Commentary

Disciples


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Wednesday, March 26, 1890

     7.40 P.M. W. again in the parlor. Very cordial. Room dark. Spoke of the concert last night. Thought "it must have proved a success."

     Again said: "The Lincoln night is a sentiment with me: I must not speak that speech but on Lincoln's own day. It has a sacred import—a sacred origin: it is a fire on the altar."

     No list yet. Had forgotten it. "It is amazing—or at least tantalizing—how many important matters slip my mind. My memory for new things is becoming less and less dependable—markedly so." No letters today "only a few papers: the papers always come."

     On my way to the Whitman meeting in Philadelphia W. advised me, upon my questioning: "Should you feel moved to say anything, tell them, you came here this evening, found

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me here on the lower floor, in my chair, a blanket drawn about me, cool, not braggish, cheery, happy—having had a good outing, propelling, today in my chair. That soon, between nine o'clock and ten—nearer nine—I shall have my daily rubbing—a first-rate, vigorous, massage—by my young friend here"
—he will never say nurse "who knows well how to handle me—knows to do it wonderfully well!" And he said further: "Tell them I am well cared for here—with good friends—and Warrie to serve me—to lift me, even, if I will: for he is tremendously strong—can take me up in his arms, so"—straightening his arms out— "which is a feat with one having a corpus 200 pounds in weight." (Does not seem to think he has lost weight, as he undoubtedly has.) This was his "personal" message, as he called it. Then he added of his life work in general: "I have no axe to grind—no philosophy to offer—no theory to expound, in Leaves of Grass: all I have written there is written with reference to America—to the larger America—to an America so inclusive, so sufficient, no phase of life, no nationality—can escape it. As you know, Leaves of Grass is made up of six or seven stages of life, three of which—the first three—have had that inestimable benefit which comes of being fought against, bespattered, denounced. I have not worked according to any elaborate plan: have tried rather to fill in the gaps—wherever a gap was left—wherever a gap appeared—I started out to put something in it. In what is called poetry—singing—the fellows who go on singing the same old songs, again and again and again—but of the most ancient, worn, poetic stock—get mad as the devil at any suggestion of changed modes."

      "Leaves of Grass," he added, "has had this advantage: it has had a stormy early life. Nothing could make up for the loss of this—it was a priceless privilege. Ease, comfort, acceptation, would have ruined us. Even now the storm is not all down—perhaps better not down. However, we will not let the new kindness spoil us: there's yet to see! there's yet to see!"


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     Said again: "I should like to be within convenient distance—in the next room—back of some arras—so to hear the boys as they go on tonight—hear what they think to say; though I don't know that it would benefit anybody much. How little the universe worries, whoever questions it! And as men, we ought to be as unmovable."


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