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Tuesday, March 29, 1892

Tuesday, March 29, 1892

Hunted about some for New York Herald—going to ferry—getting my mail on the way and finding in it a letter from Jeannette Gilder which tells a sweet story of W.'s international endearment: The Critic 52 Lafayette Place New York Mch. 28 92 My dear Mr. Traubel, Mr. John Burroughs has just told me of the interesting ms. you have of Whitman's conversations. If you have not arranged for the publication of the work I feel quite sure that the Cassell Publishing of New York & London, of which I am literary advisor, would be glad to undertake this publication. Please let me know how the matter stands as soon as you can conveniently. The Cassells, I need not tell you, is a big publishing house. Sincerely yours Jeannette L. Gilder And a happy intelligence from Burroughs. Williamson sends on his loving regrets. Chubb writes tenderly from Brooklyn and will come.

Quite a chat with Bonsall at Post. Is eager for a big paper tomorrow. Will bring out an extra with all the speeches. Could I help him? Advised that he come up to 328 and discuss with us there. My engagement with Bucke had been that we meet there and commence at once to box up the papers. Thanked Bonsall for his splendid espousal of Walt. "Yes," he said, "I have tried to make a fight for it—a long, long fight. These papers haven't the pluck—they don't own themselves. I have known Walt Whitman—or thought I knew him—from the very beginning." Harry disposed every way to meet and help us. Further saw superintendent at Pennsylvania Railroad inquiring about a train for Harleigh at a time to meet cortege—finding hour 2:10 Camden side. Both Post and Courier will notify the public and give them a special invitation. Hard to get anything out of the Courier.

Found at 328 a letter from Stedman, addressed to me at "Walt Whitman's house," written yesterday: 64 Broadway March 28th, 1892 My dear Mr. Traubel, As I cannot be where I wish to be, on Wednesday, having a duty to perform in Baltimore, I send by express to you to-night a big wreath—my humble tribute of honor and affection, for Walt's passage and starry night. I have hastily written a few broken & all unworthy lines, which I trust you will permit to stay with it. Your long service, so generous, devoted, ennobling, now ends: it will never be forgotten—neither it, nor you. Sincerely yrs., E. C. Stedman Spent several hours, to 1:30, working on W.'s literary effects. Warrie secured barrels and we filled them. Many manuscripts and letters on the floor. Turned up in different places letters from Symonds, Tennyson, Mrs. Gilchrist. Four or five old scrapbooks (containing manuscript beginnings from notebooks, etc.). We packed things together, pell-mell, intending to send them to my house for me to sort.

Bonsall, Johnston (J. H.) and Loag joined me in parlor. Long talk of Walt and affairs and of the wondrous peaceful simple end. The hour solemn and strange. The strong men all worn and wearied, yet glad that W. had escaped the toils at last. Bucke of course present and, by and by, Harned, with a handful of telegrams and letters responding to our invitation. Miss May Johnston and Calder will be over in the morning. Gilchrist said to me, "I wish to congratulate you on the preparations for the funeral. I read of them in the morning papers. They are simple, even august, and I do not see how you could have done better." Will Burroughs be moved to say a like thing? In December he opposed speeches altogether, and even now he shakes his head at it. Gilchrist is to stay at the Staffords'.

Burroughs already here. I took Gilchrist in to see the body. He was much struck. Could it not be photographed? "The beautiful lines of that face ought not to be lost." I reminded him of yesterday's cast. "That is good, but this would add to it." Seemed greatly affected, exclaiming, "Poor chap! Poor chap!" He advised me, "It is exquisite in all its lines, even its waxenness. It ought to be secured in as many shapes as possible." He regarded it long and long.

Later I went in with Burroughs, whose emotion was much more visible. "I was hardly prepared to see him so fallen away," he remarked, "yet might have been, too, from your notes. Poor, poor fellow! How this contrasts with the Walt Whitman I knew in Washington! Yet how like it, too—the great features so persistent. I have often said and I say it again: that I doubt if America, or our time, has produced another such head—a head so grand." I had lifted the lid and he stooped over and kissed the still forehead. The tears had started in his eyes. "Dear Walt! So wasted! How much he must have suffered. Now it is all over. Now he is at rest. The silence is very deep, dear Walt! Good-bye for this world—good-bye." But as he turned to me, "Yet we have him still. He is present now as never before."

Responses to my telegrams come. From Chambers: "I fully intended going to funeral and accept honor with sincere thanks." From Mrs. Fairchild: "Impossible to be with you all tomorrow except in thought and sympathy. Greet all his lovers for me." Bush's wife telegraphs: "Bush away. Not time to reach him. Accept our sympathy." Clifford wired: "Certainly I shall not fail of the service tomorrow." Morse says by telegram from St. Louis: "Sorry, impossible." From Aldrich, by wire: "Have sent you a wreath for Whitman. Please place it." Julian Hawthorne telegraphs: "Regret that request to attend Whitman's funeral was received too late for compliance." (Sent from Sag Harbor.) Arthur Stedman: "Shall attend exercises as representative of Chas. L. Webster & Co." E. C. Stedman wired to this effect: "Sent you wreath, verses and letter last night. Must be in Baltimore tomorrow. Arthur will attend funeral. Thanks." Boston office telegraphs for better address for Garland. Could not deliver my telegram. And this message made me very happy: "I will come. Wrote you today. Kennedy." Furness, Garrison, Eyre, Stoddart, Eakins, Cattell formally assent to serve as pallbearers.

Stedman had addressed his wreath: "For Walt Whitman's funeral c/o Horace L. Traubel, Walt Whitman's house, Camden, New Jersey. Paid."

I wrote Johnston again tonight but no detail. Heart fails me.

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