Commentary

Disciples


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 429] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Friday, January 23, 1891

     5:48 P.M. Spent a happy half hour with W. Seemed more at ease than for some days. I had valise with me, and he at once asked, "What's all that?" For one thing I gave him out of it set of proofs of my Lippincott's piece. Said he "desired it much," etc. In the end his "The Old Man Himself." W. asked, "So he's going to use that? It was intended to go along with the whole group, but now he has left out two of the most important. Well, it is their way: we must submit." And then: "With the

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 430] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
poems I always have a certain sort of conscience that I must not give them out, even to my intimates, till the day of their publication. It is a good rule to go by—though we are of a family here—and Dr. Bucke."
The Ingersoll pamphlet on the table. W. pointed it out to me. "I have read it through several times today. It is a clarion note. Does not diminish in power as it is more and more tried, examined. These things—the Colonel's, O'Connor's—have a life peculiarly their own. These passionate frank words, sentences—worlds we might call them—of applause—go to the ends of the earth. Realize them this way: think of Symonds—he means us well—is warm, draws closer and closer. But what a difference between the best he does and these! It is a new era with these bold men."

     I called his attention to Chadwick's note on Paine and Ingersoll in the Conservator, out today. W. looking at me, "Well, that depends entirely on what a man means by spirituality. What Chadwick means by spirituality is his spirituality. But what a little part of the world he is! Here is a world of individuals, each with some fresh, peculiar demonstration of it. Whose is to count—or all? Bob no doubt has not his: bless him that he hasn't! I throw myself back on Elias Hicks in all matters of this kind. Elias would say we are all spiritual, by the very necessities of our natures, every man in his measure: we can no more escape it than the hearts that beat in our bosoms. I haven't the least doubt but here he touched bottom. Think of Bob: the grand glorious justification of Bob is that from head to foot he is flushed with the square—every line of him—of his books—bathed in justice, love of right, human generosity, to a degree I fail to find in any other."

     I stood before him and read to him from Conservator, first page, my question anent Chadwick's note. W. listened intently—when I got to the "god immortality" phrases he assented, "Yes! Yes!" several times and when I was done exclaimed, "That hits it: I could think of nothing better. I say amen to it, every word. It is the best—I was going to say

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 431] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
retort, possible—though it is more profound than retort—it is unanswerable."
I said, "Chadwick is bound not to answer it by answering it!" We laughed at the paradox. "Anyhow, you have sufficiently replied to him: I don't know but that god-immortality point alone confutes him."

     Told him I would give Kennedy's piece at once to printers next week, so he could have his proof. "I am glad for that: first I want mainly to have a proof to send to Kennedy—I want to send it along with a letter. Then I want one for myself also." I commented on Poet-Lore printing. He allowed, "It is as beautiful as anything we see anywhere. I have enjoyed the new number especially." Had [Harper's] Bazar with me, and a picture from Gérôme representing a lion after its prey. W. asked that I leave it. "It has a noble invitingness—seems to draw you to longer draughts—to suggest that it needs to be dwelt upon."

     I had sent him postal this morning, saying I had about decided to go to New York—asking for portraits for Bush and Baker. He had made up three little packages on bed now, tied up in a blue ribbon, one for Bush containing the Johnston portraits and a couple of poem-slips—one of which he had signed with his own hand—another for Baker, another for Johnston. Had written on each of these—the most affectionately to Bush. Was very affectionate with me, too. Had slipped a card under the string, along with a memorandum—which I immediately took as warrant to write to Somerby an order of 40 copies.

     W. said, "I hope you will have a good time. I know you will: you are young, alive, the whole world in the palm of your hand. Go with my blessing." And when I kissed him good-bye and told him to take care of himself he replied, "Bless you boy! Yes, thank you—thank you from a whole heart. And I shall miss you. But you will be back, with much to tell."


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.