Commentary

Disciples


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Tuesday, August 25, 1891

     7:48 P.M. As I entered hallway W. called out, "Here we are, Horace, waiting for you," to my surprise and gladness. And then after shaking hands, "I came down last night, too, for a little while, after you were here. It is all the weather, Horace—all the small matter of five degrees or so—inconsequential, yet vital, too. I don't suppose one out of all the 67 millions of people on this continent—not one—can more truly say that this change was release—yes, release—for it seemed to lift me out to freedom again."

     Then we speculated a good deal about Bucke, who sails in the morning. Warrie had been over England—its coast—pretty thoroughly in sailor days. W. questioned concerning docks. "They are a wonder to me as I understand them—revelation of science, subtlety, ingenuity. I used to know the wharves in New York—they were—many of them—horrible ramshackles, almost ready to tumble pell-mell into the river. Are they better now? But think of the harbor then at New York—probably—I presume it is—the noblest, best, in the world—open, free, yet a shelter: storm, strain outside and protection within. Philadelphia is not bad, either—how could it be, with such a noble river? But it is far from the sea—can't hold a candle to New York. Though the Jersey canal—do you think it will ever come?—

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ought to help that difficulty. Yes, New York beats even the Golden Gate—that was my impression. Do you think it wrong, Warrie? Anyway, it has its great superiorities, one way or another."
And he inquired after Queenstown, Havre, and other ports, never satisfied till facts and terms were snugly understood (I have no doubt stowed away). He thought, "Doctor will no doubt linger with the Bolton fellows to the last minute—probably is with them now, this minute."

     We heard the hearty laugh of a negro out on the street. Warrie remarked, "I do believe the niggers are the happiest people on the earth." W. saying at once, "That's because they're so damned vacant." I laughingly interposed, "That would be a bad thing to tell an anti-slavery man." He taking it up in this way, "It would—it was a bad thing. But I used to say it, though it always raised a storm. That was one of the points on which O'Connor and I always agreed. Charles Eldridge, however, not. That the horror of slavery was not in what it did for the nigger but in what it produced of the whites. For we quite clearly saw that the white South, if the thing continued, would go to the devil—could not save themselves. What slaveholding people can? Not, of course, because I could be cruel to the nigger or to any of the animals—to a horse, dog, cat, anything—especially me—for my dear daddy was remarkable everywhere he went for his kindness to the dumb beasts. A fine trait which I hope I inherited—which I believe I did." I said, "My argument with doers of good deeds is, that its best effect is upon them and not upon the person for whom they do good." W.: "And you are right, too—that is irrefragable—there is no handle to dispute it." And, "We had stormy times then, but William and I always thought ours the most comprehensive—what would be the future—view of the question of slavery."

     Wished to know of me, "Did I send through you, or do you remember that I sent myself, a copy of 'Good-Bye' to Sidney Morse? I remember I promised you. All the rest is gone. My memory plays me shabbier tricks each year." As I was able to say he had not sent, he promised to send at once. I want S.H.M. to write

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me a notice of it for Conservator. He has sent W. a copy of his lecture circular announcements—one of them on "Lowell—Holmes—Whitman." W. saying, "He is always loyal. Do you understand from the circular that he is settled at Hillside? Sidney is a bird of passage, but keeps up health, cheer—which is about all a man may want." He thought further, "Sidney deserves everything from us—everything. His love is a proved possession."

     Drawn to say something, laughingly, about Tennyson's detection of Bucke in "Americanisms." W. merrily contended, "Doctor is an American anyway—his spirit is ours, not British. Oh! He is a great United-Stateser. I have heard him talk United States, Union, all that, in a way to make people stare. Doctor is disposed to fall to, ride over, any opposition—to charge the forces of the enemy with tremendous vim. And when I was there in London, I noticed, too, pretty much the same disposition towards us among the keepers—the young men, everywhere. And the doctors, too. More, too, than that—independently vital—came to them of their own conviction, not to reflect Bucke's. It is of course significant of what is to come—holds the future in its right hand."

     Warrie sat at the other window—I in a chair almost touched by W.'s arm. W. said, "Nothing this week so far from the Bolton branch, but I wrote yesterday to Johnston. I like to write Monday or Tuesday, to catch the Wednesday steamer, or Thursday or Friday to catch the Saturday boat. When I was a young man these boats used to drop out about noon, but now they seem to go in the early forenoon—sometimes at daybreak—'for reasons,' I know." Not a word heard by either from Bucke. I have this note from Trautwine:
3301 Haverford St., Philadelphia
August 23rd 1891

Dear Sir:

Our friend has after all found the letter which Mr. Clifford Harrison wrote to Mrs. Trautwine about Tennyson's expressed opinion of Walt Whitman and which I enclosed to him intending that he should forward

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it to W.W. It seems he mislaid it. He now returns it and I have the pleasure to enclose it, hoping it may give a bit of pleasure to the old man.


Yours truly

John C. Trautwine Jr.


Hotel Breuer, Montreux
Vaud. Suisse.
Monday. 19th

Dear Mme. Trautwine,

...About Tennyson & Walt Whitman I wish I could quote exactly. But it [is] long since I saw Tennyson—& it must be ten years or more ago when I heard him speak of the great American poet. It certainly seems to me that his expression was "one of the greatest poets" or "he surely is a great poet" or words to that effect. But I could not be sure of the words or the form of the statement. Of the English poets I have met I have never heard one who did not speak in large admiration of Walt Whitman—even when the admiration stopped itself at certain things both of matter & manner.

There can be no doubt that his circle is spreading rapidly. I know too many people of judgement of the older generation who at first were startled, amazed, shocked—but who have gone down at last in genuine admiration—such an one is my dear friend Mr. Charles Kingsley. I have always been a worshipper. His pages are to me illuminating & strengthening in the highest degree. They bring me the open air, & the sense of sky & earth—& of a large humanity & the grasp of a strong loving hand, such as I find in no other writer. There is no man in the world (now that Father Damien is dead) I should so like to speak to—so like to see—no man for whom I feel so moving an interest. I love him....


When I told W. of this—that "the Harrison letter has turned up at last," he exclaimed, "A good find, no doubt! And what had the good Tennyson to say?" Asking after my further descriptions and quote, "Is that authentic? Perhaps it is as you say—stronger, more probable, for not being so strong"—which were my words. And he asked to have the note left till tomorrow. "I want to see what honestly we are entitled to make of it."


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     At 8:30, when he got up and Warrie helped him towards the stairs, he said, "I came down for no more than to say I had been down—and now see how long I have stayed! Two hours and a half? I thought so!" Warrie asked if he felt better for it. "I don't know. The important thing is—I have been here. I ought to say, I am here because I feel better."


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