Commentary

Disciples


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Wednesday, November 11, 1891

     5:40 P.M. I received note today from Mrs. O'Connor as follows:
34 Benefit St.
Providence, R. I.
Nov. 10. 1891.

My dear Horace,

I think you could not have received a letter that I sent you before leaving Washington, giving you my new address, as yesterday came the Conservator, with the 112 M St. on it. Yes I am here, & have been more than a month, & very busy getting used to the new abode, & the new duties, & the new life.

I am sure you must have wondered at the non-appearance of the chair, if you did not get my letter. I found that the house was to be so stripped of chairs which I had promised, before I knew that Miss Howland wanted me to leave all that I could in the house, that I decided to leave the one that I have given you, until I have a final clearing out. I left furniture & carpets & various things for Miss Howland & her friend to use this winter.

The last time that I heard from you the two pictures of Walt had arrived, but had not been unpacked. I hope that they were all right.

And I no doubt should apologise to Annie for sending those old books, but they were the only copies of Consuelo & the Sequel that I had, & William & Walt had so often discussed Consuelo that I thought she might care for even that old one. I could write a small volume of the things that Walt & William used to say of Consuelo.

And how is Annie? & how is Walt? I don't know one thing about any of you!

The book is out! & I am going to send you & Walt a copy today, if I can get down to the Post Office; & will you tell me how you like it? I am very much displeased at the binding, & did not know that it was to be out so soon, or should have written to H. & M. & Co.

I hate that ugly green for this book; it is all right for some books—was for Hamlet's Note Book, but is not for this.


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Tell me, & will you ask Walt & tell me what he says about the binding. How should it be? & in what colors? & how does that die strike you?

The name & title? To me it looks confused & cheap, & I don't like it, & think I shall have it changed, when these are bound. Give me your & Walt's ideas about it in full.

What has Mr. Harned done about the Miss Rice business? I gave him full authority to act in the matter, & have hoped to hear. I will send her last address as I found it in the Baltimore Directory. And how soon do you want the article? When will your book come out?

My love to Annie, & to you. I hope that you are both well. And very much love to Walt.

Yours cordially,

Ellen M. O'Connor


I found W. on bed, but before I was there long, he got up, went across to chair, I reaching about him and touching the light. Room had been very dark. He talked freely. Read Mrs. O'Connor's letter with relish, then said, "I am not moved to any criticism on the cover of the book. My impression at the time was, that it gave us about all that could be wished—satisfied me, in a way. And the stamping, too." And again, "So she is gone from Washington? And what is her address in Providence?" I had already taken the letter back. He took a slip and his blue pencil and wrote at my dictation. Where was the address book? He laughed, "Somewhere about here. I can't put my hands on it this minute." And again he asked, "What are the pictures she speaks of? Are they new to you? Yes, bring them down sometime. I should like to refresh on them—to follow them up, anyway." And still further, "What 'Consuelo' is it she speaks of?" and so on. And was moved by what was said of Miss Rice. (Harned has written at least once; no reply.)

     Dave will not immediately bind up any full copies of "Leaves of Grass." Has 80 of the old, bound. W. now says, "I liked the sheets you brought me. They demonstrated the book." And as W. was "impatient"—his own word—he would have me "go in and see Dave and have him stitch up six copies of complete 'Leaves

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of Grass,' with all its annex pages."
Only six? Finally at my urging said, "Well, a dozen, then." I laughingly, "Dave declares the book's getting too big, and worse still, that you will add more pages before you are through." But, "No, not a page. I am done—the last seed is set out."

     Still speculating who could have written the Arnold Press interview. Asks himself, "Could it have been Talcott Williams?" And answers himself also, "Impossible! Impossible!" Times this morning contained account of dinner to Jefferson and Florence and of Young's little speech and reading of a letter from W. W. The "calfskin" over the chair moved W. to say, "I could not have written it that way. That must have been Young's mistake in copying, or the reporter's. It becomes absurd, given such a turn." I read to him. "Kindly, of John, and the letter, I suppose, about right. But what of that last sentence? Read it again!" Which I did; he then, "I guess it's all right. It sounds genuine." And as to the Tennyson messages referred to by Young, "Yes, they were very warm, very—full of good feeling, good will."

     I left my copy of Star in which Times matter was reprinted with W., who would send to Bucke. Thought the Star "a decent little paper, with a circulation." He had known all three of the Young brothers. "They were all good fellows—seemed good stock!" Reminded me of Record of Monday week—a copy for Bucke. "I forgot my copy—lost it here—fully intended to send it." On table a clipping from one of the San Francisco papers warmly advocating W. as poet for the Columbian Exposition. W.: "I am sure I sent a copy of that paper to Bucke. How genuinely, radically, unflinchingly some of these fellows write!" I picked up a dilapidated red-covered book from floor. W. exclaimed, "That's a good book—I've handled it these many years. A valuable book—at least to me; though not interesting, it has great value. It is thumbed, handled." I looked at title-page: "German Literature. Jos. Godlick. 1854." W. remarked, "He was about in this country. I never met him, but I knew he was here." Before I left, W. said again, "Get the sheets right away, if it is any way possible."


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     Here is Hyatt's manly letter to W., spoken of yesterday:
73 Henry Street
Brooklyn New York
8th. November 1891

Dear Mr. Whitman

If I have been tardy in seeming rembrance of you & your deserts it is because during the past decade of years I have been myself among the breakers: and clouds, tempests, & darkness have been about me: but now I once more see the sun.

I beg your acceptance of the enclosed & though but trifling, it will nevertheless show what my feelings are & what more I would like to do.

You remember Wells—of Fowler & Wells Phrenologists. Through him & others of your friends, in Boston, (though never having had the pleasure to meet you personally) I have always felt that I knew you. Your good deeds to our country were during the war & under circumstances more trying and perilous than mine; which were before; & because of which, war came; for had Kansas been made a Slave State, there would never have been war: the Country would have become all slave! I was in the struggle to prevent Kansas being made a Slave State & my name must have been known to you in those days & familiar.

I am, dear friend,

very sincerely yours,

Thaddeus Hyatt


     And now a sweet surprise: further word from Baker, this time in his own hand, unchanged, noble as before:
Ashbourne, Pa.
Nov. 10th 1891.

My dear Traubel:

Can't you and your dear mate come out next Sunday afternoon and take tea with us? We long to see you—wd have appointed last Sunday, but did not know our plans, as we were away from here a few days. Love from both of us.

We are pretty well. Let us know the train you will take.

Yours Ever,

I. N. Baker




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It will stir W.'s heart, when I show him this, as it stirred mine.

     W. seemed a little pained by this—I don't know why or how: This is naturally the thought of a poetic mind, and I have yet to understand why one of our greatest Poets should be preparing himself a great tomb, but he may think as he asked mankind for bread, they shall not give him a stone. But what strange ideas men have in such matters is seen by any one who walks among such tombs—what a senseless waste of money—words and marble we find there.


"Can storied urn, or animated bust
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?"

("The Friend," Post today)


I said, "I suppose there are quite a number of things under the heavens which this man don't yet quite understand!" W. laughed, "A few, I would bet odds!" "The Friend" probably the young man who came on the Sunday Mrs. Bush was here. W. remarked, "He had the child with him? Yes, I remember."

      "Mrs. Drew," he said, "must be a character—a splendid old-schooler. I would like her, I know." Told W. about the play last night, "The Rivals," and he went warmly into discussion of the old Park Theatre days. "That was my university. I got Lord knows how much from those years!"


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