Commentary

Disciples


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Wednesday, May 27, 1891

     Mark Twain sends me check for fund but not a word to read at dinner. Donaldson writes me: "Count on me at 6. Sunday. D. V. I go to W. in the morning and Bucke on Saturday. Say How'dy to Walt for me."


     My letter to Hay comes back from someone in Cleveland with his London address added; too late to reach. Bertha Johnston will come, announcing herself thus from New York:
305 E. 17 St.
May 27. 91.

Dear Mr. Traubel:

I have just received a few lines from Mr. Ingram enclosing your note to him.


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I have just written to him and to save time, write to you as well, to say that I will be only too happy to attend the Abendmahl at Camden on Sunday next, and thank you for allowing me the privilege—though I feel very unworthy the honor—but as our great comrade is made sick by the discussion of one's duty to God—I will brace up and come, just as I am—though I feel so little beside his strong, brave, tender personality.

Your article in the New England Magazine was of great interest.

With kind regards to Miss Montgomery and much love to Uncle Walt.

Sincerely yours,

Bertha Johnston


Best news of all, Bucke will probably be here, writing (date, 25th) to that effect. I answered him within 30 minutes.

     Letters have come from Kennedy, Dana, Burroughs, Adler—Dana's only a sentiment—listen:
The Sun, New York
May 26, 1891

To Walt Whitman health and long life!
No man is so happy as he who has more friends today
than he had yesterday.

Dear Sir:

I submit above a sentiment for your festival.

Yours sincerely,

C. A. Dana


Burroughs' fuller:
West Park, New York
May 25.

Dear Traubel:

It will not be possible for me to be with you on the 31st tho' it would give me great pleasure to do so. Tell Walt I will keep his birthday pruning my vineyard and in reading for an hour from his poems under my big tree. You will not expect a letter from me either. My affection

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& appreciation of Walt is a matter of course, & I will let him eat his dinner in peace as I am sure I shall want to do if I ever reach my 72d. Give him my love. Tell him I am well but tethered to a grape vine.


Very sincerely yours

John Burroughs


Adler's an affectionate supplication, and Kennedy's vehement, strong, manly, original—a note from high temperatures:
Belmont Mass
Eve'g May 25. '91.

Dear Horace Traubel:

I don't know that the spirit moves me to convey to you and Walt at this particular time much more than the simple Hawaiian salutation Aloha! "Love to you." This I must say, however, that my belief is and forever will be unshaken in the ultimate triumph of the ideas for which that great document Leaves of Grass—the Bible of the Nineteenth Century, stands: Truth, justice, comradeship, union, spirituality, and, above all, the sanity and nobility of the passion of love. Christianity and Whitmanism are mighty and irreconcilable opposites, as touches the body. The one ascetic, antinaturalistic; the other a joyous accepter of nature; the one spurning what is the other's chief glory. Historical Christianity is superstition; Whitmanism is science. But in spiritual insight Christ and Whitman are grandly alike, both seeing the real life to be behind the veil of sense.

As before, I write you from the stronghold of Puritanism. The shame of the suppressing here of America's greatest book is still not wiped out of existence. And here before me lies a clipping taken from a Boston paper which describes how a college man was arrested the other day for kissing his wife on the street! The Boston Dogberry locked up both man and wife in jail overnight—until it was proved that the woman kissed was the man's lawful wife! Did you ever hear of anything more laughable? Christian antinaturalism deeply entrenched, you see, yet, in the popular mind. It will probably take a thousand years or so for the new gospel to supplant the effete one.

However, Sursum corda!

Auf Wiedersehen, yours as ever

W. S. Kennedy



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     Stopped in at Press to see Talcott Williams. He and wife will come. Suggested another name but I had to negative it. No room. Gave me copy of the Ingersoll-Whitman colloquy at last, but not W.'s changed copy—another and "the original" he called it. Seems to hope to have that "autographed," too. Too late for book, of course. Exceedingly friendly talk together. Some more specific consultation with Morris. All goes well. I am to be married tomorrow. Strangely, the promised birthday letters from Johnston and Wallace are not here yet.

     7:30 P.M. Spent a little time with W., calling his attention to the various letters I had received. Expressed joy to hear of the several who would come. "I have a letter from Gilchrist—short—evidently intended to be read at the dinner. I will lay it aside for you." Indicated to me letters from Bucke (two), on one of which he had written: "Send Dr the slip (if you have it) 1/4 sheet Boston Trans. his little criticism 'Good-Bye' of five days ago."
26 May 1891

This morning has come and is welcomed yours of 23d with enclosures. Your own criticism of "Good-Bye" is good—will probably be the best—its general "old age" character is of course what it should have and if that involves (as in some sense it must) loss of power, dash, and life it implies and gives something else just as good as these: undying courage, viz., and faith to the last in the scheme of the world and in man. These last words of yours "are valuable beyond measure to confirm and enclose" the facts and faith of your life. Have you a copy of Kennedy's criticism to spare? I would like to see it.

I hope to see you in a few days but cannot yet be sure, the foot is not so well again and it may hold me here yet—will write again tomorrow after seeing (this afternoon) the surgeon about it. All well here and fine weather tho' quite cool. I have an armful of lilacs in a big pitcher in front of me on my desk—they are good company.

With love

R. M. Bucke


"That is the best word yet, that Doctor will come." Dana's message excited his "surprise" he said. Then, "But I don't know

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whether it is just for me to say that, either: Dana has always been favorably inclined towards us."
Advised me, "You might get the Tennyson letter facsimilied—let it go along with the article. It is beautiful, characteristic." W. further, at another moment, "I am a good deal in doubt about my own part in the dinner—whether it will be long or short—much or nothing: perhaps to be only a few minutes down there, to say a word or two. Yes, I shall try to say something—to be seen—to be there 15 minutes—perhaps half an hour. But I can promise nothing, nothing: I leave all in your hands—promising only that I shall do what I can to help—to share the feast. But you must not expect much: leave everything to the day, which must take care of itself." As to his health, "I am by no means gaining—I seem to stick in my low estate—no lift any way."


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