Commentary

Disciples


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 322] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Saturday, July 11, 1891

     3:00 P.M. To W.'s precisely on time. Anne in soon after. Warrie then went for carriage. Meantime I went upstairs for a few minutes—saw W.—found him on bed. Left proof with him—inscription for tomb picture. I did not like it—do not believe he will. Did not, however, disturb him, and he appeared grateful. Soon Warrie—soon the toilsome trip downstairs—at foot, meeting Anne, called her "darling" and "dear" and kissed her, talking gracious and grateful things. Promptly to carriage and off. Anne sat front with Warrie, I back with W. Talked but briefly, monosyllabic at first, but was soon more disposed to go into particulars. Waved his greetings right and left. Many people seemed to look with astonishment, many seemed to know him, some would stand still and gaze as we passed, some would return his salute easily, gratefully. Out on the road a darkey coaxing a dog. W. humorously asked, "Is he coaxing him honestly or is there a whip back of it all?" Pointed out features of the country to Anne, to whom it was new. "Moore expects us," he said. "I told him yesterday our visit was pretty positively set." Thinks a good deal of Moore's plainness and knowingness.

     Moore met us at gate of cemetery and afterwards went with us to the hollow. The debris about the tomb pretty well removed. Door not closed. Moore doubtful about the door. Would it not some day be irrevocably open or shut? W. laughed, "That would be a queer attitude for it to assume, Ralph, queer—but likely, too. Anyway, it has its solid front, its admirable solid front. And Ralph, the photoers will be out about Monday a week—ten days. I think I should like to have it taken door shut—close shut. You will remember that?" Got out of carriage and Moore and I led him painfully up the hill. Anne and Warrie meantime in the

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 323] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
tomb itself. "I have never had this view—never seen it this side." Yet went up and up—finally to show us that he had his private purpose there. "You will excuse me a minute? You know, always physiology first—its claims resent to be pushed aside!" Afterwards led about, inspecting variously. Moore says all the loose pieces of granite have been taken away by people as souvenirs. Gives me a big slab of marble to take away—a piece left from the crypts. W. says to Anne, "I feel most of the time as if I ought to be deposited there, rather than be anywhere else—rather than be here viewing it." We drove a little about the place, W. giving Anne particulars—pointing out the glimpse of Cooper's Creek through the trees—speaking of Moore's "extraordinary good sense for a man in his place." Moore says they will allow no other vaults down in the hollow near W.'s. A granite slab up on the hill—W. said to Warrie, "Stop a minute—let me look at that." It was rough except for the polished surface used for the inscription. W.: "That is Walt Whitmany, to be sure—quite our kind—yet, true to the old instincts, he has had a part of it polished, too. But it is on the whole very good—just as it ought to be." On the way out we stopped at the gate some time, to talk with Moore. I asked if they allowed marble on the hill (noticing it was all granite). Moore replied, "No, marble has no modesty," etc. This struck W. "I don't suppose any other cemetery man in this country—in the world, probably—would have dared to use that word in just that way." And several times on our way back spoke of it, "What a good word—how nobly applied! 'Modesty'—the marble has not 'modesty'—that was an exquisite turn!" Moore quoted "The Midnight Visitor," W. speaking of it in a little different way than before. "The thing was translated for me conversationally by a Frenchman, then I put it freely into that shape—even the title-head is not mine. The poem always impressed me—took hold of me—yet I could not have written it—it is too morbid, too much in the lower key—it would not fit with 'Leaves of Grass.' I made up my mind from the first that at a time when all literature was sickly with plaints, moan, sillinesses, I should not add to the great stream—the result being, I

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 324] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
think, that I have a book healthy with the first health of nature—or intended to be. Though we know well enough—you know it, Ralph—how little the best fellow can do for himself after all."
On the road—at Liberty Park. "Here are my lots—I like these—I'll come out some day and buy half a dozen." And, "This is all name and no park." W.'s trip did not seem to exhaust him, though it told on him. While he stood at the grave he seemed very pale and worn and weak. Once home, he went straight to his room—sat by the window, dropt his face in his hands.

     W. wished to stop at Dr. Garrison's house, Benson St. Warrie drove there. The nurse came to carriage—then had Garrison come to second-story window. He and W. saluted—tried to have some talk together, but it was not very successful—Garrison finally sending down word that he was allowed to sit on the porch forenoons, and W. should come then and they should have a talk. When we left W. said, "The Doctor looks natural enough, but far gone."

     Took copy of Morse's bust and the Cleveland home in carriage after the ride.

     I wrote Woodbury the following letter: Your letter to Walt Whitman, which he has shown to me, has raised this question in my mind, whether my inference be true, that you will expunge the paragraph or paragraphs referred to rather because they seem to you to be a cause of pain than because you admit them erroneous or untrue? There is a vital distinction inherent—since the ground on which Whitman objects to them is the ground of their untruth. I have thought to address you this question frankly, not doubting but that you will see that it was the natural outcome of your letter.


Read to Clifford, who was in to see me. "It is a clincher," he said, "It makes for the heart of the matter." Bush in in the evening—from Baltimore sooner than expected.

     W. still reading the Lincoln matter, saying, "I adhere to my opinion of the other day—that McClure is right. I have no question of it at all."


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 325] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Comments?

Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Ed Folsom & Kenneth M. Price, editors.