Commentary

Disciples


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 372] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Monday, April 21, 1890

     4.50 P.M. W. in his room. Looked quite ill and said he had been so. Not out, though the day beautiful. "I am doing very poorly—very: I keep so weak: weak beyond words."

     Said he had had "a couple of visitors: Stoddart of Lippincott's and Melville Phillips. They came to ask if I would not write for the magazine. Phillips is a type of the literary man, semi-attached in several quarters—but doing good work of its kind." But how had the Illustrated World panned out? "Oh! the portrait was terrible! Haven't you seen it? There is one here"—searching for it in a pile of papers— "take it: it is damnably abortionate: I know nothing worse."

     Frank Williams came in to tell me today of a letter he had seen, written by an intimate friend of Tennyson in which Tennyson was reported as recently saying—talking of literature—that he [Tennyson] considered Walt Whitman among the greatest of living poets—after some further reflection adding— "I don't know but I might say the greatest." I repeated this to W., who had me go over it several times (his wont) in order to make himself sure possessor of its significance. Then he said: "That is very happy—strong, helpful: that is a cooling

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 373] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
breeze after a sultry day—after tired, sluggish, hours of pain: relief, hope!
And he asked— "And you say Frank thinks it quite authentic?" Yes—he had come in, quite "tickled" over it. W.— "And so are we tickled." Laughing— "And if Tennyson takes to saying such good things of us, we'll have to adjust ourselves accordingly." I put in— "you are adjusted—your adjustment is what has captured Tennyson!" W. smiled—and to my hope that T. might somewhere have put himself so on record in his own hand, W. remarked: "Yes—it would be very desirable so: yet he seems wonderfully loath—chary, to make pledges, give written judgments. Oh! Frank is right: what you have brought me, if it prove confirmed, must be taken as of moment: it may have an importance, too—as well as a power to please us here, hearing it in this casual way. Tennyson is not only artistic—he is art: in him, art is person: all our modern impress is upon him: and there the wonder, the significance of his word for us."

     Received from Kennedy yesterday, manuscript of the Transcript piece.


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.