Commentary

Disciples


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 164] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Friday, November 20, 1891

     8:10 P.M. W. just getting up from bed as I entered, going laboriously around to his chair. He seemed bright, and I found out its reason before we talked of anything else. "Have you seen Tom?" he asked, and as I had not, "then you don't know. I have good news—he has done it—it has been a perfect success." What was that? "I mean the tomb affair: he has settled or is about to settle it. Reinhalter was in to see him today—came with Moore. And Tom has got the whole thing in his hands!" How was it brought about? "I never realized Tom to the full till an hour ago. He was then here—told me the story. It is interesting—almost dramatic. The amount of it is, that he made them confess they had inserted that paragraph about the price—actually drove them to the wall, and made Reinhalter own up to that. What a pretty fraud it was meant to be! They had the contract with them. I am glad for one thing—Tom says he don't think Moore was in it, at least for a divide. Which relieves me a little, though it does look bad for Ralph, too, when we know he held the contract and must have known the tricks it was up to. Tom has managed it all nobly—in a masterly manner—has shown his penetration, courage, decision. Yes, went straight to the heart of the trouble, diagnosed, delivered himself." Harned had said to me, "They shan't collect that money except over my body." I told W., who asked as if much moved, "Did he say that, Horace? I had no idea he felt it so strongly. Good Tom! Though I did know it was an element of deep personal feeling that in some part steadied him in his fight with these fellows, I had no idea the feeling ran so deep. I feel very much relieved tonight, as if a cloud was lifted. And I agree with you, with Tom, that now is the time to settle. I gave my check for $1500 to Tom just now. Reinhalter went off, saying he would see his brothers and again

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 165] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
meet Tom in the morning. I am mystified—almost startled—certainly astonished—to have this plot unearthed—for it has the show of a plot of some sort. Tom says that when they left and offered to take their papers—contract, etc.—with them, he dropped his fist on them—on the papers, 'No, these papers will remain here!' He must have mastered them like a major-general—completely dominated, possessed, the situation. It is a new revelation of Tom's character to me: the subtle lay till everything was ready, then the jump. You see now that my memory served me well this time: I did not sign that document—not, at least, as it stands. It was against reason, against practice, against everything. Poor Eddy! He was like to go down in a general wreck of our fortunes!"
All which was happily uttered, out of a happier heart. "When you leave here, where will you go?" "To the church. I want to see Tom." "What's going on there tonight?" "A lecture from Doctor Gould, who says you have done more to degrade literature and Bob more to degrade religion than any men the globe over." W. exclaimed, "Literature as he understands it! Religion as he understands it!" Then W. asked, "Do you know what Tom thinks of the Colonel?" "Variably. Sometimes Tom imagines he is a Unitarian—then he don't like Ingersoll as much as when he is a Spencerite or 'Leaves of Grass'-er—which is his more natural mood!" W. said, as he laughed merrily, "The good Harned! And good Emerson, too! There were times when the good Emerson shrunk back from brawn, from the brutes, from realistic fellows—the gentle, splendid Emerson—when he feared to have the winds blow too hard!" Then, however, "Tom tells me he has his portrait home—Eakins'. And he is very happy with it, says it is a great, strong event! And I guess it is! Brutally true, as Eakins' work is apt to be—not generally liked." I saw the O'Donovan photo of bust on table. Picked it up. "This comes out of the immane again?" W. with a laugh, "Isn't that Theodore Parker? Parker to the bone? There never was a better—of Parker. And by the way, I hear O'Donovan is still in town. What is he doing there? The bust was given up long ago, eh? No? I almost hoped it was." Then W.,

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 166] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
"I suppose our friend Gould does not go much for 'Leaves of Grass'! Does not see it, perhaps—or maybe we set too high a figure. Well, well—it is well enough to have things just as they are!"

     W. had remarked that the dog howled as I came in. "He never gets to know me," I explained. "Nor anybody else," said W. "He's as dumb as the devil! Don't seem to have any dog intuitions. Why, bawls the life out of us if Warren pulls the bell or opens the door: hasn't yet inner life enough to know Warren. I don't believe he realizes anybody at all but Mary." Clifford in to see me. Sent love to Walt. W. asks, "How does the Times go?" And to my, "Well, and Clifford likes it!" W. exclaimed, "That's best news! And the best of it, that he likes it! That liking it will sail him on—make him a good ship." Turning to me again, "You said you were writing last night. What were you busy on?" "An article in reply to a recent sermon from Long. What do you think Long says?" "What?" "He says that take God and immortality from man, for Long, what impulse has he to do right—why should he keep morally straight?" W. in a tone of astonishment, "Did Long dare to say that?" "Yes, he did!" "Shame! Shame! And he preaches down at the church! Shame for him!" Then after a slight pause, "Yes, shame for him! Schiller's idea is the only one for modern science—that if it is right, immortality will come; if not right, not. No other idea can answer for science—satisfy it—be its inner voice. And that is 'Leaves of Grass,' too! That idea, too, is the basis of all the old philosophies—it is in Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius—it is the backbone of every brave thinker—our own heroes. Yes, it's the Colonel's note, too. He has sounded it with a deep call!" I said, "Frothingham set it down that Ingersoll is no bigot—that he will not deny evidence, what to him is evidence." "Nor is he—nor will he! But we can hardly expect the priests to take us at our intention. Poor Long! Why should I not pick his pocket and he mine? Sure enough!" I put in, "If there is no law why should I not rob my brother's house?" W. fervently, "That's the whole case—the much in a nutshell!"


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 167] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

     We had speculated how to get enough copies of full "Leaves of Grass" for friends. Now W. decides to get a hundred stitched on paper covers. "I want a deep brown cover, and this label on the edge." Produced an envelope containing a package—yellow labels like accompanying—printed on paper he had furnished Curtz and with the old queer type. "He made a devil of a spread with 'Leaves' here, but it will do." I was to see McKay and then Oldach. McKay had told me today Oldach's Christmas orders swamped him—hence delay in our work. W. is eager to have the books: "I thought the matter over a good deal and concluded this as good a way as any to settle it." McKay has sent out word of the number of copies complete book inquired after. It is foreign. W. queries, "I wonder who's taking them all?" I told him of a Bible publisher for whom my father made plates—by lithography—rushing in one day to cry out, "I must have more pictures, Traubel—all I can get, all you can rush out. I don't know where the hell all these Bibles go!" "Well!" said W. between questions, "We may laugh out the same wonder."

     Left W. and went to church. Harned there. We had a thorough talk after Gould's lecture was over. Harned told me in substance the same story W. had about Reinhalter, but more specifically. He had confused them utterly. Moore had a bill for four or five hundred dollars from the cemetery. At one point he asked Harned, "What can I do to help along a settlement?" "You can receipt that bill!" exclaimed Harned. And Moore did it. Harned's determined posture had shaken Reinhalter, who admitted the price paragraph had been inserted in contract. Harned displayed great feeling to me as he went on with recital. "The damned buggers! I said to them—'You ought to be ashamed of yourself, to drive this old man to the wall, to worry him. And you can't collect a damned cent from him—not a cent. This has already gone beyond patience: you never had any right to go there at all. You wormed a contract out of him—plagued him—got him to hurry out an agreement, knowing he had never consulted a word with Bucke or Horace Traubel or me, with whom he talks everything. I was the one to come to in the first place. I might have seen then

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 168] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
if something could not have been done to help along. Now? No, not a step! Help now to raise the money? If I helped now to raise any money, it would be to reimburse the old man for the money you have got out of him. No, I want to settle with you—want your receipts clear and for everything and for all time. And if you refuse it now, we'll see—we'll see!' I believe I had 'em thoroughly frightened. Reinhalter said he had to consult with his brothers. I am pretty sure he will come over on the money, ready to settle up. I told Moore Whitman's mother and father would not go into the tomb till this thing was fixed straight. Moore said, 'You don't really mean that, Mr. Harned?' And I told him I meant every word of it—told him we did not propose to go another step, with this damned fraud hanging over us! I told Reinhalter, too, 'You'd better get this thing off your hands now while you can! By and by you'll get nothing—not even your tomb—for the law will not allow you to touch a brick or a stone of that!' By God! With their admission of the fraud, I had them right in my fist and I made 'em squirm. And when I get their receipt, it'll be a pretty complete one—telling all the facts—or my word ain't worth its weight!"
And Harned said again, "I am not sure of Moore's participation. I think he meant to be straight. Yes, he certainly had a knowledge of it, which was bad for him. He was eager to have the tomb in Harleigh—would have done almost anything to have it there. But they made a mistake when they started out to bleed the old man. They even had the gall to suggest that I should go over to see Childs and Drexel! When they get through with us, they'll know enough to know we are not to be fooled with."

     W. counsels me about the Whitman-Lowell piece, "Don't attempt to make it long—don't make it a big paper. Say your say—dash it off—let the word go out."


Comments?

Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Ed Folsom & Kenneth M. Price, editors.