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Saturday, June 22, 1889

Saturday, June 22, 1889

7.50 P.M. W. sitting in front of the house. He had a strikingly positive blue gown on which at once attracted my eye and occasioned remark. He laughed. "It is so gay as to cause you to note it that quickly? I did not think it. It is a present from my sister, George's wife." Said he had just come back from his trip—"I have been to the river again—my first love—and best! We sat there a long time, cogitating, dreaming, loafing. It is quite a good deal cooler tonight—don't you think?" I received today the following letter from William Carey: Editorial Department The Century Magazine Union Square New York 21 June 89 Dear Mr. Traubel: I am sure that Mr. Coz will make no objection as the picture is for Mr. Whitman. I feared the request might have come from some publisher who wanted to use the picture without paying for it. When you get ready give your Photo Engraving Co a letter to Cox & he will lend them the negative I now send him your letter Sincerely yours William Carey W. listened as I read it now, and was "much pleased," adding, "I was sure they would not object at all if they once knew the truth. I am glad you wrote as you did." Said as to his health: "I am better than yesterday—feel lighter, but then the day itself has been so fine, I have caught its color!"

Corning, whom I just met up the street, gave me the substance of a sermon of Minot Savage's in which Savage tried to indicate the difference between nature and artificiality in literature by putting Shakespeare at one end of the line, and Tupper and Whitman at the other. Relating this to Walt, he turned upon me direct a quizzing, half-smiling countenance: "Horace, what should you say of the critical faculty of a man who would class Tupper and Walt Whitman together?" And when I had finished an outburst of genuine feeling, he laughed gently—half-chidingly—nodding his head: "Yes, I thought so: that's just what I should have predicted you would say."

As the people went past, everybody, nearly, saluted W. and he everybody in return. An old watchman going past called him 'judge': to some ladies he freely expressed a recognition. To the baby in the coach it was—"Ah! my dear! You've come again!"—and to the constant stream of youngsters: "Well—how goes it with you now?" and "weren't you here with me yesterday?" I sketched for W. the "non-literary" passage among my notes for the book. He said: "Oh! that is very good! I don't know if there's anything I could wish more said than that!" I outline my scheme of arrangement, to which he listened interestedly, putting in terse questions and finally saying: "I like it—like it all!" As to the general title page, he remarked: "'Camden's Compliment to Walt Whitman' seems to me very good, as it did at first: I see no reason for wishing to change it: though, if a better should come to you or to any of the fellows, adopt it! You know, from the very first I did not approve of the idea of having a dinner, but the event itself sufficiently justified the plans."

Jenkins, of the American, returned my article on O'Connor as "too eulogistic." W. expressed disappointment, but comforted himself with saying: "It is about what should have been anticipated: what the Critic wants—what the American now seems to want—is—well, anything that is pale, colorless, vapid—and gets it mostly! It is characteristic of the whole New York crowd—for which, by the way we ought to get up a name—some very expressive name—something that will hit them off at a blow. What could it be? And now I think it, am on it, I will tell you, I wrote to Gilder just today about my word 'Presidentiad'—told him to give my slip to Professor Whitney—isn't he the chief man there—the boss—on the Century dictionary?—told Gilder to give it to him or to his chief mate, whoever he might be. I wondered for a long time whether to say anything about it, but finally my anxiety got the better of me and along it went! It is certainly a much needed word, and as it happens, a word easily recognized, comprehended."

Here he suddenly got upon another subject. "I threaten to give you another commission. I want some of Thaddeus David's black ink and don't seem able to get it here in Camden at all. When I send Ed out first he brings me Thaddeus David's pale blue. It's as bad as it used to be when I sent Mary out a-searching for my socks. She could get everything in the world that I did not want,—get all the navy blue she wanted, but when it came to the thing I was hunting for, that was out of style! There must be enough old codgers like me, grounded in the past, to make it still worth while to make that ink. I suppose the old Thaddeus David is dead but there must be a son conducting the business. I always took to the ink—used it in Washington, in the departments. I have told you about my experiments, letting water run on it nearly a week without making it less decipherable." "That of itself would recommend it to me: it is a singular honesty in an ink. The rage for pale green is fashion—I can explain it no other way." Said he would write an order on Cox for negative and give it to me in the morning.

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