Commentary

Disciples


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Wednesday, September 9, 1891

     4:45 P.M. W. with unfinished meal before him, reading papers (local)—not looking very well—color lighter, faded. He said, "This violent change to cold, from heat, has shaken me up. My head especially—filled me with whirlings, whizzings, spiralings—seeming to send every effervescence to my poor brain. I have been passing through a trying day—feeling a little better since the meal. O yes, Horace! Reason still holds her throne, but often only with a grip, clutch—from inner determinations. It is a struggle, growing more palpable day by day."

     Bucke and the party not yet in. They had taken a carriage forenoon, and gone, together, to park—Mrs. Bush, Anne, Wallace, Bucke. I had caught a glimpse of them on Chestnut St. in one of my hurried runs out. Wallace's money had been forwarded to Tradesman's National Bank. He drew 100, left the rest of £40 ($93 or so) there, getting certificate of deposit. Had W. his book ready yet? "I prefer to keep it another day. That won't hurt?" Had "not felt to take much of a turn at it today." Returned me Symonds' letter, hopefully remarking, "I don't agree with Doctor—I don't see any serious tone—even twist—in the letter. All it tells is, that when he was in Florence Addington had such a man—a nurse, a Warrie. Probably he is now, at Davos, pretty much in his old condition. Anyway, the letter does not alarm me. I think Doctor splashed the color on too thick. And how beautiful the letter is! We are good fortune—yes indeed—to live in such good will!" He seemed surprised when I told him the travelers would start at 8:30. "So soon? I had hardly faced that. But it is all right. And Wallace ought to have a great time. It is all a great affair for him. America! America!" And we drifted easily into a talk about our national destiny—in midst of which hearing wheels on the street, W. stopped suddenly and exclaimed, "That must be the fellows!"—leaning forward, looking out the window— "Sure enough! Sure enough!" Doctor hitched the horses to a tree across the street and soon appeared in the

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room, W. saying, "So here you are again! And where is Wallace?" Wallace had lingered downstairs to speak with Mrs. Davis and Warrie. Soon his knock was heard at the door, and he came in. W. exclaiming as he extended his hand, "Welcome! Welcome! And I shall not say again, as I said yesterday—So you have come to be disillusioned!" Laughing merrily, as all did—tone irresistible. They made a stay of about half an hour, after which we all went to the house together. Wallace brought out the photos—thrust in letter sheets—marked some of them for W., some for me, etc. All beautifully arranged by Johnston—W. to take his choice. He looked at all with eager enjoyment. Wallace seemed to fear W. was bored, but that was a mistake. Especially the pictures of concrete average life were attractive to him. He went into warm admiration over some wandering pigs—and a picture of three miners against a rock, picks in hand, drew from him, "Oh! how fine they are!—a fine three. I like this picture—it throws out the suggestion of immense health, strength, courage—the plain, homely, honest faces!"

     W. asked Bucke a good deal about the trip today—where they went to (through park, on Wissahickon, to Germantown, where they had dinner). W. suddenly started to get up—asked me for my hand—came to table (east). "I laid out a couple of photos for Doctor." After some search one turned up, but W. said, "There is another, somewhere—if I can only turn it up," but it would not turn. W. asked me, "Didn't we owe it to Williamson to send him a slip or so of manuscript? I got out a lot of stuff today—was looking about for matter, or something. I could let you have some odd bit or other." Bucke had left book (pocket edition) from Greenhalgh to be autographed this forenoon. Now picked it up—said that autograph was OK. "Why is it open?" he asked. W. replied, "I thought to put something in for him—but nothing to suit me turned up. Well, take it as it is—I will have to let it pass this time." Wallace exhibited the gift of underclothing from one of the fellows—a splendid bunch (made in Bolton)—and apologized that he had not brought anything from Johnston and himself. W. said quickly, "You brought yourself."

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W. full of admiration and gratitude—fingered the goods, fondly spoke about "their winter comfort, warmth," etc. We lingered about for a little time further—nothing consequential being talked about—then farewell. Bucke first shook hands, said, "Well, Walt, good-bye—we must go!" "Good-bye, Maurice, good-bye!" "You're not worse, Walt, not a bit worse. I think, in fact, you're as well as any time for three years past!" "I guess I'm doing very well, Maurice, very well. I am very feeble, to be sure—I easily tire, but then I recupe, too—recupe!" "It won't be long before I see you again, Walt." "I hope not, Doctor." "I am sure of it, Walt." "Don't be too sure, Doctor"—smiling— "it's best to allow for a little doubt." "Well, take good care of yourself, anyway. I know you are in good hands—the best." "True, Maurice—God bless 'em!" And with some minor further references to his "head—the poor worried brain there," they parted. Bucke went at once from the room, Wallace and W. very cordial—indeed, loving—but on J.W.W.'s part not the same perfect ease, of course. W. had said to them both, "You will write to me soon? You will tell us you have got home safe? I will write, too—at least, write as I can: you understand?" Bucke fervently, "Yes, Walt, we understand! Write when you can." "And if he does not write, you will understand just as well, Doctor," I suggested—to which, "Yes we will: we will, Walt." W. himself, "That is enough. God bless you both!—both!" I lingered just one moment beyond Wallace to say some words about our work, then away.

     Wallace downstairs tenderly unbosomed himself of his gifts. Brave, modest fellow. Warrie got his best tongue—gratitude run to eloquence even with him. At the house the girls preparing supper. Put final things together. Wallace only takes a part of his goods to Canada. We talked sundry things. Wallace thinks he can see great changes in W. from the representations made by Johnston a year ago. After the meal (it was a good one, sweetened by good talk and wondrous even nature), Bucke made his good-bye and started off ahead, intending to stop at young Ingram's for a brief call before train time. Wallace and I

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would linger. Mrs. Bush played some for us—from Wagner, Schumann. And in due time we followed Bucke. But a queer thing happened. We got to the depot (9th and Green) at 8:20—the very moment promised. No Bucke. 21—22—23—24—25—26—27—no Bucke! I wondered—went on the train—not there. Hurried to the street. Ah! here he came with young Ingram. He hurried to his bag, which I had brought over and which lay on floor—opened—wildly grasped an old folded handkerchief—shook the package in the air—then leaned over and whispered me, "It is the lace—the lace!" He had already smuggled it through at New York and now intended the same at the Canadian line. It seems after he had got most the way to Ingram's he somehow fell into doubt—had he put lace in bag? Perhaps not—what if he had left it on the bureau in Camden! He could not remember one thing or another about it. So back to Camden at once, to make assurance sure—and a breathless arrival at the station almost at the moment of departure of train! And of course no visit to Ingram, who had simply met him outside station. I went with them on train—gave each other our calm good-bye—and so, parting! I at once then home alone, with thoughts not the brightest, though the moon overhead was pure and sweet with the breath of inspiration.

     On the way to Philadelphia Wallace and I had a good talk—of W. mainly. He first knew W. from a Rossetti book. Later a full edition. Had never seen the complete Whitman till he had seen mine. "I should not hide from you what is so obvious. I came mainly to see Walt. That is my mission. To confess the truth, I was disturbed by Doctor Bucke's arrangements. I had expected to stay here a term, then go West, and finally leave America from Canada." But he felt sure Bucke had arranged it as it should be. Wonderfully considerate—determined not to be in anybody's way. Wallace every way concerned to see W. "I do not yet consider I have seen him at all. I must see him. I will go West—see Dr. Bucke for about a fortnight—then possibly go to Johnston's folks—coming back here probably early in October."


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     He spoke of the uncommunicableness of the feeling he had for W. When he tried to give this feeling expression, it was gone. His whole reverence was rather sympathetic than intellectual. W. had revolutionized his being. Life was quite another thing with this new factor—this new man. Carlyle and Emerson had been and were much to him—but W. overarched all—took immediately and positively a dominant place. We compared notes as to W.'s power to move, to attract men. Rather companionship than reverence, I argued. W. had helped me to freedom. I seemed proved in W. He seemed to seal my identity. All great teachers given this power. By all odds to evade excessive adulation—to remember the self as a hint—to exact for self as good things as W. or another teacher from their own individualities. We leaned over the railing of the boat—our bags slung at our feet. To south-west the moon, a long shimmering and trembling streamer across the water. The stars calm, the air stirred but gentle. Wallace confessed his emotion. All was novel to him. People and places—life as lived here—but he would learn. He spoke of Anne—had had some conversation with her about me, it seems—she rehearsing my "excessive" labors and he sympathetic and now warning me—saying Johnston and others there had talked it over, as fruit of the information given them by Bucke.


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