Commentary

Disciples


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Monday, November 2, 1891

     4:50 P.M. To W.'s expecting to meet Wallace, but they told me he had been there and gone up for Anne, the two intending to go to Harned's together—we having all to dine there. W. in very good humor. This morning's Press contained an interview with Arnold and at its close: "Today Sir Edwin will go over to Camden and call upon Walt Whitman." And I saw by the Post, which I read on the boat, that Arnold had really been there. W. talked of it quite freely. "They came three together: Arnold, Young and Pond. Arnold looks very good, very well—as if the Japan trip had done him good. He is very hearty, frank—had a good deal to say—was flattering—too much that—seemed every way in the best spirits. Yes, has a good voice—plenty of expression. Certainly a good voice for a parlor, whatever it might turn out to be, or not to be, on a platform. But Young, Horace—oh! he is handsome—seems to me to get handsomer every time I see him—strong, round, solid. And Young was very bright—had, has, true, solid sense. And, Horace, John brought me a message—a good one, too—it was from the Colonel. He told me he dined with Ingersoll the other day—told me of their jolly time together (how jolly it must have been). Ingersoll, knowing John was to come here, sent the noblest message." I asked W. if he remembered it?

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"Not its exact words, but its spirit: it was characteristic, affectionate, a welling-out of his marvellous emotionality—just such a word as you know he feels and can say." I could see by W.'s manner that it had touched him—gone below any spot penetrated by Arnold and Young. I said, "Ingersoll loves freedom—he seems to find his introductory contact with persons, causes, on the side of liberty." W. to that, "You are right—I have always felt that to be latent, active—yes, perhaps the best thing—part—of him. Though it is hard to discuss such a man in parts. But his message—well, it was good as a lover's. And indeed, who a better lover than the Colonel or who could wish another?" Had Arnold stayed long? "No, not very. But long enough. I was glad to see him—yes, to see John, too. John has not met me in a long while. Yet we used to meet often. And emotionally, at least, he accepts me—accepts my book." Wallace, though here, had not seen the visitors. W. then inquired about Gilbert. "Who is he? What does he do? Tell me—give me his measure. I am sort o' interested in him." So I stepped into that road and travelled it some time for him. When I referred to Gilbert's designing skill, W. exclaimed, "Good! Good!" And when I said, "When he first came to America he had not intended staying, but now declares, though his worldly prospects might be better there, he would on no account go back," W. exclaimed again, this time, "Splendid! Splendid! What a thing it is to hear. And I am often finding myself anyway wondering why the best fellows in England all seem curiously American. Take the Bolton group—how American! How American skies seem to float into them. And our rivers, spirit, life."

     I asked W. if he had seen this in the Record: Sir Edwin Arnold, in his address at the Lotos Club, of New York, on Saturday night, touched on the debt which the English language owes to the poets of America, mentioning among others, "the glorious, large tempered dithyrambics of Walt Whitman." Whitman's muse has truly been dithyrambic and unconventional to the close—the "wood notes wild" which first rang in his verses have never given place to a

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keynote of formality. It is fitting that the closing days of America's most unique bard should be brightened by this tributary glow from the "Light of Asia."


It seems he had. He said of it, "The note is better than Arnold's own phrase. Do you know who could have written it? No? I had a mind to—even commenced to write a postal, asking who was responsible for it—for somehow I felt as if I owed him my thanks—at least, to show I appreciated his good will. And I felt the paragraph deeply—yes, deeply—for it has a ring of true feeling, a comrade touch, a bit of human lovingness and cheer, a lifting emotionality. What is more precious than that? The beat of the heart itself not more so." I thought I might learn who had written it. Said W., "Do so—for me."

     W. remarks now, "Horace, I am opposed to Warrie's going over with Wallace. Wallace ought to go alone—ought to be free of all that—anything like encumbrances. With Warrie with him, he would feel tied, if only out of simple courtesy—both would in fact feel this. Wallace will go to the Colonel—will want to be alone. Yes! I am in favor of his seeing Colonel Bob—only, he must not expect too much of it. It will glimpse him something, no more. To see a man like that first, once, is like getting a first look at the sea: it may fill you, but you barely take it in. Nevertheless Wallace will wake to some new things if he has a chance at the Colonel—even a few minutes." Adding that "of course the Colonel, with his luminous speech, is more apt to reveal a part of himself, first lick, than an inarticulate fellow."

     At one moment he had great difficulty in hearing me and said, "My deafness increases—I seem to get worse and worse—almost a daily change perceptible."

     Told W. I hoped to gather some of the fellows at Penn Club reception and take them away to give J.W.W. a good-bye. "A splendid idea! If only I could be with you! I'd be the wildest one of the lot!" And after a slight pause, "Good will! That is the word. If I were with you I should toast: 'Our friend Wallace here is here in demonstration first of all of good will: international good will.

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Good will between nations, good will between religions, good will between individuals: good will! It is the passport to solidarity!'"
W. said to me, "Wallace has bade me good bye. Sweet fellow, he thought to hold back, linger, knew not whether to go or to stay. But go he must—yes, the tide will out!" I suggested, "We may all three stop in on the way to Philadelphia this evening." "Yes, do—you are always and anyhow welcome." And as I passed out the door, "Tell them all, Walt Whitman responds to their good feeling. Do not forget: love to all—to Mrs. Harned, Tommy, the baby—to Tom himself."

     7:40 P.M. Evening. Supper at Harned's—a good time. Anne and Wallace coming in rather late—delayed in their packing. Wallace said his farewell to W.—had kissed him and rushed out, as he said, crying so that "people on the streets must have thought I was an idiot." From this time on, blue—or a streak bluish—yet full of his grateful cheer, for all things said and done for him. I gave him the Record—read them the passage, which they thought rather remarkable, certainly happy. Wallace much amused at the Post's mention of him as an English literary light. "That is the best thing yet—I should like to take that home as a curiosity." He had been in to see Bonsall and "had a good talk, though not a long one." Wallace much liking Harned. "He is a frank, manly man," and his straightforward ways a charm. We left for Philadelphia about 7:30—stopping in by the way at W.'s—going straight to Brinton's (2041 Chestnut—now his townhouse) where we spent a full hour, talking about Russia—the Russian treatment of the Jews—questions of freedom in Europe. Brinton full of ideas—loaded with information. Had things to say about Col. Eglitz's book of which he had written me from Berlin. Will give us ideas of that before Ethical Society. Afterward to Penn Club together—along with us Captain Nelson, I was told one of Stanley's lieutenants in Africa (staying with Brinton for a season).

     At Club introduced Wallace to Eakins, O'Donovan, Stoddart, Stoddart's son, Eyre. Arnold escaped before we could get forward for a word—a great jam. The Mayor (Stuart) there—

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lawyers, judges, artists, writers, men of trade. The dining table after a while besieged. Wallace smoked a cigar. We met and chatted with Morris, Jastrow and others. Wallace seemed delighted. For a while we sat together by one of the windows and chatted about the result of his trip, now about done. Stoddart (in fact all) heartily full of greetings for J.W.W. Later on, towards twelve, at my suggestion, we went to Zeiss', a restaurant on Walnut Street opposite the theatre, to give Wallace a send-off: Brinton, Stoddart, Stoddart Jr., Prof. Smyth, Jastrow, Harned, Morris, Wallace, H.L.T., and spent a jolly hour there. Toasts given and accorded. Wallace toasted Walt Whitman, "the cause of our being here together." Walt's toast—which I conveyed to Brinton and some about me—Brinton granted to be "the best, most appropriate word yet." Our fellows discussed evolution—the future of the negro. Stoddart was greatly amused, pointing out to us that at the table opposite things were hot in plug-ugly, slugging directions, and here were our fellows, mazed in science. Striking, indeed: "Look at the difference in facial signs." No drink after twelve (election tomorrow: laws strict). Rather hopeless views about the negro, in Brinton's case. And Nelson quite determined in his idea that the negro should be sent back to Africa. No chance of amalgamation. Brinton thinks inter-marriage would deteriorate the white race. There was a toast to Wallace who said again as so often before, "I can only say I appreciate your kindness every way." Did not talk thoroughly much yet seemed at ease: no sign of embarrassment. Wallace expresses affection for the fellows—with a particular word for Brinton and Morris—and concern for Frank Williams' absence. Talcott Williams present at Penn Club. The main thing—the cordiality mixed with entire freedom. Rare elements.

     At 12:45 we left Zeiss'—Wallace, Harned and I to go to Camden—the others west. Thus midnight and farewell! Did not get to bed till 2:10. And were to get up at 6:30—in order to get train 8:20. Wallace not broken up but wearied. Yet happy, too—happy to be so greeted, feted—and under such sweet skies. (The night purity itself—stars out in glory.) Wallace saying, "I am at

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a loss which is greater among your people—the wonderful skies or the wonderful hospitality and good humor."
He seemed greatly moved at the near departure. "I am sorrowful for it, I admit—yet want to go, too. It is a peculiar condition of mind." All our fellows seemed interested in Wallace and he interested in them: indeed the whole night carried an air of success.

     Stoddart wishes to get over to see W. I told Stoddart I would soon have a manuscript ready for him. He responded, "Bring it along." Find him not abandoning the idea of the new magazine. Discussed Julian Hawthorne, Stoddart thinking as I did that Julian was handicapped by Nathaniel's fame. All these fellows strangely loyal to Walt Whitman, but, I notice, none of them rating Sir Edwin very high. Sir E. very busy with reporters: looks as if he liked to talk himself into notice.

     Wallace is packing goods. We discussed the details of his trip. Are trying to arrange a cipher for cable. He will take my O'Connor picture, reproduce it there. Sunday used four plates on us as a group in the backyard—Anne, Mrs. Gilbert, Joe, H.L.T. Has photo of the house and of W.'s two Steven Street houses. Has accumulated a lot of books. Warrie's "sailor" box sturdy enough, with hinges, lid and key. Warrie had brought a thick rope which will not be needed. Wallace tells me how his notes have failed him, day by day, their necessary completeness.

     A few words here about our run in on W. on the way to Philadelphia (evening). I upstairs first. Wallace rather averse, having said his good-bye, but I called it his "annex" farewell, which excited W.'s hearty laughter. W. himself called out, "Come up, Tom! Come up, Wallace!" Wallace waited in the hallway a minute to talk with Warrie about tomorrow's trip and found W. had already settled it with Warrie that he had better stay at home. Supreme delicacy! Wallace relieved. It saved him from having anything on his own part to say to Warren. Meantime Tom was in the room and W. questioning him about business, etc. Tom had given the boy up there a set of Cooper. W. exclaimed, "Good, Tom! It will do him good! Cooper is an influence, like a breath off the sea, like a fresh wind, like the

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scent of grass, leaves."
And discussed about his own old earlier pleasure in Cooper— "a world in himself"—and he had seen Cooper, "the sturdy noble irascible old man." His best books were three—"The Pilot," "The Wept of Wish-ton-Wish" among them— "the last in some ways the best," and sketched this for Wallace, to whom it was strange. "It makes a good play. Did you know that, Horace? A capital play—with fire and feeling—oh! a wonder of feeling." And so pursued his subject, giving us "situations" that lent power to its dramatization. "Yes, even the regicider—the splendid, courageous giant—he is a character." Had said to Tom, who had asked, "Yes, Arnold was here—we had a talk—I don't know that it came to much, but I was glad to see him—to speak with him again. And he looks very well. But Young is the handsome one of the party, Tom—he is a feast to see!" And as we were about to go, "You will have a good time. I wish I could go with you. If I could—well, I'd be the merriest of the lot. But good luck to you, Wallace—and you, Tom—and you, Horace—yes, Horace, of course you. And it will all be right. And, Horace, you must be my tale-bearer, to bring me an account of it all tomorrow. My love to Brinton—give him my love—and tell him to come over."

     We all shook hands and went out in the hallway. I turned quickly to J.W.W. "Go back—kiss him." "I said good-bye this afternoon." "Go again—go kiss him." He looked at me a flash, then darted back in the room, I closing the door and leaving him alone with W. Harned and I started off at once and before we reached the third street corner, Wallace came running after. He whispered to me—his voice full of feeling, "I did it. But I did it this afternoon, too!"


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