Commentary

Disciples


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Saturday, July 25, 1891

     5:10 P.M. To W.'s—Warrie driving up and Anne arriving about the same time. W. ready to come downstairs. Said to me as he buttoned his vest, "Things proper if not pretty here must be mended before a fellow goes on the streets." Kissed Anne and spoke loving words in the hallway. Got in carriage rather more readily than last week. Remarked, "I had been saying to Warrie that I thought not to go out at all, but"—with a laugh— "you see I obey superior orders." I mentioned Longaker's feeling that the trip would do him good. "Oh! The devil! I wonder if he knows that any better than I do?" Anne sat back with him—I in front with Warrie. Told her he had had a bad night. Uptown to State Street bridge and Pea Shore. We had asked him where to go. By his own word it was Pea Shore. Talked freely and without abatement the whole trip. We pointed out to him where we lived. He spoke of "the beautiful openness of things up here." Of one of the factories, "I don't know but the factories are the most beautiful buildings in Camden." To a great chimney which I pointed out as "better—handsomer—than an obelisk against the sky there," he said fervently, "You are right—grander—and with such a human look." I had jumped out of carriage to put a package in Post Office for him—addressed to Sarrazin—two three-cent stamps. Anne asked, "Is it Lincoln?" And his, "Yes, Abraham Lincoln—Abraham Lincoln" came in a tone which she afterwards called "music itself" and which she remarked, "always characterizes his mention of the name." He was full of reminiscence—once we were out of Camden—very specific to Anne. "Look at the river, lying off there—flowing—and the city across—and the mist. It is

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a misty day, Horace! And off here—look how the road runs, curves, passes away into the horizon. And"
—pointing to the curious rims of deep water-grass running all through the flats— "Leaves of Grass! The largest leaves of grass known! Calamus! Yes, that is calamus! Profuse, rich, noble—upright, emotional!" How he uttered that! "I have had many inquiries about that—questions of all sorts—from people here, from abroad—where is it found? What is calamus? Even Mrs. Gilchrist. I don't know that it grows in such wealth over there, though I don't see why not. These democratic bottoms are full of it this side!" He dwelt on cloud, sky, fences, trees—read signs, saw distant steeples, chimneys of factories, curls of smoke—I meanwhile joking, "And yet you say, Walt, that your eyesight is about gone!" This made him jovial and merry, "Well it is, damn us! Remember the story of the doctor and the fellow with the corns. Here you, do you come to me with corns? Pshaw! You have no corns! Burn, eh? No, nor do they burn. And hurt? Why, damn you, there's not a corn on your foot—not a sign of a corn! Away with you—away! And all the time the poor devil's foot and head were in a great strain—the pain went on!—the doctor notwithstanding!" We went on, he talking meanwhile, "Cross there—Chris Eckert's place! Poor Chris! One day he sets to and cuts his throat! —now is gone! How familiar all these roads. And one thing I have always remarked—the utter promiscuousness of the names of the towns hereabout. Pavonia mixes with Pavonia proper—and somewhere is Cramer's Hill—and East Camden—and devil knows what not—all running into each other—misnamed for each other. Stop a little here, Warrie—let us take a look." And far to the west the city, which he looked at fixedly for some time—making remarks descriptive and other to Anne. In Pavonia he saluted everyone—was mostly saluted in return. Some gazed at him astonished—some curious—some knew him—I heard his name frequently used. One man calls his wife to the window—another calls a child—another comes to the fence, says his "good day" and gazes after us till we get at the turn of the road. In the meantime, sunset approaching and the glory and mist going therewith.


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     W. much admired a wooden schoolhouse— "a prime success." Asked me, "Do you know the cross-roads?" And by and by we turned to the left and to the river. The road we were on seemed to lead into the water. I jumped out and went ahead—found we could get down there, though log and debris would prevent following the shore. So W. said, "Drive right close to the water, Warrie"—and there we were—Pea Shore at last. W. even elated—seemed to sniff in the air. "This is very beautiful, very—and its beauty is much like Doctor Johnston's style, which is the best style because it is no style at all." Then, "Oh! the great quiet here—not a sound but the curling up of the waters! After Mickle Street this is heaven! Night and day there, noise, noise, noise—hell's own noise. Just in the first light of day, when you get your first nap (the whole night bad! bad!) comes the huckster into the street—stands under your window—bawls for his life. And comes another—and they go apart about a hundred feet and then hold a great conflab—yelling, calling—their talk, then about their goods. And so on and so on! Yes, this is peace, peace!"

      "It has been long since I was here—it is a grand memory! How would it do to get a house up there on the hill, Warrie? Here is air, water, freedom! See the stretch of the city—above there clouds. Oh! the clouds! and the line of the shore, here! See, Anne—see the boats—the white sails. And you think, Horace, we can't get along the shore here? Well, we can't risk anything—I can't. So, Warrie, I would turn the horse—we must go back the same road." So we did turn the animal—difficultly—having so little room. Meanwhile W. took off his hat—the low light sweet air seized his filmy hair, casting it about his head its own way and grace. He kept hat off for a great part of the road back. Which way would he go? "Any way—I have no tastes. One of the delights of travelling in a wagon is to find new ways—to sort of discover your own roads—go any way, so the general direction is right." Motioning across a field, "There is a picture: grand! A group of horses!" Everywhere his salutations—then, after passing one

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who did not respond, "It is so different here from in the South. There everybody gives you time of day, nods, says some good word, looks a certain sort of hospitality—even the boys you meet—the girls." He "missed" some factory chimneys he "used to know" and asked about them. He remarked sails of schooners—and masts, a slight line into the mists—far up the river. (How about his sight for that? ) I asked, "Your eyes feel bad: you interpret it as a loss of sight?" He returned, "Maybe." Speaking to Anne of the tomb, "I suppose one point is, not to go there as an inhabitant till nothing else is left!" Then, however, quietly, "But I don't know! I don't know!" Referred to Potomac, rather disparaged the Delaware—yet said, too, "I know less about the Potomac immediately at Washington than above and below it." We paused at several places, to speak to boys about the road—the names of places. W. himself pointed out Dudley's, standing across on a high hill. "Tom has amassed a good deal of money, and that's his way of using some of it." Again, "This Dudley—all this settlement—is new since the days I came out in my own rig." Joked about the rig itself. Nice? "Yes, exactly suits me—the best we have had so far." I said to Warrie, "Offer him $15 for it." W. then, "Yes, and throw in $10 from me for the nag!" Drove on over Federal Street bridge and back of the railroad to Benson. No stoppage this time, though multitudinous salutations as we passed along—several chidren coming into the street to say some word—one boy to grab W.'s hand—another to stand near and ejaculate "Kris Krinkle!" Passing 4th and Stevens—had he ever known Dr. Briscoe? No, but Frank—yes. "Frank is doing well now? Paints—works still?" Yes, between dissipations. W. then, "Poor fellow! How queer so many of the best fellows are subject to that!" As we came near the house, "Ten minutes ago I could have felt to faint. Now I am myself again—the return of the wave!" W. has several times expressed curiosity to see the manuscript of "To-bey or not To-bey." I have promised to leave it with him. "Any manuscript of William's has an interest for

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me."
He did not seem exhausted on return. Helped upstairs at once—substituted slippers for shoes—he lay immediately on bed.

     Before going to W.'s I had spent an hour with Eakins and O'Donovan. The bust improves. O'D. "glad" for my suggestion that the head seemed hunched on the shoulders. As to the intellectual cast, he seemed to be well aware of its danger—was sure he could avoid it. Admits after all that he may not get done this month. The runnings to and fro consume a good deal of his time. Tells me Gilder asked him in New York if his (G.'s) letter was read at the dinner. O'D. claims to be well acquainted with Green, chairman of committee of New York legislature having in charge proposition to make New York City and clustering places a new state. Will urge W.'s "Mannahatta", of which he says W. talked copiously the other day. They will get out with their camera next week. Eakins much progressed on Harned's picture. Is painting O'Donovan at his work on a bust of Eakins himself. W. perfectly satisfied to know they would soon get to Harleigh for the picture.


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