Commentary

Disciples


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Wednesday, November 20, 1889

     7.15 P.M. When I entered, W.—head leaning on hands—dozing—the sight fine—the light of the gas illuminating the hair and face—I stood for several minutes, unheard then by some instinct he raised his head "Oh! it is Horace! How did you come here?—I did not hear you enter. How long have you been here?" I asked if he had slept and he answered: "No only dozed"—waving his hand along above his head— "floated along in the mist—just floated along in the mist." Tone fine—and he adding explanatorily: "You remember the expression? Have you read 'Dombey and Son'? it is there—I don't know whether with Paul or his mother. It is the death of one—Dickens, with his inexpressibly fine touch, pictures the soul—its departure—its floating off in the mist—oh! beautiful! A trick, perhaps, yet how fine!" And then: "Dickens is full of that—a delicate, sweet flavor."


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     I read him Dr. Brinton's letter, of which yesterday I only gave him the substance.


2041 Chestnut Street,
Philadelphia.
Nov. 19, 1889.

My dear Mr. Traubel:

I have received and read over with admiration the book about Walt Whitman which you have so felicitously edited. It will stand to, who can say how many generations? as a testimony to the "honor, love, respect," in which the poet was held by the men and women of his own generations; and as a refutation of those prejudiced charges against the spirit of his writings which have been levelled against them by those who could not or would not understand their deeper meaning, nor recognize their subtler beauties

Repeating my thanks and congratulations. I remain

Very cordially yours

D. G. Brinton.


     He exclaimed: "How penetrating and sweet! Certainly that is so far the best, simplest, most significant word you have received. And the best point about it is, that we can feel it is representative—that the Doctor speaks for others as well as for himself." As to the little book: "I put it down as a success. First of all a writer likes to know—to carry with him the consciousness that he has pleased himself—has in a measure accomplished what he started out to do. After [being] assured on that point, then the understanding of his friends is welcome—oh! how welcome!".

     He had a great bundle of mail to send off by Warren—papers to go right and left. "I make that a practice. I know no better way to help along the smaller hours of life. Some of the folks way off that way are wonderfully cute—more cute than city people. I send papers to friends and friends of my friends—often to people I have never met. I had one experience, however, which shocked me—halted me for awhile—

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though"
with a laugh— "I survived and recovered from it." Detailed the incident: "It was my old Alabama admirer, who came up here several years ago—was talked of in the papers. I thought after he had gone back—back into remote parts—I could do him no better kindness than by sending papers from time to time, which I did—bundle after bundle. But by and by I got a protest from him, in substance—don't send any more papers—I don't want your papers. Just as if he shook his fist at me—or the papers—and declared: 'God damn it! I don't want your damned papers! Please hold off in the future till I signal you!'" W. laughed and added: "That staggered me for awhile. I wondered if I had not made a mistake sending any papers anywhere. But finally I realized that this was a case in which the exception proved the rule and so have continued my habit. My old friend did not cease his admiration, so far as I know. I still hear from him—sometimes in quite long letters."

     Had saved me a copy of The Boston Transcript containing notice of the banquet volume. Referring to use of words, W. remarked: "In my abolition days, some of my friends were furious at my allusions to the blacks: as if colored people were nearly so definite—colored, which might mean red or green as well as black. It is a violence we do the use of words."


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