Commentary

Disciples


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Saturday, May 9, 1891

     7:58 P.M. W. had just got up from the bed. Says he is "compelled to take to it more and more." Longaker over today. "I was glad to see him again—and he seemed hopeful." He had received his dozen copies of New England Magazine at last. "I have sent off four—one of them to Lancashire." Remarked, "So it really seems as if the Colonel was to go West again? It is a pity—for us. Though his going is no matter of choice even to him." Had he read any in proofs? "No, nothing—not a word. Oh Horace! I am afraid I shall have to leave that with you. You have just the eye for it. I am not in doubt but you will do it well." Still, "If I can, I will tomorrow—but do you not wait for me." For, "I have spent a poorly day—poorly, poorly!" On the way down I had received a letter from Mrs. O'Connor at Post Office, very distressing:
112 M. St. N.W.
May 8. 1891.

Dear Mr. Traubel,

I told you that since March 17. I have been in a kind of prison, & I hardly over-stated the case. I will enclose the orders that were issued at that time & you will see what I mean. I was transferred to the "Tabulation" division, & the rush to finish the work is such that we are under the lash all of the time. I have been so exhausted that I have not been able to do any thing when I get home, & to write a letter is out of the question. You may have read something about the "punching machines"—& that is the work that I have been in since March 17th. I have, with all the rest, been ill, with what is called the grip, but through it all, sick as I have been, I have still gone to the office.


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In regard to the book, I shall have to ask you, as soon as the time is ripe, to come over & discuss it with me. There is so much to talk about, & so many points to go over, that we must meet. And I renew my original proposal—that just as soon as you can fix the date, you come & spend the Sunday with me, not to be my guest only, while here, but I am to pay all of the cost of the journey. You come on my business, & at my request, & indeed we won't get on without the conference. I hope that you can arrange to come while my sister Mrs. Channing is here, & indeed it will be a great advantage to us, as she is usually full of good suggestions....

I never expected to be so utterly worn out as I am, after I, in some measure, recovered from the exhaustion of nursing William four years. It will be at two o'clock to-morrow morning, March 9, since he passed out of this life into the ether. At two o'clock the most holy and beautiful morning, and I shall never forget the look of the sky, the trees, the glorious planet that was shining in upon us. Two years since he left, & eight on the 5th of this month since the beautiful girl left us. From 5th to 9th of May are days full of sad and tender & holy memories. Perhaps it may not be so long ere I shall join them. I have feared that it would be many years, but this long continued weakness & exhausted state that I am in & don't seem to rally from may be more an indication of my condition than I was aware of. Well, it is no matter, only that I did want, & do want very much to finish up all this work that William left for me, & which I know pretty well about,—& his wishes in regard to it.

You shall have as much of his writing as you want when you come.

Did Walt get the second part of the "Brazen Android"? I sent it.

Now I must say good by.

And don't fail to note my meaning. I am to pay your fare to Washington & back, & you are to come to me at once, for we shall want every minute of all the time that you can spare from Camden, from the Sat. till Monday A.M.

My love to Walt. Is he better?

Good by.

With all good wishes as ever—

Ellen M. O'Connor.

Don't fail to return to me these two orders—as I wish to keep them.


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I dared not stay home even for sickness two days, & yet I have been too ill to work, but did. You see that it is a kind of slave driving! But it is all for political reasons!

Well, let us hope!

W. read it. It took him a long time—read it to the end. Then folding up with a sigh— "It has a note of the tragic," he remarked. "Poor Nellie! Poor Nellie!" And again, "William gone now two years! Who would believe it?"

     Had tied together a copy of Belfast (Maine) Age and a couple of letters from Bucke—one April 14th and another more recent. I leave them in the string just as he tied them. "I supposed you would like to see the paper. In Bucke's letter—one of them—is a bit about your piece: he likes it—it soaks him through and through."
7 May 1891

I do not hear from you and I am anxious. But perhaps I shall have a letter this afternoon. This A.M. I got from New York (and have of course read) Horace's New England Magazine piece. I do not know but it is the very best thing that has ever been done about you it is so modest, sober and genuine—it is bound to captivate many readers and draw them into the right path and it cannot offend anyone. I have read nothing for a long time that has given me such pleasure—I feel now more than ever that we must have that W. W. volume out this fall.

I am better but lame still, hope to be all right before long. Shall try to see you end of this month.

So long!

R. M. Bucke


Bucke had written me also as follows about it:
7 May 1891

My dear Horace

I am here over at office, in good trim—a little lame yet but otherwise O.K. The New England Magazine reached me from my New York bookseller this A.M. and I need not say the piece has been read. I would

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like to compliment you upon it but really do not know how to put it—the article is unique and take it all in all I am not sure it is not the best thing yet. We cannot compare it to O.C.'s "Good Gray Poet", to Sarrazin's piece, or Knortz's or Rolleston's—they all have their merits but also the one failing that, viz., they are "literary" while this thing of yours is no picture, disquisition, argument, exposition or reproduction in poetry or prose but is the thing itself—W. actually lives in your pages—you can see him and hear him speak. There is not a false note from beginning to end every word genuine and just what it should be, neither more nor less. Its only fault is that it ends too soon—I should like a big vol. of just such pages—I could read in it day and night. And by & by (thanks to you) we shall have such vols! Think how people today delight to read great volumes of Pepys and Boswell—that being so how much more will they rejoice in years to come to read similar volumes (as characteristic and as truthful) about this far greater man? My dear boy you are in a great position, you have a big mortgage on the future and don't you forget it!


I have not heard from either you or W. for two days. I trust all is going well.

My love to you & heartiest congratulations

R. M. Bucke


Mrs. Fairchild [in letter to Horace Traubel dated May 8, 1891] replied as follows to W.'s blessing: "While I am away Walt's blessing is one of the most precious things I shall take with me. May all the days of earth be pleasant to him and easy."

     W. again spoke of her as "a great, great woman—worthy to wear the mantle of Mrs. Gilchrist." Showed me copy of Boston Transcript, in which was a paragraph containing extracts from one of W.'s letters. "I detect Kennedy's hand," he said, "and it is a good hand"—adding— "He is always loyal—always on hand with a cheery word."

     Bush sends me a check for $20 for Whitman fund and inquires in letter for price of leather pocket-book Whitman. I said to W., "I do not like to send him the price. I think we should send him the book." He then instantly, "So do I, and if I were you I'd take one from the box in the corner at once," which I

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did, he writing Bush's name in it with date and "from the author"—saying meanwhile loving, flattering things of B.'s "staunch loyalty."


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