Commentary

Disciples


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Thursday, September 25, 1890

     7:10 P.M. W. sitting at parlor window. Said to me as I came in, "You arrive just at the right minute: I am just returned from my trip." Spoke further of "the beauty of these days" and of how they "took possession" of his "physical, physiological self."

     Reported that Clifford had come in with Neidlinger. "They were here just before I went out." He said he had got Neidlinger mixed with Nibelungen, and could "hardly separate the words." Remarked of Neidlinger, "He appears to be quite a fellow," words which might mean anything but which in tone he now assumed meant something definitely applausive.

     I received today the following letter from Buxton Forman:


46 Marlborough Hill
St. John's Wood, London SW
16 Sept. 1890

Dear Mr. Traubel,

Many thanks for your letter of the 2nd of September and the copy of "Camden's Compliment" which I have received on returning to London after a short absence. It is a very interesting little volume, without which my "W. W." collection would be sadly defective. It is quite certain this is the first copy I have received. I am glad my letter was in time for the Postscript of the volume.

Thanks for your article on last Birthday. Is it possible there is no verbatim report of what passed—even of Ingersoll's speech? W. W.'s "acknowledgment" of 1889 is said to be reprinted from his slip: is that a printed slip separate from the book? If so, can I get a copy?

I envy your daily communion with Whitman. If you survive him a thousand years, friend Traubel, you will have a beautiful memory to last you all your life.

Yours very sincerely

H. Buxton Forman


     Read it to W. He said, "No, I have no slips: I don't suppose one of them could be found anywhere here." Touched by the closing passage of the note. Added too, "I too have mourned

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and mourn for the loss of that speech. It was the outburst, the magnificence, of a master."

     Johnston telegraphs me to this effect: "You are right Phila. the place go right ahead." W. expressed himself as "fully satisfied."

     Had my notes in his breast pocket, marked "Horace," descriptive of room, etc. "Of course," he remarked, "you must continue to assert your prerogative: to use what comes within your boundaries, to reject what may not seem pertinent."

     Reference to chirography. He felt of his own: "It is clear, it is direct, whatever it may lack." Adding then, "It seems to me Wallace's man there in England, and Ingersoll's man here, are the models for us all: direct, legible, with none of the crawling eccentricities of genius or stupidity."

     He said Neidlinger's coming had reminded him "that our fellows are mostly of the radical sort: musicians, free-thinkers, actors, writers of an individual turn." I said, "Don't forget doctors," and he: "That's so—doctors perhaps the chief of all—I have found a great response in doctors."

     Did he suppose he had more friends in Philadelphia than New York? "No, I would doubt it." Or many in New York itself? "No, nor that either. Many nowhere, so far as I can see." Then further, "We do not please ourselves on the number of our fellows but on their quality."

     Spoke again of Thayer's decision: "It is all that is necessary. It drives direct to the point at issue. It gives us great hope of ourselves!" And definitely again, "It is not to be doubted the book is the book of a master: an 'Othello,' picked out of our modern life, to make a great issue clear."


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