Commentary

Disciples


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Saturday, February 7, 1891

     7:55 P.M. Not very long talk with W. Found him depressed. Talked of his day. "It has been a terrible one—no peace, no rest—disquiet: I don't know from what." Mrs. Davis told me: "Mr. Whitman"—she never calls him Walt— "Mr. Whitman woke this morning in very worst condition—pale, blue lips, languid, discouraged. Warren spoke about it to me the first thing, but now he seems much better." W. described the thing more fully to me. "It is queer, how I build up at sundown. I wonder if the sun has anything to do with it? What do you think? All these days, while the sun is up, I am choked, uncomfortable, bad—very bad. Then, gradually, as the day dies, as the sun—little, little, little—disappears, I come up, easier—am elevated—regain something like comfort. How do you account for it? I do not assert the connection—I only relate what I see."

     Said: "No word from Bucke today"—but felt quiet now—confessing he had been "really alarmed" at Bucke's last experience, sickness. Gave me copy of the Strand Magazine. "It comes from one of the good fellows there at Bolton—comes from Johnston. It is good—yes—but don't compare with our magazines—with Harper's, the Century, Lippincott's. Yet I suppose it would be allowed to be better than nothing: it has its virtues. I have examined it over critically." Pointed out portraits of Blackie and Swinburne: felt they were "excellent." Had some warm millk on the table: sipped it from time to time. Found

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him intensely interested in a letter I had from Baker today, describing movements and lecture of the Colonel:


New York, Feby 6th, 1891.

My dear Traubel:

The lecture referred to by Bush is simply an address that the Colonel gave before a private literary society in this city. It is so delicious, however, that after strong pressure, the Colonel has agreed to expand it into a lecture. He may, or may not, deliver it publicly. He has not arranged to give it anywhere in this city, at any time. He may give it in St. Paul or Minneapolis, and in Chciago, on his way East—but this is also uncertain. If he ever gives it in New York, I will certainly advise you, and hope you will be able to come on to hear it. It is a wonderful piece of word-painting.

Heartily,

Baker.


     I suggested that we repeat Reisser dinner 31st May this year. How would that do? He said, "I can know nothing better: and will the Colonel be there again?" Adding, with his finger up, "And this time my shorthand man: don't forget!"

     Billstein will print W. his 100 copies of Kennedy piece early in the week. Showed W. matter sent me by Clifford. W. read it all. "I have never heard of Salt or his book," he said, "nor of this first passage from Thoreau (19 Nov.). But these others I know—I have seen them somewhere." Felt that Salt's book "must have some value—seems to breathe a free air." Had Bucke yet sent him back the Symonds letter? "No, he promised it ten days ago: it has not yet come. But"—leaning over and taking up a bundle of letters tied in a string— "I have another here, too: it will interest you quite as much as the first. Johnston had it copied for me. Perhaps I ought to send this to Doctor to read, too."

     Had I yet written the letter to Symonds promised him (W.) and myself long ago? Would do so tonight. (Have since done

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it.) Left Twentieth Century with him. Julian Hawthorne writes in there at length of the new imprisonment of Heywood (Mass.). Heywood is sick. W. said, "Is it worth reading: would you advise me to go through with it?" And to my "yes," consented. Then said of Heywood: "I know him—he has been here to see me more than once," smiling. "He is a bearer of the cross—a believer in 'Leaves of Grass.' Heywood has cast himself into the sex vortex—has given all for that. You have never seen him? Have you seen Sanborn? No? Nor Trowbridge? He reminds me of them—is a clean-cut, professional sort of fellow—looks rather ministerial—courageous, the husband of a woman, father of a family, his wife being his double—devoted, determined."

     Mrs. Fairchild writes beautifully anent W.'s new hat:


Feb. 2

Dear Mr. Traubel

The first cheque of this month goes to you joyfully.

It was with the greatest pleasure that I heard from you of WW's grey hat—may the sun fall kindly on it—for many days. I am too busy to write more than to send warmest wishes to you both.

Very truly yrs

Elisabeth Fairchild



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