Commentary

Disciples


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Monday, March 28, 1892

     To 9th and Green early and found Bucke's train delayed. Longaker met me there and we went to his house and had breakfast, after which I met Bucke's train and piloted him to Longaker's. Left London yesterday noon, having telegram Saturday evening at 8:30. Looked well—not startled, he said, by the summons. Left him there with L. Approved of autopsy heartily. I to Bank, having things to straighten up their. Brinton came in with inquiries.

     Wired Ingersoll: "Miss Maud telegraphed that you were at Buffalo. Funeral Wednesday at two. Let me hear from you immediately that the way is clear and all is understood between us. Can you arrange to reach Camden Wednesday forenoon? Telegraph me at Bank till four."

     Reply from Baker: "Colonel at Rossin House, Toronto. You had better wire him direct. I send my unutterable sorrow. What can I do?"

     At which I telegraphed to Toronto: "Baker advises me of your address. You know of Whitman's death. Funeral set for Wednesday, at two. Must we postpone to enable you to get here? You belong to the event and the event belongs to you. Wire instantly."

     And to Baker: "Will you wire Colonel on your own account? Will postpone for him if it is necessary but the change would be unfortunate."

     Cabling to Johnston: "Lilacs. Hour, two. Love."

     Later, in Camden, at W.'s, I found a telegram from Ingersoll from Buffalo: "When is the funeral to be?" Miss Maud's telegram had stopped his Canadian plans evidently. I at once wired: "Funeral set for Wednesday at two. Telegraphed you at Toronto. Wire me instantly." In about an hour came a reply

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from Toronto, dated 6:55: "Leave for home tomorrow morning. Will be on hand Wednesday. Wish it was Thursday."

     Johnston and Wallace sweetly cable me again: "If wreaths accepted, get one for us."

     Johnston (J. H.) will be down from New York. Notes a remarkable parallel:
J. H. Johnston & Co.
17 Union Square, New York
New York, Mar 27 1892

Dear Traubel,

I expect to come over with May tomorrow. We will go to Levy's and perhaps I will come right over tomorrow pm to Mickle St.

Fifteen years ago yesterday Walt was with us when my wife was taken sick and died. He was in the room until the last, and went home the next morning after a month's stay—his first visit.

Our New York Recorder has the best and largest picture of him.

Sincerely yours

J H Johnston


Talcott Williams seemed grieved to know or feel that Ingersoll will speak tomorrow and thus protests in a note written yesterday:
"The Press"
Philadelphia, PA. U.S.A.
March 27, 92

My dear Mr. Traubel

I deeply regret to learn that Mr. Ingersoll may be asked to speak at the funeral of Walt Whitman. Mr. Harned's views are my own that Mr. Ingersoll's presence will lead to grave misconception and do serious injury now and in the future. I most earnestly protest against any such step & I have been unable to learn of any direction from Walt Whitman on the subject. Mr. Burroughs, his oldest friend, also protests and this I am sure is the general voice of those who loved him.

Yours truly

Talcott Williams




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How different the tone of John Hay's letter, now before me, neither asking nor anticipating vexatious notions:
800 Sixteenth Street,
Lafayette Square.
Washington March 27

Dear Mr. Traubel,

I received yesterday your letter of the 25th and the accompanying books, and I learn this morning the sorrowful news of my old friend's death.

I do not know what his circumstances are, but if anything is needed for his funeral, I would be glad if you would draw on me at sight for whatever is wanted.

Yours sincerely

John Hay


Burroughs sent me a card Saturday before hearing of the end:
West Park New York
Mch 26

I am expecting to go to Roxbury NY Sunday, for a week. I hope you will drop me a card or two. I am deeply pained by the thought of W.'s continued suffering. If I could only do something for him!



J.B.


And Bolton speaks out again, Wallace and Johnston writing (17th). Mrs. Fairchild strikes a high note, writing Sunday:
191 Commonwealth Avenue.
Sunday

My dear Friend

This morning's "Herald" brings me the news. I have had a feeling that the end was at hand; for several days I have been unable to shake the thought of it from my mind. And the desire to do something for the beloved poet's momentary comfort was too strong to be withstood. But I learn that it was too late expressed.

So the great soul has passed out of the trammels of the flesh. What he has done for the Freedom of us all may the future of this country

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show. He has pointed the only ways of safety to us; our gratitude as individuals and as a nation will be to walk therein.


Will you tell me if it is possible for me to buy one of his books? I should like to have one of his bibles if it might be.

With the bond between his lovers sealed and cemented by "Sacred Death," I am sure that I may sign myself

Affectionately yrs

Elisabeth Fairchild

Can I be of any immediate help?


Mrs. Whitman has done an extraordinary thing, going to Dr. McConnell in Philadelphia and asking him to conduct the services at the grave. Bucke says, "My God! It was like to wreck us all! I wouldn't go to the funeral—no, I wouldn't: I couldn't—and dear old Walt would be outraged! But as luck would have it Mrs. Whitman came in this morning and in about half an hour I had everything amicably fixed, so that McConnell will not be present!" A narrow escape from a catastrophe.

     Spent today at the Bank. Feeling broken up.

     Long discussion at Harned's. General plans gone over and all so far seeming well. Arranged a big list of pallbearers and wrote and telegraphed them: "Your name is placed on the list of pallbearers for Whitman's funeral. Will you attend? Wednesday afternoon. Answer." We repeated this to Hawthorne, Morse, Gilchrist, Kennedy, Garland, Baxter. We sent a united telegram to Mrs. Fairchild to this effect: "Funeral Wednesday afternoon. We should be rejoiced to see you here. Wire." Signing it with the three names.

     Reporter then at Harned's from Press. I gave him passage from Rossetti's letter and Ingersoll's.

     Bucke's letter of 26th from London, just arrived, has pathetic interest for me:

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26 March 1892

My dear Horace

I have yours of e'g. 23 and m'g 24. Walt seems to have suddenly dropped to a still lower plane—his condition must be deplorable—nothing I have ever known has taxed me like this long drawn out sickness of Walt's. Will it ever come to an end? I keep asking myself—and no answer. How you bear it (face to face with it week after week) as well as you do is a mystery to me—but thank goodness you are young and strong and can bear a lot. But with poor Anne sick & suffering too and your immense duties! Really it beats me—I cannot understand how you stand up under it all. But I end by thanking heaven again and again that there is such a man for this present crisis.

Tell me anything you know about Calder? He is a well off man is he not? I wonder if he knew W. D. O'C[onnor] and will be interested about getting out the "Life Saving" book (?) How is it getting on? I have this m'g 3d ed. "Towards Democracy" f'm E[dward] C[arpenter]. It is much enlarged—is a handsome book. I am vexed that you delay so much getting W. on the water bed—it ought to be like new life for him to get on it—tho' like as not he will kick at first—but no one should pay any attention to it if he does.

Love to Anne.

R. M. Bucke


In a previous letter arriving by the same mail, dated 25th, he again expresses his attitude towards selected poems:
25 March 1892

My dear Horace

I have yours of Tuesday n't. & Wed. m'g. Also (no doubt you have same) cards of wedding of Mrs. O'Connor to Mr. Calder. Who is Mr. Calder, do you know? I have written Mrs. C. to congratulate her and I wish her every happiness. I think I have never known a finer woman than she is. If W. does not like the w. bed at first make him stick to it—he will like it—can't help—but it is queer to lie on at first. I have not seen Tennyson's new play—hope to later. I have

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spoken (in last letter) of the Harper's—the mangled verses and the rubbishy Alexander portrait. I note what you say about the Stedman book of selections—no doubt it is all right but I cannot feel any interest in the thing—and fancy a man having the gall to "select" W.'s best poems who knows so little about them—is so far from being in touch with the spirit of them that he does not like or approve of "Ch[ildren] of A[dam]." What would you think of a man making a selection of gems from Milton who "did not like" the first four books of "P.L."? Or of Browning who "did not like" "Men & Women"? This admission of Mr. A. S. damns the whole thing to my mind and still it may be a good thing to do for all I know.—I have nothing to say about it.


Tell Walt that all is well here in London and that I never for a moment forget him.

Love to Anne.

So long!

R. M. Bucke


Arthur Stedman urges me to send copies of books ordered. Today sent the books.

     Saw the body several times today. The face is getting more and more composed—yes, is today better than a week ago, when in its great passage of pain.

     Telegrams come in rapid succession, this way and that. Bucke with me to my home to see Anne and talk. While there Raymond, of the New York Telegram, came in. Will now stay over till after the funeral, representing Herald and Telegram. Told us about Creelman and his friendship for W. Gave Raymond what I had given Press reporter and besides quoted him Mrs. Fairchild and others. While he was with us I received a telegram from Creelman himself: "Will you kindly aid Mr. Harold Raymond in his work in Walt Whitman case. He represents Telegram and Herald." My telegram from Ingersoll relieves us all.

     No heart for details for Bolton. Can only send a word from my heart. The world oppresses me. I cannot rest.


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