Commentary

Disciples


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 327] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Thursday, December 4, 1890

     7:30 P.M. W. reading papers—not appearing bright. I was there only for hasty few minutes. On my way to Phila. Shall be

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 328] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
able despite doubts to go to N.Y. tomorrow. W. gave me package for Mrs. Ingersoll. Had boldly marked big envelope thus: "Portraits of Walt Whitman from life sent to Mrs. Ingersoll by W. W. as a Christmas present 1890-91."

     Sent his love to "all the New York fellows and girls"—the Johnstons, etc. Said Stoddart had been over: "Just briefly—I should say for five minutes or so—no more. He brought a young woman with him. I thought her very bright—full of noble sweet woman's spirit. She attracted me. I judged from the briefness of the stay that they only came to see the bear—the lion—to dare a look into his den—no more." And then: "Horace, will you bring me down the manuscript I gave you for the Lippincott's piece? I want to read it." Does he intend giving it to Stoddart as it is? "No, that does not occur to me now." I told him I felt sure from the first that Stoddart did not wish anything from me, etc. But W. shook his head: "That is not so sure—you should not say that." Still, he was not talkative on the subject, and I did not press it to discover what Stoddart said to him. I am not sure that his singular weakness for money will persuade him to yield the point he so decidedly negatived with me—to autobiographize for Lippincott's. Still, I would not be surprised. He does not need money nearly so much as I do, yet he deludes himself to think he constantly suffers for it. I know no other radical weakness in his personality, and this is only a very recent development. He was nettled that I would not send the piece to Stoddart as it was, simply adopting and signing it. But that shows a misconception of my mission on this earth, which is not to be catspaw under whatever issues of time, or to claim that which is not my own, or to play fool—as would be palpably the case for me to print under my own name an article which any astute man would at once see was his by fingermarks of indubitable incisiveness. So on the whole I did not regretfully run up home (having only a few minutes in which to do it), get the manuscript, go down again to Mickle Street, return to him. I

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 329] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
had left on my first trip the old scrap-book containing Ingersoll's "Burns." When I came back he was already deep in it.

     I had another positive and not cheerful note about W.'s condition:


2 Dec 1890

My dear Horace

Yours of 28th to hand last evening but have had the Inspector here since noon yesterday and have not had time to breathe—he has just gone but has left me with a devil of a stack of work as he often does. Yes, I knew it was young Dr. M[itchell] who had seen W. but will not write him at present—am very anxious to hear what he says to you about W.

Have got the Lippincott—I thought the poem in it was another—it is "The Evening Breeze." It is a wonderful poem, one of the greatest of these later poems of W.'s.

I fear the change noticed in Walt's urine means no good. Still, it does not necessarily mean any great harm. But the case should be thoroughly looked into—the urine properly tested etc. etc. I do wish this could be done and soon. I do not consider that W.'s aptitude for work lately means anything from the point of view of the seriousness of his complaint.

All quiet here—have an appointment with W. J. Gurd in the city in 30 minutes—must be off!

Love to you

RM Bucke


     I said something to W. descriptive of the well-dressed mechanic—that his Sunday clothes took all the grace out of him—that in the labor of the street, on a train, at a loom, workingmen had inimitable grace which the stiff rigs destroyed. W. laughed and assented: "That is all true—how often have I remarked it! It is the old story of clothes, trimmings, embroidery, china"—and perhaps did not more rob workingmen of absolute natural grace than others.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 330] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

     Press today—in quoting N.Y. Herald—a chronicle about bachelors—touched Whitman.


Comments?

Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Ed Folsom & Kenneth M. Price, editors.