Commentary

Disciples


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Sunday, June 8, 1890

     10.10 A.M. W., after finishing breakfast, sat reading the Sunday paper. Had a pansy—yellow—in his hand, which he passed to his nose repeatedly. "Oh the beauty!" he exclaimed, and asked me— "Do you know what the wise men call the prevailing cosmic color?" And to my response "Yes—yellow"—he assented— "Yes—a yellow, with a tinge of brown." Then

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"And I can see why it should be that." "The wonderful intricacy, yet simplicity, too—of this little flower, passes all one's sense, leaving him only awe." Said he had been out twice yesterday—once in the carriage, once in the chair.

     We advised about the birthday card. He endorsed my plan—to print his verse and signature on one side of a big green card, and on the other—menu and list of guests—writing between these latter the name of the particular guest to whom each card is sent. He said: "Let us follow your idea—make the obverse of the card simply statistic—say, with this line at the head"—dictating carefully— "Birthday Dinner to Walt Whitman by his friends, May 31, 1890, at Reisser's, 5th Street, Philadelphia."

     W. then gave me "a circumstantial event"—as he called it, laughing. "It is the phrase of some one." "What an incident Warrie had yesterday! Did he tell you? Well, I will tell you. It was on the boat—the ferry-boat—he met a fellow there who took him for a greenhorn, which he is not: a fellow not of very bad size—not of good, either—who came up to him—offered familiarities—passed himself off for a pugilist—had backed this man and that &c &c. He asked Warrie to feel his muscle, which he did, good-naturedly—finding it anyway utterly flaccid. Then the fellow asked him about the time. Warrie had his fine gold watch with him—(he has two, this the best)—with a sailor's freedom, took out his watch and complied with the man's request. So they talked and sat together—tete-à-tete—it was a curious episode altogether—Warrie not at all fearing—yet, while not deceived, not thoroughly suspicious, either, though not to be taken off vigilance unawares. By and bye, looking down, Warrie felt the chain dangling against his legs, no watch. With a flash of intuition he knew instantly why. Warrie quickly asked the stranger— "Where's my watch?" "Why, in your pocket, of course." This, however, appearing to justify Warrie's suspicion, now full up in arms—it was confession. Warrie instantly, no time lost, took the scoundrel by the throat—planted a blow between

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the eyes—knocking him over—then giving him a few violent choice sailor-oaths. As the man fell the watch slid out of his pocket. Instantly a crowd collected—advised him to arrest the man, but he said, 'No—I have the watch, that is enough.' The admirable thing about it all is its spontaneity, its inspiration—illustrating a sailor's concrete insight, instinct. You know Bruno's maxim? It was: Doubt, doubt, doubt—but Bruno in this case would have been out of place. But Bruno spoke for other conditions. I endorse Bruno—he is my man—our man: his maxims, too. But the beauty in Warrie's case was, that it was a swift result—came of something deeper than self-debate."


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