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Monday, June 3 1889

Monday, June 3 1889

8 P.M. W. sitting in his parlor, hatted, and seemingly in very good condition. He sat by the window, I next to him—and there we talked over affairs for well upon an hour. "I was out for some time today, up to half an hour ago," he said, "and it was a very happy time, too." I had seen McKay today, who was not averse to undertaking the book, but wished 200 copies guaranteed. He would pay a royalty of ten percent on all copies beyond what are required to make cost of production good. W. remarked: "I have been wondering today, how it would do to have the book bound in cloth—whether it would really cost materially more, whether it would not have decided advantages. It will be mostly a Camden clientele, anyhow, with, perhaps, a good palpable fringe from across the river in Philadelphia." "As time passes, the importance of the occasion more and more impresses me. For Camden, at least, it was altogether unmatched—something out of the usual run;—it put Camden in her best possible spiritual attitude." Alluded also to his birthday book. "It is a great triumph—a palpable victory—that we could produce the book against the difficulties that beset us—produce it absolutely, too, our own way, whimmy as that may have been." "But," he added, "after all, the big book is the book, in my estimation: has a quality not imparted by any other edition. I suppose a book to be what it ought to be, should be loaded. My effort has always been to pack, condense, solidify—to get my material into the smallest space compatible with decency: but some of the fellows recoil from that—they make it an accusation. But whatever may be said by others about the big book, to me it best of all exploits, exhibits, presents me—the whole book,—and particularly Leaves of Grass, which after all is the main thing."

Referred humorously again to the champagne that was brought him at the banquet. "It was an extra good brand, sure—and I never shared it with a soul—drank perhaps four-fifths of it before I left. I had a letter from Jim Scovel today about the affair—and he speaks of the drink matter—apparently thinks it a great deprivation. Jim is enthusiastic over Tom's speech which he thought the best of the evening. Jim sent me a piece from one of the Sunday papers written by him, and in it he quotes—and quite accurately—from Goethe." Scovel had also written to Harned, much to the same effect. W. as yet has had no note from Julius Chambers. "But there were a couple of letters came in today, marked again 'missent.' It is curious that this should be done with the plainest addresses." McKay still urges W. to send out editors' copies of the big book, but he is, as he says, "reluctant to do so;" for "ours is a quiet book—must go its own way: the edition is very small. When the big publishers—Harpers, the Century folks—issue a book, they use as many as my whole edition for editors' copies alone." Judge Garrison writes Tom for half-a-dozen copies of November Boughs, and the same number of L. of G. W. will fill the order. Speaks of the "extreme kindliness of the Garrison famliy—women and men."

Talked again of the dreadful catastrophe at Johnstown. W. remarked at one point: "I cannot make head or tail of it—even now cannot altogether make it out, though your explanation does a good deal towards clearing it up." He wished to get "the lay" of the town. He spoke very solicitously—very tenderly—and it shocked him to know the disaster was at its violent phase "just about through the hours last Friday when we sat so happily and unknowingly there together in the hall."

Dave suggested that W. have a new picture taken for the pamphlet. W. did not demur—neither did he consent. But he did say: "I have more and more been driven to the idea of having one of the Cox pictures processed: the one I call 'the Laughing Philosopher': it seems to me so excellent—so to stand out from all the others—that something ought really be done with it—something more than has been done. The pictures are in the hands of William Carey—and are subject to copyright: I suppose we would have to get their permission to use it, but I have no doubt they would give consent." Thought he would even let me proceed as early as tomorrow. Gilchrist has not yet been over with Saturday's Tribune, a copy of which I found out at Clifford's on Sunday. Report of the dinner therein much above the average. W. said: "Whatever the Tribune says would be likely to do us more good than the Herald." The flowers with "70" in them, still lay on the top of the stove where he put them Friday on his return. I said they smelled rather rank now, at which: "It is true: but smell this for charm, freshness"—putting forth his hand, in which was a twig of woodbine Mrs. Davis had just brought in to him. I gave him some ideas as to shape for the book. He listened and responded: "That all sounds well—very well. I can see how that is urged and justified.

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