Commentary

Disciples


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Saturday, June 20, 1891

     4:50 P.M. W. in good humor, allowing that he had passed "a fairly comfortable time of it" the whole day, and looked it too. Gave him Brown Bros. check for $194. Said, "This is the best way for me to handle the money—yet I had wished for it in cash, the best to contribute a bit myself towards the dinner." I said, "That will be taken care of." He then, "But who enjoyed it more than I did? I doubt if anyone got so much fun out of it." And again, "After the Lippincott's piece, who'll credit me again

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as a sick man? I doubt if anyone! I am astonished at myself—it seems the most unusual procedure—frivolling like a child—talking, taking possession of the hour. No one seeing me there would have conceived the utter feeling of goneness that held me just a while before when Warrie came up—urged me off the bed—insisted I should dress. I can describe it no better than by my old figure—that it seemed as if all the vital insides had fallen out and left me but the shell, the husk—appearing right enough—appearing the same—but empty, empty, empty! I thought of putting something of that in the note at the beginning, but it did not come in time: what do you think of that idea?"
He "rather liked" the "plain matter-of-fact headline"—but "more than all" the "richness, naturalness of the dialogue. You were extremely happy in all that."

     A New York publication had sent him a copy of Voltaire's romances. "I think I have rarely seen a real good picture of Voltaire. Most of them give him a smirk, a strange, constant smile, which easily runs off into idiocy on the one side, or into an exquisite benignity on the other—and this benignity is anyhow Voltaire. The book itself is stupid enough, so to speak—it did not interest me, anywhere I picked it up."

     I sent off copies (six) of "Good-Bye" from Dave's [to Johnston and Wallace], enclosing the lot of photos W. had selected to go along. Had to send in two packages. "Glad they have gone at last!" cried W. "Letters again from both today—they are faithful to the end!"

     Lincoln Eyre forwards me a note written by a Philadelphia woman, wishing to persuade W. to a sanitarium at Dansville, New York. Numberless such counsels. W. says, "Thanks! Thanks! But there are some reasons why I should stay here, too." Bucke writes me—18th—the first note since I left. Is elevated with the idea that W. will let us use the "Imprints." A preliminary cable but does not know when he must sail.

     W. gives me [notes] for my "memoranda," to be used "by and by, when some article, word, is necessary, which this would help out."


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     Dave says positively he will not give W. his note—never gives them. This relieves me. I billed 725 copies "Good-Bye" to Dave at 25 cents a copy and attached a memorandum granting 25 additional for press copies (yesterday). McKay very positive that Ingersoll's lecture gave a fresh lift to "Leaves of Grass." "I sold about 500 copies last year, one of the largest sales on record, and the fact is 'Leaves of Grass' is the only book I make any money on—and Bucke's book is a dead failure, as far as sales are concerned."

     W. gave me a copy of "Good-Bye" bound. McKay will send over 15 Monday. I sent six to Wallace—brought over four. This makes W.'s 25. W. also wrote up a copy for Bucke which I at once folded and addressed and mailed. Under portrait he marked: "Walt Whitman Sculptor's profile May 1891," in both books. "I turn these books over with a great deal of pleasure, Horace—so far they are the most satisfactory job of all—better go to the right spot."

     W. laughed when we referred to the dinner, "I can't forget about the champagne, Horace, the iced champagne: how straight it went to the heart of the matter—to my need—setting up the whole night! To know what I know about the condition in which I went downstairs—then to know how the champagne lifted me! It is the explication of much! A year ago or so I tried to write some lines about champagne, but they did not satisfy me. I like things that possess more than a surface meaning, and somehow I stuck on this—could not throw out the suggestion I was after. But it will come, someday—by and by—perhaps."

     I brought up from downstairs a letter and a paper just handed in by the postman. W. asked, "Did you notice this letter—that it was from my sister's husband at Burlington?" I had, of course, and he continued, "Did you ever know anybody whose sneakiness, low-down-ness, passed the line of patience—gave the lie, almost, to your best philosophy—tempted you to all sorts of profanities, what-not?" Then, "This fellow is such a one. I ignore him, never recognize him in any way—pity my

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poor sister—old, sick. And he is not an ordinary sponge—I could figure that—he is a sneaking canting scoundrel, making a trade of my weakness—knowing the spot where I am sore—my love for my sister—ramming his knife in there! But you know—you know!"


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