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Monday, October 26, 1891

Monday, October 26, 1891

5:10 P.M. W. just finished making up a dozen or twenty copies of today's Record. Later I found out what caused this. For the moment, extended his hand, very cordially, "You are welcome, Horace—sit down, sit down." Then remarked at once, "Wallace has had good days—couldn't have been more fortunate. You haven't heard from him? He hasn't got back?" But I had not been home, he ruminatingly, "I suppose he won't be back now—the last train must be up"—which I questioned. How did he come to get that notion? "I gave him plenty of good advice about the Staffords—plenty—too much, I suppose. But he no doubt has found a way to accomplish his purposes." Wallace has seen the picture of W. at Mt. Pleasant—likes it: "It and the picture by Hine in New York are the only two that satisfy me." W.: "I do not wonder that he likes it."

Jastrow asked me Saturday night, "Do you know Strong, of London?" "Who is he?" "A great admirer of Whitman." "Did you meet him?" "Yes, in the summer." "What is he?" "If I tell you, you will not think more of him"—with a laugh. "Well, tell me." "He is a Sanscrit scholar—one of the greatest." At first Jastrow said, "He spoke of Whitman as the greatest poet of the century: oh! he was very hot. I was ice beside him." But when we questioned Jastrow further he remarked, "I would not like to be too certain about that 'greatest poet of the century'—perhaps he said greatest American poet. Indeed, I think it likely he did." But from Jastrow's further narrative judge Strong to be a man of power and future. W. says today, "I do not know the man—the name." Then questioned me very closely about him. "If it were true, it would set our heads very high." I said, "But it is true." He then, "You do not quite catch—I mean the judgment, not its authenticity." "Oh! There's no doubt Strong said it, but you ask, does Strong know?" W. laughed, "That's the main point of course. Yet there's probably a bit of weight belonging to it, coming from the man as you describe him, or have heard him described." I added, "But all is not golden. Clifford was in and said to me today that Fenno, managing or city editor at the Times, assured him with an air absolute that 'Walt Whitman is not only a great chestnut but a great fraud!'" This moved W. to great laughter. "Fenno—is that his name? Fenno has chased me down!" Adding however after a pause, "Yet some of the papers are after me, too. Yesterday the Record, today the New York Herald. The Record sent a young fellow named Patterson—not our Camden Pattersons—I know all them. Today the stuff appears. And it may be counted rather gloomy, unfavorable, on the whole—though true, too—essentially true. And, what is the chief thing, friendly—manifesting entire good will. Young Kerswell came from the Herald—he is their Camden (or Philadelphia) man. And now I wish you would look out for the Herald tomorrow and next day, to see what turns up there, if anything."

Conveyed to W. Frank Williams' grateful words for the book, which he will send to Mrs. Eyre, who is now in New York. W. responding, "Never mind, Frank—that's but a part of the evidence of my good will. I believe in doing all I can to brighten the planet, and Frank has done me well—oh! handsomely—many's the time!" I had this again to say to W., "Frank said to me Saturday night that he had since the spring been making a close study of Hawthorne and that especially in reading the notebooks he was constantly reminded of you, by some indefinable touch, spirit." W. looked, "Did Frank say that?" "Yes, but I contested it—at least said, a man is known by the atmosphere he keeps and that Hawthorne and Walt Whitman certainly occupied entirely distinct spheres." W. then, "I guess Frank—often think Frank (yes, and many of the other good fellows over the river there)—can hardly realize the 'Leaves'—do not reach the tapstone—face its physiological, concrete—might almost call it, its brutal, bloody—background, base. And what fact, factor, more important to know, to bargain for?" Again, "There are parts, features, faculties, detached bits, beauties, perhaps—these the fellows got—but the unitariness, the uncompromising physiology, backing, upholding, all—that they do not see, do not catch the first glimpse of."

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