Commentary

Disciples


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Sunday, May 11, 1890

     5.20 P.M. To W.'s with Clifford and Harned. W. reading over a package of old letters, which he carefully re-tied and

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laid away on the table. Looked well—but had not ventured out—the day too chill. Greeted Clifford with special cordiality. Tom talked about Scovel's audacity in inventing interviews &c with himself. W. saying: "Oh! Tom! you mustn't mind that: he not only invents interviews with me, but writes letters and signs them Walt Whitman!"

     Tom happening to pick up a copy of Munyon's Illustrated World, noted W.'s Osceola poem, which he had not seen before. This aroused W.'s memory, causing him to say: "The poem is given almost word for word out of conversations I have had with Catlin: Catlin, the great Indian man." Then, directing us to the picture of Osceola on the wall—the lithograph: "That is from life: a fine spectacle he makes, too! But Osceola was like a great many of the niggers—like Douglass—in being of mixed blood, having a dash of white, not pure Indian. His grandfather—a Scotchman or Irishman—with a dash of the rover in him, at one time either married or lived with a squaw—then the parent! And the parent disclaimed all his white stock heritage—kept up the chieftainly character. Osceola himself taking it all in as a part of the common air." He spoke of "the days when I loafed about the Brooklyn Navy Yard—knew the fellows there—tens of them—scores. And first from Osceola's surgeon, then from others, I learned that he literally died of a broken heart—died of the confinement, imprisonment." This brought up reference to O'Meara, Napoleon's surgeon, whom W. spoke of as "faithful, but not overmuch faithful"—part of his espousal of N. coming from hate of England— "which an Irishman imbibes as they say, with his mother's milk."

     Had not yet found his checks. Returned me the Atlantic—in which he had read several things, among them an instalment of Holmes' "Over the Teacups." Not much impressed. Clifford's Hilda had remembered the apple W. gave her on the visit some time ago and now sent a message, that her love should be given him and another apple asked for! W. laughing greatly at the statement of it by Clifford.


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     Said that "Nowadays Mary will not let Jim Scovel come up at all—he is in disfavor!" Laughing— "Oh! Mary is invaluable to me in such matters—and Warren, too—but Mary, invaluable! The fellows come—they must see Walt Whitman: if only Mr. Whitman would see them for a moment! But no, Mary is inexorable—the Doctor has ordered that nobody see Mr. Whitman: Mr. Whitman is too sick, feeble, to be wearied by visitors, &c.&c. And that is her reception to interlopers." Spoke of Bucke's coming—that he had found his memory verified— "the Aldine at Cape May, and the man's name Mueller."


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