Commentary

Disciples


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Saturday, March 7, 1891

     5:10 P.M. W. in his room, with dinner just finished and appearing in his recent usual humor. But he was not well, says he feels "miserably congested, bound up, in all ways." At last even admitted the idea that a doctor might be profitably called. Yet, "I shall try my second powder first. I took the other the night you brought it. No, it did no good—hardly touched me." He had said, "I wish Doctor was here"—Bucke— "I should like to talk with him about this." Well, Bucke was not here. Why should we not call Walsh? He had "thought of calling in Benjamin," but "if Walsh was mentioned by Osler, perhaps we'd better reconsider the matter." I had brought him the final proofs of poems. They made him happy. Would send them up to me if I did not get down tomorrow. "For a wonder," he says, "the Critic arrived today, and I find several Whitman squibs." I had myself counted three.

     Returned me Symonds' letter, advising me to "let Doctor Bucke have a glimpse of it," and saying, "How full and fine it is—noble! Noble!" What did he think of Symonds' constant reference to W. as master? "Oh! I account for it on the basis of the student in him: it was especially in other days the student-phrase." But did he think our fellows here could ever use it—O'Connor, Burroughs, Bucke? "Oh! No, no, no," shaking his head positively, "none of them—not one. Not any one of us—I know. But in Symonds we have to remember its background.

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Symonds is a college man—soaked, absorbed, the product of great schools. Almost prenatally bent to all that. And master comes to his lips as naturally as some other word might to us. I feel we have no call to a severe judgment. The Australian boys all address me as master, I suppose with reference to the same understanding. In the schools it was, 'Master, shall I do it?' or 'Master, will you show me this or that?'—always master. It could not have been used by Symonds with any other meaning—for instance, with anything akin to the supernatural interest given such an address to Confucius, Jesus."
W. smiled over Symonds' reference to his aristocratic connections. "I notice he does that very frequently—but not to vaunt it. He simply sets it forth as a fact." Thought the touch upon the Swiss mountaineers "especially rich," and when I said, "I am going to ask him more particularly as to the Calamus paragraph," W. said, "Yes, do: it would be meat for us all." I said nothing to W. about the second note, preferring to keep that till the birthday.

     W. supported our "anxiety" as to "late reports about Symonds"—they "seem to grow more serious—not only in the prints but in his letters."

     Thought that Western newspaper man, quoted in the Critic, "subtly humorous" in that twit on his voice.

     Thought he would "need two days or more for the poem-pages." Again and again says, "This will undoubtedly be the last: the end of that is near." I was rejoiced to have him give his assent at last to the idea of the doctor. How long has been the fight!

     W. much interested in my letter from Mrs. O'Connor:
112 M St. NW
March 5, 1891.

Dear Mr. Traubel,

Yours of Feb. 28 was rec'd and I wrote at once to Mr. Kimball. Now let me know as soon as you hear from him, & if you do not hear very soon, let me know. He has a gift, not uncommon, of procrastination.

I will enclose a copy of something he has just written for the Life Saving Report, of the year William died, only just out, I think.


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Thanks for the Lippincott, & also the Conservator.

I will send a line to Walt also. But I not only work from 9 to 4, but last night had to go back & work till near 10 P.M., so you see I get very little time to read.

I am sorry you give me no better news of our dear Walt.

With much love—

Yours truly

E. M. O'Connor


"I, also, had a letter from her. Yes, she enclosed a copy of Kimball's piece with mine, too. And quite well done it is, too."

     Talked of the election in Canada: they had gone against the Liberals. But W. thought "only for the present." Did he anticipate annexation sometime? "Undoubtedly—it is one of the sure things of the future." But I had yesterday discussed the matter with the new Unitarian (Canadian-English) preacher here in Camden, and he had declared it "impossible." W. then, "If it is impossible, then it will surely come to pass—surely. It is like those tendencies in the individual critter—working, working, subtle, underground, long before the plant shows its flower. And we know, too, how much a man outgrows before he knows he has grown at all; how a Methodist is way off from Methodism a long time before he realizes it, by the force of tendencies that can't be stayed. I look at the Canadian question as a question of much the same. I know you can't mention annexation but to rouse the devil—they get mad as hell—oh! every quill is out at a jump! But that again is an evidence in my favor, for these men who grow unconsciously get mad as hyenas to have you notify them of it."

     W. was intensely attracted by my description of a mail car. Said, "One thing I have always wanted to do—trace the passage of one of my letters to Dr. Bucke; but our stupid officials here in the Post Office never could help to that or anything."

     W. gave me letter from Wallace dated January 6.


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