Commentary

Disciples


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Monday, August 25, 1890

     7:55 P.M. Found W. in his room, light turned on full, reading Scribner's. Had just returned from river. Said, "I think I have had—have—a return of the grip." Had caught cold, staying out too long Saturday evening and on return sitting at front open window. Said it affected his head.

     Jim Scovel was in to see W. "a few minutes" yesterday, and the result appears in a mangled and distorted attempt to picture the interview in Times. W. said, "It is enough to know that Jim Scovel wrote it: I do not think any further explanation is needed." But he afterwards continued, "It makes me the utterer of extravaganzas, stupidities, and worse."

A TALK WITH WALT WHITMAN
THE OLD POET'S REMINISCENCES OF FAMOUS LITERARY MEN.
INTERESTING POLITICAL VIEWS.
Unbounded Admiration for Blaine, But Only Contempt for Harrison and His
Administration.

Walt Whitman, who was 71 years old on May 31, was found yesterday sitting at the window of his two-story cottage in Camden, 328 Mickle Street, in a comfortable old arm chair presented him by the son and daughter of Tom Donaldson, of the Smithsonian Institute.

When the good gray poet was asked about his health he cheerily replied: "I feel these sudden changes in the weather, but God be praised I am feeling bright and cheerful, and am blessed with a good appetite and a reasonably good digestion, and what more can an old man ask who, as the Methodists say, is still on 'praying ground and pleading terms.'"


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"Every fine day I have my stalwart attendant wheel me out, often to the Federal Street ferry, where, sitting on the long wharf, I enjoy the mellow light of the sinking sun and the pleasant light of the eager crowd hurrying off and on the ferry-boats."

Mr. Whitman was asked what foundation there was for the statement contained in Woodbury's recent "Life of Ralph Waldo Emerson" that the Concord philosopher had described an interview with the old poet at the Astor House in New York, at which Mr. Whitman appeared without any coat. He said: "I think it was Sam Bowles, the father of the present editor of the Springfield Republican, who said when offered an astounding piece of pretended news, 'Thanks, but we employ an able-bodied liar of our own.' I would not for an instant say that Mr. Woodbury was a falsifier, but do say that in that statement he makes with so much verisimilitude that this biographer of the great sage of Concord is conspicuously inexact and the author has been imposed upon.

"To be plain and explicit, which is the thing you newspaper men demand, I never called on Mr. Emerson without a coat, which would certainly have been, at least, seemingly disrespectful to the sweet-tempered and gracious old man. We were always on the best of terms, and I will remember his kindly but earnest invitation to come to his home at Concord, and how I enjoyed every moment of the two days I spent there; how, sitting before a fire of hickory logs in his well-appointed study, surrounded by countless books, he told me many interesting incidents in his life, many of them disclosing his inner life and too sacred to put into cold type." ...

     I sent copy of "Camden's Compliment" to Buxton Forman today. W. "pleased" and remarked— "I suppose he has all my books."

     I have not found him in months past reading by the drop lamp. He seems to prefer the jet to the west end of the room.

     W. asked me—anent the Wanamaker interview in papers yesterday— "And what has he been saying of Tolstoi?" And when I answered, "That the book is not a fit one for boys and girls to read," he retorted— "And now they ought to read it!"


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