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Wednesday, December 9, 1891

Wednesday, December 9, 1891

5:50 P.M. Not more than half an hour with W., but in that time a good talk—he evidently feeling a great bit better than yesterday. Learned that Longaker had been over and relieved W. of pressure on bladder and left instructions for Warrie tomorrow. Always brighter after L.'s visits. He examined parchment from Reeder and said, "I shall be glad to do what he asks, if I can. He must want this in a pretty big hand." As he did. Had been reading Post by drop-light. (The green shade makes it almost impossible to distinguish from the street whether W. is up or not.) Gave him account of my talk with McKay. W.'s note to McKay had gone over the substance of what W. told me yesterday, adding a drawing of the stamp for cover. But McKay will not tackle it till after the holidays, when we will get out our green book. W. remarked, "I am satisfied: in fact, must be. Meantime, these will do us. I like this cover—this paper cover."

Copy of Illustrated American I sent last evening he will send to Bucke. Stuck his fingers in vest pocket and drew out half a dollar. "I guess you might get me four or five copies of the paper—say, five. If you send one to Dr. Johnston, I will keep mine for my own immediate people. Mary has that one copy downstairs now." Had he read much about the discharge of Bogy at Washington?

The dismissal of Mr. Bogy from the Pension Office on account of his novel recalled the fact that Walt Whitman was also discharged from a Federal position in Washington because of his "Leaves of Grass." (St. Louis Globe, Nov. 17, 1891.) 
"Yes, I know about it in a general way. I always thought Harlan and Chase had horrible traits in common: now there appears to be some other at Washington. Who is it? We will keep up the old fight—keep to the path!"

Our two books lay on bed, inscribed. W. said, "I always feel as if more belonged to the Colonel than I can give him." Here are inscriptions:

Robt G. Ingersoll 
  from the author with admiration, 
  thanks and love 
Horace L. Traubel 
  from the author with 
  best wishes, remembrances 
  and love 
Asking me, "What of his whereabouts now? What do you know of it?" "He is a fresh breeze, wandering much—leaving health everywhere." "That is as good a hit at him, Horace, as we could hope for. It is my idea: I won't let you have it for yourself alone."

I quoted W. the following from Bazar: "Walt Whitman is said to have refused of late to receive many of the visitors who called to see him. His own friends he is always glad to welcome, but he wearies of the importunities of mere curiosity-mongers." "Ah!" he exclaimed, "perhaps that will have the one good effect of keeping the curiosity-mongers away." "I doubt it." "So do I, but it is worth while to give the thing a hope!" He has sent copy of new 'Leaves of Grass' to Post Office and had it weighed. "It gives us 30 ounces, that is, 15 cents. It is getting, or has got, to be a big book. It is our history—with the last chapter and the finis!"

Bucke seems a little exercised about the green book. In letter of 6th he says: 6 Dec 1891 My dear Horace I have your letters of 1st & 2d inst. also "Conservator" for Nov. and I thank you most heartily for your good words. I have from you 2 copies of "Con." I hope you mean to (perhaps have sent) send me a few more. W. did not send me "Critic" yet but we take it now and I have filed away the No. of Nov. 27—but as you say it amounts to nothing. I hope to have a stitched copy of the new L. of G. this week—what is settled about cover for it? And will you use my '72 L. of G. as sample? If not wd. you please send the '72 to me? All very quiet here and jogging along slowly. I gave 7th (double) lecture yesterday—hope to finish the course 19th inst. So long— R. M. Bucke W. says, "The always-impatient Doctor! But I guess he will have to wait. I am sure all are baffled and frustrated often enough!"

W.: "How did the meeting go last night?"

H. L. T. : "Well. There were about 400 persons in the room."

W.: "A great array! And what did they do?"

H.L.T.: "Discussed 'Literary Symposia.' "

W.: "I suppose I guess what that means. But what does it mean?"

H.L.T.: "They were mainly after the magazines—the symposia of magazines; and they seemed to wonder if it was not all a mistake—a financial ambition backing it—whether, in fact, the people were benefitted in the least."

W.: "But who said a word for the people?"

H.L.T.: "Eyre, for one, and he spoke of you as well."

W.: "Am I one of the people?"

H.L.T.: "You are their poet."

W.: "Did Eyre say that?"

H.L.T.: "Yes, he did. He mentioned you. Miss Repplier had said something to the effect that among other things she disliked, she disliked the prose that masquerades as poetry."

W.: "Meaning 'Leaves of Grass' and the like?" (Laughing.)

H.L.T.: "I suppose so, and so Eyre thought. Eyre took it up."

W.: "In what way?"

H.L.T.: "Oh! He argued that those of us handsomely assembled there to discuss the question of reading and readers were hardly the fringe of the reading public: that for the first time in history the masses of men were beginning to read; that if they read less things now, less would lead to greater; that whether we liked it or not, whether our conceit was patient of it or not, the surging modern democracies were assuming their own—were reading, thinking, doing; that only one man in all the world, in all history, and he our neighbor, grey-bearded, across the river, tonight, had voiced that new power and asserted its potency and right."

W.: "Was that just the way he said it?"

H.L.T.: "That is its substance. It came along after a lot of fustian and brag and inane witticism."

W.: "As you put it—noble, noble! It was a bold challenge—a bold challenge."

H.L.T.: "Eyre is a mixture—fool and wise man."

W.: "So he seemed here at the dinner."

H.L.T.: "Yes. And always seems. But with good will and heart."

W.: "With what is he particularly associated over there? What speciality has he? Or none?"

H.L.T.: "None. Potters about everywhere. But has a good practice, I am told."

W.: "Bless him, anyhow, for this good word! He touched the human of it! If I had him here now, I should tell him I appreciated what he said. I am afraid such things are not said enough. And we must welcome them, whoever the tale-bearer."

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