Commentary

Disciples


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Saturday, August 1, 1891

     4:55 P.M. W. beside his half-eaten meal. Warrie came in for tray, and W. said, "Tell Mary I tried my best to make away with the whole thing, but I wouldn't hold it." Had been reading Century. Not, of course, out today—nor to go out, for now it rained quite testily. I spent an hour at Eakins'. No better change in bust. I told W., "I am not overwhelmed; perhaps I do not know?" They have not yet been out to see tomb, or photo it—propose to go early next week. Took W.'s papers (local) to him: they were at doorway. There was my column and a half. Bonsall gives it place of honor—first column, first page, and prints it without an error, except two misplaced commas. W. comments, "The good Harry! That does us up proud. And now, Horace, you'll have to see that some of these go abroad—especially to Bucke and Johnston." W. then, "I got Johnston's belated letter today." What was that? "Oh! The letter with the first part of the story of Bucke's visit. Didn't I tell you? In one of the letters I gave you last night he says—it is dated the 22nd—'I will now take up the thread of my narrative about Doctor Bucke'—but I hadn't the other end of the thread—not till it turned up today—a letter which, though dated 18th, got blocked up somewhere. I will give it to you and you may put it with the other. It is very interesting—and how the boys seem to have taken notions for each other! It is quite a story!"
54 Manchester Rd
Bolton, England
July 18 1891

My Dear Walt Whitman,

Just a few lines to supplement Dr Bucke's letter to you this morning & to tell you what a good time we are having.


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Yesterday & today have been "red letter" days for us all. What a splendid fellow the Doctor is! He has won all our hearts & we shall grudge to part with him.

Yesterday we had a glorious drive all round Belmont & Rivington. The day was magnificently fine & not too hot & we all enjoyed it greatly. We had tea at Revd Mr Thompson's in Rivington—a charming little rural retreat all embowered in honeysuckle, foxgloves & roses. Evening spent here. Nearly all the boys were present & we had a downright good time. The Dr read us your kind messages & gave us lots of interesting talk about you. After supper came songs, recitations—Will Law our comic man was in great form—speeches etc. from Wallace, Hutton & Dr B. Original songs were sung by Dixon & myself & the fun & frolic were kept up till midnight. We gave the Dr a "touch of our quality" & he seemed to enjoy it.

He stayed indoors this forenoon writing letters & this afternoon a few of us went to Rivington with him & making our way to the secluded spot where we celebrated your birthday—a tree there has carved on it "May 31 '91"—we sat down and the Dr read to us his paper upon you (intended for the forthcoming book) while the trees waved & rustled overhead, the birds sang, the cattle lowed, the haymowing machine whirred its crescendo & the strains of a band of music belonging to a Sunday School party having their "field-day" floated on the breeze.

Wallace made a neat speech in praise & partial criticism of what was really a most impressively striking essay & we all enjoyed our hour & a half there immensely & altogether we spent a most memorable afternoon.

Returning we had tea at Wallace's where I had to leave them to come to Bolton to attend to some professional work.

Please thank Warry & Mrs D. for the canary bird wh. the Dr brought safely. I have given it to Wallace as Warry first mentioned it in a letter to him & I had the impression that it was originally intended for him but we regard it as a joint possession. It now graces Wallace's mantelpiece directly underneath your portrait.

They all send their love to you as does

Yours affectionately

J. Johnston


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P.S. I hope you are keeping better these days. Please thank Traubel for the photos wh Dr B thinks do not do him justice—they give a wrong impression of him, he says. All the same we are glad to have them as we now know something of how our dear friend looks.

Love to Warry, Harry & Mrs D.

I took a photo at Rivington. Will send you copies if successful.

J.J.

W. read and enjoyed letters I have from Wallace (20th) and Johnston (22nd)—Johnston's coming yesterday, Wallace's today. "What a throbbing, vital tone to it all! They have certainly taken a shine to the Doctor. And that account of his coming and going has a peculiar value. You should lay them by. Who knows but they may have a use yet?"

     Warrie came in and handed him a letter from that scamp Heyde. At once overcast. It is always so. Grieved, too, to have bad tidings from Bush about his mother. "Yes, I know Sag Harbor well. It is at East Long Island, like this"—opening two fingers— "It is in the crotch, like. And right there, too, is Shelter Island—a mountainous island lifted out of the sea. And Greenpoint is at the other side. All of it being familiar to me as old haunts—yes, haunts long, long ago." Was "glad" Bush thought to come on again. "Especially as he seems prepared to bring the wife at last." I had invited Warrie to walk with me to Harleigh, but the rain prevented. W. certainly for the past few days on the down road again.

     Letter from Williamson asking about W.'s new book—was in Belfast [on W.'s] birthday. W. affirms, "Sure enough—he should have the piece of manuscript. I did promise him."

     W. laughingly asks me, "I wonder if a fellow ever really understands—knows—how he looks? That is the question that always comes first in my mind when I look at pictures of Walt Whitman! But anyhow, I have studied the picture of O'Donovan's bust, and say to myself—'I don't think I look that'—for somehow, I seem to have the right to make myself another sort of critter."


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