Commentary

Disciples


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Thursday, May 28, 1891

     Bush will be here Saturday morning with wife. Writes me. Letter also from Jeannette Gilder—short—the sentiment this:
"Mr. Gilder is in England but if he were here he would join me in hearty greetings & best wishes for the 'good gray poet.'"


Stedman not only sends me [a message] for me to read on Sunday, but attends it with a personal letter [see Appendix II, page 601, for the text of Stedman's message].

     I got a big envelope containing letters from Johnston and Wallace—Johnston easy, quick; Wallace earnest, quiet, philosophic, reverent—written on the second page of a big letter (double) sheet on third page of which, opposite, all the "college" had signed their names:
Anderton, near Chorley.
Lancashire, England.
14 May. 1891

To Walt Whitman,

For his 72nd Birthday.

Loving greetings and tender good wishes to you from the friends in Bolton.


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We must leave it to others to thank you for your immense services to your country & to humanity—in your book (just completed) and in your life:—greater, in my judgement, than those of any other man these 1800 years.

Nor can we now begin to thank you for the deep & intimate personal obligations we owe you—going down to the very roots of life—deeper & greater as time goes on.

Be it rather ours to hail you—with swelling hearts—as indeed "the tenderest lover"—in our own experience the dearest & noblest of all friends—inexhaustible in your loving-kindness—& by us the most deeply loved & honoured. Our gratitude, reverence & personal adhesion, our tenderest sympathy, our dearest prayers & our heart's best love to you this day & always.

This evening on which I write—which till a short time ago was dull, cold & overcast with dark lowering rainclouds—is now, at sunset, clear, calm & radiant with heavenliest hues. May it be, indeed, an omen of your remaining life.



J. W. Wallace

J. Johnston, Fred Wild, R. K. Greenhalgh, William M. Law, W. Dixon, Thos. Shorrock, Sam Hodgkinson, F. R. C. Hutton, T. Boston Johnstone, Fred Nightingale, Wm. Alex. Ferguson, William Pimblett, Richard Curwen.


The same mail brought private letters:
54 Manchester Road
Bolton, England
May 20/91

My dear Traubel,

Just a line to acknowledge rect. of your parcels containing N[ew] E[ngland] mags. for May & to thank you very cordially for your kindness in sending them.

I cannot express the feelings & emotions which surged thru me when I recognised my photos. & saw my name in the article. It is an honour of which I am indeed proud—to be associated with you in connection with Walt Whitman.

I have not yet had time to read the article in its entirety but I have absorbed sufficient of it to judge of its merits & import. I can honestly congratulate you upon your successful portrayal of our superbly majestic old Hero & I say "well done, good & faithful friend!"


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I give you joy of your achievement & welcome your good work to these shores.

In a letter acknowledging the receipt of my "Notes" Wm. Rossetti said: "As posterity, to a long distance, is certain to be interested in Whitman, so your little book is certain to attain a far more than patriarchal age."

If this is true of such a trifle as I was enabled to contribute to Whitman literature how much more will it apply to such a graphic word picture of him in his old age as you have painted?

I am curious to know in what respect your MS. was mutilated.

I hope the Birthday business won't harm W., & we trust to your guarding him to some extent from the too assiduous attentions of well meaning, & perhaps devoted, but over-zealous friends & well wishers. Now, if ever, he will need to be "saved from his friends."

Pardon more, as time presses

With kindest regards to Mrs. Traubel & yourself, I remain

Yours sincerely,

J. Johnston


I want to read the Rossetti paragraph Sunday in the course of the talk. In afternoon I met with Brinton, Williams (Frank) and Morris and talked over affairs at Williams' office and later at Reisser's, to which we all adjourned and arranged bill of fare and discussed proceedings, finally admitting that freedom was after all the atmosphere to be preserved. All in good humor—highly convinced that things will prosper.

     Mead, of New England Magazine, answers my inquiry.

     5:50 P.M. In at W.'s on my way home. Left him North American Review containing Bob's article, "Is Vice Triumphant?"— "I always watch for 'em!"—and Harper's Weekly. Read him Stedman's letter—also the Rossetti extract from Johnston's. And gave him Wallace's curious document to read. "How odd! Good fellow! How he plasters it on!—thick, thick! But beautiful, too!" But after a pause, "The most remarkable of all is Conway's. I never knew Moncure to let himself out so: a good summing up—and curious wit, stories and turns." Then advisorily, "I think, Horace, if I were you, I'd print the letters pretty well

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in full. So far as I have seen them they have a noble ring—a distinct trend!"
The folks are commencing to clean downstairs. W. remarked it, and the fact that, "It is like entering a battle—we don't know what will turn up as the result—the unexpected—of it." I objected laughingly, "No, I don't think it like entering a battle—I think it a jollification over a battle won: if the jollification amount to nothing, the battle is still won." W. exclaimed, "Good! Good!" and then with an amused air, "But are you sure the battle is won?" Left with him Ferguson's bill—in all $192—for both books. W. satisfied, "We must pay it without delay." Also gave him five dollars for the Fels book, for which Joe came in today.

     Talked with W. about my marriage tonight. He could not come up to my father's house. Could we all come to him? He seemed greatly pleased, "Do you wish it? Do you really wish it?" Yes indeed. "Well then, come—yes, come, Horace, boy, all of you. And will it be right in this room, right here? And no formalities? And a minister? Oh! Clifford—yes, that will do—Clifford will always do—the good Clifford! And so you will all be here—and to make short work of it?" Even expressed himself willing to write out a document asserting the fact— "the naked simple history of it, eh?" So with talk in this strain I left, his "God bless you, boy!" thrown after me as I closed the door. (Had even asked what sort of paper should be used—picked a pad up from the floor—but I pointed out one of the big yellow sheets and he said, "It shall be that—surely.")

     8:10 P.M. I went ahead of the party to W.'s and talked with him about our affairs. He gave me sheets of "Good-Bye" for Stoddart—with them a note on the reverse of a notice of the book which he asks S. to print, of course without his name. By and by there was a ring at the door and W. said to me quickly, "Here they come—throw the door wide open—welcome the guests"—but it was a false alarm. Shortly, however, was another ring, and again the exclamations of like import. This time indeed our people—I threw open the door—they came upstairs. W. exclaimed, "Welcome, welcome, welcome all," and in they

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came—a whole troop—with the strangers (several of whom I am sure Mrs. Davis had summoned) downstairs added. And they clustered about the bed and through the room, W. showing some anxiety to get them seats. W. very loving with all—particularly to the girls—addressing Anne as "Anne darling" and Agnes as "darling"—kissing both fervently and sitting Anne at his side on the bed—greeting Clifford heartily—saying pleasant things all around—alluding to his failing sight— "Is that you or you or you?" —as if he missed recognitions. Clifford shortly commenced—reading poems from Whitman and Emerson, and with a few added informal words making that the whole ceremony. W. seemed struck with it—very serious—looked beautiful as Clifford read—at one point, as if out of inner abstraction, exclaiming, "The marriage bond and police law forever!" And after a pause, "At least for the present—at least for our day." He had already signed his own name—when matters had reached the point, he pointed the place he had left open for Clifford to sign, C. protesting, "No, not first—let me follow you," but W. was amusingly insistent and Clifford obeyed—all the others then signing, as follows:
Horace L Traubel & Annie Montgomerie

Married in WW's room Mickle street Camden New Jersey

May 28 1891 Eve'g:

Present: John H. Clifford officiating minister Walt Whitman Thomas B. Harned M. H. Traubel Warren Fritzinger Kate G Traubel Mary O Davis Thomas B. Harned Jr. Mrs Hannah Reed Anna A. Harned Maria L. Button Agnes T. Lychenheim Thomas R. Blackwood Augusta A. Harned Jas. W. Bannen Morris Lychenheim Harry M Fritzinger Paulina M. Traubel



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W. had been reading the Ingersoll piece—the magazine on bed. He remarked, "Yes, he is right—so is the other fellow right—both are wrong in extrema." Gave Tom a couple of pamphlets from the floor—spoke of Harper's Weekly I had left—frankly, freely—not seeming to feel that the occasion needed other than the frankest confessions.


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