Commentary

Disciples


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Tuesday, December 15, 1891

     5:40 P.M. W. sat reading Century—a couple of the local papers in his lap. The light up full—the green shade put away on the bed. "I do that only a little while, for the change!" On the bed several letters, one from Bucke. "And one of them, you will see, is from Ingersoll. Read it—read it first, then read mine to him. I had that sealed then opened it again, thinking you would perhaps like to see it." W. then, "It is very inspiring. I was greatly stirred by it. How tonic, bracing, he always is! I have enjoyed it all the day long." And he rather pathetically mentioned "the thrill with which" he "opened—read—it." Said, "You can have the letter, but not tonight. It has done me a good deal of good—it will do me more. I think I shall want to read it several times yet. What a treat it would have been to hear him read the poems!" Ingersoll mentions reading aloud "The Mystic Trumpeter," "Sea Drift," "Two Guests from Alabama," and "When Lilacs." "It is high praise, what he says there. If one had any right to be vain, such things would accentuate his disposition. But I won't talk of that. Though I will say the letter has warmed me up almost to a glow for a bit." One of Ingersoll's phrases was, "In you, while there is life there will be song." And he protests that W. must not speak of his work as "finished" till it is done. W. saying in return that "finished" must have been Horace's word, not his, and declares "Leaves of Grass" imperfect enough (which of course enters another phase of the subject).

     I had Poet-Lore in my pocket, and we spoke of it, W. examining. In Miss Clarke's review of "Good-Bye" she speaks of the poems as, many of them, "gems which will flash their laugh at time." W. asks me, "Who does that come from? I don't remember it in Shakespeare." And when I confessed ignorance, he counselled, "Let's find out," I saying I would inquire. "The printing of this magazine is superb—the best; and the tinted, rough paper—that, too, is a great success. You think it an evolution with these women? I suppose it is—they certainly are

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warmer than of old."
I laughed and said, "I shall remind Miss Porter that if the magazine continues its discussion of you, there will have to be a revision of the title so as to make it 'Shakespeare, Browning, Whitman and the Comparative Study of Literature.'" W. laughed, "That would be preposterous. They would laugh you out." "Well, that's the worst they could do." He read Trumbull's article while I sat there. "He wields a heavy-timbered pen." And again said, "If we were in the way of feeling flattered, this magazine would spoil us."

     W. is in great conviction of his precarious tenure. "With no eating of account, and no exercise, no out-of-doors, what can we have ahead of us? Only wreck—only wreck!" Gave me a letter to mail to his sister (Mrs. Heyde). I held it up, "Two dollars?" "No, five!" "For the good of the philanthropist?" This made him laugh, "No, I hope not!"

     A good letter to me from Morse, now in St. Louis:
1748 Waverley Place
Dec. 12, 1891

Dear Traubel,

Your note of Nov 18. followed me all about into Kansas, Neb, and now returns to this city, where I find it on getting back here from my Lecture trip.

I hope to have a Lowell out by the 20th. If that will serve Mrs. Fels I shall be glad to send her a copy. If I do not hear to the contrary I will do so. It is a bust. I have ordered copies of my Lincoln & Columbus (2 each) to be forwarded by freight to your address. You can show Walt the Lincoln. If it impresses him favorably, leave a copy with him. Please accept the other Lincoln & one of the Columbus for yourself & wife with my kind regards & best wishes.

The other Columbus give to Harned's boy for Xmas.

I had a successful trip into Kansas & Neb. Fine audiences at Lincoln & Omaha. My "Lowell, Holmes & Whitman" was well received. There was much interest in what I had to say of Whitman. At the Unitarian Ch. they are discussing the 12 authors who have helped make the English language. I don't know who the others are, but Walt is one of the number, & by request of the minister (who doesn't like L. of G.)

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his books were ordered for the Public Library. My lecture is with my sketches, about 2 hours long—1/2 hour to each part, & about 1/2 hour to the sketches as I go along. Dividing it into 3 parts with a little music between each part, it does not seem long—so they tell me. My sculptor's art begins at 8. and gets done at 10. or 10 1/2—just as the people feel. At Lincoln & Omaha they stayed on after I dismissed them till I was tired, quite tired out.


Todd of Topeka is a strong man. He has written to Germantown. But may not please that Society. I send you a few circulars you can give out.

Kind regards to all your people.

Sincerely,

Morse


W. read with great interest and remarking "evidences multiply" to the 12 masters of English. "That new work from Sidney ought to be new light. He always sheds light. The noble Sidney!" I have a letter from Bucke, dated 13th. He speaks thus of W.:
13 Dec 1891

My dear Horace

I have your notes of 10 & 11 inst. and am relieved to hear that W. is easier but fear it is only for the moment and that the clouds will soon gather about him again—perhaps darker & heavier than ever—it is a heartbreaking business, the only thing to which we can look for relief (W.'s death) being such a dreadful alternative. I sometimes feel as if I shd. break down myself before we get through with it all.

Of course you will keep the '72 L. of G. until you have settled upon & made the new cover. I lectured all yesterday morning and one more forenoon (next Saturday, I guess) will finish the course. My lecture then (last lecture) will be largely original speculations on the origin, course, meaning, of insanity—showing how it proceeds inevitably from the evolution of the race.

Love to Anne.

So long!

R. M. Bucke



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     After leaving W. and going home, I found delightful letters from Wallace and Johnston:
Anderton, nr. Chorley.
Lancashire, England.
5. Dec. 1891

My dear Traubel,

I have to thank you for your letters, one dated Nov. 20th being the last received. I have neglected my own duties in that respect (& in others) but am not unmindful or indifferent.

I have been at home for 10 days (confined to the house for over a week) with a cold which, though not serious or very severe, has kept persistent hold. And I have felt in little tune for writing or exertion.

I have been out a little in the immediate neighbourhood during the last 2 days, & am beginning to feel more like myself again.

I wrote a letter to Mrs. Traubel last night giving her some of the particulars she asked for of my voyage. Of course they are meant for you as well. I would have written more, but that I got too tired.

I have done very little while I have been at home, except a good deal of idle reading, mainly Shakespeare.

I find the change from the weather I met with in America to our English November weather a very great one. Dull dark days, more or less damp & raw, with frequent rains. But occasionally—as yesterday afternoon for instance—we get a few hours of perfect loveliness, with cloudforms & atmospheric effects all our own.

I have seen nothing of the College fellows for 2 weeks, though I get letters from some of them. But they are busily engaged just now, & find it difficult to get out here. Johnston & Greenhalgh especially have tried often to manage it, but without success.

Greenhalgh reports an extra pressure of work at the Bank (some special business, I don't know what) & has been busy till late every night. And Johnston is very busy too.

I hope that Ingersoll succeeded in getting over to Camden. Doubtless you will give me full particulars if he did. I was extremely sorry to leave America without having seen him.

Has Burroughs not been to see Walt yet?

I am glad to hear of Baker's "wonderfully good condition" & hope that his arm will soon be all right again.


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What about your article on Lowell? When is it to appear?

Johnston will probably manage to get out here today (Sat) or tomorrow. I have one or two things to give him yet, & others to shew him. I have not told him yet about your "Notes"—simply because I have had no private talk with him since our College Meeting. I am sure that in the interests of W's work & influence, he will rejoice greatly to hear of them—especially when I tell him of the marvellous photographic accuracy with which you reproduce his talk. My own feeling is that his talk is as great as his written work—though of course less studied & condensed. And his comments on current events will be intensely interesting & valuable. He never speaks idly & his lightest words have weight & value.

My visit to Camden has only confirmed & deepened my previous reverence for him, with a more intimate affection & knowledge.

I often think of you & always with affection & good will. "If thou follow thy star thou shalt not fail of a glorious haven"—& in daily duty & industry, & loyalty, in open eyed reverence to truth & wisdom & good, in warm hearted affection & comradeship & love, you are advancing to that true success which is success in life itself.

May all prayers & blessing attend you, & the love of an ever increasing band of comrades & lovers.

Amongst whom count always

J. W. Wallace
P. S. Please to give my kind regards to all friends—Harneds, Gilberts, Morris, Longaker, Clifford, your own people & the rest.


     Law spent the evening with me. The Scotch fellows wish something badly from W. for the Burns celebration Jan. 26th. Where can the manuscript of W.'s Burns piece be?

     W. has cards for Drexel Institute dedication Thursday. It appeals to him and he says that if in health he would go.


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