Commentary

Disciples


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 4] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Thursday, February 12, 1891

     5:30 P.M. Spent good half hour with W. He sat in the small chair by the fire—his room dark—the light through the half-

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 5] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
open stove-door playing with his beard and hair, and casting shadows on the wall. W. continues to complain of his condition. "This is a bad period with me," he said. "Something working, working—who knows for what?" Had taken his list to Stoddart. Now the foreign list. I had it in my pocket. He had endorsed it: "Foreign names—we will furnish (or pay for) all the postage stamps necessary." The list included Rhys, Pearsall Smith, Wm. Rossetti, Tennyson, Sarrazin, O'Dowd, Josiah Child, Rolleston, Dowden, Johnston, Wallace, Mary Costelloe, Carpenter, Symonds, Schmidt, Knowles (Nineteenth Century), Athenaeum, Forman, Whitelaw Reid, Roden Noel, Will Saunders, Ed Wilkens, Bucke, Walter Scott, Pall Mall Gazette, Spielman, Nouvelle Revue (Paris), J. Schabelitz, Miss Langley, Bertz, Logan Smith. Then on another sheet he had written: "John Ruskin, Robert Buchanan, Oscar Wilde, Augusta Webster the poetess, Swinburne the poet, Edwin Arnold the poet, Lady Mount-Temple, Irving the actor, Ellen Terry the actress. If you have any person there, send these additions to London, Eng: to be definitely sent thence."

     Then in an envelope he had thrust a dozen English penny stamps—marked it, "here are some English stamps"—and asked me to give them to Stoddart. "I received them today from somebody who owed me money—they are no good to me," descanting then upon international postage. "Someday we will come to that, too: even now we might have an international five-cent stamp—it invites us." Postage "very cheap": "When I think of the letters we can send as far as California for the mere song, I am forced to say the man would be a hog to complain of the cost."

     No word from Bucke today. W. "glad the meter has appeared at last"—thought it would "emerge in the end to something substantial."

     Hailing when I came. He had "enjoyed the sound." Had held my hand in his some time "to feel its out-of-door cheer, vigor: it has the warmth, smell, of the fresh air—a healthy cold."


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 6] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

     We talked of General Sherman, at death's door. The papers full of it this morning. John Sherman telegraphed the President this afternoon: the General was enough better to warrant a faint hope of his recovery. W. listened as I recited this—then spoke at some length of the General: "I don't think I ever had a talk with him—came face to face with him that way—but I have met him. He was a warrior—Normanesque, I was going to say: he seemed to me like a Norman baron, lord of many acres—with adherents, servitors—all that—something of grandeur, hauteur, haughtiness. That was the man. I think I have told you a story about him—I shall tell it again—it throws the whole character in relief. It was in the review of the troops after the war—in Washington—I can see the day, the long, winding, noble procession—the sky, people, earth. Sherman was at the head of the line—rode, uniformed, a noble animal. Kept a distance of perhaps 15 feet between his own place and the file of aides. These aides spread entirely across Pennsylvania Avenue—all mounted. In front of Welland's a woman set forth from the crowd—straight up to the General's horse—gave him a bunch of flowers. It all comes back to me—vivid—powerful—the etched features of the scene: he took the flowers, curtsied, put them—an instant only—to his nose—then held them out and back with his hand, so"—indicating— "for the instant I did not know what it meant, but before I needed to ask, one of the aides galloped out of the line, up to the General, took the flowers from him, returned to his place again. What could better present the man than that? No, no, Grant was quite another man. Even that day, where was he? Off in his corner—in his place, no doubt—but making nothing of it, at most. Probably going by some obscure way to rejoin them later on. Out of all the hubbub of the war, Lincoln and Grant emerge, the towering majestic figures. There were others: Seward, Sumner, Phillips—such—elegant, refined, scholarly—the gift of college, the past, book-keen, great men: these: then, by contrast, Lincoln, Grant! Don't that tell everything?" Dwelt upon Grant's plainness: "Grant savored of our soil—was Saxon—Sherman Norman. Grant hated

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 7] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
show—liked to leave things unsaid, undone—liked to defy convention by going a simple way, his own."

     W. said, "I am rather disappointed that Scudder's letter is so inconclusive. It leaves the fate of the book uncertain."

     I found, as I had guessed to W. , that the proof-reader at Lippincott's had properly transposed defective lines in proofing pages. This man in a great rage about W. 's inconsistent punctuations and spellings and abbreviations. I admitted, but told him he should have changed as W. would have wanted him. "I was afraid," he said.


Comments?

Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Ed Folsom & Kenneth M. Price, editors.