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Sunday, November 1, 1891

Sunday, November 1, 1891

Wallace went with us to hear Salter. Mrs. Gilbert and Joe over all night. Salter late—audience dismissed. So finally reading his beautiful lecture to about fifty people. Wallace much attracted—thought the address eloquent, noble. As a postscript I introduced J.W.W. and Salter and they had some pleasant chat together—Wallace remarking his interest in Salter through the Conservator and Salter his in Wallace through the Lippincott's report. It was a very happy meeting—the two such good faces. Were to have a walk in the afternoon. Went to Dooner's for dinner—Wallace, Gilbert and H.L.T. Talk of the trip—of the plans. I advised Wallace to go Tuesday early and try to get a glimpse of Ingersoll. I would give him a note of introduction. From Dooner's to Camden and W.'s.

2:15 P.M. Reached W.'s. Warrie not home. Upstairs immediately. Mrs. Davis had admitted us. I had these words on my lips as I entered, "Here are all the pilgrims!" W. looked up from his paper, "Welcome pilgrims! Welcome Horace! And you, Wallace, too. Ah! and you, sir," to Gilbert, whom he then saw and whose name he had evidently forgotten—hands extended to each in turn. Quite soon to Wallace, "Your time is short, Wallace. You go tomorrow?" "Yes, that is the arrangement." "I have just been writing to Bucke—a bit of a letter." Wallace wondered if it was too late to have his love sent in it? "Yes, I'm afraid so. I have sealed it. But there'll be another!" Then he inquired, looking at J.W.W., "You got your jaunt to Pea Shore. Tell me about it. What did it amount to?" The sunset, the waters, the coming of night—all moved him. Said he, "Yes, I remember the water there: it is very gentle—a swish, a purr, like a cat's—just a soft touch—not a murmur, ever. And always sweetest at nightfall." And again, "I am glad you got that—there is nothing more to the purpose, more to convey the right impression. Things are flat there, but beautiful beyond word." Wallace said it was the weather which had most moved and astonished him, the succession of fine days, W. saying, "Well, in this district—up along Long Island—we are like to have such days, such skies. I have known so much and more than our recent experience. Though all has lately been fine enough." Referred to five weeks spent in New York (Wallace speaking back to his trip)—"in May and June"—and knew the lay of the city pretty well, and had known hardly a day of bad weather that whole term. Wallace quoted Burroughs that Englishmen more freely venture out in bad days, W. remarking, "I suppose some of our bad days are worse than your worst." And again, "Your climate must make a great boom in wet-weather things—umbrellas, coats." And as to "my own tramps," as he said, "I went with hardly a thought of the weather, in rain or sunshine." W. asked us anxiously, "Have you had to eat? Shall I have Mary make something for you?" I said with a laugh, in which all immediately joined, "Wallace wanted to eat a whole porterhouse steak himself at dinner." W.—mockery of wonder, "Why, Wallace, that's the best news yet!" And now, "Where have you been this morning? Tell me." H.L.T.: "To hear Salter—Wallace enjoyed him." "Salter? Is Salter in town?" Then towards Wallace, "I guess there's a great field for preachers and churches, but in my area there's little to stake on 'em—precious little—nothing at all in fact: I took no stock in the business, any time—it had no call for me—never had!" Further, "You're thinking of going tomorrow? That leaves you little time. Warrie will come up—help you pack. It seems to me I would put a pretty stout rope on that box. It will be more secure. I would not swear to it as it is now. How will you get it in England, when you get it there? Oh! You will send it from Camden to New York by express? That's better still: it will save you a lot of trouble." Showed W. a leaflet I had from G. W. Cooke listing his lectures, among them finding "Some Leaders of Modern Thought" with Whitman enumerated (George Eliot, Darwin, Browning, Emerson, Whitman, Ibsen). W. remembers Cooke's Camden visit a couple of years ago. "I remember the man, too: the man was the chief part of him."

Through the talk here and all that followed W. wore as benign and grand a look as ever man could or ever he had; so much this, indeed, that it seemed almost transfiguration to me—and Wallace afterwards mentioned it, with words of sorrow, that so splendid an hour could not be arrested and his face, as then radiant, caught in some picture for the future that will revere him. But to go on. W. asked, "Have you heard anything from Garland? Nothing at all? I am all at sea about that book." Was it not yet sent? "No, I lost the address: he gave me the name of somebody to whom to send it." "Why, I picked up the letter from the floor the other day and read it." "Is it so? Did you do that? But where is the letter now?" Which sent me searching about among the confused papers. Nor did I abandon my quest—from time to time, while we talked, poking about—W. at one moment saying with a laugh, "It is the search for a needle in a haystack." Yet I finally found the letter, much to his surprise. I had said, "Garland speaks in the letter of enclosing the money." W.: "I don't think he said that. There was no money in it, anyway." And now, however, he could see I was right. "It is curious how I have been defeated in this thing. Now I shall send the book." Then again, "I have had a devil of a time over this whole thing. Garland has himself left his old address—gone to Roxbury, I think. Once I sent his letters to Jamaica Plains. So I was in doubt even how to write him for the other address. A curious mix-up, tie-up—the whole affair a little smoky—not plain to me."

I told W. I wished Wallace to step in and meet Ingersoll—that I would give him a letter. W. thereupon, "Yes, do so." Then turning to Wallace to say, "You ought to see him in one of his great splurges—in his speechifying, on the platform. It is a sight—yes, a hearing—to remember!" Then with a warmth and fire of convicting speech went on to this effect, "Ingersoll? Oh! He's a great growth—a superb, natural specimen—in humanity, in literature, in criticism, in speculation, in outright expression, mobility (yes, in the use of English itself—the pure stream!), in thought, in progress, in all that go with, belong to, these, his the top of the heap, the top of all heaps. His ideals and ideas of civilization are magnificent beyond comparison. I know no other anywhere to even come in sight of it. Magnificence—yes, with here and there a horrible whim, fancy, humor, the devil's own! His spirit is vast, expansive, expanding. It lifts you, it is like a mighty stream, like a geyser at Yosemite, giving everything, in a great flood—good, bad, everything—a wealth of vision, music, in him, too, and freedom—freedom to say all he thinks, sees, believes. In these directions, in his manhood—his port, personality—probably, undoubtedly, incomparable. Most of our fellows give of what they imbibe from libraries, books—what men have written, said. Ingersoll? No, never that—nothing of the kind. Ingersoll is vast, big—as a tree, a great plant. Probably there nowhere exists a rounder, saner sample, a more vehement spirit, than Bob Ingersoll—full of faults, mistakes—full of splendor, justice, truth—sweet to me, to us, by the rich out-throw of his manhood—his superb, all-breathing health—physiological, spiritual—a delver not in books, fancies, but in natural processes, elements."

We were greatly moved by this outburst. Wallace remarked that he had never read anything of Ingersoll's except the Whitman lecture. W. as to that (with a laughing merry musical tone), "That's largely a pouring out of his emotional nature— not so much a tribute to what I am as to what he has heard I am or ought to be. That's the origin of what I called out when you first came here—that you should, yes, come to be disillusioned." But was not sympathy at the base of all real criticism? Was it to be made to appear less? W. then warmly, "No, not at all—I did not mean that. Bacon—some cute fellow, I think Bacon—has said that no man can criticize another, do him justice, anyway compass, measure, him—except out of an enthusiasm, or the fire that lights up, moves, enthusiasm—from affection, from such a point of view. That of course is the justification of the Colonel: his point of view—his radiant lovingness—his capacity to receive, accept, keep—with none of the damned pessimisms or inquisitionals, or all that, to interrupt, becloud—for which, through which, all criticism, anywhere, is made null and void."

Wallace spoke to W. about a possible ride tomorrow. W. said, "We will have to wait till tomorrow comes—to wait to see what it will bring with it. Sometimes it is the worst." Then turning to me, "The New York papers have me dead—or substantially so. They have been driving hot and fast in each other with dark stories: the worst of which is, that the prospects ahead are not cheery." I announced, "I am already preparing for your next birthday." W. seriously, "I would not do so. By next birthday I shall occupy the house out there"—throwing his hand east, as if to welcome Harleigh and its asylum. Still we laughed down his fears and said we would go on. "The college is to send a representative," I remarked, Wallace then protesting mildly and W. saying, "We will not be complete without them." Still inquiring about O'Connor's book. Not out at date.

W. offered to mix us some porter sang, which he did skillfully. Put some water in jug—washed it—had me pour contents into the bowl. Mixed the drink with a pencil—tasted it twice right out of the jug. Finally it was passed around, a loving cup: Whitman, Wallace, Gilbert, H.L.T. I was going to leave a bit for J.W.W. but W. exclaimed, "No, you finish it, Horace." Laughed a good deal when reminded of the drink he had mixed for Morris. Talked of Longaker. "I have great respect for him—he is a simple healthy nature—and professionally, I suppose has the weightiest forces back of him. So I hear—so Horace tells me, too. And his cheer is always sunny, always refreshing. Longaker, like Bucke, attributes all my ills, everything, in one subtle way or another, to brain degeneration, the paralysis, the gradual extension of the paralysis. I have a notion that I have a good deal of catarrh, probably all through me—but however, I am in a pretty bad way, that much is certain." I spoke of Longaker's confidence in his future—barring cold and extra-excitement. "I have long seen that, Horace—yes, long. And try to guard against colds. The excitement business I am not likely to fall into. And of one thing I am convinced: my heart is sound, thoroughly. I know Osler used to speak of the heart, and Brinton has said things to Horace, but on that score, there's no danger. Though, when the end comes, God knows just what form it will take." All this calm—as science-like as if in some objective deliverance.

He held the mug up. "See this? Isn't it nice? Warrie gave this to me—it was a present from Warrie," and he lifted and dropped the hinged cover to show us its manipulation. "Many a good brew in this," he said. "It was Egg Harbor I just gave you." I told him that in Reisser's Rathskellar were hundreds such mugs spread up the wall. My description as I went on moved him. "What a good place to go to! You ought to take Wallace there." "I would if he had time." "Well," with a twinkle, looking towards Wallace, "well, there are good boats next Saturday!" Wallace, however, "I have my passage engaged, Mr. Whitman—I have put it off long enough." Yet was amused and laughing himself. Finally we had to say our good-bye. We were out for a long walk, W. saying, "I enviges you!" This reminded me to say, "Wallace tells me you used enviges on a postal or in a letter and they took it for a French word!" This excited W. to great merriment, "To think of that! Don't you know your own authors? You have been neglected, sure enough!" We wished he could go along. "So do I—if I did go, I would be the wildest, gayest of you all!"

Out and away. Reached Morris' at 3:45. Longaker already there. Off at once—into the Park—up to the Falls bridge east—across and down the western side—fine talk by the way and brisk walk. Wallace along with the liveliest—taking supper at Gilbert's (Mrs. G., Anne, Wallace, Gilbert, H.L.T.). A merry time. Wallace increasedly good at story-telling. Not to bed, Camden, till midnight. Wallace says, "I have given up hope of full rest till I get off to sea."

Note: W. spoke of Rome to Wallace. "He is one of the best Scotch samples—rugged, true, temperate, sane, simple—every way." Circumstantially spoke, too, of one of his old companions, "Hop John—a good fellow, out of German stock."

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