Commentary

Disciples


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Saturday, November 29, 1890

     8:00 P.M. W. rooting in one of the several baskets of his room, dislodging some papers, examining and re-tying others. Seemed to me to be improved. Color higher and eye brighter. But he said himself, "I am only indifferent good—have spent lazy, stupid days, now, for time past. No mind, no heart, for anything. I was out today—but depressed, depressed. No—not a word from St. Louis yet by letter."

     Returned me Scribner's. "How elegant, perfect, it is from a technical point of view! I know nothing better: the craft of it moved me, oh! I can't tell you how much. But Sir Edwin: what is he doing there? It is only a so-so piece—has but little, to me no real importance. There is a long piece on Amy Robart Kenilworth, what-not" (by Rideing). "I waded along a good ways, but it is insufferably stupid: not a word of life, not a suspicion of it. And so with the whole number: lots of dishes, silver, elegant china, glass, but not a thing to eat. I don't believe there's a line in the whole issue worth pausing over, remembering. Yet to the polite publishers, the literati, the hangers-on, the frippiness, it ought to be the very thing of things—would be—is, no doubt."

      "I suppose you have not yet heard from the New York men? any of them? Well, I guess they'll let us have what we want—certainly ought to." And advised me further: "Push it till you get it. It is our right."

     Told him of confusion Bucke got into about piece:


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27 Nov '90

My dear Horace

I have yours of 25th. What is this about "W.'s Lippincott poem." I have not seen it and you do not even say what L. it is in so I could send for it.

If it is as good as "The Evening Breeze" piece I shall begin to think my old notion about W. writing his best pieces in middle age will have to be revised. To my mind "The E.B." piece is one of the most wonderful he has ever produced—its inner spiritual meaning is one of the most marvellous things in literature.

W. tells me young Mitchell was over—what does he say about W.?

I mailed you a paper today re meter.

Your friend

RM Bucke


     I spoke of the Lippincott's piece: he evidently only knows it as coming in a slip from W. The same poem in mind. W. said, "You fellows seem to have taken to that poem as a duck to water. It must belong to you. I had no idea myself that you'd find so much in it." I joked with him, that he figured in Lippincott's together with Dan Dawson, who had got off that famous standard in Clifford's presence, "If Walt Whitman is a poet, then I'm no poet." Clifford retorting to someone that he was not inclined to question it. W. laughed heartily again and again over this, "It was a very keen happy thrust: no better anywhere."

     Not yet done with my manuscript. "I want to give it still another reading," he said. "I have been over it a couple of times."

     Had just been enjoying some grapes. Room full of odor of grape and of the burnt wood.

     Word (to me) today from both Weir and J. K. Mitchell:


1524 Walnut Street

Dear Mr. Traubel

Yr. note said 9 to 10. I waited until 10:35 & am grieved to miss you. I think the old man would see me or my son who saw him

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before. I can get over this week & will do so, but tell me his address—I have it not. Send it at once.


Yrs. truly,

Weir Mitchell


     Sunday—


John K. Mitchell, M.D.
211 South 17th St.

My dear Mr. Traubel—

I saw Whitman because my father could not go, but he will go when he can. I did not think there was anything new or very serious—if, that is, the old man told me all his symptoms.

The worst is the bladder difficulty and probably the cause of that is, that owing either to weakness in the bladder or to interference with the passage by an enlarged prostate gland, the urine is not all passed. What is retained ferments & irritates the bladder.

To use a catheter would be the only thorough going remedy, say, twice daily.

But I tried a temporary measure and sent him some Salol capsules, which if taken regularly should make the urine bland and unirritating. He promised to take 4 or 5 a day—but I don't know that he will.

I thought the stomach pain at night might be helped by taking some food the last thing & so ordered.

Yours sincerely,

JK Mitchell


      "How do the pills act?" I asked him. He replied, "I don't know—I have not touched them: they are under the heap there," pointing to his work-corner.

     Coit's other letter came to me at the Bank today. W. said, "You will be over tomorrow? Do come—come, say, at eleven or at three. I go out—earlier than used to be—but not by rule."

      "Harned has not been here yet with his minister. I suppose they'll all drop in tomorrow," alluding to fact that Tom B.

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Harned has been regularly stopping in Saturday evenings with the Sunday's pulpit supply—W. saying, "I'm not a handy man with these preachers anyway."

     As I sat there, talking, fingering the Scribner's, W. said suddenly, "There's one fine thing in the magazine—the portrait of Morelli, which is very grand—vivid. You ought to take it in—great draughts of it," adding that "any such bit of portraiture" attracted him "altogether beyond a 'no.'"

     I spoke of advertisers as being perhaps the most original writers of the period. This made W. laugh, but he said, "You are right, anyhow. I always look into the ads. That magazine in your hands I examined from top to toe."

     Book is back from Burroughs duly inscribed.


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