Commentary

Disciples


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Wednesday, November 6, 1889

     7.45 P.M. Seemingly ruminating. Mrs. Davis had admitted me down stairs, the dog giving forth his usual dismal howl. W. now inquired, "Was it you the dog was howling at that way?" Adding after my nod of assent, "Well, if there's anyone in the world he ought to know by this time—would know, if he had any sense at all, as he has not—it is you. He is the nastiest, noisiest, silliest, stupidest, horriblest dog that was ever born—a pest, a continual sore in my side!" Adding still again, "Any useful dog—any manly dog—gets to know his friends, betters—but this dog, never!"

     W. inquired which of the books I had sent off: as proved, all but Bertz's and Schmidt's. Read him a letter I had from Garland.


My Dear Traubel:

You have done yourself and all others credit in your editorial work on the Memorial of the Banquet. I shall try to sell a number of the volumes because I think they will sell other of Whitman's volumes. I am always aiding in the spread of the Great poets fame. I am still too poor to do anything in money. I hope soon to send you a little something. A genuine lover of W. W. is Kenneth Cranford painter and teacher in the Cowles Art School. I also made a partial convert in one [of] the Conservatory faculty—I saw some excellent poems from your pen in the New Ideal. You should write more. You have the right ring in your words. Did you go to hear my good friend Herne read while he was in Philadelphia. He is my convert to the Single Tax. By the way does W. W. indicate interest in it still?

Give him my love. And as for yourself—put your shoulder to the Single Tax chariot when ever you can. We have their big meeting projected for November and December.

Fraternally

Hamlin Garland



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     He laughed over the single tax. "Interested in it still? I do not know what it is! I asked Garland himself, and either because of my stupidity, which is very likely, or of his way of telling it, or of the intrinsic difficulties of the case itself—for one of these reasons—probably the first, I was left entirely in the dark. The good Garland! But however the single tax, there's all the rest!"

     Edelheim in today—gave me 20 dollars for the fund. I remarked it to W. as from a man he had never seen, and he said, "And noble it is too! Who is he?" And when I explained, he— "A noble baker, to be sure! A noble baker!" Adding: "I think I must right soon get up a little poemet, about so long"—indicating two inches on his hand— "'To My Unknown Friends'—aiming to take in these men you have with you in this undertaking." I took up with the suggestion at once, "Yes,—and give me copies to send to each one of them." W. then: "That would be my idea: to get them in such a way that I could sign them and have each person have a personal copy."

     W. "stirred to rejoicing" as he said, by the result of the elections towards Democracy: "It shows a turn in the tide—the Harrisonian Republican on the downflow." Talked of protection. "I can see how it appeals to some people—how it must appeal to them. I can even see how protection protects. As they say in the story—whiskey makes a man strong: put a glass, or two glasses, of whiskey, in him, and he is a giant—he can do tremendous things—lift great weights, heave, draw, energize—the transformation is marvellous." "But how about tomorrow?" I put in. And W. at once: "That's it! How about tomorrow! It is the tomorrow people don't see: protection protects—today!—but tomorrow, whose ox is gored? I never knew the time when I could be led to the slaughter that way; in my earliest years—even as a boy—I saw the tomorrow of this humbug—the day of reckoning. I was never deceived—and experience does no more than confirm me.

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But it is in this—in politics—just as it is in religion—some people get an idea of the necessity of believing certain things, not so much from weight of evidence, out or in,—but from mere mental and emotional set-ness: they intend believing—and that all there is about it!"

     A copy of Trübner's periodical on a chair. I picked it up, W. remarking: "I have not examined it myself yet. It came today among a lot of other things. I have a friend there—Josiah Childs, who sends it along, issue after issue, faithfully. Did I ever tell you about the Trübners? You know, there was an old man—the original Trübner, who is dead now. The present Trübner is a young man—at least, in the sense of being the first Trübner's son. The old man was quite a friend of Leaves of Grass—sold it for me—and Specimen Days, at a time when every book sold was an important event to me. At that time sent me over several hundred dollars. But this son, ascending the throne, beheaded me at short notice—quickly concluded that Leaves of Grass was not the book for him to handle. Josiah Child—sort of confidential man there—himself very friendly towards me, was not satisfied to have the book driven out in that style, so looked about and secured agents for it there and several of them. And as he is of a financial turn, kept the accounts strictly straight for me—made remittances from time to time. The last one—the closing one—just the last year—in this room—since my sickness. I never saw Childs—nor Trübner either. This, you see, is part of the history of Leaves of Grass—I have been driven from post to pillar, yet by virtue of these things, a man gets the pick of his friends, to be sure—they come near and near—are indissoluble."

     I spoke of somebody who remarked the "religiousness" of "My 71st Year"—W. smilingly replying: "I suppose they must have had in mind that last line. The general view of what constitutes religion is very cheap—not only confusing theology with it, but making of religion—Methodism to the Methodist,

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—what-not, and that only. As if religion had not its wide readings—readings wide as worlds to a grand world-wide man."
There was Adler in New York— "serving the people—and for what? His devotion superb—yet in what but this is devotion—religious faith—faith that counts—embodied? All but this can be spared." I mentioned Abou Ben Adhem and W., "Oh! the noble little poem! What is there to surpass it? It is in place today—the standard—at the forefront—nobly stating all that indicates moral advance. This the world knows—or will know—must know in time."

     Had made up my bundle of portraits, endorsed as follows:

     Portraits of Walt Whitman

     from life at different ages

     Horace L Traubel

     from his friend W. W.

     Nov: 6 1889

     Had sent French paper to Dr. Bucke but the manuscript poem still here. Did he wish Morris to translate it? I suggested letting M. see it. So, if worth while, to translate and print translation. W. was willing—would "hunt it up"—already buried in a heap of things.

     Picture of Symonds on mantel—cabinet. W. said: "I think Mary unearthed it, cleaning here. I did not know I had it. Every now and then something turns up that way. I don't think this picture anyway near as good as the big one."


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