Commentary

Disciples


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Tuesday, July 15, 1890

     6 P.M. The factory-whistles just noisily sounding as I reached W.'s. W. just transcribing Morse's address in note-book as I entered the room, explaining, "I have had a long letter from Sidney today," giving it to me.

     Visit from Dr. Johnston (England) today. Writing of it, he said, to J.W. Wallace, Anderton near Chorley, England. Johnston would "be in again for an hour tomorrow."

     W. looked well, said, "On the whole I get along better than is generally believed. Though, to be sure, I am old, which is against me, and through this paralysis pretty sadly disabled," but he always tells me (which he hardly needs to), "My spirits are at their old height: I detect no fall there."

     I showed him the final proof of Kennedy's piece, which he (putting on his glasses) read through. "It is very fine," he said. "Oh! very!" And when I said, "Yes, with the sledge-hammer qualities, not for ornament but to do a certain plain honest job," he laughed and said, "That's it exactly, and sledge-hammer it is." I told him I had shown it to Morris today, who at first sight (of the italics, probably), was repulsed. Then he relented, though saying there was not much love lost between him and Kennedy, etc. W. said, "Morris will be one of us yet," and to my, "Yes, don't you remember the walk I told you of only a couple of years ago and our hot talk, Morris refusing you poet then, though willing enough to give it now?" "Yes, I remember: and if he has grown so far since then, he will grow still farther in years to come. Morris has power to exfoliate: it is marked in him, and that is his hope."


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     He spoke of the charge so often made— "We are not respectable—but what have we to do with respectability? We do not plume ourselves on that. When Kennedy wanted Morris to take a drink of lemonade with him on the street that was not respectable, but how natural it was! The fellow was dying for a drink—nothing would do but to have the drink—so to have the drink was the thing; the means to it not consequential." I had thought Morris' criticism of Kennedy originated in misconception, some act of discourtesy on Kennedy's part. W. then: "Morris will learn to see through apparent discourtesies. There are ways and ways, and Kennedy's, his own, not any other's, to be weighed with reference to him, not to the discourse, manners, of the parlor"—but— "I hold to my original faith that Morris is throwing off that coat, little by little, and at last will be wholly free. It is in him, in his makeup."

     Showed him James Law's letter with note of Carnegie appended.


2020 Broadway, Camden, N.J.
July 13th, 1890.

Dear Mr. Traubel:

I am very glad I have met you, and I hope we may soon get to know each other better. I think I can now say truly, 'I have found a man after mine own heart.' I know enough at least to appreciate worth in others, and you may rest assured what I saw and heard last evening was fully noted. Mr. Callingham has my everlasting thanks for this happy introduction.

Below please find a copy of Mr. Carnegie's letter on my new Year's Greeting to Whitman.

Yours sincerely,

James D. Law



Camden, N.J.,

To—Jas. D. Law,

Thanks for sending me the enclosed to read. It is well done, true Scotch, and Whitman deserves it all.


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The article you refer to was one of the very finest tributes ever paid to Burns.

I was very ill in bed, recovering from Typhoid, and when the reader came to one passage,—the passage where he (Whitman) sums up Burns: "The kindest flesh and blood chield", etc.,—I called to my friend to stop and shed copious tears.

It takes a genius to know and feel a genius,—and Whitman knew Burns to the core.

Yours very truly,

Andrew Carnegie.


     W. read with interest, said he had not seen it before. I spoke of Law's visit to me Saturday, that "I liked him: he has good democratic instincts," to which W. said, "I can second that—I liked him myself well, very well." L. had told me Carnegie was very friendly to Ingersoll. (He knew Carnegie personally.) W. said, "I am not surprised. I should be surprised to hear he was not. It seems to me any American, anyhow, would value in Ingersoll his apparent genius—his vital, manly gigantesque powers. They cannot be passed by." He had been reading Ingersoll today—the handsome book open before him. I said, "But there are Liberals even who shrug their shoulders at him, as if he lacked in respectability—in respectable methods," to which W.: "I did not know that: I took my case as a matter of course. I still think it ought to be if it is not." Then, "We must not bother about respectability. There is something more and greater than that. One of the grand things Mrs. Gilchrist said—the grandest—came to me as this: she said, 'Noblesse oblige is for democrats, not the monopoly of nobles, of aristocracy; indeed, properly belongs to democracy, and you in America are to prove it.' Hasn't that a big, grand air? I know nothing better—little as good—it fits in with all my theories of democracy. Mrs. Gilchrist was one of the women who defy theory—had the graspingness—mental horizon—which is denied her—which I, however, always conceded."

     Gave me some mail to take up to Post Office for him.


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