Commentary

Disciples


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 033] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Sunday, August 3, 1890

     9:50 A.M. W. had just finished breakfast, Mrs. Davis in room conveying dishes out—Press in his hand. Weather perseveringly hot. But had gone out last evening. He thought it had become "very hot in the night"—though that had not impressed me; I rather thought it much moderated.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 034] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

     He discussed the Postmaster General's (Wanamaker's) declaration against Tolstoi's "Kreutzer Sonata"—not now privileged to be conveyed in the mails. W. said: "It is of a piece with the lottery pronunciamento—as for me, I am in favor of lotteries, Sunday baseball, boats, cars, theatres, gin-mills even: not that I am friendly to gin-swilling, but for liberty's sake. As the old lady would say and say—Let them go on thinking there is no hell! It is gaping for them all the while!" And then he commended an editorial in yesterday's Press, criticizing the department's attitude. "It was quite good—it hit the right place. I am sure that was Talcott Williams'—Talcott can say such things when he wants to." And as to Tucker's defiant sale of the book— "Yes, he is brave, broad, devoted: I have always counted him on our side—have a warm spot for him." And then with an amused smile, "He thought I had gone back, beat a retreat: the Emperor poemet made him mad. But that was all right, too."

      "By the way," he cried later on, "I had a letter from Baxter yesterday and he tells me he has in his possession a manuscript made up by Hartmann, describing his visit here—says it is still more absurd, venemous, than the New York Herald column—all lies, I am sure—all, all: invention, tittle-tattle." Yet admitted he had not it in him, when Hartmann came, to refuse to see him: went down to parlor, talked 30 to 45 minutes. "There is quite a brood of men whose sole occupation seems to be to say small things—to make small points—but I am sure that is not in me, Hartmann could not get such stuff here. The damndest lie is anyhow the lie which has a grain of truth. Hartmann's vice is common enough among literary men." Here he handed me Sylvester Baxter's letter, reading thus:


Boston, July 30, 1890.

My dear friend:

That young pup, Hartmann, has sent me an article for Herald called "A Lunch with Walt Whitman," worse than the N.Y. Herald yarn of two years ago, or so, in its mischief-making potency. It

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 035] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
consists of cheap tattle, with malicious and ill-natured flings at prominent men. It would be well to "serve an injunction" on the young man, for the publication of any of his untruthful gossip about you would grieve all your friends.


Yours sincerely

Sylvester Baxter


     Then went on: "I think there was in earlier years some of this, some trace of it in Stedman—more 20 years ago than now—but in Stedman it was always straightforward, truthful, as this fellow is not. And, then Stedman himself is always so generous, warm, sound, it is lost in great qualities." And so he talked, saying finally, "But I don't know—I hardly think I shall write anything to Baxter about it." I did not ask any question, I rarely do, but I put in— "I wish it was my privilege"—something in my manner made W. laugh and he broke out at once, vehemently— "Well, you do it. It is a danger—I have no doubt odds and ends of that New York Herald piece still go floating, echoing, about. Such a thing in such a paper does not pass with the day. No doubt some of those things about Stedman, others, are treasured up against us, by those not anyhow disposed to be friendly." So I was to keep letter and write Baxter.

     Showed W. a letter from Brinton about Bucke's pamphlet:


July 31, '90

My dear Mr. Traubel,

It would give me pleasure to accede to your request, but I am going to attend a scientific congress in Paris in October and shall be absent all that month.

I thank you very much for Dr. Bucke's pamphlet. It is one of the most suggestive and remarkable papers I have read for a long time, full of hints of explanations for multifarious strange facts in history and in society. I am going to make a careful study of it.

Truly yours

D.G. Brinton



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 036] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

     W. greatly pleased. He said, "I have no doubt it is all deserved—and from such a representative character, too!"

     Indignant that the Sunday hour for opening the Post Office had been changed from afternoon to morning. "It is done purely for their convenience, not for the public. But it is typical of the Camden politician to be the dirtiest of his species—I mean that from the Mayor down."


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.