Commentary

Disciples


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Friday,W.ptember 18, 1891

     5:55 P.M. Going to W.'s with Paul Albright, met W. on street, in his chair, Warrie wheeling. A long time since last trip in that way. "I am going to the fire," he said. "We want to see the ruins." There had been a fire round the corner a few days ago. I introduced Albright. W. asked, "Haven't I met you before? You are a reporter?" The Ledger Camden man an Albright, but not this one. W. excused, "I am almost blinded when I first get out in this chair—the shaking up of it," etc. etc. He asked if I had proofs, which I handed to him. "I will go back if you want particularly to see me"—but no, I would wait—be down again after supper. So we went along the street together. Over in front of the church, near the railroad, met old Bourquin (one of Camden's queerities) and Lynn Garrison. W. accosted both. Both expressed surprise to see him. W. asked first, "This is a Garrison—is it Charley?" And then after a further look, "No, I see—it is Lynn! Well, Lynn, you have become a giant!" The young

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fellow not belying the name. "And what of the Judge? And father and mother? All well? Good! Good! And you, Mr. Bourquin—it has been a long time since we met." Bourquin remarked thereat, "It is so, and I didn't expect to see you today, Mr. Whitman. And how are you?" W. said something about his "blindness." Bourquin thereupon, "But that ought not to be." W. replying, "Perhaps it ought not to be, Mr. Bourquin, but it is. Many things that ought not to be, are. But then there's another way to look at it, too—that everything which is, ought to be." Bourquin exclaimed, "I know Pope says that but some of us don't believe it." W. laughingly, "Well, some of us do, too." And with swinging of arm and "good-bye" Warrie sailed him off, W. saying to me as we parted at the corner, "Well then, Horace, we will see you tonight? Good! Come! And you, Warrie, where will you take me?" Warrie said, "To the ruins." "But not too near the walls, Warrie." Warrie laughed, "The walls won't fall on you, Mr. Whitman." W. laughing too, "They won't if you don't go near them." I asked, "You don't think the Lord would defend you by a miracle?" "No indeed—I would not like to trust to that!" And so our good-byes!

     7:55 P.M. To Post Office (Albright along, we had had tea at 537)—thence to W.'s, whom we found in very good mood. Had already prepared proof, which he returned me. We talked of many matters. For one point, Young (J. R.) in Star, whom Albright had told me (piece last Saturday) had written reminiscences of Conkling—among them account of his giving Whitman's Lincoln poem to Conkling, who could make nothing out of it. W.: "I am not surprised—I often wonder if I can make anything out of it myself. But I am a good deal in debt to Young. He has said many kind things of, for, me. Yes, he was in Washington. And somehow—I don't know how—perhaps it was the guild feeling—the newspaper guild there, especially the young fellows, were always loyally my lovers—took me—treated me with high brotherliness—respect. Yes, you are right—the reporters do yet. I remember one hearty stout fellow there—very handsome—Oh! What was his name? He afterwards had a good

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deal to do with the National Republican. Oh! You would both know the name if I mentioned it. I owed him a special respect, for he certainly showed that to me. Young is a good fellow, like so many of the fellows I have known—reporters mainly—who have a large fund of generosity—mean everybody well—are retentive—lively in recital—able to tell a tale—tell it well, compel you to listen. Not profound, not at the base, root—but keen, incisive, bright, inspiring, tender. I noticed all this—set it mentally down—from Young's letter on Lincoln. I can imagine"
—laughing— "Young's shock (I suppose not disgust) if Conkling handed him the book back, unabsorbed." Then W. asked me, "Did you get a copy of the proceedings of farewell at Bolton?" They had come from Dixon. Yes. W. went on, "Then you won't want mine. Did you read Doctor Bucke's speech? I wrote him a postal today—you may have read it when you took it up." I put in, "I didn't take it up." "That's so! Warrie took it about noon. I got today mixed up with yesterday. Anyhow, I said to Doctor, 'Hold your horses!' Did you notice how the Doctor is constantly branching off into new fields? Well, here he is again, with a fresh case. What I quarrel with is the Doctor's damned definiteness—and it is very damned! I often pull him up short when he is here. He is explicating this, that, the other, as if there was no doubt in the world about it. Yet I, the author, am in constant doubt about it. Texts—texts—texts! And Doctor, Doctor—I may say to you, yes, this meant a certain something yesterday, it means a certain other something today. I am most troubled by it of all—yet sure, too, that it has an entrance somewhere. The 'Leaves' often defy me to turn them." It seemed to me that the Bolton fellows took W.'s dinner remark very literally, so as to look upon Bucke as W.'s spiritual as well as domestic or social "explicator." W. asked, "Can it be possible? That would nowhere touch my purpose—the impulse by which I made the statement." Had some papers on the table for Wallace, which I offered to mail and took along with me. Again referring to Young W. said, "Childs is the best sample I know of the man I tried to describe by Young. He has treasures from all sources—

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receives all—has no outlawing word—is hospitable on every side."

     Great hopes W. will drive out tomorrow. "I will do what I can for it, Horace. Yes, I see, I should go. But should and can are different things!" Had he seen the ruins? "Yes, a bit, but not as I wanted to see them. Warrie took me the wrong way."


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