Commentary

Disciples


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Friday, October 4, 1889

     7.50 P.M. W. in his room. I took him down the bundle of mounted photos. He called it "quite a packet." As to his

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health— "It becomes quite a tedium, to sit here confined—I should try to get out some." Adding after a bit: "Tom was here tonight with a couple of gentlemen—one of them is to lecture on prohibition down here at the church—and it was no small addition to the tedium to have him here, lightening himself of his load of doctrine." But he laughed quietly, looking across at me, "But we survive all such things—they are a part of our growth!" I asked him whether, after the Morse head was printed, there was any other to add to the envelope. "For the present, none—at least, none till some other strikes us!" The conversation turned by his own remark: "Did you read the account of the delegates?—the trip to West Point? Not the least part of it was Sherman's little speech—the General's—it was very good." I asked: "Are not our generals anyhow advanced over those abroad—more humane—seeing better that war is only a make-shift?" He answered quickly: "Yes indeed—in that way—in many other ways: and not only the several we know—like Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, whom we always mention,—but others—many—who stood ready, only waiting the opportunity, very much resides in opportunity—no one being all told till severely tried."

     Some reference to Bruno occasioned W.'s remark: "They seem to have given it up—the Church has retreated: so far as I know, the Archbishop's letter, which was ostentatiously to have been read everywhere was read nowhere. Some powerful thumb came down at the right time—some keen intellect saw the mistake in time—imposed quiet—some subtle-sensitive thumb, that can move a world. Well that it was so! I suppose we can count that as a great victory. I wondered from the first that these fellows didn't see." Of the Spanish protest that the "All-America" congress was a protection move W. said: "I can see the hand of Castelar in that protest—commend, endorse, it too. But still I would say to this congress, others like it, go on—go on—in spite of yourselves you are working for free trade, for brotherhood, for human unity!

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Dear as the principle of free trade is to me—near as it is to my heart—fully as I am convinced that in it, only in it, is brotherhood, solidarity, democracy, assured—still, in the event of protection success, I would say, go on with that, too—let that try itself by high, severe standards!"

     I had a letter from Mead today asking for a ten page paper on W. W. for the New England Magazine. When he heard of it, W. was much struck. "How do you explain it, Horace? as you say, it is significant. Is it because they are making such a racket about us in England, France, Germany?" I told him I proposed writing more of his later years than the early ones, and suggested using the Gutekunst picture, Mead volunteering illustrations. "Oh yes! use it, if it will do!" And when I said: "Walt Whitman at 70" was one of my suggestions of a title, he said: "Yes, that is very good—very. How would this do for a headline—'Walt Whitman at Date'" "I can't think of another name just now," he exclaimed. To his further question— "What causes all the kindness?" I replied—that Darwin two centuries ago would have had to wait longer for justice; progress accelerates; so will the Whitman idea. He said: "That is a striking way to put it, that no doubt is one of the glories of our time." I said, "Browning asked me on a car the other day if the Herald had gone back on you." He responded: "Well—there was the Paris Exposition poem—it was declined by the Herald but met a better fate—was, as you know, in Harper's—and they paid me ten dollars for it without protest." Adding, "And I suppose the next number of the Century will contain a little piece—six lines or so." I paid fifty dollars to Oldach today, changed the 5-pound note, paid for and secured mounted photographs. W. satisfied with all. I asked if he wished a set of sheets of my own little book. "Oh yes! and then I can write Dr. Bucke positively at last that the book is practically done."

     I had opened vol. 5 of the Stedman's big book at the portrait of Cooper and W. said: "Yes—I thought him a handsome

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man always—I saw him often—he looked like a gentleman farmer—richly dressed, yet simply—like plain Europeans we sometimes see—men of means but of native taste and sobriety. I have sometimes thought—perhaps have said—that if Cooper had had a little more of Tennyson's grim determination to be by no means led into a fight, and Tennyson had had a little of Cooper's—I don't know what to call it—it would have been better for both. Though I don't know that Tennyson is quite so much the reserved man as is sometimes reported. From things Herbert tells me, I am persuaded he likes to mix in with the people, be democratic—plain. I think he would shrink from notoriety, but not from this."
Then— "Cooper was not distinctively the literary man." Of Stedman: "Stedman is under pressure there in New York. I do not altogether wonder at his coolness towards us—he is like a piece of iron that has been many times heated and now is the critical heating!" "I have told you I knew Stedman at Washington—he had my position before me. When the Secretary of the Interior cut my head off—I went over to the Attorney General's office—took Stedman's place. But of course we were good friends then. Twenty years ago—in those days—Stedman was more dandaical, as O'Connor would declare, but in the years since he has expanded greatly—thrown aside many of the old trappings." But there were no doubt fellows over there who took advantage of the Herald scrap to point out to Stedman—now what of your Walt Whitman. "They will lie—outright—we know that well enough—so that we do them no injustice." Gave me a copy of the journal called Society with its big flaring initial letter, and said, "I don't know who sends it to me. It is all frivol—frivol!" And The Open Court: "Take it along if you would like to look through it." An article there by Paul Carus on Wagner was marked. Who? W., "You mean the lead-pencillings? They are Kennedy's, I guess—the papers come from him." Talcott Williams writes me, "The workingmen's letters are printed just as they are received." W. said: "I am glad to hear that—glad to hear that

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insufferable tendency of the newspaper bigots was resisted—I rather thought it had not been."


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