Commentary

Disciples


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Friday, October 31, 1890

     7:50 P.M. W. sent Warren up for Doctor's books in the morning, wrote variously in them, added an extra copy of "Specimen Days," a big envelope of portraits, and left them at the house as they passed in the chair in the afternoon. He had bundled them up firmly and addressed them, forgetting that we had the trunk in which to dispatch. When I got into his room he at once

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spoke of them. "I put my name in all," he explained, "yet in one or two it already appears several times. I confess I did not like to do it—it looks bad, is bad. But as long as he sent them, I asked no questions, stretching the principle to its limit." And when I tried to explain B.'s idea W. said, "No matter—that does not help me—I still have the feeling. It makes me think of the old story," he laughed. "The master says to his footman or what-not, 'John, have you gathered all our things together?' 'Oh yes master—at least, at least!'—their own and no doubt somebody else's! The Doctor must have worked in a mood like that. But if it does him good, all right!" And he then further questioned me about London affairs. When I expressed some regret at the prospect that B. might leave the institution if the meter panned out well, W. assented, "All you say about that is true. Its freedom, its individual genius, are exhaustless, are both in Doctor's eternal honor. I too look upon anything like his going away as almost tragedy—perhaps to him, to the place, equally. And I wonder, if he is away, by the meter or anything else (no doubt, if at all, by the meter)—whether he will not wish to be back again? It is a serious question, not even by him to be settled offhand!"

     I left with him a copy of New Ideal containing my paper on Parker and Johnson. Said he would read it and send copy to Kennedy when he was done. Looked at the print admiringly. "It does my eyes good—is handsome."

     Had laid out American for me. "There is Morris' piece," and added, "Perhaps that had better be sent to Doctor when you are done with it." Then of the article itself, "I accept it for what it seems to indicate. It is cute, too. I can see what they are up to. I say they for I look upon the piece as composite—made up—for Morris, Frank Williams, perhaps several others. It is not unskillfully constructed either—has a certain architectonic ability. And for what it means to say, I give it every credit." Here he laughed and gestured circularly. "You know—I pride myself on my inclusiveness—that I embrace everybody—and

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that must stand."
Then he followed the subject up in this way: "But after all—I know it is just as you have put it—that no one has any right to possess me—to hold 'Leaves of Grass' for himself only—to put up bars, inhibiting anyone. And I can say for myself, about Ingersoll, that I take him to the full, that his testimony, in its grand generosity and genius—claims, has from me, what it could claim or have from anyone. I could not but be susceptible to its subtle charm, its power, majesty—yes, your word majesty. I think that if I was a Methodist or a Presbyterian—as God forbid!—I should yield to it. Now I can say to you, authorize you to say for me, the first time Ingersoll or Walt Whitman are in question—to say, that 'Leaves of Grass' has its own eligibilities—has no narrow tendencies—at least, that I hope it has not. Shall we be less than the sun—shall we pause to inquire all the love out of life? The sun shines, shines, shines: it has no question to ask of whore, of murderer, of anyone. It gives what it has, yielding to each after its necessity. I have been anxious to do Morris justice, but I think your idea the true one. My friendships are my own—for Ingersoll or another. And besides I am too much agreed with the main body of the Colonel's work to wish to worry over his weak points, or my own either."

     Said he had written a postal to Bucke.

     When I opened Bucke's bag of books found only 11. It alarmed me. I was sure we laid out 15 for me to bring down. Wrote B. instantly inquiring. Will hold till I hear.

     W. asked me about the men at the Asylum. When I spoke of Dr. Beemer he said in astonishment, "I can hardly think of him as growed up!" When I told him of some of the patients, "How pathetic!" he exclaimed, "I had just such thoughts as you tell me of when I was there." Took the red shirt story more seriously than I thought—as well as that of the woman who makes the strange passes in the air. Gave me pictures for New England Magazine. Suggests that I use Warrie's picture, along with the others. Says he is "anxious to see the piece."


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     Referred to Ingersoll again: "That was wonderfully cute—and true, too—of Ingersoll—when he said of Burns—he was the child of nature, of whom his mother was ashamed and proud. And so true of Bob, too—the lesson, the grand true throb of his life!"

     Questioned me about my trip till I had to drag myself away. Is "reasonably well," he says.


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