Commentary

Disciples


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Friday, February 12, 1892

     My morning's trip to W.'s revealed nothing. He was in his usual sleep. The weary night had given way to a placid forenoon. Found in my mail acknowledgment from Schmidt—a postal:
26 Jan. 1892

Dear Sir,

According to your request I hereby acknowledge the receipt of a copy of the latest edition of W. W.'s poems. If W. W. still should be alive, when you receive this postal card, pray go to him and bring him my loving farewell! I have known him since Jan. 1872.

Truly yours

Rudolf Schmidt

Blaagaardsgade 16 B.

Kjøbenhavn. N.



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This will please W. Just yesterday he asked, "I wonder if the book went safely to Schmidt? It is a long trip." And he asked, "What could we do without our mails? They are now become a part of us—a limb of the critter." And he had also said, "Tell me the minute you hear from Carpenter." This same mail brought me a letter from Carpenter. The '92 book not yet arrived, but the others are undoubtedly there. He writes:
Holmesfield, nr Sheffield
1 Feb '92

My dear Traubel

How much we owe to you for all your goodness! Your loving care of Walt, your letters & reports hitherward. The Bolton friends have sent me on some of your letters and I forward them to Addington Symonds. Taking all the reports tog:—up to Jan 19—it is pretty clear that the end is not far off—one might only pray that Death might be persuaded to come more quickly. So much suffering for him, after 20 years of more or less discomfort & disability, seems hard—and hard for you to witness, unable to do much in relief. But his physical grip & hold upon the world has always been so strong that it can only be detached bit by bit as it were, and slowly. His soul remains the same, shining at intervals serene & clear upon you—perhaps will do so more before the end. What a life his has been—with what range of experience—what health & vitality & outer eventfulness, and then illness & tragic loss, and now traveling through the long valley of the shadow—with strange shapes & transformations sometimes (if only for a time) obscuring the real person both from himself & from others.

With all your work & interests & the emotions & anxieties of the hour, you must, dear Traubel, at times feel torn to pieces & tired out. However it is all well and will appear so as time goes on. If this shd. arrive in time, and Walt be accessible, give my love to him the same as always. I think of him already as disengaged from these shackles & ties—his good work here finished & completed,—but yet not so far removed from us after all.

Glad that he has a good nurse, and with Mrs. Davis & Warry, & yourself & your wife & others, so many "sweet attentions."


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Good of you to attend to the complete vol. for my friend Muirhead—wh. I hear has arrived—and the vols for me may have come also, but I am absent just now for a day or two.

Do not trouble to write to me—as Wallace keeps me posted in all information.

Bucke will perhaps be with you soon.

Friendly greetings & affection

Edward Carpenter


I likewise have another letter from Wallace—dated 2nd—full of affection and solicitude. Letter arrived last night towards nine from Arthur Stedman. Its enclosure gave these as Hall's ideas:
Charles L. Webster & Co., Publishers
67 Fifth Avenue
New York, Feb'y 11th., 1892

Dear Sir,

We have received Mr. Stedman's report in the matter of a volume of "Selected Poems" by Mr. Whitman, and beg to acknowledge with thanks the latter's proposition.

The volume of "Choice Selections", however, could not be made to work into the scheme of publication which we have in hand. Our "Fiction, Fact, and Fancy" Series will be composed of volumes entirely in prose or entirely in verse. None of the volumes can be over 200 pages in length, so that it would be impossible for us to use "Choice Selections" in the indicated form. With all respect to Mr. Whitman (who perhaps does not perfectly understand our plan), we think the title "Choice Selections" somewhat unattractive.

We make the following proposition:

We to bring out the little volume of verse under the title "Selected Poems" quite soon, and a similarly-sized volume of selections from "Specimen Days" (to be called, perhaps, "Autobiographia") by and by; and we to pay Mr. Whitman $100.00 in advance of royalty on the publication of each volume, royalty to be calculated at 10% on the retail prices, and accounts to be rendered every three months. We do not wish to purchase the right outright for a lump sum, as it is more than likely we should be criticised for so doing. Nor can we burden one little

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volume of our Series with so large an advance payment at $250.00. The Series has not yet been published, and, while we are confident as to its success, no publisher can predict with certainty.


As we wrote before, it is our intention to conspicuously advertise Mr. Whitman's works in the little volumes.

Mr. Stedman's "Editor's Note" will make very clear (in addition to the title) that the volume does not purport to be complete. He will be very much disappointed if the plan does not go through.

With kind regards to Mr. Whitman, and thanks to you for your courtesy, we are

Very truly yours,

Chas. L. Webster Esq.


Too late to disturb W. with a discussion of the subject. I hear again from John Johnston (N.Y.), who says:
17 Union Square, New York
Feb. 11th, 1892.

Dear Traubel:

I have ordered the Paine photograph and will send it to you as soon as done. Thanking you for frequent postals, and with love to Walt, believe me

Very sincerely yours

J. H. Johnston


W. will be glad to see this photo. He remarked yesterday, "I am more and more curious about that portrait, to hear you say what you do about it. Don't tantalize me anymore with your good opinions of it: let me see the portrait!" And he added, "Paine was one of my first loves and is one of my last, and he will yet achieve a high place in history."

     Baker writes me more definitively of Ingersoll's trip West. Bucke sends me his circular at last. Should this be submitted to W.? Several visitors in Bank. Stedman thinks of going over quite early Saturday. I sent word: "Don't do it—give W. time to end his morning's sleep, which is very precious to him."

     6:25 P.M. At W.'s. Found he had spent a very bad day—one of the worst—in quiet and weakness, and with disposition to be let

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alone. Dr. McAlister spoke of his pulse as very bad and "wavering"—an evil sign. I did not tarry with the folks, but went right into the dark room, W. seeming to be awake and to recognize me at once, calling out his cheery, "Well, Horace, here you are again—again welcome!" I went to bed, took his now warm hand, and kissed him. He was in bad shape, as I at once realized, from his labored breathing and difficulties in articulation—but he was warm and seemed to wish to know what he calls "the news," with, as he said, "all its skews and capers." I at once entered into the matter of Arthur Stedman's and Webster's letter. Would he hear this last? He "thought" he would. So I called Mrs. Keller, who lit the gas and turned it well up, so to give me light at the bedside. Then I read, W. listening intently. Several portions then re-read, at his request. We debated it 10 or 15 minutes. W. finally said (after disguising all show of an opinion), "I am favorably inclined towards it—in fact am moved to instruct you to proceed. But I cannot be worried, bothered: you know my notions as well as I know them myself. See Dave, and what you agree to I will approve." I said categorically, "All right. Then I am to sign for you and Arthur may sign for Webster, and we are to make a contract on the lines here indicated without further trouble to you?" "Exactly, I see you take it all in—protect our rights." "And that $100—you'd like it at once?" I said laughingly, to which he replied, "Yes, that will bind the bargain." I told him of Carpenter's letter but did not read it to him. "The good Carpenter! No more royal fellow lives!" Should I leave Doctor's scheme of a circular tomorrow? "No, do not do it. I am not equal to an examination." But would he examine it if it chanced he did any reading? "Perhaps then, but that's a slender chance." Then he felt bad? "Never worse—the whole day has been against me: I am weak and low, low and weak—am pushed back, back, into the stream." I was about to go into next room and write to Bolton? "Nothing particular!" "But your love?" "Always that," W. said. "Always, always—and anyway, Horace, this time, send my special remembrance to George Humphreys and Fred Wild—to both, yes, special remembrances—and particular

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affectionateness, love, to Wallace, who for his part is so loyal and loving and meets us more than halfway always."

     Quoted him Baker's letter. "Noble fellow, full of noble wishings—he is remembered with the best." As to Bob's "Lincoln," W. said, "That is a rare promise and I guess as good performance: the Colonel never disappoints." I would telegraph Ingersoll. What from him? "My love to wife, him, Farrell—and a share in memory of Lincoln. This is Lincoln's day!" Expresses great curiosity again to see the Jarvis photo. Described my day's letter to Symonds. "I like it well—I like it all." And to my remark, "I told him we were glad to hear from him but sorry to hear him speak in such a tone," W. assented. "True! True! It is a sad, sad letter. Poor Addington! But he will come out of it yet!"

     Concerning other things Arthur Stedman had asked, "What would you think of a proposition from Webster to present all of Whitman's works?" I replied, "This is not the time to talk of that." I now tell this to W. who assents, "You answered him right: the present is not the time to talk of that. It was a good answer—would have been my own." A few more words, then farewell. "Perhaps I may get over with Stedman in the morning." "You think he will come?" "He thinks so." "Well, let him, he will be welcome—but the future is all a problem—what the days may open into no one knows." Kissed him good-bye—lips and forehead—and stroked his forehead, too. Both hands and head warm but he was strangely pale— "harried," he said, "by the dozen devils of the flesh." After I had left he called Warrie, "My grog, boy." Yet followed this up with, "Yet I am in no hurry either." And again, "No particular hurry." This was 6:50. Warrie spoke with him as he changed position.

     Warrie: "Well, how's our side tonight, Mr. Whitman?"

     W.: "Bad enough, Warrie."

     Warrie: "Maybe this cold snap has something to do with it?"

     W.: "Yes, pull me over this way as far as possible. I quess I'm good now." Then he advised Warrie, "Make the grog," and called after him, "No particular hurry." Not disposed to talk.

     9:10 P.M. Only a few minutes at 328. Mrs. Keller on duty. Then to Unity Church, where I met Brinton and from which we

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walked to the ferry. Read him Symonds' letter. He said, "It is a remarkable, an extraordinary, missive." On way home telegraphed Ingersoll: "The fire still burns but the flame is low. Depressed day. Whitman wishes you safety and joy of your travels. Joins you in loving memory of Lincoln. Warm words for your wife, you and Farrell."


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