Skip to main content

Wednesday, March 25, 1891

Wednesday, March 25, 1891

5:38 P.M. W. seemed to me to look better than for many days and weeks. And his voice seemed stronger and whole manner changed. Talked heartily of many things—chiefly of our work together. Gave him envelope proof from Cohen, on which he passed. Asked me to go to McKay's to number half a dozen big books ordered from abroad. "It is from the same person who took the others. Dave wanted to know if I would give him the same price as before, in the big lot, and I said, no: before, it was $3, now I asked $3.20. Perhaps he will not pay that, but that is my price."

Gave me last number of Review of Reviews. "It came today, from Johnston and Wallace—the good fellows. We both appear there, the Lippincott's stuff well-noticed. Then I thought you would like the number on account of the article there on Bradlaugh, which is very good, very: I read it from title to end." Written by Annie Besant. W. spoke tenderly of Bradlaugh—then mentioned Ingersoll, dwelling upon him with great earnestness and feeling. "He is a type of our best—our rarest. Electrical, I was going to say, beyond anyone, perhaps, ever was: charged, surcharged. Not a founder of new philosophies—not of that build. But a towering magnetic presence, filling the air about with light, warmth, inspiration. A great intellect, penetrating, in ways (on his field) the best of our time—to be long kept, cherished, passed on. Curious as it may seem for me to say it, I feel—see, am sure of in him—a remarkable likeness to Elias Hicks, Father Taylor. To the first glance they would yield no resemblance whatever: but as you look, the reality appears, more and more the positive fact of relationships. It is very remarkable. It should not be surprising that I am drawn to Ingersoll, for he is 'Leaves of Grass.' He lives, embodies, the individuality I preach. 'Leaves of Grass' utters individuality, the most extreme, uncompromising. I see in Bob the noblest specimen—American-flavored—pure out of the soil, spreading, giving, demanding light." He had seen the Inquirer editorial, which claimed that Ingersoll's Sunday speech about Barrett showed a change of base—a greater willingness to grant the possibility of immortality. He said it had "interested him," thought "Ingersoll is always such a vitalizing force, I look on immortality as in some way implicated with him." And then, "Paine was a grand fellow—high—with the most splendid sense of justice. But he was a reasoner—not warm—not letting out the natural palpitating passion," then, after a pause, "which perhaps he didn't have. But I see all that and more in Ingersoll. His imagination flames and plays up, up, up. It is a grand height! And he has so sharp a blade, too; is many-sided, gifted for great effects in different spheres." I described Ingersoll's wonderful fence with realism—that realism was not the paint but the painting, not the stone but the statue, etc., and W. exclaimed, "That must have been grand. But it was all grand—all: I can see." Further, "I don't suppose we ever had a man here so well adapted to that work. I see in him a great resemblance to great founders of religions, passionate devotees: Hicks, Luther—sturdy smiters of wrongs, criers-up of new virtues, callers to man to come forward, come forward, forward." W.'s expression of this of marked music and beauty.

W. gave me letter of Bucke (24th), wishing me to see Bucke's view of W.'s new writings. 24 March 1891 By this morning mail arrived your two post cards of 21st and 22nd. And also "Truth" for 19th inst. for which latter many thanks. I was going to write for it and am glad to have it without waiting. I like "Old Chants" well—exceedingly, indeed. Walt, I cannot see this falling off that they speak of in your poetry. Some of your late prose has not been to my mind up to your standard—but your verse has not fallen off. Of course you do not write now as you did in the "Song of Myself" days—in power there has been since then a tremendous drop—but that drop occurred in the early '60s. Since then you have held your own and today your verse has as great, as wonderful subtlety and charm as ever it had. Stoddart's column is interesting and in good taste. I am real glad that you have had the doctor and more glad still that you seem to take kindly to him. I hope now that you will let him keep coming and I am certain he will help you—that he thinks things fairly satisfactory with you is good and comforting. All quiet with us here—nothing settled yet as to when Mrs. B. and self shall go East. The meter, as usual, moves along slowly but prospects remain good. I still think we shall make a big thing of it but it may take a while yet. So long! With best love RM Bucke Bucke writes me, same date, as to his trip East (and here) this year—plans not yet outlined: 24 March 1891 My dear Horace I have yours of 21st. Yes, if you can get here in June (as I hope) we shall be able to talk over and settle a lot of things—more especially (I hope) the details of the W. W. book. About going East in April—there has been some talk of Mrs. B. and some of us going to Washington on an excursion but I doubt if it comes to anything—I really have no plans at present—think perhaps it may end in my going down sometime in May and back 1st June as last year—but if it can be as well arranged that way I should like you and your new wife to come here towards the end of June—if you could you would see a paradise. But tell me when you want to come and I will keep that in my head in making plans. As far as I myself am concerned I should like to get down your way soon—say in April sometime to have a good loaf by the sea—say at Atlantic City. Perhaps we will all stay here until you come and go East with you and go to Atlantic City or Cape May—we shall see—meantime tell me what your plans are and when it will suit you to come here. Always your friend RM Bucke P.S. Two cards from W. today 21st and 22d—he seems to like the doctor and I think feels better (tho' he does not say so). I hope the doctor will stick to W. and see him from time to time right along. Love to you RMB W. expresses greatest interest in all this, says, "I am anxious to see Maurice again." Returned him the Wallace and Symonds letters. He asked me, "Does it seem to you Symonds must be living now in a bad turn? That was my impression. It has left a pain with me: I can hardly shake it off. But the letter—oh! it was noble!"

Mrs. O'Connor sends me a picture of William. W. took it from me, regarding it long without a word; finally breaking out to say, "It is a good picture and a grand head. I know you like it?" Did not think he had seen that particular picture before.

Back to top