Commentary

Disciples


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Wednesday, February 3, 1892

     8:18 A.M. My flying trip to W.'s on way to Philadelphia. He was awake and I had some little talk with him. Left him my written notes of the talk with Stedman on 27th. He said, "I would be glad to read them—very glad—and can manage sometime today no doubt." When I apologized for its illegibility, "No matter: I will make it out easily enough." His hand fairly warm. How had the night been? "Only fair—passable—no more." Looked very pale, haggard—the nostrils pinched. He called Warrie to turn him, and I bade him good-bye.

     Three notes this morning from Brinton, Bucke and Longaker dwelling upon W.'s duration, agreeing on this: that he will not recover, yet that he may last indefinitely—yet Bucke looks for a collapse before the month is out.
31 Jan 1892

My dear Horace

I have yours of midnight 28th. It is evident to me that W. cannot rally beyond the smallest, temporary betterment—but how long he may linger—a little easier today, suffering somewhat more tomorrow it is past my science to tell. I look day by day for a message that he is dying or has already passed away. I have a curious feeling at the same time that I shall (someway) know when he dies without a message—but this may be foolishness. I do not think things can go on many weeks as they are. I expect we shall all meet for the last duties before February runs out.

I have been passing a quiet, pleasant, thoughtful forenoon (from chapel time to now 12.30) in my office alone with my books and pen. Among other things I have read again your "Lowell-Whitman" piece—it is admirable—a perfect bit of criticism—must do much good—is well poised and weighty—sinks in—goes to the right spot—is bound to do good service in the great cause.

My Cosmic Consciousness meditations grow & grow—threaten to fill a good sized volume but I cannot yet see clearly what it will be. I could get ready the W. piece (which is to go in our book) almost any time—there is no reason why we should not be working on our book all

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the spare time we have. And I think we ought decidedly to get out our circular soon, but the book itself had better wait—i.e. its publication had better wait until we see definitely what will come from the present desperate emergency. Should W. die the book ought to be issued as soon as possible thereafter.


All well and quiet here. We have lost our sleighing (worse luck)—but may soon get some more.

Give my love to W.—tell him I am here still on the bridge keeping a lookout and ready for whatever may happen.

Love to Anne and yourself

R. M. Bucke


Johnston writes me from New York—views of W. and some mention of a Boston pilgrimage and his exhibit there of the Paine picture. This will interest W. Swinton has recently written W.

     Induced McKay to give up his New England Magazine sheets to Bucke. Don't appear in February issue—doubtless because it was meant as obituary. Lawyer (from Washington) in at McKay's for edition of "Two Rivulets" (1876). I promised to look it up, feeling sure I could put my hands on a broken set. The stamps not yet fully cut. Last night I wrote Carpenter in reply to his letter of December 19 to W., sending him also a copy of the '92 book.
Holmesfield, nr Sheffield
19 Dec '91

Dear Walt

I enclose a Postal order for £4, and want you to mail one copy of your great big volume complete edition to my friend Robert F. Muirhead, 174 Bath Row, Birmingham and two copies of your pocket book edition of Leaves of Grass printed on thin paper to me as above.

This is on the supposition that your big vol. costs £2 and the other one £1, but I am not sure (writing from Birm'm) of the prices—anyhow send a copy of each—and if you wd. write Muirhead's name in the big vol. he wd. be pleased.

If you see Traubel will you thank him for me for various letters & papers rec.d, wh. I ought to have acknowledged. I suppose we shall see his & Bucke's joint vol. out soon.


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I wonder how you are, dear Walt. Is everything being done about an edition, complete, of Leaves of G. in England—because I have no doubt it wd. go off pretty well, and many people do not get the book now because they do not know where to apply? I suppose you have not much respite from bodily ailments & troubles. If you are not feeling well do not trouble about this letter—but hand it over to Warry or Traubel.

I am finely well & happy. With much love to you

Ed. Carpenter


Likewise wrote Holdworth in Halifax, England, reply to letter of December 15 to this effect:
The Labour Church, Manchester
47 Violet St.
Halifax, England
15.12.91

Dear Sir

I am engaged in compiling a hymn-book for use in the Labour Church movement (see circulars enclosed) & I wish to include a few selections from your poems in the work. As I do not know what copyright you may have in England, & as, in any case, I would rather not pirate, I beg to ask your kind permission to publish in our hymn-book, two or three short selections from your verses. I may add that we do not expect to make a profit on the book, but if we should do so it will go to the funds of the Labour Church.

I enclose stamped envelope for reply.

Yours truly

J. E. Holdworth

P.S. Do you know what copyright J. Russell Lowell has in England? —or can you give me the address of his representatives or executors?


Advised him that W. was sick and had left these things in my hands and that I knew W. would not resent but would rather welcome the quotes he proposed. January 9 I had filled an order to a Miss Ashley, in Bath, England. Now write her and send catalogue.


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     Wallace's letter of 23rd is here today. I still write Johnston (England) daily bulletins. Bucke writes me under date 1st gloomily of W.'s state and its evil prospects of continuance. Sent '92 book to Joe Gilder also, with note and advertisement (copy of which last I wrote of and enclosed to Miss Porter for Poet-Lore).

     5:48 P.M. Saw W. He had been passing through an uneventful day—sleepy and wearied—saying nothing to anyone except when addressed, and even returning salutations with monosyllabic brevity. I talked with him 10 or 15 minutes. "I have read the Stedman notes," W. said. "They are wonderfully vivid, vital, fascinating. I hardly wished to put them down." "Well, Walt, all that was necessary was to tell the truth and not be literary." "True—deeply, deeply true!" he exclaimed. "It would be a good thing if the whole damned crew took the lesson to heart, but they won't: to them, literature is a tittivation—they tittivate everything—make it sweet in the mouth." And again, "I read it easily—the writing is plain. I went straight through it without a stumble." And he thought "it a talk worth preserving" with "elements of real power," its simplicity alone "a proof conclusive."

     Told him what I had written to Holdworth. "That was right," he said. "I should have written exactly that thing myself had I the arm to do it." Approved of the books sent Carpenter and Gilder. "Especially Carpenter—he is a dear fellow, always faithful, always generous, devoted: one of the best specimens—a prize of prizes." Then asked me, "Have you any of the books with you?" meaning the green book, but I had not. "It is a slow drag of life," W. complained. "Everything slow—slow—slow." Told him however of my possible sale of "Two Rivulets." Found my copy in the next room, but it contained no portrait. W. tried to tell us where the bundle was. Everything, however, piled up and crowded, in corners and along the wall—he called it a "wreck." "You will find it in the wreck there somewhere." We had a long look, but fruitless—finally, however, found one mounted on a card, I saying, "That will do—I

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will give the fellow that."
W. consenting. Would he autograph it? "No, I don't feel like undertaking it." Then to me, "Say to Dave, the book should be sold for $2. 50, he to have his discount." I interrupted, "I told Dave it would sell for five dollars and I would give him 20 percent." W. laughed, "Did you tell him that? That is better yet! And of course the books are rare now, which, to the market, gives them a value."

     Warrie gone—and I alone with W. Spoke of a picture of Spurgeon in current Harper's Weekly. W. said, "Leave it—I should like to look at it tomorrow. He was a sturdy fellow." Then said to me, "Don't lower the light—where is Warrie? Hurry him up—tell him I want my grog." I went downstairs. Warrie at supper—growled a little at the interruption—went up, gave W. his "grog," turned him in bed. Then lowered light and we left the room. W. had meanwhile said to my question, "No strength—not the least: lassitude, lassitude, lassitude—inability, inability, inability!" Up home then and the whole evening spent writing letters to W.'s friends, Europe and home.


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