Commentary

Disciples


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Tuesday, November 24, 1891

     7:50 P.M. W. sitting up but not appearing well. Still eager to have the books from Oldach, of which no sign. Of Oldach himself, "I remember him—yes I do: it was long ago. He is an honest, straightforward German, determined to do the best thing." I had stayed up late but not finished the Poet-Lore article. Wrote Miss Porter asking an extra day. Will send off tonight.


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     W. remarks, as if to follow up yesterday's talk, "I have known science—it is reflected in 'Leaves of Grass.' I am not a scientist, but I have skimmed the sciences—taken the cream, here and there—realized in the full what science indicates, stands for, will lead out to. Then, starting with this, I go beyond—find another world. As I have said, 'Leaves of Grass' is not spontaneous only—it aims to be, or ought to be, spontaneity itself. Other poets before me have been spontaneous—others nobly spontaneous, simple. But I think the 'Leaves' have all that spontaneity—then something deeper still. I don't know that I can set this out in a way to have it understood—indeed, I suspect it is not to be so set out. Must be comprehended, if at all, intuitively—must be felt, visioned. Anyway, made palpable, self-evident, without word or process of logic."

     Showed W. pictures of Reeder's country house. "They are very good photos: Reeder is quite an artist. The house itself—the barn back there—both—oh! they are fresh air itself! And simple, too, like Reeder himself. I enjoy that—tell him so." W. then, "Bucke says the Bacon theory is interesting because of its uncertainty, which uncertainty I hope he will adhere to." He had a postal "from someone in the Illustrated American office" to this effect: "The current number of the weekly Illustrated American contains an article of interest to you." W. directed me to table to find this postal, then saying, "Perhaps you'd do well to take a look at the magazine. I would not get it unless it contains some specially valuable item. I am not so curious myself. But if you can, get a glimpse at the paper at your newstand," which I promised to do.

     No sign of Tom yet today. W. says "the pressure of confinement" is "wearing me out." Room almost unbearably hot. Yet he did not think so. He referred to the stars, barely to be seen between the slats of the shutters. "The day has been beautiful, but to me time wears the same face, pretty much, one day to another."

      "An inundation of letters from autographers!" W. laughingly reports. "With a request, generally, from the female

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applicants—no less, in fact, than that I should add a sentiment to my name."

     Out to the street. Met Harned up at Post Office. He asked, "Have you been to Walt's?" "Yes." "Well, come down again for a minute. I want you to hear what I tell him of Reinhalter." So we went south together. Mrs. Davis admitted us and we went straight up to W.'s room. W. already gone to rest on the bed, light turned down. Then ensued this colloquy:

     W.: "Oh! It is Tom! And Horace back, too! Welcome both! Sit down! Sit down!"

     Horace: "No, we didn't come to stay, Walt. Tom has something to say to you about Reinhalter."

     W.: "Is that so, Tom? Well, say it, Tom. I will like to hear."

     Harned: "Maybe you won't, Walt. It isn't altogether pleasant."

     W.: "Eh? Nothing gone wrong?"

     Harned: "O no! But we haven't made our settlement yet."

     W.: "That's bad, but not wrong. But tell me how that is, Tom."

     Harned: "Reinhalter was in today—came to my office. Then he went out to see Moore. After a bit he returned. What do you think he proposed to do then?"

     W.: "What?"

     Harned: "He wanted to know if it wouldn't be all right for him to take our check for $1500 and give a receipt on account."

     W.: "On account?"

     Harned: "Yes, on account. Moore had put that flea in his ear. Before he went to Harleigh, he was disposed to settle. Now he kicked."

     W.: "We won't yield an inch."

     Harned: "So I told him. I said, 'It is that or nothing: $1500 or not a cent.'"

     W.: "Stick to that, Tom: $1500 or not a cent! That is our ultimatum. Anything beyond that—even that—would be a gouge!"

     Harned: "That was my position. I won't budge—I won't compromise—I won't do a damn thing but settle—settle on these terms."


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     W. (raising himself on his elbow a minute): "You made that quite plain, Tom? Just as you do now, here, to me?"

     Harned (smiling): "I guess they understand."

     W. (going back on pillow): "Well, Tom, go ahead, treat with them your own way. You know the case—you have your own weapons."

     A little general talk—then exit.


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