Commentary

Disciples


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 128] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Sunday, April 5, 1891

     10:55 A.M. Met Warren on the way down—had a roll of newspapers and new manuscript for me. In the latter was "Splinters"—marked A.B.C. in the manuscript—which he told me he had written today to fill in page 41 and run on page 42. He changed the Lippincott's piece for the book—instead of "memoranda" made it "jottings" in headline—cut out Emerson's letter and Trautwine's note. For pages 39, 40, 41, 42 having no general headline, which I urged, he inserted now, "Some

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 129] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Laggards Yet"
—very good. W. said, "I have been trying to read Tolstoi's article in today's Press, but it would not go down. It is very dry—unattractive. I looked for some sign of the touch of the stories, but none was there." The article referred to is "True and False Christianity"—an argument against the temporal and dogmatic emphases of the Christian church.

     I paid Mrs. Davis seven dollars for a couple of woolen undershirts and some extra dry goods for W.

     W. said, "The day must be marvellously beautiful. I can feel its impulse to the very bones. And if I cannot get out, I can at least enjoy the people as they pass there—across the street—Sunday-decked." The Critic report of Stedman lectures contains no mention of W., though it covers two full pages. W. remarked, "I'd be surprised if Dick Stoddard, or someone like him, did not prepare the reports—it is his style." And then, "Well, as you say, it shows that the author is not one of our men." An abstract is more or less an indication of the leanings of the man who writes it. I urged it. W. responding, "You are undoubtedly right—that makes a very useful fact to remember." Further adding, "We can stand it: it may be one of our inspirations."

     Holland, New York correspondent for the Press, has in Press some curious paragraphs about Ingersoll. W. had read and now said, "Who is Holland? Is it a pen-name only or some real flesh and blood? This letter was very pointed and interesting, but sometimes he writes stupid enough. That story about the Colonel's retreat is a very old one. I have heard it so many times, I am tired of having it repeated. Yes, it is as you say, he is not going down—they are coming up."

     Referring to the Critic report again, "I ought to say now—as I always have said—that I care nothing for the public, yet in a sense care for it a good deal. The public has little to do with my acts, deeds, words. I long ago saw that if I was to do anything at all I must disregard the howling throng—must go my own road, flinging back no bitter retort, but declaring myself unalterably whatever happened." I asked, "Isn't there a distinction between

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 130] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
the humors of the public and its convictions? Its daily condemnations and crazes, its humors—and its age-stored morality, its convictions?"
W. at once responded, "I like that a good deal—it is exactly my idea—and now I can make myself clear. From the first I despised the humors of the public, but I always respected its convictions." I found in consulting the manuscript he had given me, after I had gone home ("Splinters"), some reference to this very topic—as follows: While I stand in reverence before the fact of Humanity, the People, I will confess, in writing my "Leaves of Grass," the least consideration out of all that has had to do with it has been the consideration of "the public"—at any rate as it now exists. Strange as it may sound for a democrat to say so, I am clear that no free and original and lofty-soaring poem, or one ambitious of these achievements, can possibly be fulfill'd by any writer who has largely in his thought "the public"—or the question, What will establish'd literature—What will the current authorities say about it?...

     Had found Talcott Williams' letter asking about the actress visitor—clearing to me the matter of her name:
1833 Spruce Street
Philadelphia
April 4. '91

My dear Mr. Whitman:

Can you see for a few moments this afternoon or a day next week at 3 PM, Miss Belghannie, a devoted English admirer of yours who feels she owes encouragement, inspiration and direction from "Democratic Vistas"—You will confer much if you grant an interview—Miss Graeff of this city will go over with Miss Belghannie. Please send answer in this envelope.

As ever Devotedly yours

Talcott Williams


     W. declared that he was "glad" McKay had acknowledged he was right: McKay yesterday having dispatched an additional check covering amount of 50 copies. W. still says there are two copies of

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 131] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
big book McKay has not paid for. I advised that hereafter no book be delivered to McKay except for receipt. W. said, "That is a good idea—hereafter I will leave it in your hands."


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.