Commentary

Disciples


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Thursday, November 7, 1889

     7.40 P.M. In his room, as usual. Looked pretty well, though tired. Said: "I have been spending one of my usual unrelieved monotonous days—feeling very well, except for this strange, palling weight in my head, which wears down, a constant pressure upon me." And there was "nothing new. A letter from Doctor, sans news, and something from the society of

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Old Brooklynites"
—this with a laugh. We laughed at Bucke's vehement ridicule of the title-page of the book, I saying— "His opinion is relieved of much of its pith by his violence in uttering it." W. laughing: "Yes—no doubt. I remember, however, that that is what John Burroughs would say, has said, of O'Connor, though"—shaking his head, an dropping into a serious tone— "I don't think that is true of O'Connor."

     Elections still attracted him. "I see as the returns come in, it looks more and more a likely result for the Democrats. Harrisonism is on the move—is getting found out. And among the most comical things is the struggle of the Republican papers to account for it. Why—it is accounted for in the very nature of things! What more is necessary?"

     I received from Frank R. Stockton a note today about the fund, etc., thus:


Convent Station
New Jersey
Nov. 4: 1889

Mr Horace L. Traubel,

Dear Sir,

I am in receipt of your well-put and considerate note; and, in answer, will say that I will join you in your good work in regard to Walt. Whitman thusfar: I will give ten dollars for a plain copy of "Leaves of Grass" with the author's autograph in it. This much I can do, and it may be there are others who would do the same.

I do not know that Walt. Whitman ever heard of me, or that he would care to hear, but he has my sympathy, and best wishes for a happy remainder of life.

Very sincerely

Frank R. Stockton

:

Dictated:

:

     W. exclaimed— "Indeed I do care—all those things are touching—go straight to my heart. Tell him so—tell him so." Promised

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to send book tomorrow without fail—$2.00 edition. The rest of the money I will put in with the fund.

     W. much interested in American notice of book—this:

Mr. Horace L. Traubel has edited, and David McKay, (Philadelphia; 23 S. 9th St.), has published in good style, with the title "Camden's Compliment to Walt Whitman," the record of the testimonial meeting and dinner at Camden, N.J., May 31, last, in honor of the seventieth birthday of the poet. Mr. Traubel's work is so well done, and the material for the volume is so substantial, that he has made an appreciable addition to the Whitman literature. This results from the character of the addresses on the occasion, the letters of response and compliment, and the excellent historical and descriptive sketch which the editor prefixes. All of this, with rare exceptions, has more than a temporary or perfunctory character, and much of it, by suggestiveness, by critical judgment or by other quality, helps to an appreciation and an estimate of Whitman's work. There are letters, for example, from Wm. M. Rossetti, Edward Dowden, John Burroughs, Stedman, F.B. Sanborn, and John Addington Symonds, and there are briefer ones which are notable, also. We congratulate the Camden friends of the poet on their spirit in devising and conducting the testimonial, and on having it so worthily put on record.

American. Phila. Nov. 2, '89.

     Exclaiming as he finished reading: "Well—that fellow has read the book, anyhow!—which is a point gained with a critic anyway—so few of 'em do—or appear to!"

     Gilchrist came in as we sat there talking. Did not stay long—we going finally off together. Gilchrist spoke of seeing Mansfield's Richard the 3d—W. thereupon curiously full of questions. "What is he trying to do with it?" and others. "The last forty years, all the actors have taken to experimenting with it—half doing, half undoing, its legitimate powers, beauties, wonders. It gives play of itself, naturally, without interpretation so-called, to grandest, most vital forces, passions, emotionalities. It is always the actor's opportunity." Then

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voiced talk of Gilchrist's goings-about—of his departure in February. Talking of American art in the wider sense, the question arose, had we yet produced in music a great composer? No—not indeed! W. however interposed: "Our best work so far seems to be in the direction of nigger songs, some of these are superb—'Old Folks at Home'—'Old Black Joe' and such. Exquisite specimens, some of them, out of the heart of nature—hitting off nigger life South there with wonderful expression."

     Also reference to the Kendals, now in town. G. having seen them—W.'s first question was: "Is the woman the best?"

     Gilchrist having asked if W. had seen any other London Telegraph letters from Edwin Arnold, W. exclaimed, among other things: "Oh! we have captured him—there's no doubt! America has captured him!"


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