Commentary

Disciples


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Saturday, March 14, 1891

     5:40 P.M. Spending 20 minutes and more with W.—was he comfortable? "Not at all. I am as much under the weather as before—or under something. Yet I am here—I stand it, after a fashion." But he continued, "I don't believe it will last this way long—either it must be better, or"—and he said no more. Said he had a letter from Wallace today, "Affectionate—almost pathetic," and had written a postal response, giving me to mail. Young Stoddart was in to see me today. Said the New York people (in Truth) had sent to him to get a poem from W. Could W. furnish it? I advised Stoddart to come over tomorrow afternoon—five or six—(not in morning, as he proposed)—that I would in the meantime mention to W. and have him prepare something, if possible. Stoddart says he wants the poem at once, perhaps for next issue. Had written up interview which they wanted him to get W. to sign—but Stoddart staggers to ask it. Now I detailed all this to W., who said, "Well, I'll see. It must be something already about here, for I have not the time, even if I happened to be in the condition (as I am not) to make up anything new. Yet they must want something to date, too. No mention was made of a subject, eh?" Would do what he could to "get the poemet together." Wondered, "They will pay for it?" "Yes, Stoddart said they would pay you a good price." He smiled, "Pretty nearly any price is a good price for me!" I advised him, "Kill two birds with one stone—make the poem serve for Truth and to fill up our page in the book!" He exclaimed, "What an idea! A good one!"—explaining then— "I cut out several pieces to make up our pages with—they had to go." Had he compunctions? "No, none—none whatever." Would have ready for me tomorrow.


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     Was I fully determined on the trip next Saturday? He thought I "ought to be," etc. Brisk March day, but he complained that it entered his bones. Asked for the World piece of which he spoke yesterday. "I look forward to some pretty full explanation of his standpoint," W. said (Stedman's), "but when or how I am to get it would be hard to say." Morris came in to say to me he had heard and thought great the other day's lecture—that Stedman was pretty well and sent his love to Walt. W. smiled as to the "great," but spoke of Stedman as "a noble good fellow, sending everything and doing much well." I showed him letter I had from Arthur Stedman today:
137 West 78th St.,
New York, Mar. 12th, '91.

My dear Mr. Traubel,

Since receiving your letter of Feb. 14th I have been continuously laid up with rheumatism.

Father fortunately recovered his health early last week, though not yet very strong.

He received the copy of "Lippincott's" you kindly sent him.

I don't believe Mr. Whitman will have to be "urged" to give a sheet of his ms. to Mr. Aldrich.

No, I don't think you an ogre at all. I know what an ardent devotee you are, and as your master has only completed his conspectus of the Real, declaring lack of opportunity to finish that of the Ideal, the shoemaker's bench is not at all a surprise to me.

How fortunate am I, who can soar with our friends of the winged horses!

I fear that father has only strength to undertake his journeyings to Baltimore and back, of which there are three in as many weeks. We have worked very hard to get him into condition.

With kind regards,

Very sincerely yours,

Arthur Stedman


     I had also received letters from Wallace and Forman this morning.

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46 Marlborough Hill
St. John's Wood, London NW
1 March 1891

Dear Traubel,

You were very prompt in getting my small unreasonableness satisfied. Of course the sheet will "do", and I thank both Walt & you sincerely, for it & for the photograph of 1890, which I had not had from W. I have also received & read the Lippincott. The wood engraving is good as work; but taken from an indifferent portrait, as you say. However each new portrait of Whitman is welcome. There are two (in particular—but probably hundreds) that I have never succeeded in getting. They are small things, one of W. W. in his study—the other outside the house, said to have been taken by a lady. The one in the study has dark clothes on. Who was it that took them? In answer to your question, I must say I did not receive Ingersoll's pamphlet. I only came up yesterday from a Post Office Committee in the country, & found your good pleasant letter etc. Tomorrow I return to the said Committee for a day or two. Like you, I suffer from lack of leisure. The Foreign & Colonial business of the Post Office is my "bread & butter" life as you call it; & this year it will take me to Vienna for a month or so to attend the quinquennial Congress—interesting work, but fairly hard.

How do dear old Walt's books continue to go off? Is he realizing enough by them to keep comfortably above water? Let me know as soon as possible about the birthday scheme, whatever it is. Thanks for the timely warning: I will think the matter over at once & write a letter soon. Give him my love, and believe me to be

Very sincerely yours

H. Buxton Forman


As to Wallace's question of the "Poetry of the Future"— "I have heard from Symonds since, and he has found the essay in 'Specimen Days' under another title. He is right, and you might tell Wallace that. I have often changed such headlines, to accord with latest convictions. I always find a superfluity of headlines cropping up, anyhow—revise them often—both in the poems and prose." As to the Lippincott portrait, "I would hardly call

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it good as work, even allow that much for it. I do not like it more, as I look it up more closely."
As to the two portraits Forman particularly asks about, "I don't know the out-of-door one at all—the other may be Mrs. Williams'. Do you think it is?" Further, "How funny he did not receive Bob's pamphlet! He was one I was particularly minded to send it to." Then as to the closing passage of Forman's letter, "Noble fellow! Well, our heart goes out to him—that much, anyway!" He thought, "The boys seem to look forward to a book in 'Good-Bye,' but I would not dare call it that—no, not mention it that way. A mere drop, to fill the bucket at last: the final utterance."


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