Commentary

Disciples


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Friday, August 14, 1891

     8:05 P.M. W. looking over Stedman's "Cyclopedia." "Ned has given O'Connor a pretty good hearing here—many pages. Did you see?" O'Connor's own selection, Mrs. O'Connor had told me. W. remarked, "Good, good—it is honorable to both." Then said to me, "Anne was here with the prunes—dear girl—but I have not sampled them yet, will not till tomorrow. But they look handsome. I know they are all right." Added, "When Anne came in Frank Williams was here. He had a few minutes to stop off on the way to Atlantic. He looks well—is always cheery—seems to accept the world—its ups, downs—with content—which is a fortunate disposition." He had read somewhere of "Bob's perfect digestion" and said, "I wonder if that is not the secret of it all—if all does not hang on that?"

     Warrie brought in cream while we were talking. W. took to it heartily. "It is always welcome these warm nights." I argued with him again as before to open all the windows of his room instead of only one, but he resisted. "I guess I get all the air I need—all I can. Besides, I have a fear of drafts—must watch that." Nights he even closes door between his and Warrie's room, though a current might be kept by means of the passage.

     Says he has done nothing in response to Horton yet, but after we had gone yesterday—when I had said, "Try, Walt, to give Baxter and Horton their pieces"—he had gone on with some notes made, finished them, and had Warrie take them to Post Office. "But the waters run very low, Horace."

     Exhibited to him a letter I had from Frothingham anent the new book. I wrote F. thanking him for his open eye—his

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acceptance of Ingersoll, Ethicalism, Whitman—F. writing me thus in response:
Windsor Hotel
Saratoga, New York
August 12, 1891

My dear Sir,

Your letter came to me yesterday. Many thanks for your generous and welcome words of praise, a great deal warmer than I deserve. My book claims no merit save that of sincerity. In the way of hearty appreciation of the new thought it might have gone much further and still come within my feeling. I wish I had spoken more plainly in regard to the positive aspects of Agnosticism, and the speculative significance of the scientific conception of Law. But I depended on an amanuensis and stopped off the discussion before it was complete.

Sincerely & gratefully,

O. B. Frothingham


W. said after reading, "The noble man! And what a good great soul, abreast the biggest things. I endorse it—yes, all. It is a letter to use, Horace."

     Reminiscing again—in that mood, again, as now and then felicitously occurs, "I told you the other day of my relations with Slamm. They were sort of Democratic Review days, when I was writing stories to fill in corners, gaps, in the magazines—stories of no importance to anybody but me, and of no importance to me, but for the fact that they supplied me with necessaries—grub, a living." He seemed surprised when I told him Bucke had collected all these pieces. "I had hoped not—they are worthless. I hope he will never do anything with them. If I never say anything myself to him, do you: he will understand. The dear Doctor! Faithful in all things, noble, fruitful."

     W. again said, "I have read everything Ingersoll has written, I suppose, at different times. Some years ago he sent me a set of his lectures in three or four volumes. And you remember the handsome volume he sent last year—all in calf—print, paper, all, superb. I pick it up—absorb it—an hour here, an hour

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there. How vital—how penetrating!"
Met Stoddart—bronzed, hardy—on the street Wednesday. "Have we done all we promised for you?" he asked. Hearty grand fellow, and W. again repeats, "As honest a man as we have fell in with—yes, to the bone. Horace, let him be long remembered—long, long."

     I asked W. about tomorrow's trip. Would he try it this week? "Why tomorrow particularly?" Longaker, he knew, wished it, but, "None of us do exactly all the things people think we ought or we ourselves think." But why not make this one of the things to do? He laughed. At this point I handed him this letter from Burroughs, just received at Post Office:
West Park, New York
Aug. 13, 1891

Dear Traubel:

It does not seem that this Tribune letter of mine is worth preserving. It had some aptness & cogency at the time, but is out-of-date now. But you must use your own judgment. I hope you do not fancy that such a book as you propose will sell? I hope you will not invest or sink any money in it. I am sorry Walt has given up the chair. I do not see how he can live long shut up in-doors. You should fairly drag him out. The death of Lowell gives me a pang, I do not rue him much, yet the country does. If not a star of the first magnitude in our heavens, he certainly was of the second. Give Walt my love & remembrances. I trust your marriage will bring you much happiness. If I get down to Camden this fall I shall be happy to lodge under your roof. Give my love to the wife. I remember her.

The name of that French journal in my Tribune letter should be changed to Revue des Deux Mondes.

Very Sincerely,

John Burroughs


I think the passage about his confinement—the danger of it—arrested and impressed him. He read long at that place. I watched him. Then he remarked, "Good! Good!" And after a pause, during which I said nothing—waiting for the effect—he added, "Well, Horace, I'll try it—I'll see what can be done for

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it. But you know I can't give any answer now—not till the very hour. Yes, I, too, love the fresh air—all that it implies."
And later, when Warrie came in and spoke of the ride, he spoke to the same effect. I suggested that we have Harned go along, and he was "very well agreed—in fact, I want him."

     I am reading Henry Jones' book, "Browning as a Philosophical and Religious Teacher," in which Browning is presented as the one man, poet, who accepts evil as a form of good, etc. I said to W., "That comes on our ground, yet he does not mention you." "I suppose not. But that seems to me a novel presentation of Browning, anyway. Did you ever hear it before? It would not have been my explication—no, not at all. But I suppose you would say, that is because I know nothing about Browning, which is in effect true. If true, it is an important item for Browning."

     W. had a bundle of letters for me, three arriving today: Johnston's (2nd) from Isle of Man; Wallace's (4th); Bucke's (4th). The others: Johnston's 29th, Johnston's April 1st, Johnston's April 4th, M. H. Spielmann's Black and White of March 16th addressed curiously to W. as "poet" at "Boston USA."
Kingsgate, Cricklewood, N.W.
London, Eng.
4 Aug. 91



Sunday (day before yesterday) I went with Mrs. Costelloe from London to Hazelmere. I am confident they had not intended asking me but for some reason they did. Mrs. C. was very nice indeed and I like her as much as ever, neither do I believe that she has altered towards you really, but for some reason she is silent on the subject. She did not speak of you at all though we were much together and spoke of everything else. I avoided the subject waiting to see if she would begin upon it. Once she asked me what I was doing in the British Museum. I said "working at some translation." She wanted to know what translation. I told her something from the Danish for a book some of us were about to bring out. "Well, what was the book about?" I said "about Walt Whitman." She said "oh" and did not pursue the subject. I spent yesterday morning with Mr. Smith—he did not speak of you except a very few words. I gave him your message—he scarcely seemed to hear

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it. Still I believe he is friendly to you in his heart. Mrs. S. is not friendly. She is the only one who said anything actually unfriendly. She did not say much but it was significant. I did not call on Tennyson as it was too late when I got to Hazelmere & too early when I left the next day but I am to spend Saturday afternoon and Sunday there and Mr. Smith will take me to Tennyson's. I do not however expect to see T. All goes well, I am hearty and having a good time but shall be glad to get back and see my American & Canadian friends again.


Love to you always

R. M. Bucke

RMB

Show this to Horace.

Bucke's further mention of the Costelloe difficulty "only deepens the mystery," W. thinks. "But is a curious sample case—a misunderstanding—painful, too." "Worth noting," he thought.


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