more than that—has a comradeship side to him," though "these human derelictions a man don't altogether get over."

     I was on my way to the Contemporary Club meeting, Brinton to speak on Bruno. W. wondered if we "could get up a discussion about Bruno"—for "an opponent of Bruno seems hard to conceive—especially in America."—Adding then emphatically: "There is but one side, and that is Bruno. Bruno is the genesis of the modern—Bruno is democracy—is science (that greatest democracy, science!)—the other side has not a peg to hang its hat on. Surely Tom Davidson—no one—will come there to hatchel Bruno; in this age, our land, it seems impossible—utterly so. After what you said to me last night of Brinton and Bruno, I can see that Bruno is our man—is America—that we cannot escape the logic he in his own person is. If you see Brinton, give him my love—tell him he has my prayers—though I suppose he cares nothing for prayers, mine or another's."

     In a letter from Kennedy today he says: "Tell Walt that I am going to send $5.00 to pay for that beautiful edition of L. of G. he sent me." W. exclaimed when I read this to him— "Money? I won't have the money! If you write to him tell him I don't want his money—tell him the book was sent as a sort of New Year's present—something for him to have, not to buy." And then he asked, "What does he mean by jealousy?" And again— "The foxy Scotchman? That manuscript encounters a bad fate."

     Kennedy's letter:


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Belmont Mass
Jan'y 12 '90.

Dear Traubel:—

Thank you for yr very kind and fraternal letter. It is good to feel that the mean jealousy one hits against so much is absent from the hearts of a few tried & warm-hearted friends.

I enjoy very much at the Transcript office talks & chins with the good dreamy cigar-scented & smoke-encircled fellows—Hurd, Chamberlain (who, by the way, has just left for the Youths Companion office, but will continue the Listener chat), Hazewell, Clement, Edwards et al.

Who is Chubb?

My brain gets exhausted by working under pressure so much so good bye.

Tell Walt that I am going to send $5.00 to pay for that beautiful ed. of L. of G. he sent me. The foxy Scotchman doesn't return my W. W. ms. yet. I can't make him out. Just talked with a young stock-fancy-farmer-neighbor-colt-tamer. He treasures L. of Grass, & has read the Ox-Tamer.—Miss [?] Bates still alive! reported dead!

Kennedy.



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