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Wednesday, June 19, 1889

Wednesday, June 19, 1889

7.40 P.M. W. lay in-doors, on sofa. Had had his ride today, "and a good one" as he said. "We have a new place—are able to get to the very edge of the water there at Cooper Street now: and oh! it is a delicious going, resting—and the view over the waters—the big city there—the splashing ferryboats as they go!" It was along-shore at about that place I had learned to swim as a boy, and W. was greatly interested in my experiences as now recited. While I stayed there, I responded to a slight knock at the door and admitted a couple, man and woman, whom he gently greeted. "Oh! and the flower, too—the good flower!" He sat upright on the sofa deferentially. They invited him to stop in to see them (they were a family he knew well). "We see you go past—you will come if you can?" But he: "I don't know: it is difficult for me to step out and up—it is a struggle. But although it was still solicited, he would give no promise—only say as they left: "It was good of you to come in: some day I may surprise you: but I can't say—I can't say!"

Said he had not yet received acknowledgment of book from Gilder, nor sent the intended copy to Stedman. I received a letter from Rudolf Schmidt today, and now I read it to W., who was greatly interested. "Our pamphlet, or book," he said, "threatens to be quite an affair—more and more threatens!" Handed me from his coat pocket the following letter received today from Wm. Carey: Editorial Department The Century Magazine Union Square—New York Walt Whitman Esq. Camden N.J. My dear Mr. Whitman: Your postal has just come & I write to ask you for particulars before making the request of Mr. Cox. Will you kindly let me know who it is wants the negative & for what purpose. I was sorry not to be able to grasp your hand on your birthday. Yours very truly, William Carey "I guess I'll have to let you do my correspondence if there is any, on this question. You take the letter—see what you can make of it." I said after having read: "What can I say except that we want to reproduce it by process, and that for the present anyhow, it is designed for private circulation, not for use in any book." To which W.: "Yes, you can say it that way —for the present. I do not intend using it for a volume just now—I leave that question open, however. I can see, though, that your explanation to him will not deceive him." And he added: "You know—I have had 80 dollars or more from them—royalties. Once I wrote to Johnson—thinking there might be something wrong—and he called on Cox, but it was all right: Johnson said the advertisements of pictures for autographs were honestly put forth, in my interest."

Yesterday's election in Pennsylvania on the prohibition issue had vastly interested W., who asked me now: "Isn't it completely done for? Let me see—that is the third serious knock-down this year. Won't it subside now?" I had met a heated partisan today, who declared that "no Christian gentleman could but rue the day!" W. laughed outright and heartily. "'Christian gentleman'! He is an unknown quantity, almost! There are few 'Christian gentlemen'—in fact, we do not know what a Christian gentleman is. Looking back over the past two hundred years, starting down in Spain, 'Christian gentlemen' have been rare indeed!—and fortunately for us, too! Now that is brought up in such a way, I am reminded of an expression of Felton's—C. C. Felton's—in one of his lectures on Greek literature—the best lecture of the lot, that on Homer: he started out with saying—rather slangily, perhaps, but in a way that was vastly expressive—'the great poet is a rare bird.' And so I should say indeed, 'the Christian gentleman' is a rare bird!—so rare he is never found at all!"

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