Commentary

Disciples


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Monday, February 16, 1891

     7:55 P.M. To see W.—spent half an hour with him in his room. Not in good condition. Seemed exhausted and hoarse. Yet cheery in spirit. Was reading Havelock Ellis, "The New Spirit"—pamphlet. "Have you seen it?" he asked. I reminded him that he had read the book—or a part of it—in the spring when Bucke was here. This made him laugh. "I do have an indistinct remembrance of it now—but till you spoke of it, it slipped me absolutely. Why yes. And did I give a rather negative view? Probably—probably. But here is a copy of the book came from Ellis himself—I have been reading it—in fact, with great enjoyment. There are other than the Whitman essays—that on Heine, for instance—I like that, it has a ring—whether truest

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ring, I don't know. It's not as good as Arnold's to be sure, but good. So I have read the book before?—and Bucke's copy? Then he will laugh when he gets my today's letter, for I ask him in it if he has ever seen the book—heard of it, even. I am sure, now, that my opinion of the book is better than on first reading: it seems to me it must be—for if it had impressed me, I would have had some more or less vivid memory of it. As I read it today it takes more hold. When I am done with it, I want you to read it again. Here is the postal came along in the same post—take it, if you are curious at all."

9 St. Mary's Terrace
Paddington, London
3 Feb/91

I am sending you a copy of my New Spirit which contains an essay that may interest you. It is a feeble attempt to express the help & delight that your work has given me.

With all affectionate greetings,

Havelock Ellis.


Did not have it with me, but quoted in full postal from Kennedy:
Thurs Eve

Dear Horace

Sh'd be glad of 1/2 doz slips of my article and of yrs as many as you can spare conveniently. Mrs. K. too thinks the Dutch study capital. I guess it is so good fr. W. W.'s part in it. It's meaty and original anyway—like yr article.

Thank Walt for the slips & give him my love.

W. S. Kennedy


W. said, "It is certainly the best piece of work of that kind which has been done—it is O'Connorish: has that sort of a flavor—has the merit of taking up a point which no one else observes, or everybody else makes little of—yet which is of the gravest significance." I got Kennedy his half-dozen slips.


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     Received the following letter today from Forman, dated February 4th:
46, Marlborough Hill,
St. John's Wood,
N.W., London
4 February 1891

My dear friend,

Your long good letter reached me safely with papers of your own, and Walt Whitman's leaflet "Shakespeare for America", for all of which many thanks. And as you say the slip, which you expect to give me "a moment's joy" is from W.W., please give him my love and thanks. Indeed you are quite right. The papers he has for years sent me have never failed of their electric flash of pleasure. The sight of his handwriting always goes straight to my heart; it so thoroughly expresses the personality that is so familiar a guest in my mind, and so loved and respected a guest too. Dear Walt Whitman! What you send, Traubel, of the approach of the end made me sad enough when I came to that part of your letter but I take it that you were but generalizing—I hope so—for I see announcements of work still a-doing; and why should he not last years yet?

Your news of Bucke was pleasant: I would give much to see him again—either here or in his own London; but I know of no chance for a long while.

By the bye, Walt once indulged me, on a request preferred through Bucke, by writing a title-page for a poem printed without one. Do you think he would write another for a prose essay similarly situated? If it will bore him, drop the matter; but if not I should be glad if you would lay before him a single leaf of paper, size of the pattern which I enclose and get him to write upon it as shown. Then you might send it to me by post with a board the same size to protect it & avoid folding. There's a commission! Perhaps that will cure you of offering your assistance to persons of unknown habits.

Believe me to be, my dear Traubel,

Yours very sincerely,

H. Buxton Forman


W. immediately wrote the title-page for me—struggling with a bad pen, while I held copy and ink before him. Was "happy to

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do it,"
etc. I could not show him the letter because of some of its plain speech about his condition.

     Here is a letter from Wallace and Johnston (England)—reached me this forenoon:
Anderton, nr. Chorley.
Lancashire, England
6. February 1891

My dear Mr. Traubel,

We are very much disturbed to learn today from a paragraph in yesterday's Daily Graphic of Walt Whitman's relapse & ill health.

The par[agraph] is as follows: "A postcard received from Walt Whitman says: 'Am having an extra bad spell these days. May blow over, may not.'"

We shall be very anxious till we hear further, and I shall be glad if you will kindly do us the favour of sending us a cable message, for which I enclose a money order for £1. It will be best (soonest received) to address it to Dr. Johnston, Bolton.

Your very kind & friendly letter on Christmas Eve emboldens me to ask you to do us this favour.

With kind regards in Whitmanly "Comradeship" & esteem

I am

Yours sincerely

J.W. Wallace




PS J.W.W. has shown me this. I endorse it and am joining him at the P.O.

Yours sincerely

J. Johnston

We should be glad if you could procure & send half a dozen copies of Ingersoll's address—also a copy of John Burroughs' "Notes on Whitman" for JWW—for which we will remit cash on receipt. Please enclose statement of cost.

JJ

     I cabled as soon as I could get free of the Bank.

     W. said, "Why—yes: that is genuine: I can remember writing such a postal—but I don't know who to." And after a pause,

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"And isn't that the state of the case—just as I described there? You know it—know it well." I protested that the fellows over there took too serious a view of it. "Maybe they do. I had a letter myself, this morning. Their idea seems to be that I am pretty nearly gone—pretty nearly given in. And I am not sure but they are right—or if not right, at least as near right as any of us." But, "I am happy you cabled: it will relieve them—which is much." And further, "If you write, tell them you have just been here—that I am here—erect—sitting—not without cheer—not well—sick—badly shattered—hoping—expecting nothing—working when I can. Here I am reading Havelock Ellis' book—making what may be of it." Would give me a copy of Burroughs' book. W. remarked that Bucke liked Kennedy's piece. Gave me B. 's letter:
14 Feb 1891

I have your notes of 10th and 11th. The one came Thursday evening and the other last evening. No time at all to scribble a line yesterday—more than usually occupied now since got round again—accumulated work. I am real sorry to hear such bad accounts of your walking powers—it is a bad look-out—but the fresh air in the spring may do something for you. I fancy you have been as bad at other times as you are now and partially rallied. So I trust you will again.

What shall you call the little book? I hope you will give up the notion of putting anything in it but your own writing. I am clear that a mixture such as you spoke of would be injudicious. We must have another vol. at once or very soon made up of a lot (8 or 10) of the best pieces—Sarrazin, Knortz, Rolleston, Traubel, etc. etc. etc. Horace and I are speculating hard at it and we must fetch it through.

Thanks for the Kennedy "Dutch" piece—it is first class, nothing more suggestive has ever been penned on the critter. I have written Horace to see that I get a lot of "Lip[pincott]'s", and I shall of course have a bundle of "Conservators".

Politics here are hot, hot, all hot—impossible to say at present which way the cat will jump. Each side is confident—or pretends to be!

As always—love to you

RM Bucke




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We are urging W. to leave the Sarrazin and other pieces out of his own book—to keep the W. W. first-hand matter inviolate. I also had note from Bucke on same subject:
14 Feb 1891

Dear Horace

I have two letters from you both dated 10th tho I think one was written 11th and also I have "The Voice" 15 Jan. with the Ethical Culture piece. Thanks very much for it. One of your letters contained the finished "Dutch Traits" which I cannot help thinking one of the most suggestive pieces yet written about our friend.

I thank you, my dear friend, for your interest in me on the occasion of my slight illness which would seem much more serious than it really was to your thoughtful eyes looking at it from 500 m[ile]s away. I am thankful on many accounts (on those you mention not the least so) that my constitution seems perfectly sound and that my prospects of life and vigor seem excellent for a man of my age. That you and I shall need both health & vigor to carry through the work that lies before us during the next few years I well believe, and if they are given us we cannot be too thankful—when all is over and done I believe I shall be ready & willing at any moment to join our friend in the Great Hereafter.

About the book of pieces on Walt—Sarrazin & I are clearly of your mind and think it should be kept entirely distinct from W.'s own vol. What should go into it is a grave point—I should say: Let us put in (as far as possible) the best things that are not now accessible to the English reader: 1. Sarrazin of course 2. I am not so sure about the Ingersoll piece as that now is in fair shape already 3. I think we should have a translation of Knortz piece (do you know it? ) 4. Of course I would like to have my piece in and would overhaul it carefully 5. If we could have (at least a part of) Rudolph Schmidt's piece—Danish—it would be well 6. Then Kennedy's Dutch piece 7. Rolleston's German piece should be seriously considered etc. etc. Of course all the pieces would need careful editing. Each (at present) has a biographical section which would have to come out and so on. What, too, would you think 8. of Anne Gilchrist's piece from the old Radical? Now-a-days few, I fancy, even see it and it is fine. If this book is got up I will invest $25 in copies of it and perhaps we could sell many copies by subscription. 9. Of course your N[ew] E[ngland] Mag. piece would go in.


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I have very little to report here—no meters yet! You will think they are never coming—but they are! We shall I think have the first batch in the course of next week. All will yet be right—a little patience, that is all that is wanted.

Best and kindest wishes and regards to you

RM Bucke


     W. "approved" what Baker wrote me (9th) about Lippincott's piece:
New York, Feby 9th 1891.

Dear Traubel:

Yours enclosing the Whitman sketch for Lippincott rec'd Saturday. I read it yesterday and return it this morning. It is vivid, natural, and worthy of your great friend and of yourself. I thank you sincerely for the honor & compliment in submitting it to my eye. Later I will write or still better talk with you about it—& especially about your design to do the Col. in the same line. As to the latter proposition, however, I think that must come, if it comes, as between you & the Colonel alone. The Colonel is averse to having others write about him. He may approve it if you are the biographer. I wish he would. I could not, in any way, be a party, however, in bringing it about—hence could not furnish the materials, etc.—without his knowledge and approval.

Hope you are well and happy these days. You ought to be. You deserve to be.

Yrs faithfully

Baker


W. had written the title-page for Forman so heavy I had to put it on the stove today.


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