Commentary

Disciples


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Tuesday, May 13, 1890

     5.15 P.M. W. sitting in his room—unoccupied. A black coat on. Greeted me warmly—saying then— "I am trying to recover

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myself: I have had an experience."
Then: "I have been out—startled—dazed: but now am better: have had my meal—strawberries, chiefly, which have quite set me up." Then he continued, in more detail: "I have had a visitor—see—here is his card"—handing me however a card in W.'s own hand—this: "David L. Lezinsky
1607 Post
May 13 1890"


"I wrote that off by way of remembering it. He has been here several times—four times, I think: he came twice—I did not see him—then again last night, again today. These times we talked together. I am very careful instructing Mary about strangers—yet never wished to turn them away harshly, having in mind always the possibility that they may buy a book"—laughing. "This man has proved himself in one respect by buying several books and paying for them. But he went on at such a rate about Leaves of Grass, I thought he was turned—he was wrong here"—tapping his forehead. "But when I put the question to Mary, she said, "He is sane as you or I." "The tone of the man—his startling propositions, all confound me. As I understand, he comes from California, must have money, has become possessed of ideas about Walt Whitman. Today he went off to Washington, to be back again in several days. Why, Horace, you have no idea of the exuberance of the man: he talks of buying all my books, of buying a share in the copyrights, paying me several thousand dollars, having me write no more but by consultation with him: a series of surprising stipulations. This afternoon he came in a hansom—quite a nice turn-out—insisted, the carriage was at the door—would I not ride a few minutes with him—and instantly we got in, he talked like a house afire—keeping it up, a constant stream. Between that and the flutter of the carriage—with a driver who evidently wanted to show off what

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he could do—I got completely dazed—my mind in a whirl. It was this I spoke of when you first came in."
The coming of this stranger was quite news to me: we talked of it for some time. W. said: "I am quite willing to sell him my books: that is what they are here for." As to the man's insanity— "He is perfectly sane, however effusive." Adding in a humorous vein: "He seems to be badly bitten—the worm has got into him: it is a fire that has burned at least 8 or 10 days, I should judge. He seems to be Hebrew: what do you make of the name? I shall of course do nothing with him. First of all I want you and Doctor to meet him if he returns—to talk to him closely: it may develop the case more fully—explicate it, rather." Again: "He wants every book: even speaks of going over to Dave's to buy every copy he has—the complete stock. It is an amazing notion."

     On my way to town this morning, I had met Bucke at the ferry, waiting for the Cape May train. Talked together 20 minutes. W. exclaimed— "Well—I want to know!" Adding: "And so you have seen the Doctor—the veritable man! That is a confirmation, an assurance, of the best order." I said, "One of Bucke's first questions was 'Will Walt write the Lincoln?'" W.— "No, I will not: I do not think I should dare undertake it." Adding: "Oh! that grip has grip of the worst sort: it is true I am to all intends rid of it, but I am not sure what development it is preparing me now." Said his letter to Bucke at Cape May had not been much. "Its main message was an enclosure of the last letter from Ernest Rhys."

     Gave me Contemporary Club cards for my sister Agnes. W. also asked me to get him cords from Oldach—3—wished to send a big portrait to Elizabeth Porter Gould. Gave me a little note "to read to Oldach."


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