Commentary

Disciples


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Friday, December 4, 1891

     6:10 P.M. When I entered W.'s room, I exclaimed, "No books, Walt! He has broken his promise!" He looked across at me—laughed. "I supposed something! Does he say tomorrow?" "Yes." "Well, then we have another day for hope!" Then asked me, "How about Lynch's book? Have you read it?" "Only in part—some pages." "All right, there is no hurry. But what about Lynch: what do you know of him?" "Nothing—never heard of him before." "Nor I. Who knows but O'Dowd could tell us about him. He is Australian." I asked W., "Do you think he has something to say?" "I do not see that. He seems determined to unload—to be full of something or other: seems bursting with the momentum of parturition. But the book seems like a thorough chaos—chaos, yes, that, with all it means." "He is hot for you." "Yes, hot for me, and hot for others, too—hot anyhow—stirred up, by I guess he don't know what. What will come of it? I am doubtful—I have no opinion."

     I was to go to hear Besant—this the evening. W. saying, "I have no message to send. I do not know what she stands for—what exactly is her ground—and she probably knows nothing of me—of 'Leaves of Grass'; so that messages hardly belong between us. Yet she is heroic—a good woman, no doubt—and we always have some heart for good women."

     Longaker still sick. W. notes to me, "He writes me about it. I had the letter today. It is a very bad cold. I miss him." Told him I had written Law about the Burns. W. thinks his (rather new) copy of no value, but I would propose to send slips of his Burns piece, he to autograph. W. now, "That was circumspect—I approve of that. My Burns is not of particular value. As I have said, it is not an old copy. I don't think I care to part with it. It contains a number of Burns clippings pinned in by me—a few such notes—but nothing beyond. And by the way, if you will get me a couple of copies of 'November Boughs' stitched I can send

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one of them. You remember the Burns piece is in 'November Boughs.' For the present that must serve."

     Morris showed me clip from Nation about his book in which reference to W. was gingerly and grudging though tending to favorable. I described it to W. as the paragraph of a man who felt to say more but had to show some respect to his past record. W. laughingly, "That is good! I suppose their past record is the enemy's. But I do not know. I hardly know where Godkin stands. Godwin? He, too, is in the fog: whether for or against us I do not happen to know." A little word further of George Sand, W. dwelling upon her "palpable genius."

     Met MacAlister, of Drexel Institute, this afternoon. He will send opening cards to W. and to me. Is enthusiastic about "After All, Not to Create Only." Will probably take texts from it for the Institute. Amusedly said, "I tried to make my daughters see it the other night—read it to them—but no, they would not have it. The girls think that poetry is a matter of rhyme and elegance—of merely verbal beauty." "But you think they will see more truly of that by and by?" "Yes, I do—as all other people will." W. greatly pleased with this. The Institute is a joy to him, anyhow. "Manual training is the future of America," he has said to me time and again. MacAlister says, "It is manifest from that poem that he thinks so."

     We are much startled by attempt today to assassinate Russell Sage—the poor daft fellow with the bomb, himself blown to pieces. W. sadly shakes his head, "O the poor human critters we are! And the mystery of it past all philosophy, definition!"

     On boat later on in evening met Harned. Had he yet talked with W. about children? "No, but I shall probably go down tomorrow afternoon." Harned extremely busy. "But I have good news," he said. "What is that?" "I have heard from the Rice woman." "What does she say?" "She asks if a copy of the manuscript would not do. She says she can't put her hands on the original." "A pretense." "So I believe, and I act on that supposition. I wrote to her at once to say: 'I must have the

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manuscript immediately. The offer of a copy is out of the question. The manuscript is the property of Mrs. O'Connor. I hope you will not delay the settlement of this matter.'
If she evades me, I shall go to Baltimore to see her. She is a bad woman—an insincere woman. I realized that in the other letters Mrs. O'Connor left with me. An insincere woman is hard to handle."
Harned's original letters to the woman had been disregarded. She no doubt got them, they never returned to him. But she evidently intended to take advantage of the fact of the change of address—to act the lie that the letters did not find her, or she did not exist. I devised a plan to find out if she still lived in Baltimore. Billstein (just gone there to take charge of a big printing house) offered to help me. I knew she was a teacher. Billstein wrote to know her terms for French lessons. She replied that she had no terms for French—that she did not in fact give French lessons—her specialty being elocution. On the letter was of course her address. (He had addressed her as in Baltimore directory. ) Now we knew our ground. Billstein forwarded her letter to me and I gave to Tom, who instantly wrote to her at her new address. She must have known Harned had somehow knowledge that she was in Baltimore. No use to hide! Hence her note to him. He was decidedly happy about it. It is almost exciting to wait the result.

     In letter of 21st Bucke speaks of the chances of his trip this way after the holidays and also of W.'s plain touch at the Shakespeare-Bacon controversy. W. still says, "Bucke seems too fast in his inference. If this and that and the other, then Shakespeare did not write the plays! But it stands pretty clear to me that logic won't work—not at all. It leaves too much out." Yet "we will be happy enough to see the Doctor here. But I scarcely accept it. It is only one of his many big hopes." Bucke writes on 24th in connection with sale of copyright. But W. remarks, "Doctor is very vehement, but he don't see all sides of this thing, as we do."

     Roberts had written this with his book, some time ago:

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Law Office of Charles H. Roberts
No. 180 South Clark Street, Chicago
Nov. 25 1891

Dear Sir:

Years ago, centennial year, I spoke with you on Camden Ferry about sunset, Celia Thaxter, the man o' war bird, John Burroughs, etc. I was then, or had been, mechanic and with Star & Sons, although a western man.

Now, at Chicago, I have just bought "Good-Bye My Fancy" and renew the acquaintance.

I shall send you, tomorrow, a little book of mine, which some people read; and which I think myself has green in it, though it may not be worth the browsing. I doubt if I send it to be read, or even looked at, but rather as a tribute to courage, it is all I have. Look at its bill of fare; and—hand it to someone else or—heave it away.

Yours very sincerely,

Charles H. Roberts


W. wonders "if any man ever got more stuff of a certain kind than comes here?" Bucke is very vehement about the tomb embroilment—Dec. 2nd:
2 Dec 1891

My dear Horace

I have your notes of 27th & 30th ult. I am too infernally busy to write more than a line. I feel much worried about the "tomb" matter—it begins to look serious—if W. gets into a lawsuit it will about kill him. I do not think any other thing wd. harass him so much—it is a damned muddle for such a man to get into just at the end of his life. Keep me posted—all well here—

Love to Anne

Yours always

R. M. Bucke


We feel all that here to the full and more. It hurts W.


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