Commentary

Disciples


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Friday, June 6, 1890

     5.20 P.M. W. just finished dinner. Weather continuing very hot, was not out today. Had a copy of Pall Mall Gazette containing

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the Victoria poem. W. liked "its appearance there much."

     As to physicians spoken of yesterday, said: "I have often resolved I would some day record my testimony: I feel it in me to do so. I have already by brief passages hit the thing—but no, not satisfactorily. I must in the end find a fuller statement. There is no class—from their very quiet and reserve—which we are so like to forget, pass over."

     Examined Harper's Weekly which I had with me. "It is a great sheet—each picture a wonder: a dish for days and days. And the best of it all, a dish which the masses can afford to order. It leads inevitably to the democratization of art—a tendency very marked, a democratic extension already seen on every hill top."

     Said to me: "I had a letter from Ingersoll today—a good letter, called forth by the paper I sent him—a manly letter, full of him as he speaks, simple, throbbing, big-hearted, direct." And adding that he "supposed the signs were palpable," that W. W. had written the Post piece, "by the statement of qualities, one on another—cataloging they call it—if no more." But he could not find the letter, look as he would—across the table, on the floor &c. Finally gave it up. "I will save it for you when it turns up—it's here somewhere. Not a new letter anyhow, in the sense that it adds anything to what the Colonel said yesterday." Then he went on to tell me that he had selected the lines for the dinner card—turned around—took a "complete" W. W. from the floor—opened the book at a place marked—laughed outright— "Why—here is Ingersoll's letter, turned into a marker for the book!"—as it indeed proved to be. "Put it in your pocket," he said, "it will appeal to you—the great Bob!" And— "Here are the lines. How will they pass?"—pointing to the two last stanzas of "Salut au Monde!"



Salut au monde!
What cities the light or warmth penetrates I penetrate those cities
         myself,


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All islands to which birds wing their way I wing my way myself.
Toward you all, in America's name,
I raise high the perpendicular hand, I make the signal,
To remain after me in sight forever,
For all the haunts and homes of men.

     He thought the best report of the dinner was in The Inquirer, of which he had got a number of copies and sent away.

     Weeks ago he had inscribed a soft copy of November Boughs for Buxton Forman—missed it among his papers and did not send away. I have seen it a number of times on the floor. Today he asked me to mail: had packaged it. Also gave me papers for Gilchrist. Has sold several books this week. Complains of the day, that "it has been a bad one—not one of my worst, but a bad one decidedly."

     I had mounted the portrait he gave me last week, which he now autographed. "It is the original of the Linton," he explained. I liked it better in some ways. He affirmed— "And by a true instinct too. In a copy of the sort the hand of a master may get much—strike in a few bold lines here and there—enrich, expand. But for all this he loses something, too—the photo has somewhat that he fails to retain—this has even befallen Linton, master though he be." Then— "The photographer was George C. Potter—I think he is now in Philadelphia—not a Leaves of Grass man, but friendly to me. I liked his mother much—he was a young man then." Advised me to go to see him.

     W. has a postal from Bucke. Bucke sent me a diagnosis of W.'s condition.


Insane
Mem Private Asylum Lindon
Ontario London, 4 June 1890

Within the last three weeks I have seen Walt Whitman five or six times. Had not seen him before since Mch '89. I find him a good deal aged within the past fifteen months. His general health remains very much as it was at the earlier date, and I do not think his

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paralysis has increased but he has lost strength—and especially the organic functions (those presided over by the great sympathetic) have failed. His increased weakness makes it appear as if his paralysis had increased, but as I say I do not think it has. His pulse is not nearly as good as a year ago and he is not able to bear as much in any way—both mind and body tire out more easily. His general condition is such that it is impossible for him to rally from his present feebleness. He may remain a few months or even a year very much as he is now but his life hangs on a thread which may break at any moment and it is about certain that should he live another year his condition at the end of that time will be much worse than at present. It is not likely that he will see another 31st May.


R M Bucke



My dear Horace

The above is of course strictly private not to be shown to any one—if I did not know that I could trust you as to that I would not write it—I reached home at noon today in good shape and find the folks here all well. Write me very soon and tell me how W. has got on since I left him—has he rallied from the dinner?

Your friend

R M Bucke



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