Commentary

Disciples


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 542] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Thursday, September 24, 1891

     7:55 P.M. W. in his room, gas full up. Boston Transcript spread out before his eyes. "Ah! Here's Horace!" And after shaking hands I sat down. Shortly Warrie brought him in his ice cream, which he took with considerable gusto. "This is the best hit of the day!" Had he been writing anything? (Some scraps about!) No, they were old. "My writing days are done—all done!" Had he read Morse's paper? "Yes! and enjoyed it, too. It is very good! And so easy—so graceful: like a fish, swimming!" I remarked, "Especially the closing passages, when he addresses you direct, as Bob over the table at Reisser's!" "Oh! Yes, it is very fine! And that of Bob's! Oh! That was the grandest ever was! Sidney here is so conversational, so without effort! It is a gift: few have it." Then, "I want two or three copies!" "You can have as many as you want!" "Give me a dozen then: I can use them!"

     Had he yet sent the books to Forman? "No, but I shall. I can't find any 'Memorandas'—I must send him a loose copy of 'Two Rivulets'—he must make his book out of that." Had W. received his glasses yet? "Yes, just today. A young man named Hostetter brought them over." Spelled the name. "They seem to do very well. Of course, I haven't had a real chance to try them yet. Is it to be a new lease of sight, do you think?" He calls me "a born skeptic" because I always rally him on his "blindness," and has a hundred times said, "The fellow who wears the shoe ought to know if it pinches," forgetting however that we have plenty of evidence that he sees objects and reads signs at marked and heroic distances.

     Asked, "You haven't got my proofs then, I suppose?" But I had, most of them, and he looked over the clean pretty sheets with a real joy. "This is our palpable proof—no promise, no potency, merely—but the fact itself! And you know, Horace, in my

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 543] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
old days, I have become skeptical of anything but facts!"
"A born skeptic?" I laughingly asked, turning his accusation of me back at him. He laughed, too, "No, made one in my old age, by long trials!"

     W. inquired this night after "the fellows at the ferry," saying, "Tell me about them." And as to Ed Lindell's remark that he did not want to come up to disturb the old man, W. said, "Tell Ed that'll do for an excuse!" But Ed meant it seriously? W. only smiled, "Tell him it'll do for an excuse. Ed will appreciate the humor of it." Foxy once spoke indignantly of Ed Lindell, "He's God Almighty with two feet added." And when a knotty question was up, said sarcastically, "Take it to Lindell—he's the only fellow can decide what can't be decided!" W. fairly rocked in his chair when I told him these things. "They're as good as anything I've seen for a long time—true wit—the best!" And further, "A man can pick up a mine of such stuff as he goes along! It is the best metal!"

     I had met Harned on boat. He said, "I don't exactly know if I ought to give the old man whiskey," so had not volunteered lately. But coincidentally W. asks for whiskey this very evening. Had Tom any? Did I suppose? And to my "yes" reached back to the table next him and brought forth a bottle. "This is Tom Donaldson's bottle—the old man's whiskey—and noble whiskey it was, too." "I thought you told me it was not good, was vulgar?" "I remember: it tasted vulgar to me that first day. But I inquired further—came to appreciate its quality—to like it. And I found it had a nip, a spirit. You know there are two kinds of whiskey. One that burns your throat as it goes down. Some like that—I do not—I call it vulgar. Then the other has a milder, more serene taste—does not offend—only elevates—only possesses good manners. I found the old man's was the best. I have really taken little whiskey this summer." The bottle now lasting four months. "Only a swig now and then—a bit of sunlight in dark days. And Tom—oh! he will fill it for me! The good Harned! Give him my love and this bottle!" But did not Doctor Bucke object to the whole whiskey business on W.'s

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 544] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
part? "Yes, yes! I know! I know! But damn the Doctor! Of my real innerness he knows less than I do!" He seemed greatly amused "to think," as he said "or imagine" the Doctor's "horror," but when I said, "I understand that Doctor Bucke makes some exceptions himself," he exclaimed, "Yes, he does! And so do I!" So I am to get the bottle filled with "exceptions" or for the "exceptions." Tom always welcome, "Don't let him get that maggot in his brain—that he is not welcome!"

     Letter from Bucke, who is warm for the one dollar edition and suggests (wildly) that the three dollar book be bound in morocco. I replied immediately—impossible—cost alone would prevent, morocco coming to one dollar to $1.50 per case. When I tell W. this, he says, "Doctor must have forgotten himself. We could make a five dollar book in morocco, but that would not be advisable. I shall talk with Dave the first time he comes over to see if he can arrange without any raise in price whatever—to continue the bound book at two dollars." "But Dave himself admits your autograph would give it added value!" He then, "Perhaps. Yes, on the whole, I am moved to leave it in your hands. Perhaps our three dollar and one dollar books would be the best—fit into all our purposes and please Dave besides." But I am not to see Tucker till I have all the sheets to show him.

     Wallace writes 21st (gone deep into Whitman-Doyle correspondence, by Bucke's permission). And word from Greenhalgh, too (11th). His salutation, self-introduction, and enclosure of letter from Wallace, explaining the "worship" of which H.L.T. had accused him in one of the Post pieces. Struck us as forcible addition to our knowledge of the stuff making these Bolton heroes.


Comments?

Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Ed Folsom & Kenneth M. Price, editors.