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Tuesday, April 30, 1889

Tuesday, April 30, 1889

10.55 A.M. W. reading his paper. Reported his own condition as "so-so." But was happy that "we had a good day for the show—a good, cool day—and fair skies." "It makes me happy to know that everything passed off well yesterday"—here he paused and his voice was pathetic—"everything except that accident—that was dreadful." Nothing significant yet said, though he had "a hearty laugh" over one of the Chauncey Depew's jokes—"and a very good one, too"—this:

After he had gone from the lawyers' room the irrepressible Chauncey Depew was put on a chair and told a story. He said:

"As ex-president Hayes and I were coming up Wall Street in the crowd a man rose up before me with the most muscular arms I ever saw and protected in those arms was the most beautiful girls I ever saw. As Hayes and I tried to push our way along this fellow said: 'There is no room for the four hundred here.'

"'What do you mean?' I said. 'Do you know who this gentleman is? He is an Ex-President; an Ex-President of the United States.'

"'I don't care if he is Ex-President of Heaven,' the fellow replied. "He shan't squeeze my girl.'" The lawyers howled, and Chauncey had obviously made one of the hits of the Centennial.

Clifford had thought W. W. should have been called on for the poem. W. however was "sure it is best as it is," for, "Walt Whitman himself is glad enough he was not called on."

Baker graduates tomorrow—will probably settle in Duluth. Asks from my sister a letter of introduction to the Strykers. Baker will probably be over, partly to see me, tonight, but as I am compelled to be away, I left a little message with W. Baker will probably go west immediately after the examination. W. spoke affectionately of him—of his service here and the liking for him and the hope and belief in his ultimate success. Complained of his mail: "No Critic yet." Had I seen it? "What was in it?—anything special?" I quoted a review of Florian's Montaigne: " 'Myselfe am the groundworke of my booke': such were the Whitmanesque words with which old Montaigne concluded the preface to his immortal essays just 309 years ago, and such the reason of their perennial freshness and charm." W. said at first: "I do not recognize the relevancy of the 'Whitmanesque.'" but when I repeated the sentence, he said: "Oh! now I begin to see there is reason for it."

Some item in a newspaper had excited W.'s curiosity over Alcott. "Are they to publish his Journals? I have heard somewhere there were volumes of them." Alcott had "always had the idea of a mission," and part of his mission was "to keep these Journals." Wondered in what guise "he would appear in these extensive journals," if at all. I had with me a copy of George Haven Putnam's analysis of Pearsall Smith's scheme of international copyright. W. said: "I have not read it. Pearsall came to me with his scheme—was very anxious to have me endorse it—but I did not—was not disposed to accept it." And he reflected—the number of "endorsements" solicited of him in his time by friends alone was enormous—but he had always kept his own path, espousing none. The one pamphlet recalled another. Reached over to his piled box under the table. "This is the latest—this is from Edward Carpenter. And I think it may interest you—perhaps Clifford, too: send it to Clifford when you are done with it." A leaflet of four pages—"Our Parish and Our Duke: a letter to the Parishioners of Holmesfield, in Derbyshire," starting "Fellow Parishioners," and signed "Edward Carpenter," with "Millthorpe, Holmesfield, March 1889" in the left corner. An examination, with a home illustration, of the land question—the nationalization of the land. W. said: "Yes, Edward is a Socialist." And when I asked: "Has he ever—or anyone—in any way indicated William Morris' feelings toward you?" He answered: "No—I know nothing on that point." Yet Carpenter and Morris often came in contact, probably—even Rhys with him. As to the latter W. said: "I see Ernest is writing letters now to the Boston Transcript—literary letters." W. always read these with "personal as well as general" interest.

Someone had asked W. to write his name in one of the Burroughs books on him and he refused. "I always object," he explained, "to putting my name in a book about myself. I know it may be thought a mere prejudice—a kink—but somehow it hangs on to me—I do not violate it." Then he talked to me a little about the book thus spoken of. "It is a nice little book in shape" (I have one) "nice to handle. And the second edition is better than the first—has an addition of a dozen pages or more." As to the first edition: "It sold, I suppose—at least, was got rid of in some way." A New York fellow (I already forget his name) sent W. a big-enveloped batch of poems in manuscript the other day, accompanying them with an admiring letter. The envelope was inscribed: "Walt Whitman, Poet"—and the letter fulsome. W. little appealed to—has not read. The matter lays as it was, and where, from the first. Advised me: "Keep a sharp lookout for our interests—keep your grip on all that is being done for us. You did not see Dave yesterday? Ah! and Brown—see him. Look at his sheets, if he has started—see that he proceeds as we want him to."

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