Commentary

Disciples


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Wednesday, December 10, 1890

     7:20 P.M. Mrs. Davis greeted me and said, "No—he is not better—rather poorly—much as he has been for the last four or five days." I had written Mitchell today. Who would examine (analyze) W.'s urine? No reply yet. Mrs. Davis thinks W. undoubtedly changed. Letter from Bucke—of rather dark temper still. Upstairs in his room W. reading—looking not over well—yet cheerful in mien and speech—though in reply to my question saying, "I still stay at my low ebb—these are dark days." Asked, "Where are you going from here?" And when I said, "To Germantown," replied, "Take this to the girl there—this"—reaching into a big bag on the lounge and finally drawing forth a handsome orange. Inquired after weather. "Is it not much milder?"—and wondered if the fire was not "too lusty." Snow melting out of doors. I leaned over to smell the flowers on the round table. He remarked, "Pinks! And so beautiful! So full, free, suggestive, these snowy days! Double pinks! And they were brought by a visitor today—curious to tell, a niece or cousin or what-not of Margaret Fuller. She lives now in New York—has been abroad. It was bright sunshine in my room here as long as she stayed."

     Saying to W. that I thought the Johnston women understood him better than Johnston himself, W. said, "I know it—should

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have expected it anyway: all other things equal, the women always do."

     Showed him the two letters I had today from the Colonel and from Baker:


Dec 8th 90

My dear Traubel,

I just read your article in the New Ideal on "Whitman-Ingersoll," and I wish simply to thank you for your splendid praise and approval.

To know that a man like yourself understands me is enough and with all my heart I thank you for your generous words.

Why did you fail to come and see me last evening? The next time you visit New York come and see us. If you do not I may become your enemy.

Thanking you again for your beautiful article, I remain

Yours always

RG Ingersoll

Give my love to Walt Whitman—he who seems to be one of the elemental forces.



New York, Dec. 9th 1890.

My dear Traubel:

My heart reciprocates all your kindliness, and shares equally with you the regret that we did not meet on Sunday. Mrs. Baker and I went to the Hall Sunday morning, and kept our eye on you constantly. After the meeting, we found it physically impossible to stem the tide in order to reach you—besides the likelihood that you, not knowing our wish, wd. have filed out.

Never mind. The hope you hold out of a better fortune next month, shall feed our desire and keep it in robust life.

Since I had a word with you about W. W.'s returned poem from The Arena, I suppressed the letter I had written you. I also withheld my letter to the Arena's Editor—since its tone may have been regarded as bordering on the supererogatory.

The words you wrote for the New Ideal, about the Colonel, in re the Whitman Tribute, were amongst the most eloquent, truthful,

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generous in praise and just in characterization of any that have ever been written or spoken. The Colonel was delighted with it, and immediately wrote you the hearty little recognition that goes by mail today.


I want to explain, when I see you, the Colonel's apparent delay in acceding to your request to write the dedicatory page. It is only a way the Colonel has with almost everything and everybody. He acts in so many cases just as and only when he has to—i.e. when the mood is on him—etc. etc.

Make my regards to good W. W. and accept my love.

Heartily yours,

I. N. Baker.


     W. glad as I was that Baker withheld Arena letter. Said as to Ingersoll's note, "It is the man over again—free, throbbing, vital"—and to the footnote— "God bless him for that and all things!" And, "You must go again: these things are not to be slighted."

      "I had a couple of letters in the mail—the only ones I had. They looked very promising, somehow. I expected a half hour's pleasure in them. But they were autograph letters—nothing more. And without stamps, too! Forthwith consigned to the fire." The Colonel's letter, he said, made him "curious to see the New Ideal piece again." I had forgotten to bring a copy down.

     Had been reading papers closely today, he said, "International copyright about to come—and it is about time, too—full time. I know it will not affect me—it will not be ex post facto. But the general results will be good."

     W. laughingly tells me again, "I think you are the lynxest-eyed man I ever knew."

     Thanked him for orange he sent mother last week. Told him I had given cake to her this morning and that it was pieced out for supper. He seemed to enjoy the idea: "So it got there after the long trip! In my hands it would not have been so certain of delivery." I said, "I think I am pretty faithful about

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other people's commissions, though not so certain with my own."
He queried, "Who was it I knew used to say that? Oh! William! William O'Connor. He was faithful to death for other people, but carelessness itself for his personal needs. Brave man!"

      "How did last night go off?"—and— "Who were the guns?"—already apparently forgetting Mrs. Howe. But when I reminded him, he said quickly, "Yes—I see: and it must have had its value." What was substance of essays? Mrs. Sherwood's historical—Mrs. Howe's treating the philosophy of the subject—probabilities of an American Salon. Mrs. Howe contended that the formal salon was almost bound to be an aristocracy; that in democratic America we needed indigenous institutions or none—that her one experience with Radical Club had convinced her that no equal results were to be obtained by less free conditions, etc.—a human plea throughout. W. said, "The line of her argument would seem to put her straight on our side. Even the club seems to me an institution in the interest of aristocracy, pride—though there may be exceptions."


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