Commentary

Disciples


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Tuesday, December 30, 1890

     8:10 P.M. With W. till nine. Found one of the Stafford boys in the room. W. talked freely—seemed in the best condition. Showed him letter I had just got from Bucke at Post Office. He read it.


29 Dec. 1890

My dear Horace

I have your notes of 23rd & 24th and am rejoiced at the very favorable reports you give me of W.

I am in my office having come over an hour ago to attend to a few matters. I hope to be able to spend a few hours a day here now. I have however quite a little pain and have not had a good sleep yet, but a little patience will set all right.

I cannot write at length.

Affectionately yours

RM Bucke


      "That's a good sign: over to his office again—his old writing—the same old energy—hopeful—hopeful!" Had with me likewise a copy of "Walt Whitman cigar" envelope (Binghamton: Ostrom, Barnes & Co.). Laughed much over it—W. thinking, "That is fame!" And again, "It is not so bad—not as bad as it might be: give the hat a little more height and it would not be such an offense." He thought the "Our Bob" brand, with its big head of the Colonel, "a very good idea—with a spice of wit." And the reference to spice caused him to say: "That reminds me of some spicy candies I have here. Are you going right home? Well—take some to your mother," going over and taking chair near the table. "This box came, filled

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with the most delicious aromatic candies—the making of Mrs. Kennedy. Kennedy sends them. She has picked up the knack superbly—not from study but becuase it was in her to do it—as it is in most all the Yankee women. It is the old story of the lover: he fell in love with the girl, not because of her virtues but because he was eligible to fall in love about that moment and she came along."
Had sent off Lippincott's piece today. No letter from Doctor, he said. Gave Stafford some of the candies, too. Had introduced us promptly on my entrance. Man over about hat. W. described comically the visit. "It was a young man who came. He spoke like one in authority. I liked him: he was direct, emotional, frank, seemed to understand me—best of all seemed inclined to follow the instructions I gave him—which is surprising in a hat or tailor man anytime." Thought they would give him what he wanted. What would it cost? Five—it might be—six dollars. "I told him—all right—whatever it cost, we would stand it. A smart well-dressed young man. He said we could have it in a week or ten days. I made the order very plain—wrote it out for him—pinned it to the old hat, which he took away with him—and warned him: 'Now look you out: if it's not just as I ordered it, I'll let it remain on your hands!' And he promised the best attention. The great thing with the tailor men is when they say, 'But they're not wearing such cuts now!'—which is a stunner to some people. We'll see how we come out of this!"

     McCollin sent no portraits to me today.

     I described Bob's rendering of the difference between poet and prosist—the last living in perpetual wet boots, the first singing his way across the earth—plucking a flower here and there, stopping to drink at a spring—merrily climbing hills, piercing woods—he arriving up at home at sunset improved. This the drift. W. exclaimed, "How beautiful! The noble Bob! Oh! What would I not give to be able to show him how deep he has entered into my respect—my nature: taken hold of the last fibre. And humor:—Bob has humor—that last quality—not

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fun, not jollity, which too much narrows its meaning—but humor, in the sense of lubrication—has it richly, superbly. I think reformers often miss it altogether, but he has it to the last degree! And you,"
turning to Stafford— "when you see Harry tell him I shall have an Ingersoll pamphlet for him soon. Harry is an Ingersoll admirer. The pamphlet is even now being printed, I suppose." And further— "I have often thought I would like to put myself on record in connection with that word—with humor—and I shall do it yet: the general interpretation destroys all its purity of meaning." Loved Emerson for his like "attempts to rescue the word."

     Had just come upon a new word of slang from the West: "They say a thing is very 'toppy'—which carries its various meaning. And it is mighty good." Then— "Our President—Harrison—is not 'toppy,' is a negative quantity all the way through, lacks altogether in humor—in ability to tell a story, to hit off some poetic thought, to grapple naturally with the tasks that attend him. But Cleveland has it: his speech the other day (at Reform Club, N.Y.) very funny and genuine."

     W. felt he "agreed with Ingersoll about intellectuality." Ingersoll said at Reisser's that he did not like Aristotle because of his intellectualism. W. said, "I should say that, too, but would acknowledge, after saying that, here and here and here are other things to be said."

     Enjoyed the German for "dude"— "violet-devourer," Bush had explained. W. said, "Let us put it, violet-stuffer, which is a vulgarism, but good. I did not catch the full purport last night from Bush, but now that I do, it captures me." Thought "so much" that was "sweet and true and strong in native tongues—lingos—touches of Heine, Béranger—must be lost in translation. I often vaguely feel it, like distant airs." And further, of the young hatter, "Although elegant, proper, well-dressed, I noticed that he was a man probably not to be browbeaten: it was that attracted me." And he gave me card—Elmer Wright.


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