Commentary

Disciples


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Tuesday, January 19, 1892

     My early trip to W. found him awake (8:25) and so we had a few words. I read him a letter just in from Howells:
241 East 17th St., New York
Jany 17, 1892.

Dear Dr. Traubel:

Thank the great friend of human nature from me, and tell him how deeply grateful I am for his remembrance. To have been thought of at such a time by Walt Whitman should go far to comfort one for not being thought of at any time by all the rest of the world. Give him my cordial sympathy.

Yours sincerely,

W. D. Howells




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He made no remarks upon this, except to ask me to read the last sentence a second time.

     Wallace's letter of 8th also came in the morning's mail. And Baker writes me an acknowledgment of the book, in unmistakable terms. The lame man seems like to get well. Arthur Stedman seems a little bit moved on the subject of the Whitman volume. He did not wait for me to write but urged this:
Charles L. Webster & Co., Publishers
67 Fifth Avenue, New York
Jan. 18th 1892.

Dear Traubel,

Please ask Mr. Whitman about the proposed book as soon as possible.

Tell him from me that I hope he will give me this opportunity to add my pebble to the cairn. The volume will not purport to be W. W. "complete," but is intended to reach those whom even a cheap complete edition would be beyond. It will also be made up in a scholarly way for the busy man who cannot master the whole work.

Put this very strongly to Mr. Whitman.

Sincerely,

Arthur Stedman

Let me know at once.

But in the forenoon I did not speak gravely to W. about all these. After some words of a general nature and after handing him the clips containing Ingersoll's speech, for which he said, "Thanks! Thanks!" I left. At Bank busy with Bank's work and my own. Wrote some letters (always of course to Bucke). Edelheim in to see me and offered money even beyond the usual contribution, but for the present I would not take it. He is very generous. "Well, when you do need, do not neglect me: I want to be called on for my share." (Having more expenses in connection with W. lately I have had to send out bills to date.) Late in afternoon to McKay's—but he had gone home, his wife still seriously sick. When into Camden again and to W.'s (5:45), W. was asleep and I did not disturb him. Dysentery not yet gone, but the paregoric does him some good. I

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sat down in Warrie's room and scrawled a short letter to Johnston in pencil and at Post Office wrote a postal to Wallace. Received here a postal from Clifford, and found at home a letter from Kennedy—loving and to the point. I know it will please W.:
Belmont, Mass.
Ja. 16 '92

Dear Horace:

I was deeply touched and gratified—how deeply I can't express by poor paper & ink—by that kind word of remembrance from Walt Whitman. The vol. I shall cherish to my dying day as I wd. my choicest heart's blood. 'Tis pretty, too, a surprise as all Walt's editions are. I have followed all bulletins in Critic & Transcript grieving like a faithful & favorite dog on the outside of the sick master's chamber, not daring to speak in view of the solemn realities within or intrude my poor self. I grieve most that he shd. suffer. Give him my love & thanks. We will keep the "flag of man" waving when he is gone. The colors shall never go down that he has so bravely borne for thirty-seven years—not while you & I & all the rest live. Nor ever, I believe.

Am pegging away at my Whittier. It was given me to do unsolicited, & is pure drudgery (between you & me). Whittier is a clean-lived, sweet-natured balladist, but terribly narrow, ridiculously Quakerish, & lacking in the intellect[ua]l-philosoph[ica]l dept. He will live in anthologies by a few perfect ballads & by his Snow-Bound. The rest of his seven vols. is nil.

Have been browzing around Harvard Library this morn. Walked over 3 miles: I often do.

Whittier has a good moral prophet-indignation ag[ains]t injustice. That is his best quality. Your Poet-Lore piece is good. You adjust the Lowellian balances right.

I have written a brief word of eulogy of our sick friend & notice of the new ed. of L. of G. for Transcript. 'Twill probably appear Monday (tomorrow) as a letter to editor or perhaps as editorial bit.

We are tolerably well. The cursed grip has gripped our editors some on 'em though. I believe this alone it is that has downed Walt. If it had not been for it he might yet be sure of 25 yrs. of life.

W. S. Kennedy




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After tea Anne sat down and threw off a note for Johnston and I another—besides further messages to Baker and Ingersoll. All these I got off by hurrying for the eight o'clock mail. Now to Harned's. Found Harned up, with headache much improved every way. But Gussie in bed. The times are hard, sickness plying everywhere. After one to two hours at Harned's (I knew W. would ask me how Tom was), down to 328 again. W. there in his quiet room, with cough light and phlegm raised without difficulty. This 9:55 P.M.

     I had gone quietly into the room and he had recognized me. We talked 20 minutes to half an hour together. His first question was about Harned—and when I gave him the news of Tom's improvement, he exclaimed, "That's the best yet: Tom must not get sick." Had just had another involuntary movement of bowels and it weakened him. How had his day gone? "Only so-so—no more." Yet was a bit stronger, too—could help in trifling [ways] when the nurse worked about or with him.

     Had he read Ingersoll's speech? "Not today, but I hope to tomorrow." Examined a part of his own mail, which was small enough. Jim Scovel sends him a clipping from the Sun. W. asked me, "Will you send that copy of yesterday's Post to my sister, at Burlington, Vt." And stopped to spell and furnish me with all the particulars of the address. (I sent paper immediately on leaving him.) Read him Kennedy's letter. As to Poet-Lore article, "Your eulogy of Lowell is very liberal: it is a subtle, sound analysis—it comes to me with great force." Told him I had sent Arthur Stedman a copy of "As a Strong Bird" and he expressed satisfaction. E. C. [Stedman]'s first lecture in Philadelphia last night. W. had seen no note of it. "I guess he must have made some request of the papers not to report." Stedman wishes to come over to shake hands with W., who now advises me, "Tell him to come over—or do you bring him? But only for a minute—only a minute, Horace." Find that young Garrison did Sunday's two columns in Press. W. guesses, "It is Lynn—Lynn." He went to McKay for copies of the portraits. We will have copies of the green book Thursday. W. remarks, "You can

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hardly imagine how much my curiosity is aroused. I can hardly wait for the book: I am as wild and eager as a child."
He asked me with a half-laughing air, "So you don't think a great deal of the Arena piece?" I don't know the why of his question for he said nothing more on the subject. He asked particularly to know if "the American is dead"—Barker's old sheet. W. again says, as to Stedman's visit, "Bring him in with you, for a minute, someday on your rounds—but only for a minute." I asked whether or not to make up a book for Rossetti. "Yes, yes—do it, Horace." And he was specific to give me R.'s address, though I knew it without his cautions.

     Counsels me, "When something really worth while—some curious fact—comes up in the literary world, let me know; but for the ordinary float of that stuff I care nothing." And to touch his condition, "What this is all to lead out to Lord knows. I suppose the whole business is a bad mystery, not without its compensations—yet not without its discomforts either." And he repeated some line from Omar Khayyam which has escaped me, as he seemed to have only indifferent memory of it anyway. He is making a sort of repository of the top of the big box near the head of the bed. Directed me to several things there—and I inevitably found them, having however to turn up the light to do so.

     Then good night and his fervent press of hand and word.

     Still signs of the dysentery and one unfortunate movement of the bowels. More paregoric. He speaks of the "humiliation of this."


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