Commentary

Disciples


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Friday, July 17, 1891

     Another letter from Mrs. O'Connor about trip:
112 M St. N. W.
July 16. 1891.

Dear Mr. Traubel,

All seems to promise well at this end; for you to come for — coming Sunday.

I shall, as soon as I hear from you, arrange for us to see the three gentlemen.

I will also try to get off for Monday. Can you stay over? and how early do you get here? on Sat.

Get a roundtrip ticket, as by that, you save some money, & it is good for some days. Let me hear as soon as possible.

Yours hastily,

E. M. O'Connor.




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Baker telegraphs me as follows about the Colonel: "Impossible to see Colonel Saturday and Sunday. Not here today. He lives up the Hudson. Write you fully. I. N. Baker."

     To W.'s with Morris, arriving 5:10. Morris stayed in parlor, I went up. Warren off for carriage. W. on the edge of bed. "I am trying to gather myself together," he said. "It is a struggle—has been a damnable day—horrible—one of my worst." Looked bad. "I have been debating with myself whether I ought to go out at all. If you say so, I suppose I must"—laughing— "but I don't feel the least certain about myself."

      "Cablegram this morning before I was up—from Bolton—to say Doctor had arrived all right. Although we expected him to arrive all right, we are never sure till sure!" And then heartily, "Joy, shipmate, joy!" Calls attention to letters from Johnston and Wallace referring to Wallace's trip. "They are brave hearts! None braver, truer, loyaller, this planet, any planet!"

     Clifford in to see me this morning. Has a letter from Furness to Childs—looking up work. Would W. likewise introduce him? But I found W. in no condition to be urged on that point. "You know, Horace, I recommend nobody—object even to letters of introduction. I must think it over." I suggested, "I will let you alone—let you rest—till Warrie comes." He to that, "Good, I will take what advantage of it I can"—laying down again as I went to rejoin Morris. Warrie however very soon along. W. immediately down with him, toilsomely—greeting Morris in hallway—then to carriage. Left leg helpless, almost—got it into carriage—could not shove it along. "Give it a push, Warrie, give it a push"—which set him straight. Morris behind with him, I in front with Warrie. Morris spoke of his "looking well." W. then, "But I don't feel well—feel the worst—my damnablest." Warrie hurried off at a great pace—W. stopping him. "Warrie, you are trying to shake the life out of me." Called attention to things as we passed along. Much interested in rows of new houses on Benson Street. "They are very pretty." Kept saying, "I am blind, anyway"—as usual—yet we rallied him a good deal on the improbability of the fact. There was a group of geese tramping over

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the lot—30 feet off—and he exclaimed, "A band of dirty geese!" —noticing the dirt on their legs and bodies; and saw a little midget—some distance in the doorway—missed by Morris, "Ho! little darling—how are you?"—and remarked the fences. Once, "Yes, that is the distant—but look at the near beauty—field, hedge, bush—all about us." All the small and simple things attracted him—he saw them well enough. We passed the Cooper Hospital both ways, "This is the most vital realization of the Quaker spirit." Then describing to Morris the Cooper family—the queer maiden ladies and all that. Passing the children's home he asked, "There are some children, but where are the real little ones?" We just then espied them in the rear grounds. "Oh! There they are—the darlings! That is right—under the trees—on the grass!" Further, "It is a good institution. I have been here. One of the grandest features about Camden is, the amount of its voluntary good-doing—that is, good things done apart from organization, government, taxation. Dr. Taylor tells me, the doctors come out here, volunteer, charge nothing." On the road looked at his "lots" again, as he calls them. Stopped Warrie so he could see a sign with name of agent. At the tollgate asked keeper if he was interested—could "talk" lots—inquired cost—asked, "Well, yes, send the agent to me. Any day—I am there any day." Afterwards adding, "With the park opposite—if we get the park—it would be grand." What was cost? etc. "I design to buy a block of lots."

      "The land all across there to the creek is just a bit left by Providence for our use—not a house on it. But will the legislators be wise enough to take their chance?" Described the creek to Morris. They kept up a pretty big talk in the back seat—M. most lively. At cemetery entrance Moore came out—greeted us. Then we drove down. Half the stone wall of the hill up—the other half to be finished tomorrow. W. did not get out of the carriage this time. Talked considerably with Moore—Morris and I examining things—afterwards with us. Spoke of, "A very elegant mansion on the hill over there beyond the road—built by Da Costa—long, long ago—somehow related to the doctors we know of that name."


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     W. developed some talk about the dinner report—Lincoln Eyre's part—W. asserting, "It was a faux pas—yes—led nowhere—came from nothing. Had little or no importance anyway—was especially out of place there. When Horace showed me his make from the notes, I drew my blue pencil through it, by way of suggestion, but he thought best to retain it—thus it stands. Bob Ingersoll was the first to throw it out—it was Bob." I laughed—said, "But you know how he said it there at the Lafayette—putting one hand on your shoulder and joking it out." W. merrily, "Yes, I guess that is so, but Eyre made a very serious thing of it. If I had been in a mind to be short or extreme, I might have quoted 'Consuelo'—when the girl is accused of not being married and exclaims, 'Mercy me, I have been married the matter of 20 times!' or to that effect." I put in, "Though that would be to give you away badly." He with a further laugh, "Yes, that would be the penalty." Then finding Morris had never read "Consuelo," he gave him much counsel to do it— "in English, in French, any way. You ought to know it. It cuts a great swathe." "It is simple as truth, profound as simplicity," I put in. W.: "What is that you say, Horace?" And then, "A noble saying! And Harrison, if you want to read the book, you may take the copy I have, on one condition only—that you take good care of it! It is old—in several volumes—belonged to my dear mother—was read by her—probably, too, by 50 others—is a translation of the first order."

     Moore spoke of having the builders give us some sort of bond that the door will hang—seems doubtful. Mentioned that he could bring some loads of pebble to case on the road to the tomb. I opposed: let us have the earth natural to the place! This seemed to commend itself to him. Before going out on the road we drove about the cemetery—even off into the farm to the south—Warrie nearly given an upset on a sharp turn (is not an expert driver, by any means—the contrary)—then to the road again. Morris laughed at the New England pronunciation "carlm" for calm, W. quizzically, "Isn't it calm? I thought everybody pronounced it calm!" At one point on the road exclaimed,

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"The bramble! the bramble! the leaves of grass!"—with reference to things he saw, not in our connection, and to nobody in particular. This aroused Morris' curiosity. Wouldn't it throw some light on the title of the book? Driving along a high point of the road, a superb stretch of Pennsylvania scenery appeared. Morris joked, when I spoke of its beauty, "It is Pennsylvania, remember!" W. just as quickly, "But remember, you have to come here to see it!"

     We drove past Garrison's house on the way home—Mrs. G. on the porch. She came out in the street (W. having directed Warrie to stop) asking W. how he was, W. replying, "Only so-so, but whenever I appear, they pass all sorts of compliments upon me." "Which you believe, of course," she said. "No, which I accept," he corrected smilingly, adding, "It is always a hard pull to get together for such a trip, but we achieve it!" Garrison had been on the porch himself—now gone in. She said he had expressed a hope W. would come along while he sat there. Then we passed on—soon around the corner to Mickle St. Morris exclaims, "My! How I have enjoyed all this! I had no idea so much was to be seen so near Camden!" W. then said, "Plenty to be seen if you have the eye to see it! Remember the old stories of the two boys, coming home at night after long excursions—John arriving tired, hungry, disgruntled, saying, when asked what he had seen, 'Oh! nothing at all—nothing—absolutely nothing!' But Bill, coming along whistling, happy, cheery, asked the same question, could respond, 'Oh! More than I can tell you! A world of new things! Trees, farms, cities, the clouds, rivers, sunset, workingmen, factories, dogs—oh! a whole, interminable list of experiences!' One, we see, all eye, the other none!" He finished telling this just as we drove up to the door. When Warrie helped him out he could not lift his left leg over the edge of the carriage. "You lift it, Warrie," he said, and it was done—limp. Direct upstairs—sat on bed—asked Warrie to take off his shoes. "Here is Consuelo at home again!" So I left him—kissing him good-bye (I go to Washington tomorrow) and he saying,

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"God bless you, boy! Take good care. Give Nellie my dear love. Tell her about me."

     Morris had put this in today's Bulletin. I had shown him Observer piece: The New York Observer, in a recent issue, reprints a translation of Henry Murger's "The Midnight Visitor," which has been floating through the press as Walt Whitman's, and gravely compares Whitman's pessimism as expressed therein with the sublime hopefulness of "Night Thoughts" [by] Young and a number of other clerical poets. Whitman had a hand in the translation, but who that reads him would accuse him of harboring the thought!

I sent Johnston his dozen extra copies of New England Magazine today. Wrote him today.


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