Skip to main content

Saturday, November 21, 1891

Saturday, November 21, 1891

8:35 P.M. To W.'s, finding him reading—a volume of Stedman's big work on his lap. Cordially greeted me. (Warrie had told me downstairs, "Mr. Harned was here. He left word for you that Reinhalter was not over today. He is to come Monday. He sent word.") W. now reported, "Reinhalter was not over. But I have had a talk with Tom, who has been in again." W. seemed a little disturbed. "I had been hoping it would all be cleared out today. But now we have struck a delay." I remarked my confidence that the thing would all be done Monday. W. not so confident. "I am not sure of that for myself—not at all sure. He may consult his lawyer and that would at least cause the lawyer to come over to see Tom, which would perhaps serve a good purpose. For knowing the real facts of the case, that there was fraud in it, the lawyer would be likely to withdraw. It is all a mystery to me. I don't know how much of it to believe and how much to doubt. Tom's whole transaction is superb—his management as bright a thing as I know." I read W. the notes from yesterday about Harned's talk with me. W. greatly interested—had me re-read a part of it. "How grandly Tom was aroused. How William O'Connor would have delighted to be present! Yes, he would have liked Tom—would have understood him. William was always a lion himself when any wrong was afoot." Yet W. "does not like" the delay: "it looks a little like a fight." "They would not dare fight." "Do you think so? I rather incline myself to believe that they won't want to press the thing; I agree with Tom that that admission of the fraud carries everything against them." And further still, "I am sure now is the time to settle up. Horace, this world, with its frauds, its mysteries, oh! it is a trial-spot, leading to what? There was poor Florence—dead now—a week ago here with his big soul strong and hopeful. Gone down, lost, in a tragedy deep as night."

An immense apple on the table. Has been there for some days. "My neighbor, the grocer at the corner, sends it in. He says, it is for my old friend, Walt Whitman. I don't know about the old—I don't suppose I really know him. It is beautiful—a rare fruit. And, as you say, seems to aroma the whole neighborhood—this room certainly." David Wasson had a great penchant for the raising of special fruits. W. said, "I am interested to hear that. Wasson was one of the big men up there in New England. Quite many of the fellows nowadays get out on their farms, for one purpose or another. Perhaps it is a healthy tendency!"

Reeder brings me a couple of pictures of his new house to show to W., who says, "Yes, bring them down. I am interested in all I can hear about Reeder!" Longaker over Friday. I referred to Brinton's idea that public opinion, not laws or states or gods, most powerfully affect and stay men in their moral standards. "That is really the heart of the question. Tell that to Long—he ought to be able to take some hint from it."

I have a letter from Johnston (England—11th). Wallace not then arrived: 54 Manchester Road, Bolton, England Nov 11. 91 My Dear Traubel What a generous hearted correspondent you are! Two letters from you since last Saturday! I simply can't keep up with you so must give it up. Yes I am sure Wallace's departure wd be a heartwrench for you but the memory of his stay will be sweet for many a day both for you & for him. Your loss is our gain for we are hourly expecting to hear of his ship's arrival at Queenstown & a good many of us have sent him letters of welcome. I enclose a copy of mine. I am sending him yr last 2 letters. I fear he has had a rough time of it today & yesterday as we have had a severe storm of wind & rain. It is now howling & pouring against my window as I write. My heart's best gratitude & love to you for your frequent letters & for their tenderly sweet words about our dear comrade—doubly dear for his long absence from us. Also to your dear wife for her message. I echo your wish that you could come over & shake hands with us all. Perhaps we shall meet someday! Who knows! Since I wrote the last line I have recd an urgent message to go & see a lady in distress. I know you will pardon my hurrying off. My love to you & yours. I gave R. K. G[reenhalgh] your message. He will write to you when he "feels to." So long Johnston PS Will send R. K. G. your kind note. 
Johnston's song to Wallace and the Literary World's kind poem, "To Walt Whitman." This last W. read and said, "Good for Tomkins! He seems to be warm, friendly. That ought to be sent to the Doctor—it would brighten him up." I promised to make a copy. "Good! Good! It will be a good act!" After which W. disclosed, "I have a new scheme, Horace—this, namely: to take up the 81 copies of the complete book still with Oldach and have the Annex pages put in with them—that would round, complete, the volume." Would that be fair to the early purchasers of the complete book? "I haven't debated that question. As I look at it now, that question would not enter. For one thing, I should have to get a new label."

Then he called my attention to a letter from Forman, which he gave me to take along: 46 Marlborough Hill St. John's Wood, London N. W. 8 Nov. 1891—8 P.M. Your letters of the 18th and 19th of October reached me together as you intended. You may be sure, dear Walt Whitman, that the moment I had them I wrote to Mr. Balestier to make an appointment. He replied promptly that what he was really after was the American copyright—only in a minor degree the Continental, and not the English at all, which in his opinion does not exist. He said he would appoint a meeting very shortly: & I am daily expecting to hear again. My own impression is that if you revised your works finally in few or many details, and the revision was first published here, the new readings would have English copyright—which a publisher could defend, and so maintain the position of publishing the only finally correct edition. Anything that I can do to forward your views will be a pleasure to me, be sure, but I expect to get no further with Mr. Balestier than to ascertain just what is the scope and end of his present approach to you. The moment I can see what he is driving at I will write to you again. About American copyright, of course, I have absolutely no instructions from you. The above I have written 24 hours after receipt of your letter on the 29th of October, with the enclosure which is too precious to name. Could I have caught the Cunarder mail of this morning from Queenstown, I should have written yesterday, if only to send my love and thanks for the delicate kindness you have done me. Your intuitive knowledge of men is wonderful: I do not know anything you could have sent that would have touched me as your latest gift has done. But how did you know that, dear Walt Whitman? H. Buxton Forman "Forman says Balestier is mainly after the American copyright—rather that and the Continental than the English. Which is not exactly the thing I looked for. If they write to me, or he more definitely (or even now, with his question before me), I shall have to say the American copyright is not for sale. I suppose things remain to be developed: they may take other forms than either of us suppose."

Soon, good night! But W. still felt his uneasiness that the tomb business was not yet closed out. W. remarks, "This tomb story will be a great one to tell the Doctor." And, "If there's a fight, how about us, Horace?" "It will be more than Reinhalter's business is worth in Philadelphia for him to press the contract." "Do you think so?" "Yes, it would startle public opinion!" "Can there be such a friendship—public—for me?"

Back to top