Commentary

Disciples


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Wednesday, April 30, 1890

     5.40 P.M. Talked with W. in his own room about half an hour. Had been out today. Written some—a postal to Kennedy, in hopeful vein. Got $60 from Lippincott's for four small poems. He speaks of them as "Poemets": "After the Argument," "The Unexpress'd," "Sounds of the Winter," "To the Sunset Breeze."

     Showed him the North American piece. He had not seen it. Read some of it to him. Exclaimed— "A fool—to be sure! Will you leave it with me? I couldn't stand it all in one dose." And then: "I remember one fellow who was here—a bad, bad speciman—poor reporter—who came in and announced that he was here for a long talk—which I dissented from—passed him out in short order—I hope courteously, kindly. But this man—Dayton?—and Mary says he was badly rummed?—Yes! I remember him: but he was a little better than the other. Certainly these fellows have a marked faculty for going wrong if there's the least loophole that way" &c.

     Returned me the proof of Dr. Bucke's "Leaves of Grass and Modern Science"—saying of it: "Certainly the Doctor is developing a striking idiocratic style—one superbly his own—

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strong, direct. This article is very gratifying to me—very satisfactory."
Then remarked that Bucke was due here on the 12th: had so written Kennedy.

     Was surprised to learn the newspaper had already got hold of "A Twilight Song"—printed in the Ledger yesterday—from the forthcoming Century. He took up his roped package from the table—gave me 3 copies of the Curtz-printed poem—minus the phrase added to the magazine headline "(For unknown buried soldiers North and South)." "That," he explained, "was added at their suggestion to meet a magazine exigency. It don't hurt or hinder—neither does it help. . . . But," he added, "as this is a good paid-for piece, let me follow out my custom—credit the poem where it belongs"—taking pen and writing "Century N Y May 1890" on each one, at foot, and putting on one for me "for Horace Traubel from the author." I was going to a meeting of the Club of Sulzberger's tonight—so one copy was to go there.

     Said he had a letter from Dowden, about the Bruno book and other matters— "and you may show it to Dr. Brinton for me: it probably would interest him." But in the heap of disarranged things on the table he could not find it. Showed me a list of those to whom the Brunos had been sent: which might also go to Brinton.

     I called his attention to a portrait of Bonnat in Harper's Weekly—a bust from Dubois—fine—of what he said first— "The engraving is superb" and afterward— "and the bust itself must be a great one—truly made after the larger methods."

     He picked up the Cemetery deed from the table (enveloped)— and said: "I wish to give this to Tom to keep safely for me."—And after a pause: "But first I want to find my 'last will and testament'"—laughingly— "it is here somewhere, lost in the confusion." This his first word on the subject since the day in December 1888 when Harned took it along with him and put it away in his safe. So now I said— "As to that—Walt—I think Tom has always had it in a secure place"—relating

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to him the circumstances of the taking. He was perfectly satisfied. "Why—that is a relief; then it has always been stowed snugly away! Good! I thought it still here." And— "You were right—Tom was right—both. And now I am saved ferreting for it."

     Called my attention to an English catalogue, rehearsing rare and autographed Whitman books for sale—prices varying up to 11 and 12 pounds amused him. "I wish I had a few hundred of the books myself now—they would set me up! When I did have them, no price was low enough to persuade the world that they were to be desired!"

     Left a copy of Current Literature with him.


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