Commentary

Disciples


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Saturday, September 5, 1891

     No direct information of J.W.W. Arranged at steamship office for them to telegraph me of arrival of British Prince at breakwater.

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That will give us several hours to meet Wallace. To Camden between two and three and shortly Bucke arrives at house with carriage. "The old man said he would go. But I'm afraid he will back out by the time we get down there." Anne and Mrs. O'Connor to go along. But W. did not back out. When we got to 328 Warrie and I went up to W.'s room and found him sitting there hat and wrapper on. He instantly got up in readiness to be led downstairs. Getting him out seemed easier than usual. He sat front with Bucke—I back with the two women. So out. Warrie could not go. We were out from about 3:45 to 5:30. W. returned not exhibiting any marked fatigue. When we got him into his room again Warrie said, "Now you must keep it up, Mr. Whitman," but W. only laughed and said, "We won't make any rash resolves. It is enough to have gone—that is victory enough for one day." And he further said, "My brain now is in a whirl—twisting, turning, so"—motioning with his finger. "But it was a good thing to breathe in the fresh air." Bucke had asked, "Shall I come down tonight?" W. simply interrogating, "Well?" Bucke saw the doubt in W.'s tone and said, "I guess I had better not." W. quietly then, "Probably not, Maurice, probably not."

     We took direct road to cemetery—out Mickle to Haddon Ave., etc. Bucke drove. W. very conversational. Pointed out varied places of interest to the Doctor and Mrs. O'Connor. "I ought not to come, but here I am." At one point exclaimed, "There's Johnson, of Alabama!" (intimating resemblance to that strange wanderer). But when I said, "He's crazy!" W. said, "So are we all! I suppose I have been called crazy at least a hundred times to my own face!" And yet he went on to explain how queer a fellow Johnson was. To Mrs. O'Connor, "There is our orphan's home, Nellie. Isn't it pretty?" And of old Newtown graveyard, "See how huddled the old graves are! It is old, old—tenanted by hundreds and hundreds! And look at the children, Doctor!" (some on the road). "The beautiful children! What would our world come to without the children?" W. had brought a copy of August Lippincott's for Ralph Moore and a bundle of papers for the tollgate man. In this bundle a volume of poems sent him the

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other day by some stranger. We handed it to the man on the way out. On our return he asked, "Is it for me to keep, Mr. Whitman?" And to W.'s, "Yes, oh yes indeed!" embarrassedly said, "Oh, it is—it is—oh! I am yours ever, Mr. Whitman!" Approaching the toll W. asked Doctor, "Have you a few pennies, Maurice?" But found a few in his own vest pocket, which he handed to Bucke. But when we reached the gate we found a sign, "No toll." W. thereupon saying, "Give me my money back, Maurice!" This greatly excited Bucke's merriment.

     W. still insists, "I am about blind," but at the top of the hill he was quicker than Bucke to see the tower of the Philadelphia city hall off in the distant mist. He talked again about the lots he had designed to purchase on the road. "The land agent has been to see me several times, but I have been too busy to attend to him." But Bucke preferred a lot further out. W. took it very laughingly, "Well, I'll peg out soon. Then you wouldn't have so far to cart me!" Moore came out of his office as we swung in and followed on down into the vale. "They have left everything pretty well as it was before a spade was put into the ground. Though there were a couple of noble trees which had to go and after which I mourned—oh! how I mourned!" He did not alight at the tomb. "What do you think of it, Nellie?" Explaining, "It comes from far back—way back—into the East into the earliest Greek. It was my own choice, after I had looked at all the elegant tombs—monuments." The lock is pretty well done. Mrs. O'Connor admired the tomb but could not get over the sense of the philosophy which had built it. But W. says but little on that score. He joked a good deal, several times with considerable laughter. Spoke of Doctor's new hat, substituted for the hat lost out of the Majestic. Moore was touched by the magazine, "Is it for me to keep, Mr. Whitman?" And to W.'s, "Yes, certainly, Ralph," "I am very much obliged, Mr. Whitman." And he admired the curve of the lake, "It is a beautiful line, Ralph, more than what the old fellows used to call the line of beauty! You know, Doctor, we have in Ralph here a fellow strangely sympathetic with our views." Called our attention to patches of grass,

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to the clouds, to the water; pointed out the vague lines of the creek. "More and more as I grow old do I love the grass: it seems to supply me something—some dear, dear something—much my need, yes, greatly needed."

     My piece appears in Post, making a stretch of a column and a half. W. remarked, "I did not see it to read it, but saw it. We seem to be in a good swim, just now—with the genuine hearty English young man handshake." As to Critic notice of "Good-Bye"—W. having not seen it as yet (his paper has not come)—still queried much which I had to answer.

      "How refreshing the air is! Almost as sweet as if a fellow had never sucked it in before! Ah! yes, Doctor—keep the nag to the right—that's the way! And so, Horace, you expect the Bushes to be here tonight? It is good, good! But don't bring them about tonight—I am already about tired out! But if you meet them, give them my love—tell them you want them to see the critter tomorrow."

     Bucke had spent some time with W. alone at home before the ride. Believes there is no change for worse in W. At home in evening, when I returned with the Bushes (who will stay with Harneds till Monday), found Bucke, Mrs. O'Connor, my father and Anne together. Afterwards much discussion—all topics (literary, scientific)—good deal about Bacon—also Goethe and Schiller. My father and Bucke especially at it. My father said this thing beautifully, "When I think of Goethe, I think of a statue, perfect, smooth, on which not another touch can be spent. When I think of Schiller, I think of this"—touching the Morse Whitman head near which he stood— "rough, crude, struck straight out of Nature, unfinished." And lifting his arms, "But Schiller seems to me to part the great blue overhead, so that I can see straight through!" Most beautifully, eloquently said.


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