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Thursday, November 12, 1891

Thursday, November 12, 1891

5:40 P.M. W. up this time, reading Camden Post. Seemed bright, and talked for three-quarters of an hour. He had read Star but not yet sent to Bucke. "Mary has it downstairs. But it will go—probably tomorrow." Meantime I had found the right Herald (Sunday week) and gave him copy—1855 portrait, birthplace, etc.—illustrations. Bush guesses it was written by a Harvard graduate. W. laughed, "That is an engineer's guess. We will see." Said to me, "I have been looking for a lost letter. I wrote to Mrs. O'Connor: I had a letter, a paper, a book for the mail. The letter is gone. Where is it?" So we searched and finally found between the bedclothes and the sideboard of the bed. W. laughingly, "It was tucked safely enough away!" Then, "I got the book from Nellie today and have written her about it." Book laid on floor, open at "The Brazen Android." The actor's dinner "evidently relishable." (Star account "stirred me up.")

I had a letter from Johnston (4th). W. read. "I hear from him too. He burns a good deal of incense. Bless 'em, but," and he merrily turned the talk. "I must not read this all. I see it is not a giver of news. But what about this debt?" looking at close of letter, finally remarking, "The world has its sample gougers everywhere." A little disturbed because Dave had said it would take several days to give us the 12 stitched copies. "It is a 15-minute job." A mistake, to be sure. Still, I don't think Dave puts himself out to please W. in this. Showed W. Baker's letter. "That runs deep. A proud triumph! Of course you will go? And when you go you will take my love!" And again, "Good for Baker! Good for the Colonel!"

The book he was sending away had been sent to him for autograph—a young Englishwoman (Josephine Wembling or Webling). Letter therewith interesting and very deferential. "Someone has sent me another Carlyle book," W. announced. I found it on the floor, that it was Flügel's. W. had "not read." Miss Webling's hand back: I found it "plain." W. did not. Then he spoke of "its peculiar left-handed inclination." And of someone in the war, "Major Bourne, I think," who had "collected three or four hundred left-hand writings of wounded soldiers—all of them with the same inclination." The paper I took off with mail was for Mrs. O'Connor.

The Jewish Exponent people wish some Whitman article from me. Would W. give me a text? "I will think about it—probably something will appear." We have discussed whether a pamphlet edition of O'Connor's "Good Grey Poet" and 1883 letter would not be advisable. Inquiries many. W. "favorably disposed," he said, "but not prepared to give an immediate absolute opinion."

Thence to talk on a theme which enlisted his energy and plainspokenness. "Tom was in last night—we had quite a talk together. What do you think? (Or I suppose you know.) Tom talks to me about the tomb, about its cost. Seems impressed with the idea that there is to be, or has been, an attempt to gouge me. How does all that strike you? Does it seem to have any reason?" As I was the one to suggest to Tom to see W. on this subject and push it, of course I had plenty of answers to this question. I told him about the contract I had examined. This aroused his ire. "There is no such contract." "But I have seen it." "Then it's a forgery." "But your name is there—full, round, complete!" He still, "Some way, it is a fraud: I never signed such a contract." "I never supposed you did, wittingly—but I was sure they had advantaged you somehow." "They did—yes, they did, if they exhibit any such document. I never, never, never would have signed it." The contract mainly typewritten, with a few written lines below from W. W. (autograph), reposing decision, as to detail, in Ralph Moore. W. declared, "There's fraud in it somehow. I can tell you the whole story. I have already paid the Reinhalters $1500—am willing to pay them $1200 more—making $2700. But not a cent beyond that." I put in, "I always said to Harned and Bucke and others that you expected to spend a couple of thousand dollars on it, but no more. Boyle told me at a Contemporary Club meeting that you had said to him, you were willing to spend from $1000 to $2000." "Exactly, that was always my idea. The Reinhalters said to me, 'We are not after profits in this thing, we are after advertisement—or want to go for a market. We will charge you simply the cost of quarrying and transporting the stone—not a penny for profit.' I cannot conceive of this gouge. It seems impossible. Five or six or seven thousand dollars! It is preposterous! I am willing to be fair, to give them their due, but can't be expected to get down on my knees for them. The tomb was built for a specific purpose—a purpose clear in my own mind, however it may have been mysterious to other people. And I was urged to it, in spite of the weightiest, seriousest objections (some my own, some others, all duly considered). I had no view but this: that a few of us—my father, mother, some very dear friends—should be put there together. A plan persisted in, whatever the hesitations, doubts. Now it would appear that I am to be gouged for it all! But I am sure they will not dare push the contract—it would be bad for them to push it. But you haven't told me all: tell me all." From which point I resumed and told W. of my experience with Moore, difficulty in persuading him to let me see the contract. As to Moore's proposition that I should raise the money and my refusal, W. exclaimed, "Good! Good! You did right!" And as to Moore's idea to have some other take it up, perhaps even a stranger (he mentioned one) if I failed to do it, W. cried out, "I call that gratuitous, at the least—I forbid it, would sit down on it, stamp it out. And I don't know what Moore, least of all, would have to do with it—with me! This is entirely my affair—no other's. And I will not be interfered with by a lot of interloping strangers. The whole transaction begins to assume an ugly look to me. I don't like it. And the worst of it is, that it looks as if Moore himself had a finger in it—was in for some sort of a divide. Yet I cannot believe that, either. It is coloring deep and deep! Oh! Horace! The contract, the signature—everything of that sort—must be impossible, impossible! I remember that when we came to discuss it, somebody—I think one of the Reinhalters—said that something ought to be put in writing. Something by which to know enough to go on and who would attend to details. And that I wrote—willingly—for I believed myself that they were entitled to something of that character. But as to price—not a word was said, on either side—not a word. And any assertion that there was, or any document that there was, is a fraud on the fact—a damned foul fraud." I was glad he had talked freely with Harned about it. W. asked, "Is Tom quick in such affairs? I find him very determined to think there's fraud." "Not too quick—but quick as sure lightning!" W. then, "I suppose I did not need to ask that: I know Tom well, well. And he is, I know, strong, the lion itself, when once at the game. But I should say, guard against a mistake!" And over and often again he denied the contract. His mistake, I said, had been that Harned had not been called in at the time the contract was made. Now the damage seemed hard to undo. W.: "I suppose I should acknowledge that. And the whole thing beats me out of conscience. And particularly for what it may show up for Ralph Moore. I trusted Ralph." And again, "They were always very plausible and velveted when they came here: had this and that to say, to make things easy, pleasant. I knew there was labor and trouble attached to the matter—a part of it. But they always protested it was not to trouble me."

I used Tom Davidson's word "philanthroposis." W. promptly took it up. "Was that Davidson's? I often feel myself tempted to say the same thing—find myself impatient with present tendencies. But pull myself short—will not let the dogs loose. Because, after all, the philanthropic in man has yet important functions to perform."

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