Commentary

Disciples


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Tuesday, November 25, 1890

     5:30 P.M. W. in his room reading. On the bed already a couple of big portraits inscribed for Mrs. Ingersoll. He asked me, "You still persist that you may go over? Good! I will have things ready for you." I thought he looked very much better than for days. Talked with equipoise. "I had a copy of Lippincott's by mail today—then sent over for some others. Stoddart has promised to send them to me. One of them, then, to be yours." And he listened intently to all I had to say about the poem. "I did not expect such result," he said. "It surprises me." Told him I wrote Bucke about it this morning in warm terms. Said to me, then, by digression, "I sent a note to the Critic today for their holiday number—about four lines, telling about William's book. Of course I don't know who is to publish it or what it is to be called, but I quite fully realize its importance and won't have it passed by if I can prevent. Yes, I wrote to Nellie—she asked me for suggestions. I told her I had none—that perhaps to call it by the name of one of the unprinted pieces, 'The Brazen Android and Other Stories' would hit the nail where it needed. There is

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something of mystery in such a line; mystery catches the public. Yet it is more than that, too. So, all in all, I don't know that a better could be found—not by me, I'm sure!"

      "I have a card from Aggie" (my sister) "on which she announces her marriage." "So, she is married. May it bring about the best—the best—for her!" Then I said, "Do you remember the Mrs. Hamilton and that affair on the shore? I see by the papers that the Governor pardoned her today." W. at once: "Good! I would have done it long ago—I have been in favor of it. Yes, she's a bad mess, no doubt, but they are all a bad mess—all. It is the story of all incomes (nearly) say, from three thousand a year to ten. Going a long way to justify Tolstoi."

     Then questioned me: "Have you read Macaulay's essay—it went into one of the big English magazines—on Lord Byron? I am not much of an admirer of Macaulay, but that struck me as the best work he ever did," etc. I replying, "Yes, I read it, years ago, and I don't remember a thing in it but a sentence somewhere in which he says that English society about once a generation demands a scapegoat." W. interrupted me quickly, "And that's just it: if you've read that you've read all—all—that is the whole point of it. And it is true—true. It is quite remarkable how we hit on the same idea. Better than Macaulay, too, was William O'Connor. I need not tell you how O'Connor fought for them all—how his hospitality was boundless—how catholic he was, beyond all else, persons else. How he would defend Byron—not as you tell me Carlyle did—but absolutely defend him—not even himself discuss the evil, error. And Shelley, too: he thought Shelley a great, great man—one of the greatest—and Poe he would defend. But then O'Connor had discrimination, too: it will not do to think him a mere panegyrist; he was more—higher—broader. To make a bull, he had the most wonderful natural artificiality which ever possessed a man in literature. Yes, I think I make no exceptions whatever. He had the greatest receptivity, freedom—with knowledge of sources, forms."


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     I took book and copy of Ingersoll's address to Cohen. He was not in store, but I met him afterwards on the street. Was highly gratified. Said he would "appreciate and read both," etc. W. asked, "Is he a man to be interested in such things?" Would get me to secure envelopes, printed, from Cohen. "Two sizes: I will get them ready for you." And again: "As a usual thing I would give such a thing to Curtz—poor devil! I throw as much in his way as I can."

     Still inquires after my progress with manuscript. Interested to know of my going to "Richelieu" tonight. I should tell him "all about it," etc.

     Letter from Baker acquainted me with receipt of pieces from W., etc.:


New York, Novemb. 24 1890.

My dear Traubel:

Today, I received from W. W. some poems on Old Age, for The Arena. I forwarded them immediately to the Editor. He will doubtless send you word, very soon, whether he will accept. If he knows anything he won't hesitate a minute! Please inform W. W. that I have received and sent, as requested.

Now in re the proof of the Lecture. I have written the Truth Seeker folk to send you proof and let you correct it. The Col. did use an old Edition. Of course in correcting you will not insert anything—only see that what he does quote is rightly quoted.

I put this work on you 1st, because you are the one to do it, and 2ly because I am so busy that I even haven't time to say anything about your own beautiful little Atom Chorus to the Soul—but only, with love to say, I'm yours,

I. N. Baker


     Also, serious letter from Bucke:


London, 23 Nov 1890

My dear Horace

I have yours of 20 & 21 inst. Am real glad to hear that you are to revive the "Truth Seeker" pamphlet and I do not know but that this

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is after all the best way for the Ingersoll address to come out. It will, in this way, go to the right people—the Ingersoll folk, those who are likeliest to be influenced by it—you know we don't want to call the righteous only but sinners to repentance! A card from W. yesterday written 20th he says "the worst of belly-ache over but just a reminder sometimes." I trust there will be no serious return—if there is I shall be very anxious. Yes, Bush is a good fellow—I like him much. When you see him give him my remembrance & love—tell him I do not and shall not forget him.


Glad to hear your W. W. piece progresses—it will give me the greatest gratification to see it and read it in print—be sure you sent me a copy in the journal the earliest possible moment—then I shall send to my N.Y. bookseller for a supply.

Yes, you must be making some grand notes these days—I can fancy myself an old, old man and you a middle aged one, W. gone from us years ago, living on these notes then printed—reading them and discussing them—never tiring of them and how many hundreds, thousands, millions after you & I are dead and gone and but for our connection with W. W. forgotten! I really think, Horace, that you are today doing perhaps the most important work of any man now living.

I am gratified to hear of you and your friends reading "Man's Moral Nature"—I have never gone back on that book—think as well of it as I ever did and I know that there is a true inspiration at the heart of it.

Shall hope to hear early in the week that Mitchell or some other good man has seen W. and trust the opinion formed will be favorable—but, Horace, we are standing on a narrow ledge above a precipice—don't forget it.

Love to you

RM Bucke

I want you to see the letter I wrote W. about "To the Sun-Set Breeze." Want to know if you see the under meaning of that to me most wonderful poem—

RMB



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     Pathetic word from Washington, too, from Mrs. O'Connor:


112 M St. N.W.
Nov. 24. 1890.

Dear Mr. Traubel,

Yours of the 22d awaited me when I got home from the office at 5 to-day & I will send you a line at once. I sent the seven stories, six printed, and the Brazen Android with Walt's preface, to Houghton & Mifflin. Because, 1st they published "Hamlet's Note Book" by him & also his "Ghost" in the Little Classics; & they published the little book which I edited; & The Brazen Android was sent to the Atlantic Monthly, & partly in type when recalled by William, so I was told that the courtesy of the profession demanded them to have the first offer. I hope it will be the only one, for I hope they will accept.

I am glad you spoke of the picture of William; I mean to have some printed & then you shall have one, also a piece of his handwriting. I am glad you asked, else how should I know.

I am sorry to hear that Walt is not as well, but thank you for telling me. Give him great love from me. I find after using my eyes all day in writing at the office that it is nearly impossible to touch a pen at night; & some days, as to-day, I come home so tired that I am ready to give up; but I am, I think, getting more used to it.

Thank you for the papers, they do reach me, & I glance, & more, when I can; & always thank you. Will you tell Walt how much I thank him for papers & all. I think of him so much, and wish I could go on to see him.

I am very glad that he got such a lift from Ingersoll's lecture. It was good.

Good by, & love to you. I am tired to-night.

How I wish I could see you.

Thank you for your kind offer. I may yet accept, at any rate, a part of it. And I always feel that in you I have a warm friend.

Yours cordially—

Ellen M. O'Connor

I hope that the little lady is well, whom you brought to see me.



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     An invitation (W. by letter and I a card) to meet Miss Gale, at Talcott Williams'.


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