Commentary

Disciples


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 265] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Monday, January 27, 1890

     7.40 P.M. W. in his room on the 2nd. floor, reading "The Water Witch." Though he had been out for a brief stretch, Mrs. Davis told me W. had not been "nearly so well" today. Advising me to take my summer trip to Canada and Dr. Bucke—W. said: "Yes, go—you will be most welcome: Doctor will put it so, the favor will be on your side, not on his: that is his way—no one knows it better than I do."

     Again: "Frank Williams was over today—came about 3. Frank seems to come as a duty—thinks he ought to come."—I put in— "But is glad to come, too"—W. thereupon: "Yes, I hope it is a pleasure, too—think it is a pleasure to him: but there's the sense, the call, the appeal, of duty, as well. I can't get away from that impression." And further: "Frank is one of the fellows left who is invitiated [?]—he is under certain of the worldly influences—gives them their due—yet is under his own influence, too—his own organic influence." And to what I said in warm tones of Frank's modesty— "I believe I can endorse every word you say in that line." The plan, suggested in the fall, to have a reception for W. in Philadelphia has fallen through evidently. W. said to me— "Better so, too. Better fallen through than happening."

     Another of his expressions about Bruno: "How can there be two sides to the question? Bruno is the modern, science, democracy, America. Are there two sides to the modern, science, democracy, America?" Speaking of Tennyson—his "almost parloriness of style at times" and "always elegance,"—W. added: "From what Herbert tells me, Tennyson as a man is quite different from this—elemental, aboriginal—a man who will go into the mud-ditch, gutter, blood, for illustrations—a rough, rugged, sane, healthy, nature—very Socratian at the last—unmistakably gifted in unspoiled power."

     At my entrance W. asked, "What news do you bring?" I said: "I come to get the news—from you fellows who make

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 266] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
it."
But he responded after his laugh: "There is little news made here, in this room—in this cane chair: silence, mainly, or nothing." Commenting on a picture of Zola in the Transatlantic: "It is a strong head: he certainly has done enough to be a man of intellect—as he is, without a doubt." Again: "Did I tell you I had a note from Melville Phillips? It came Saturday or yesterday—only a few words—in effect these: Don't forget the little poem or poems you promised me. So today I set to work—pieced a poem—'Osceola'—the Indian chief across there"—pointing to the old lithograph tacked on the wall opposite— "he was in our early history, you know—taken prisoner—died in prison from confinement."

     Said he had received 6 dollars from Blake (J. Vila, Chicago) for complete W. W.— "which I have sent off—which he ought to get tomorrow—or next day at farthest." Again: "Frank Williams said there was something in yesterday's Times about us—about so much"—measuring 4 or 5 inches— "and I judge from his description that it is all spurious—an invention. It seems that among other things I am said to have been surprised at Boker's death—putting it as though it had been a set-back to me—when the fact is, although I had always had the kindliest thought of Boker, he was never a great element in my life." And, after something further anent newspaper lying: "They handle us freely—did Grant, Lincoln: do so now: and safely, too, for they are all gone—and General Taylor, and Scott: having known them all, I know how they were harried—their memories harried—by lies."


Comments?

Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Ed Folsom & Kenneth M. Price, editors.