Commentary

Disciples


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Friday, August 28, 1891

     5:10 P.M. W. with pad on lap, writing a postal to Johnston (England). "News today, Horace, news. Wallace is coming, I have three letters from the boys today—from Bucke (the good Doctor!), from Wallace, from Johnston. Here they are—I laid them out for you—knowing no one with better right or heart to

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possess. You see I am sending word to Johnston. And do you write, too—write him we are glad. Wallace curiously could not come with Doctor—started the same day but in another boat—the Majestic all crowded. But you have the letters—they will set you straight. How they warm up a fellow's heart—a princely affection, love. Oh! Horace, they are more than little to us these days, eh?"

49 Comeragh Road
West Kensington, London W.
16 Aug. '91

Yesterday came to my hands your card of 2d inst. I have not written you as often as I should have liked. Life is at high-pressure here especially when your time is so short as mine on this visit.

I have the "Post" with "Over-sea Greeting" and also the same thing on a slip from Bolton (one of several, I infer, that Horace sent over to Johnston or Wallace). Horace is mighty cute to utilize the scraps as he does—it is well, all well—can do no harm and may help. We must keep moving, cannot stand still in fact—time for that is gone. I expect to spend next Sunday with Carpenter in Millthorpe, then go Monday to Bolton & stay there till Wednesday morning—run to L.pool after breakfast and get aboard "Majestic" before noon. She sails abt. noon. I ought to reach New York 1st or 2d & see you 2d or 3d—4th, I think, at latest. Shall be very glad to see you again. I enjoy it over here but "there is no place like home." My visit here has been a great success—I have been well received and treated on all hands, I shall feel richer for it for the rest of my life.

Keep good heart, dear Walt, till I get back—but in any case be easy about "L. of G." and the good cause—they are all all right.

Your loving friend

R. M. Bucke



34 Manchester Road
Bolton, England
Aug. 19th 1891

My Dear Walt Whitman,

Since Monday afternoon last (Aug 17th) we have been all agog with heart gladdening excitement, for on that day J. W. Wallace announced

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his decision to go to America with Dr. B. if possible & asked me to enquire about a berth on the "Majestic" & failing that on the "British Prince".


Unfortunately owing to our late application both ships were full but through the good offices of Capt. Nowell of the "Br. Prince" we have now secured a berth for him on her. According to present arrangements, then, Wallace will sail on Aug. 26th & if all goes well you may expect to see him about Sept. 7th. The doctor will sail on the same day for New York where he will be due about Sept. 3rd. & we hope that he will be able to stay with you until J.W.W. arrives at Camden.

We are all very sorry that they cannot go in the same ship: but as things are it cannot be helped & we are too much rejoiced at the thought of his going at all to mind it much, tho' the Dr. & Wallace will. A p.c. received from Dr. says: "I am disgusted to think that we may be separated on passage."

I am too full of conflicting emotions to write much at present, & I cannot tell you how much I feel this intended visit & all that it implies to me—& to us all here—& more especially to him.

My visit to you was the crown & glory of my life & his will be that & infinitely more.

I sincerely hope that you are keeping better & that your health will permit of your receiving him if only for a short time.

—Later

Many thanks for your kind p. c. of Aug. 11th inst. just recd. J.W.W. has had tea with me—along with R.K.G.—& we have had a good time talking over his coming trip. He is delighted with your p.c. (about his letter re Ballacoore Isle of Man) & intend[ed] writing you but was unable to do so this mail. He & R. K. Greenhalgh send their love as does yours affectionately

J. Johnston


Kennedy returns me Bucke's letters with this:
Dear Horace & Walt W.

Thanks for the Tennyson letters. Bucke always writes the most singularly dull & empty letters I can imagine. But he has got a little of superficial observation wh. is interesting in the letter. He has no eye for details, ever, apparently.


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Thanks, Traubel, for the invitation. It is very kind. I shd. have acknowledged yr wedding card & offered my congratulations, wh. I do now very sincerely,

W.S.K.


W. read—his eyes gathered together—then holding the little odd-shaped sheet in his hand, "No, no, Kennedy—I do not agree with you—you are severe—you are wrong. Indeed, the letters just satisfy me—set out in a few bold strokes what I wanted most to know—what Doctor had it in his experience to tell us. Details? But details are dangerous! Details of a sunset, of a wreck at sea, of some great catastrophe—no, no—they are rock, peril—better not to attempt!" And again, "What we want after all are the suggestions, the first touches—the rest floats in by the force of the tide." Yet he too thought Doctor would have "much more to tell than had come in the letters. It is difficult to write when on the wing, anyhow, however easy things go." Kennedy would "see it"—see even the details "after a way." For him (for W.) Doctor had "an eminent eye for detail" when necessary.

     W. has order from Reeves and Turner (London) for 100 copies of "Good-Bye" and six copies each of other Walt Whitman books. Gave me letter—wished me to see McKay, who will be in town, from Western trip, tomorrow. We discussed whether to hold English market ourselves through Reeves and Turner and how far we were bound to McKay, W. insisting, "I feel in every way an obligation even in unwritten things in Dave. I feel quite clear we must not put out American editions of 'Good-Bye' to injure his purchase of nearly our whole first edition. But this European outlook brings up new questions. I want to defend Dave's interests." And his own? "Yes, my own, too. But we must take care, not to offend against him. He is part of our machine—a good fellow, who means us well personally as well as publisherially. He is shrewd, too. He has just been telling me he has made himself good on 'Specimen Days'—just lately, I should judge—and on all the books, in fact. Though for the matter of that I am never afraid but Dave's Scotch instinct will

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take good care of him. But you had best go to him—I do not object even to having you show him that letter. Then tell me how he feels towards it all. As things are, we hold the club—he don't—but we don't mean to assert our prerogative except by right, except as we must. Yet I should not like to have it come to anything but the best feeling."

     W. had heard from Mrs. O'Connor. "She says this visit is for me as well as Anne and you. We will all be happy to have her here—have her near by. O the past! And William—after all our greatest light, our own right hand!"

     At home I found letters from Bucke, J.W.W. and Johnston, going over same ground as with W. Hear from Mrs. O'Connor that she will come up tomorrow afternoon on 2:10 train, arriving Philadelphia at six.

     Left current Scribner's with him. He has been reading Wolseley's paper on Sherman, but "profits nothing by it."


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