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Monday, October 5, 1891

Monday, October 5, 1891

5:40 P.M. W. reading papers. But was not well. Spoke of himself as "the same as yesterday—no change," but added, "But for the past ten days I have felt thoroughly bad, have had a bad run." Had he seen Kipling's portrait in Century? "Yes, and it seemed to me the face not of an Englishman. Oh! Did it impress you the same way? It is undoubtedly a strange face—a stranger face. Do you know, Horace, I think this fellow must amount to something. There is every indication of power—of a something there—though what I don't know. But he is very young, will probably break up. The precocious, early fellows can't, as a rule, stand the racket. True, there was Keats—poor Keats—went under, as so many thousands we do not even hear of—fragile as delicate-spun glass. I think Sidney hits the nail on the head in his little piece, what he says amounting to this, that polish is pushed to such extreme, it makes me mad. And that, you may say, is Keats. Noble Keats, too—the splendid sweet youth!"

A couple of packages for Post Office, one for niece, St. Louis, and one for Humphreys, Bolton. I laughed about the fullness of W.'s addresses, he remarking, "My friends always used to do that—do it still. But I think it a measure of safety. Once, many years ago, I sent a package to a fellow in New York, and it came back. I found on examining it that it came back because I had neglected to put 'third story' on it. Which taught me a lesson. You remember my friend in Washington with his stacks of trunks—the Adam Express man? He assured me that a little more care in addresses would have taken fully nine-tenths of the trunks to the proper persons. Now and then I get a foreign letter simply addressed 'Walt Whitman, America,' and it gets here sharply. Some knowing man in New York sends it right on."

Clifford in to see me. Has taken a reportership in Times. W. asked, "Has he anything in him for that?" I took the new sheets to McKay—had a long talk with him. He started by saying he thought the idea of the addition "foolish." I put in, "That's not a part of the discussion. They are to go in whether or not that is settled. I am here to discuss how they are to go in—on what terms." We got along amicably enough—a good deal of fencing. He opposed utterly to cheap edition, suggesting two editions: the one for two dollars, present price (autograph facsimile), the other at some larger price, with actual autograph. McKay not averse to green cover—rather favors it. Speaking of the present cover he said, "Walt insisted upon it—wanted it every way just as the Boston edition." "But you know why he wanted it so?" "Yes, I do." "And you know the reason is long since passed?" "Yes, I know that, too. I have no quarrel with the case, either as it is or as it is proposed to change it." McKay goes away tomorrow to New York and Boston and will not return till Monday. Will then be over to see Walt. W. asks, "That means the delay of another week?" "Yes." "It is our luck! But we can only smile." Then, "On first impressions, I would decide in favor of the two-dollar book. I do not insist upon actual autograph: perhaps the facsimile would serve for all." And again, "Our point is of course to add the pages. Whether we make any gain beyond that is not so important. I still adhere to the idea of the cheap paper edition. Sometime that must be. I am so happy to have lived out the work, to have touched the last mile-point (actually, I have rounded 'Leaves of Grass'), that I am willing to sacrifice most else. Though that is not sense either. But anyway, Horace, negotiations are mainly in your hands to make. We'll discuss it more or less thoroughly, day to day, before Dave is back."

Has been reading some of the Shakespeare plays. Not a word to either of us today from Wallace. "But Doctor writes me from Montreal—says the lecture affair was a great success—but not a word about Wallace." Johnston's postal from Annan moved us both. W. says, "I guess it is so. Carlyle always stirs me to the deeps. He was a giant-man, none more so, our time." McKay had called my attention to what was a defect in copyright page—W.'s assertion that in 1919 he might renew. But McKay argued he can't do it because he has no direct family—wife or child. W. however insists, "I think Dave is wrong. I have the copyright laws here and will look it up. But I am sure Dave is essentially wrong." After a pause however, "I don't see that it makes much difference either way. We'll all be dead, some of us long before that. So that it all comes to a point over which we needn't break any bones." Dave said to me, "If Walt insists on these pages, I suppose Mack'll have to take the dose!" To which I, "I'm afraid Mack will." W. said, "That seems rough, but that's about the amount of it." I found we could produce a paper-covered Walt Whitman for less than 20 cents per copy.

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