Commentary

Disciples


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Saturday, September 12, 1891

     5:10 P.M. Carriage drove to door—537 York—W., Mrs. Bush and Warrie therein. First look W. had had of our little home. Anne and I at carriage door. "Is this where you put up, Horace? And you, Anne?" I joined them—Anne stayed to get tea ready. Mrs. Bush asked me, "Don't you intend sitting back with Mr. Whitman?" But no, and W. himself with a laugh, "I want you with me today." She, "But I thought you could have him here." W. tapping me on the shoulder, "I have him anyhow—have him as he is!" And further, "This is your seat today—so take it!" Thence out State Street—though before we got to bridge like to have met with an accident—suddenly discovering that men at stable had badly harnessed the horse—loosely, imperfectly—so that before we were aware of anything we found the animal walking clear of his harness—getting entangled with the shafts, which slipped out and towards the ground. Warrie grasped the reins lightly—I assisting—then jumped from the carriage. Had

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the thing been delayed an instant and the horse become frightened by the confusion of his gear, there might have been serious results. I held him and Warrie hitched. To show our escape fortunate, we found the horse shying a good deal the whole ride—at one moment, when we passed a trolley car, almost overturning us in the eagerness of his fear. Mrs. Bush a little alarmed, though saying nothing at the time. W. perfectly collected, remarking simply "the damnable carelessness of the hostler."

     Now the ride resumed, and happy throughout. Repeatedly W. exclaimed, "The air! the air! the air!" And once, when Mrs. Bush called his attention to a bit of landscape, "Yes, it is beautiful! beautiful—but the air! Oh! I believe the air is the best of all!" And again, "I believe this is the best ride yet! The whole air, light, seems alive and to make me alive!" We paused on the Pavonia road to take a glimpse of the river, shot through with beams of golden gorgeous burning sun. Back of it all lay the city—and there, against the disk of the sun, the upright tower of the public buildings on Broad Street. "Oh! revelation! How grand it strikes up there into the heavens! A rare hour! And it brings me back all the past, and this road, so often travelled, absorbed!" And he gazed westward, rapt, for some minutes—finally turning to Warrie, "But we must go! Drive on, Warrie!" On the beautiful bending simple cove road W. again said, "This was in the old days one of my favorite roads. It leads you on, on, right down the water's edge." Indeed, there was the stream ahead, and soon we were down to the very lick of the water—the last shoreline. He was not satisfied to stand aloof. "Go all the way, Warrie—don't stop!" And the horse was driven close, till he himself hesitated, would not go further. Evening hour—the mists slight but beautifully melting everything in a panorama of color—the waters quietly flowing on—here and there a boat—W. very still. But when I had picked Mrs. Bush some wild common flowers from the roadside, W. seemed stirred, "They are beautiful, Horace—simple, just as they are, they reach out their look of beauty!" And he softly passed his hand over

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them—fondly, with a touch light as air—and spoke in tender memory of "other times" when he, too, had come this road, gathered its flowers, "accomplished its best purposes" (a fine verbal as well as spiritual subtlety). "Sometimes I would even cross the edge of the stream—horse and I would go in—and there stay, an hour, two hours, laved, lost. Oh! the waters! the winds!" But he said little beyond this during our 15 minutes there except to ask me about several towers and steeples in Philadelphia which he thought were "lately new," as he said—not there in his "old visitings." Then regretfully to town on the road again, he commenting, keeping Mrs. Bush informed of features, topographical and other, which he knew well and of which she knew nothing. "All these houses hereabouts are new since the old trips! See the barn there! The fellow has a bank account and that shows the use of it! The fences, too! See how they wind and turn! That? Oh! that is the"—giving it a Latin word— "vulgarly called stink-weed!" He said this, to excite himself and us to laughter. Everywhere we went the children cried, "Kris Kringle" after him. Sometimes he would seem to be a bit annoyed but usually would smile—once remarking, "I have had that name these 20 years, so you see there is no novelty about it for me." We crossed and recrossed the railroad till W. got to twitting Warrie about it. "Warrie is driving us upon all the railroads in the country. Can't you hunt up a few more, Warrie?" He talked easily. Read signs, took in distant points of pleasure, etc.—yet complained that he was "near blind." Last week he saw the city hall tower before Bucke. This day I pointed out nothing which his eye did not readily take in. When we were nearly home he said, "I have felt very uncomfortable—shook up—till the last ten minutes: now I feel wonderfully easy." Everything seemed to move him. The night. Yes, he pointed out the stars. Now and then salutations to people on the road or street. "It is good to feel free again—oh! so good!" Yet once in his room, he let Warrie substitute slippers for shoes—then sank in his chair. "I am pretty well tired—vexed out." He had previously told me, "I had Conway—Moncure Conway—at the home

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fully an hour. And he gave me an hour's worth of questions—fired one after another, in interminable succession. No, he did not say a word about the birthday or his letter."
He thought, "Our nag is a first-rate one—has a little fire." Had not felt this to be a "bad" day—in fact "comparatively good, all things taken into account."

     Several letters for Wallace, a postal for Bucke, came (English, all)—I immediately forwarding. Johnston writes me letter dated 29th August—mainly about Wallace. It has had a very long trip. W. says he has letters, too. "They are a breath off the sea," he said.


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