Commentary

Disciples


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Wednesday, September 2, 1891

     5:10 P.M. The afternoon papers describe the arrival of Majestic but W. had not heard this yet and so called out to me first thing, "No word from Doctor yet—the boat is very late. How

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thoroughly tantalizing it all gets to be."
But when I told him the boat really was in, he cried, "Good, then, for that—good, good! What a load it takes off a fellow's mind! And yet I don't know why the load was even on, either—this ocean travelling is getting to be so cheap an affair!" We are in doubt as to Bucke's plans. Will he come on tonight? W. thought "not—probably not till tomorrow now." Said he had got some copies of yesterday's Post. "One I have sent off to Johnston—another I have here for Doctor. Yes, I have read the thing very carefully. I wonder if that is the Commercial Advertiser? Do you think so? I am not so certain! Anyhow, both bits reveal expert hands. They undoubtedly knew what they were talking about—both."

     Had Mrs. O'Connor been here yet? "Yes, but I did not see her today. I was lying down when she came—felt like the devil—did not feel as if I wanted to talk. I am sure Nellie understood. I have been passing through a bad day again—one of the old kind—doing nothing, saying nothing—resting, yet getting no rest. Now I am a little eased, but not enough to make a note of. Certainly the temperature has got hotter—much hotter—I feeling its effect at once."

     Left Harper's Weekly with him. Read W. several passages from my Lowell piece, he exclaiming, "You are on the right track—I see it well—work it out on that line! Good! Good!" Asked me to leave what I had written but as it was all in fragments, and badly penned, I would not do so. I found by inquiry that British Prince is expected in Sunday or Monday. W. simply says, "We don't pray, but we hope. Wallace? Noble fellow! I, we, all of us—love him for his good works!" W. sits there half-expecting Bucke any moment. When I leave urges, "Come down by and by—we will compare notes again—perhaps you will find something at home to give us some light." Note from Bush at home saying he and wife would probably be on next week—Tuesday or Wednesday. Clifford writes from Farmington, this (out of a long letter) about the Bolton message to him:

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Farmington, MI
Sept. 1, 1891

Thanks, my dear T., for your own good note again, also for the hearty word from the English group, which touches me very deeply and strongly. Near their rallying place I had been born (Manchester) if my parents had put off their voyage for a single month. How you have made me of any interest to such a company, I should be at loss to conjecture, did I not fully gauge the impact of your enthusiasm in behalf of a friend upon friendly natures! Will you return to them my cordial thanks and good wishes. How proudly my father & mother will drop their tears on the message!...

Ever,

John H. Clifford


Broader and deeper the streams of the Whitman fellowship. Wallace delights to quote every evidence of this. I have written Trautwine thanking him for the Harrison letter. Johnston sends me long letter and songs, embracing information of farewell to Wallace and Bucke. Shall excerpt for Post.

     7:50 P.M. To W.'s again to say I had no knowledge of Bucke's movements. He seemed disappointed. "Of course no sign of him here, nor will there be now, anymore, tonight." Further, "But he is in, safe and sound—that is enough." W. eating ice cream. Remarks how much good he feels it does him. Daily, evening, he has it. Spooning from a big mug. Thinks the milk "goes into" his "bones." Remarked, "Nellie said something to me the other day about reading proof or seeing copy of 'The Carpenter,' thinking, she said, that it was too heavily hefted with adjectives, objurgations, things of that sort. But I don't know"—shaking his head— "I had no such feeling at the time I read it—in the first days of its making and publication—would probably not feel it now. I have only a mutilated copy of 'The Carpenter' here. And on the whole I guess I had better not attempt to revise it—touch it in any way—even to read the proofs." Mrs. O'Connor got first proofs of book forwarded from Washington

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today. (Book will start with "The Ghost.") W. declares, "That's the first evidence of fact. Now we have the palpable promise. I get not to believe in things till I absolutely see them. I seem to come out more and more the Colonel's way."

     W. has not yet put book in shape for printers. "Now to be sure—forgotten again! My memory plays me the devil's own trips." Will "try" to "have it made ready tomorrow."

     I sometimes fear some fire accident may overtake W. Again an escape—sitting in the room, opposite him—he near the bed, talking but veiling his eyes from the light—I smelt burning paper—sniffed, went over towards him—and lo! there, back of him, a slight flame, started among the papers (he had rocked on a match). I stamped it out with my foot. But for the chance of my presence, things may have gone evil. Matches everywhere about the room. I often gather them up—put them back in the box. Remember once in winter—he had raked some wood coals out on a bit of paper which had caught fire. As I extinguished, I said, "This is a bad go! This paper has caught fire!" He responding, "Yes, I suppose the damned thing has!"—coolly, comically. Yesterday W. turned his foot in saving himself a tumble and has suffered pain inW. since. Pronounces it "better" tonight. Longaker will be out of town for a week or ten days. Reports W. "improved."

     Mrs. O'Connor and I together went over proofs of "The Ghost." We expect to take dinner at Harned's tomorrow. Harned wants W. but I have no idea W. can go.


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