Skip to main content

Visits to Walt Whitman in 1890–1891: In Camden, October 15th to 24th


 FRIENDS, Etc., IN 1891



ON Thursday morning, October 15th, Andrew Rome and I left Brooklyn and crossed the river to Jersey City, where we took train to Philadelphia; Rome intending to visit Whitman with me and to return to Brooklyn in the evening. Immediately after arriving in Philadelphia we took a tramcar to the ferry and proceeded to Traubel's house in Camden, where I was to make my home during the rest of my stay in America. We were very cordially welcomed by Mrs. Traubel, and, after lunch, Rome and I started at about two o'clock for Mickle Street. The weather, which had been dull and threatening in the early morning, was now perfect, with bright sunshine and a cloudless sky, and the atmosphere sweet and genial.

Warry was standing at the door when we arrived—Horace Traubel's father having just left—and took us into the front parlour and then went to inform Whitman of our arrival. He returned immediately, saying that we were to go upstairs at once. As I tapped at the door of Whitman's room he called to us to come in, and, as we entered, he extended his right arm at full length to me and his left to Rome, and held our hands firmly and kindly for some time, saying: "I am glad to see you both! med_sm.00226_large.jpg So you have really come, then, Andrew! Sit down. Wallace, take a chair."

Then followed a conversation which lasted over three hours, Whitman talking nearly all the time. My report (written next morning), though fairly accurate so far as it goes, is unavoidably incomplete.

He asked Rome about himself, his wife and son, his business, his brother Tom, and then about Brooklyn—the old house in Myrtle Avenue which he built and in which he used to live, about old Brooklynites, Brooklyn papers, and the alterations and growth of the city.

He asked Rome, at least twice, to give his "respect and memories 'to all enquiring friends,' as they say."

Rome reported a conversation he had had a few days before with ex-Mayor Stryker, who had known both Walt and his father and who spoke quite affectionately of the latter. Whitman was evidently pleased and touched to hear it, and also to hear Rome's account of Stryker himself; a man who had kept himself poor by his lavish charity to others; "a hard case and a pitiful story always found his hand and pocket open"

W. W. "When you see him tell him that you have been along here and seen me, and that I still hold the fort, 'sort o',' as I tell the friends, and that I am comfortable and as happy as the law allows; and give him my respects and love."

R. "Well, I guess, Walt, that your Brooklyn days were about as happy as you have had?"

W. W. "Yes, though I have had more happy days—north, south, east, and west—than I have med_sm.00227_large.jpg deserved. Coleridge once replied when some one said that his soup was cold: 'Well, whether it is or not, it is better than I deserve!'"

"Do you find this room warm, Wallace? The warm weather that we had opened my pores and suited me better than the colder weather does, and I have to keep the room warm."

J. W. W. "I am glad to hear that you are better than you have been lately."

W. W. (with a little gallant toss of the head and smiling tenderness). "You need not. I guess it's all right. I do not wish to be under any illusion, nor my friends either; and that is what I meant when I said to you at first: 'Come in and be disillusioned!'"

(To R.). "Andrew, I looked out for your coming and I got this copy of the complete edition ready to give you. I couldn't wait for the copy with the 'Good-Bye' bit in, but will give you this. And here is something for Tom. Give it him with my love. You will find in your book some reminiscences of old Brooklyn."

"You can tell my friends, Andrew, that I am getting along here quite comfortably, and that the med_sm.00228_large.jpg book which has been the object of my whole life has at last got a fair hold on the public mind. If it deserves to live it will do so; if not, it will go to the devil, as it ought."

(To J. W. W.). "Well, you have been travelling all round. And you have been to West Hills, have you? If I had known beforehand I would have given you the address of—, who would have driven you round. I knew him well. And I would have given you the names of one or two others. Did you see Jarvis's? And have a look round the old place? Though I was born there I do not remember so much of it as of the house where Philo Place lives and of the Van Velsor homestead. Isn't that a well-secluded place, removed from all sophistications? How well I remember the long, grey, shingle-sided, storey-and-a-half house, with its great kitchen and open fireplace!" (The words spoken slowly, as though he were visualizing the scene in his mind and recalling each feature, one by one.)

I spoke of my visit there with Charlie Velsor.

W. W. "He must be getting old now. I should like to send him something. Do you know his address?"

I gave it to him and then referred to my visit to Gilchrist at Centreport Cove. W. spoke in praise of the coast there—said the island was worthy of long study, and the folks too—queer folks with strong individualities: quite a good many spiritualists there. Then the South coast on the Atlantic side should be visited—flat, sandy, with the Great South Bay and the delicious aroma of the sedge—nothing better—couldn't escape from med_sm.00229_large.jpg it at any season, or in any place, along that coast.

There were three or four Charles Velsors living. The family had dropped the "Van"—"I guess it's all right. But I haven't dropped it, and it marks the Hollandic descent."

"Forty or fifty years ago the west end of Long Island, New York and Brooklyn, were largely Hollandic; to an extent people can hardly now realize. That element has since been swept away by immigration. Perhaps no one now understands that old race as I do. They should be put in a book, and I ought to be cuffed and kicked because I haven't done it. Broad, solid, practical, materialistic, but with the emotional fires burning within—their women, too, as much as the men—they exemplified my theory of physiological development underlying all else; just as we come from the earth ourselves, however much we may soar above it. Better than any other people—French, German, English, or of any of the British Isles, or American—they illustrate this."

"But my 'Good-Bye' is probably my last bit of writing. And every month or so I notice another peg dropped."

(Speaking about "Good-Bye.") "Some of my friends feel—Dr. Bucke does—that I should bind my pieces in better—make them one book—instead of having so many annexes. I suppose every college-bred man must feel my book very deficient in this way. But I have felt to make it a succession of growths, like the rings of a tree. My book is terribly fragmentary. It consists of the ejaculations of one identity—not college bred, not med_sm.00230_large.jpg a scientist—in the latter half of the nineteenth century, in presence of the facts and movements around him. The great poems—Homer's 'Illiad,' Shakespeare's plays, etc.—discuss great themes and are long poems. My poems do not discuss special themes and are short. And, anyhow, that is my method. As one of Shakespeare's characters says: 'A trifle, my lord, a trifle, but mine own!' 'A trifle, but mine own.' Isn't that good?"

"A short notice of my 'Good-Bye' appeared in the Boston Transcript, very sweet and appreciative, and referred to my 'blameless life.' Oh, how it cut me! How it made me wince! I knew better!"

R. "Mr. Wallace had the good fortune to secure a copy of the first edition of the 'Leaves.'"

W. W. "Oh! How did you manage that?"

I told him that I got it from Johnston, of New York, who, having two copies, gave one up for his name-sake in Bolton. And Johnston said: If you will take it to Walt and get him to inscribe his name in it, it will be complete."

W. W. "Oh! Well, I will do so. So you saw Johnston and his wife, Alma? They are great friends of mine. He is a typical American merchant; cute, money-getting, but with more behind. And you saw May? She is a fine girl; loves experiences, worldliness, etc., but with more added. And Bertha and Kitty?"

I said that Mrs. Johnston intended to come to see him before long and to bring the youngest boy.

W. W. "Oh! Well, I shall be glad to see them."


I told him that Johnston had asked me to write to say how I found "Uncle Walt."

W. W. "Well, you can say that I keep about as usual, and send them my love—and that's about all. We old fellows mustn't become growlers!"

J. W. W. "No likelihood of your becoming one!"

W. W. "I don't know. I used to feel, and Mrs. Gilchrist, one of my dearest friends, in some respects my dearest friend, used to think so too, that I was to irradiate, or emanate buoyancy and health. But it came to me in time that I was not to attempt to live up to the reputation I had, or to my own idea of what my programme should be, but to give out or express what I really was, and, if I felt like the devil, to say so! And I have become more and more confirmed in this."

J. W. W. "Perhaps your example and influence will be all the more valuable to others who suffer as you do."

W. W. "I don't know. I inherit buoyancy anyhow from my parents and I suppose there is some of it left."

I told him of the large budget of letters I had found awaiting me at Traubel's, and of the messages of love to him which they contained. I told him of Fred Wild's wish to give him "a hearty kiss."

W. W. (his face flushed with pleasure). "Well, tell Fred how I respond to his words, and send him my respects and love when you write."

I told him of the kindness I had received from Rome and from his other friends, and he said that one of the things he had wished was that as med_sm.00232_large.jpg people of different countries visited and got to know each other more they would like each other better.

Rome spoke of the difficulties they encountered in printing "Leaves of Grass," to which W. replied: "I don't remember any, but I remember that you were always ready to overcome them."

R. spoke of the old press, etc., and of the poor job they were able to do, but W. expressed himself quite satisfied with it. He disputed R's. description of the type used, saying he believed it was entirely "English," while Rome thought it was only "an English face."

He invited us to have supper with him downstairs, but, before we left the room, Rome asked him to inscribe his name in the presentation copy of the complete edition, which he very readily did, writing on his knee with a big pen. He also showed us letters which he had just received from Dr. Bucke and Dr. Johnston.

Rome and I then went downstairs, W. following us with the assistance of Warry. We found supper awaiting us in the kitchen, where Warry joined us at the table, opposite to W., who sat near the door, R. and I sitting at the sides;—Mrs. Davis asking to be excused went into the front room. The supper consisted of oysters, bread and Rhine wine, of which latter W. made "sangaree" by the addition of lemonade and sugar. He said that, "like baking bread, or boiling a potato, it is not so simple as it looks." He himself handed the sangaree to us and passed the oysters. He was in quite jovial spirits, addressing us as "boys," praising the med_sm.00233_large.jpg bread, which he said was Mrs. Davis's own baking and seemed to enjoy his meal. A caged canary in the corner of the room was silent for a time, "abashed by the company," but presently began to sing; W. encouraging it and calling: "Sing on, birdie! Go on!"

He said to me: "The canary you have, the stuffed one, arrived all right, I suppose? I understood that the glass shade was broken." (To Rome.) "I used to have a canary in the front room, and when I sat there alone it was great company to me. When it died Mary and Warry took it into their heads to get it stuffed and send it to Wallace."

"I got an offer yesterday which seems likely to be important. I received an offer from Joe Gilder, of the Critic, telling me of a new publishing company in England, which is to run parallel and to compete with the Tauchnitz house. Their New York agent is—. They want me to let them have the exclusive right to publish my books, and they offer to pay me either by commission or in a lump sum. When you write to Dr. Johnston you might tell him about it. I don't know what I shall do yet, but I think I shall ask Harry Forman to see about it. He is a business man, knows the ways of publishers, is a good friend of mine and no doubt he will do it."

"I receive a good many curious letters. I received one this morning from a man who said that he had written to me previously for my autograph, and he did not understand why he had had no reply. This was the third time he had written, med_sm.00234_large.jpg and he hoped he should get it. But I let the greater part of my letter go without answering them. I can't."

"Several people to whom I have the shown the picture of the 'College' group say: 'How American they look!'"

J. W. W. "I have been taken repeatedly for an American; but I got an explanation in Canada which was not flattering. They said: 'It's because you're so thin!'"

W. W. (laughing heartily). "That was a set-back,—like one I received once as I was travelling from St. Louis to Denver. A man came along the cars, as they do, selling candies, papers, books, etc., and he made a dead set at me and the party I was with to buy a book. 'Go away, my son, I said; 'go away, go away. We don't want books, we write books ourselves.' 'Books!' he said. 'What sort of books? Almanacs?' That was a set-back, like yours!"

"Now, boys, help yourselves to oysters. Won't you have some, Andrew? Have some more Rhine wine, Wallace."

Mrs. Davis came into the kitchen and leaned over the back of Walt's chair, saying: "I am delighted to see you having supper downstairs, Mr. Whitman." "Thank you, Mary; I am enjoying it too," he returned. (He had not had it in the kitchen since Dr. Bucke's visit the previous Christmastide.)

Finally he said: "Now we'll go into the front room. I'll go now, and you follow."

Warry went to him, turned his chair round, and helped him into the front room; Rome and I med_sm.00235_large.jpg following. He called Rome's attention to his chair there before seating himself.

Something was said about Herbert Gilchrist, and he asked me how he was. I told him that he was well and in good spirits, but that he was beginning to feel that he needed a change, and would probably go to England before long.

W. W. "I thought he would."

A. H. R. "What is the picture he is painting, Walt?"

W. W. "I think it is a picture of Cleopatra, the Egyptian queen of Julius Caesar's time, sailing away from port."

A. H. R. "Dr. Johnston thought he was rather reticent about it, and he didn't show him the picture."

W. W. "Artists usually are. He may work away at his picture, and then, behold! something else comes to light, and he gets quite a different idea of what Cleopatra was. He alters his picture and thinks all is settled. But it isn't settled, and lo! some other fact is discovered and he gets a different light on it again. I don't know that it is so with Herbert, but I guess so."

Something was said about Gilchrist (I don't know what) which led Walt to give us an account of his mother and family.

"His father liked to write about the lives of people who had not been recognized in their day, and to bring them to notice. He wrote a Life of William Blake, the artist, in this way. He had got most of the book written when he took ill of fever. Three children had it, I think, at the same time, and Mrs. Gilchrist attended to them all med_sm.00236_large.jpg herself. Gilchrist died, and left his wife—a strong, clever young woman—with a great responsibility. She had the children to nurse and look after, and there was Gilchrist's book to see to. She had the courage of ten men. It was in the publisher's hands and was, the greater part of it, written, and it was important that it should be finished. She set to, finished the book, and wrote the preface—thought to be the best written part of the book. The book was very successful. I have a copy of the first edition, in one volume. Another edition has since been published, in two volumes.

"Herbert had a tendency to drawing and she decided to make him an artist. She gave him the best masters in England. He draws very well, and I believe that drawing is his forte.

"Beatrice, the daughter, she decided should be a doctor—a lady, woman doctor. There were no colleges for women in England, and she brought her over along with the rest of the family to Philadelphia, where there was the best medical college for women in the country. In time, however, Beatrice came to dislike her profession. Her weakness had always been what may be called an excess of veracity. She would not do, or be, or seem anything that was not strictly true or veracious. And she declared that doctors could not, as a rule, find out what really ailed people, and she would not be one. One night she disappeared, and, from certain indications, it was feared that she had committed suicide or something. A search was made, but no trace was found. At last, some months after, her body was found in a wood, with her clothes and fixings much battered and decayed. med_sm.00237_large.jpg Very likely Mrs. Gilchrist's sufferings at this time time hastened her death, which took place two years after.

"Herbert wrote a Life of her—have you seen it, Wallace?—And he wrote to me asking me to allow him to publish the letters that passed between us—from her to me and from me to her. But I refused peremptorily. I felt that the letters were too intimate and too sacred.

"She was a great friend of mine, and outdid you, Wallace, in her estimate of 'Leaves' and their author, and till the end she never budged an inch. Herbert, too, is a friend of mine; but I have fancied lately that he has gone back a little. Perhaps it may be on account of my refusal.

"His brother, the eldest, does not like me at all, and will not come to see me. He is a sensible, good fellow, though" (smiling); "and has made quite a number of inventions in connection with chemical metallurgy, and is now a rich man. He was in the States a year or two ago, with the English engineers, and took Herbert with him. And I guess he gives over to Herbert quite a good many English sovereigns—which are very useful over here too!"

Soon after six Rome rose to go, and I prepared to accompany him to the Depot. But Warry offered to go with him, and, as W. asked me to stay a little longer, I did so.

Traubel had come in half-an-hour before Rome left, and there were mutual courtesies between them. After Rome's departure W. talked to Traubel about the letter from Gilder, etc., and med_sm.00238_large.jpg Traubel approved the idea that W. should consult Forman and not worry himself about it.

W. W. "Worry? I shan't worry about it one way or the other."


—A perfect October day, with blue cloudless sky, bright sunshine, and a refreshing breeze. I went to Mickle Street about noon, and had a little talk with Mrs. Davis and Warry, who reported that W. was "pretty well for him," and no worse for the long talk of the previous day. I then went upstairs, and on knocking lightly at the door of his room, heard him call "Come!" He received me very cordially, shaking hands and asking me to sit down. In answer to my enquiry he said he was pretty well, and enquired how I was and about the previous evening at Traubel's. He smiled pleasantly when I told him that T. and I had sat up till "the wee short hour ayont the twal," remarking: "And you got over it, I suppose?" He had had no mail, he said, and I fancied he looked rather disappointed. He said that it did not often happen so.

He took up a quince and enquired if we had any in England, inviting me to smell it and see how fragrant it was, and said finally that he would give it to me if it would keep till I got home. "I will give it to you anyhow, and you can show it to the friends and give it to Johnston or someone."


J. W. W. "Well, I'll give it to Fred Wild."

W. W. "Yes, give it to Fred with my respects and say that I should like him to send me his portrait. If he will do so I will send him mine, and that will be quits. And I wish you to tell the friends that I fully appreciate—and thank them for—not only their acceptation of me as a literary man, but their goodwill and human affection and fraternization. I don't know whether I have indicated it or not."

I assured him that he had in a score of ways.

W. W. "My friends sometimes tell me that I am cold and not demonstrative." (Smiling.)

He talked again about Long Island. If he had known that I was going there he would have sent something to Charles Velsor. He said the latter must be getting old, and was glad to hear that he was still living. I told him what I could of C. V., and he seemed interested in it all. I said that if I went back to New York I would convey whatever he wished to Velsor. But he said he would wait till Gilchrist or someone went to Huntington. He wanted to send some books. He said C. V. knew his grandfather as well as he, or better.

I told him about the superabundance of apples, for which there was no sale, and the depreciation of the farms in consequence of Western competition. He seemed interested and a little aroused from a visible lethargy. His colour, however, was good, and his complexion fresh and wholesome.

He spoke of Place, whom I had seen, the son of Philo Place, who had bought the farm from Walt's uncle, Iredwell Whitman. The farm had med_sm.00240_large.jpg belonged to three brothers (of whom I. W. was one) and a sister. W. had often been there. He seemed pleased to hear of some twigs and leaves which I had broken off various trees about the old place for him, and placed in my trunk which had not yet arrived.

I mentioned Churchester's house which we had passed on our way to the old homestead, and he said that he used to go there a good deal. I said I understood that it used to be an hotel, ("sort o', sort o',") but it is not so now.

"Did you go to Jayne's Hill? Is there an hotel there now? A splendid view, isn't it?"

At this point Warry brought in the mail, which had just arrived, and handed it to W. He took it and I turned aside, saying that I would let him read his letters quietly. "But there are no letters, and I do not care for these."

J. W. W. "I should like to see Pete Doyle while I am here. Can you give me his address?"

W. W. "Do you know him?"

J. W. W. "No. But Dr. Bucke showed me some of your letters to him, and I should like to see him."

W. W. "Well, I don't know where he is. I have not known for two years. He used to be baggage master on the freight trains between Washington and New York, and then between Washington and Philadelphia. He lived in Washington."

J. W. W. "Traubel thought he lived in Baltimore, and referred me to you."

W. W. "Did he? I must ask him why he thought it was Baltimore. I should like to know med_sm.00241_large.jpg where Pete is as I am rather uneasy about him. The cars used to come to Philadelphia, and he came here every week.

J. W. W. "It is strange that he does not write to you."

W. W. "It is strange, and I fear something must have happened to him. He is a good friend of mine. He was born in Ireland. His father and mother came out here when he was a little chap of four or five,—a bright-eyed little fellow—and the sailors took to him a good deal, as sailors do. They went to Richmond and lived there. His father was a machinist. His mother was a good specimen, I guess, of an Irish woman of that class. Pete grew up there till he was a young fellow, a big boy of sixteen or seventeen. When the War broke out he joined the Southern army and was a rebel soldier. He was wounded by our troops and made prisoner, and brought to Washington. The doctors got him over his wound, and he went out and got a job as tram-conductor. And it was then that I met him first."

J. W. W. "Then you didn't meet him in the hospital?"

W. W. "Well, sort o'. I don't know whether you know or not the horrible monotony and irksomeness of the hospital—to a young fellow recovering. So, as soon as they can, the doctors let them out, and they have to report themselves till they are quite well. Well, Pete was out in this way. We became acquainted and very good friends. The house in Washington was broken up. His father didn't get work, didn't get success; so he went away to New York, where he thought he would med_sm.00242_large.jpg succeed, and that was the last that was heard of him. No doubt he was drowned or killed. His mother died a year or two ago. And his uncle, his mother's brother—Nash—whom I used to know is dead. So I don't know where Pete is now."

J. W. W. "Perhaps the railroad people could tell me at the depot."

W. W. "Yes, I think they might. If you were to ask for Peter Doyle, who used to be baggage master on the freight train between Washington and Philadelphia."

Looking at my watch I found it was time I was due at Traubel's, so I rose to go. As we shook hands W. said: "Well, you will come again to-morrow? Come about the same time."

I spent the afternoon writing indoors, and in the evening accompanied Horace to a lecture on Music, at the close of which I was introduced to Harned (who had been chairman) and his wife (Horace Traubel's sister).


—My trunk arrived during the morning, and I took out some twigs and leaves I had brought from the old Whitman homestead for Walt, and a little before noon I started out with Mrs. Traubel into the town. Near Mickle Street we visited a confectioner's store, where Mrs. Traubel made one or two purchases and bought a small lemon pie for me to take to W. We next visited a fruit store, where I bought a bunch of grapes, and some pears, etc. With these I went to W's., Mrs. Traubel proceeding on her way. Mrs. Davis reported my arrival to W., who sent med_sm.00243_large.jpg word that I was to come upstairs at once. Before doing so I told Mrs. Davis that I would stay to lunch, which seemed to please her. On tapping at W's. door I heard his say "Come," and as I entered he greeted me warmly, with outstretched hand and smiling face. As I took a seat I asked him how he was, to which he answered: "Pretty well." He was sitting in his usual position, near the middle window and facing the room, with the little table on his left, and a bearskin rug thrown over the back of his chair. Noticing my parcels he asked what I had got, and I told him about our purchases, giving him the pie Mrs. Traubel had sent, and then the fruit. These he placed near him, praising each, and saying he liked the sickle pears best. Then I showed him the twigs and leaves I had brought him: oak from the old Whitman homestead, black walnut, oak and ash from the Velsor homestead. He held these in his hand for quite a long time, looking at them and inhaling their fragrance.

W. W. "I sent a copy of the complete edition this morning to Charles Velsor."

J. W. W. "Well, he is not a reading man, but I am sure it will please him very much."

W. W. "Yes: it will have a curio interest to him and he will examine the pictures."

J. W. W. "Did I tell you that I showed him the pictures of you in Dr. Bucke's book and in the pocket-book edition?"

W. W. "No. Did you?"

J. W. W. "Yes; and to Warren Velsor, Place and Mrs. Place, and to Jarvis and his wife. And they all seemed interested in them."


W. W. "And Charles Velsor is looking quite hale, is he? He is seventy-eight, I think."

J. W. W. "In his seventy-eighth year—seventy-seven. But he seems quite strong and active, and, though he limps on one foot, he gets about pretty briskly."

W. W. "I should like to see him."

J. W. W. "He said at least twice that he wished you could come over. He will appreciate your kind thought in sending him a souvenir more than anything in the book."

W. W. "Yes, he is one who will feel that."

He asked what I had been doing, and if I had written to Dr. Johnston. He had written a postal himself, but had stupidly dated it the 16th instead of the 17th. He supposed it did not matter much, but he liked—and Doctor did—to know the exact when and where.

Then followed a talk about America, but I do not remember how it began.

W. W. "The Americans are given to smartness and money-getting, and there is a danger of over-smartness. Emerson and others have feared that smartness—refinement or intellect—might run over to demonism, the foulness, the corruption, that we have in America."

J. W. W. "I suppose that this is true of the towns, but is it so of the rural agricultural population?"


W. W. "The towns are swelled from the country, and radiate back to the country. A country population in direct contact with natural facts and growths becomes wholesome and pure as Nature is. This is, in part, the influence I wish 'Leaves of Grass' to have. If the book lives and becomes a power, it will be understood better in fifty or a hundred years than now. For it needs people to grow up with it. Its lesson or impetus or urge is not direct, but at second or third or even fourth removes or indirections. It is so with Nature. She does not say, like the good uncles and aunts, 'Now be a good child and behave nicely.' Her lessons are well folded and enveloped. No child can be born or brought up but they are brought to bear on him and are absorbed by him. So with the 'Leaves.' Their aim is Character: what I sometimes call Heroism—Heroicism. Some of my friends say it is a sane, strong physiology; I hope it is. But physiology is a secondary matter. Not, as in Homer's 'Iliad,' to depict great personalities, or, as in Shakespeare's plays, to describe events and passions, but to arouse that something in the reader which we call Character."

J. W. W. "You say to each reader, 'You become my poem.'"

W. W. "Yes. Not to describe things outside you—creeds or bibles or anything else—but to arouse that which is in you. It is in you. This I repeat over and over; perhaps too much."

"There was an old Quaker preacher, Elias Hicks—have you heard of him? That picture of him in my book is like what he was when I knew him. Fine, tall man, with noble Roman figure; med_sm.00246_large.jpg eyes deep black, which would glow, coruscate and flash; fine voice. He found his best lever in the Hebrew scriptures; used them and selected texts from them like the rest, but used to urge—sometimes directly—mostly, perhaps, indirectly."

Here a pause followed, after which the subject of conversation was changed.

(I shall never forget the effect upon me of W.'s manner and speech during the foregoing talk. He sat upright, his head bent slightly forward, and spoke quietly and tenderly, with the utmost simplicity and equality of manner, as of an elder comrade to a younger, yet with an earnestness and prophet majesty, which were indescribably impressive.)

I said that one reason why I wanted to see Pete Doyle was that he perhaps represented the average American.

W. W. "Well, no. Pete hardly does. For years past Pete has been whirled among the sophistications."

I said that Herbert Gilchrist had told me that if I studied the life of New York and Philadelphia I should know American life as a whole.

W. W. "Well, Herbert is cute, perceptive,—like the rest—but—"

Here Mrs. Davis came in and asked me to come down to lunch, and asked "Mr. Whitman" if he would come too. "No, Mary, I will not come now." I told him that I had invited myself to lunch. "Well, that is a compliment all round. Mrs. Davis will be pleased and I am pleased."

"Shall I come up again for a few minutes?" med_sm.00247_large.jpg I asked, "or shall I leave you now? I do not want to fatigue you."

W. W. "Just come up a little. It does not fatigue me, but rather the reverse; but my head gets like an apple dumpling as I say. It seems to go round and round; like nothing so much as an apple dumpling."

I went downstairs and had lunch in the kitchen with Mrs. Davis and a friend of hers, where I sat in the chair which W. usually occupied and I drank tea from the big cup which he used. After her husband's death she had kept house successively for two old and infirm sea captains, each of whom she had waited on till his death. Afterwards W. had invited her to come and keep house for him, but she felt very averse at the time to the idea of undertaking another task similar to the two last and she declined. W. was then living alone in considerable poverty, and one cold morning, when snow was falling, as she was looking through the window of the house where she lived, she saw him passing slowly, stick in hand, along the street; and, as she watched him, her heart melted with compassion and she decided to do as he wished. She went to the door invited him into the house and told him her decision. He seemed much affected and grateful and, saying "Thank you, Mary," he kissed her.

As we were talking Warry came in, having just returned from an errand in Philadelphia, and, after a little talk, we agreed to have a short walk med_sm.00248_large.jpg together. First, however, we both went up to see W. Warry asked him the number of the house in Stevens Street (322) where his mother died, and I explained that we had agreed to have a walk and that I wished to see it. He enquired what my programme was for the rest of my jaunt. I replied that I had not decided, but that I intended to visit Timber Creek some time.

"To Mrs. Stafford's?" he asked. "Sunday is a good day for going there. Get there about twelve and it will leave you three or four hours to look round. Horace going with you?"

I said I hadn't consulted him yet and feared he could not. I had promised to go with him to hear Clifford on Sunday, and would to Timber Creek some other day.

"Well," he returned, "if Horace can't go, Warry will go with you." I said I would not decide anything then. "No," said he, "my suggestions are only candidates for your consideration."

I asked if Timber Creek was too far for W. himself to drive.

W. "Yes, it is too far, I think."

I said I hoped he would be able to take a drive while I was there. It was painful to think of his being indoors all the time during such fine weather.

W. W. "Well, my dear fellow, as we say here—(I don't know whether you have the phrase)—we have to 'face the music.' A soldier has to go through what lies before him."

"I am only a casual here, anyhow. In '73 I had paralysis and left Washington for Philadelphia med_sm.00249_large.jpg and the coast probably. My mother had died a little before. At Philadelphia I became helpless. As a temporary arrangement I came over here and have been here ever since. My friends don't like it. Doctor" (Dr. Bucke) "despises Camden and despises Mickle Street; but here I am."

J. W. W. "I know that several of your friends—Dr. Bucke, Johnston of New York, and Herbert Gilchrist—all wish that you were with them."

W. W. "I quite appreciate their reasons and kindness, and have given them pretty serious ponderings. But Mrs. Davis and Warry are very good, and, as we say, 'every cock likes his own dunghill best.'"

He asked me, if I did not go to Timber Creek on Sunday, to come with Horace about twelve o'clock, which I promised to do.

I then left him, and had a walk with Warry round Stevens Street and past the house where W's. mother spent the close of her life. I then went to Traubel's where two friends—Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert—joined us at supper.

At nine o'clock Traubel, Gilbert and I set out to visit W., taking him a basket of fruits and candies. We found him still up and sitting in the corner near his bed, reading one of Scott's novels, "Count Robert of Paris," with the gaslight behind his left shoulder. He reported himself better than during the day, and said he usually felt better when evening came. He seemed pleased with his present, which he held in both hands for a long time, looking at it.

A short talk followed, of which the following report gives only a few scraps. Traubel picked med_sm.00250_large.jpg up a programme of W.'s lecture on Lincoln and suggested that W. should give it to me, which he at once did. In connection with this Traubel told W. that I had confessed to no knowing very much about Lincoln, and had enquired as to the best books on the subject, and he asked W. if he had read Herndon's book. W. thought a complete idea of Lincoln could hardly be obtained from books. He himself had watched Lincoln weekly and daily in Washington.

"I was in a very depleted condition when I went to Washington. My pocket was picked on the way by a pickpocket, and I arrived without a dollar. My brother George was said to be fatally wounded, but it was not so bad. A bullet—a spent slug—struck his cheek, and he took it from his mouth with his hand! It caused him discomfort, but the doctors made light of it in presence of so many serious cases and got him through all right."

"There was a Russian Count at Washington, Count Gurowski. Have you heard of him? He had been at most of the Courts in Europe—on the Continent, Russia, France, etc.—was a Prince himself—but had to leave because of his liberalism. He was very intuitive. He did not like our public men, and we thought he was given to pessimism, till he saw Grant. One day William O'Connor and I were coming along and we met Gurowski. He had a way of holding his hands up and throwing his head back when we was elated." (W. mimicking.) "'I have seen him! I have seen him!' 'Seen whom, Count?' we asked. 'I have seen Grant. He will save you!'"


"He approved and endorsed Lincoln in the same way, and was quite optimistic. O'Connor did the same, and a few others. But there were many other—'bad eggs,' Secretary Chase for one; he was a very bad egg—who opposed him."

Traubel showed W. a letter he had received from the wife of another Secretary of the Treasury, Mrs. Fairchild, who was a great friend of W's. W. read it, and then said to me: "My best friends are women. They are my best friends. Put that in your pipe and smoke it!"

H. T. "What is there better than the friendship of a woman?"

W. W. "Nothing at all, Horace: nothing: nothing in the whole world!"

Traubel picked up from the floor an envelope containing the famous letter to W. from Emerson written in 1855. This had been lost for some years and Traubel reminded W. that he had promised it to him.

W. W. "Did I? Well, I'll not go back on my promise, thought it seems almost too precious to part with. But you must leave it here, and I will look it over and let you have it to-morrow when you come."

Before we left he said: "Our friend has never had anything from us," and that he would like to give Mr. Gilbert his picture if he could get up. He rose from his chair and slowly moved to the chair he usually sat in, took up a parcel of paper from the floor, opened it, took out a picture, (a copy of the one he had nicknamed "the Laughing Philosopher,") wrote his name at the foot of it and gave it to Gilbert. After this we said good- med_sm.00252_large.jpg bye and left him. Traubel remarked afterwards that W. had given Gilbert the picture because he had previously given Traubel and myself something.


—Traubel, Gilbert and I went in the morning to Philadelphia to hear Clifford at a meeting of the Ethical Society, Mrs. Traubel and Mrs. Gilbert following, and I was afterwards introduced to Clifford and to Dr. Longaker and his wife. Then Traubel, Gilbert and I went to Camden to see W. At the ferry I was introduced to Ed. Lindell, whom W. knew well and who is mentioned in "Specimen Days." He was chewing calamus root and gave me a piece.

We found W. sitting in his usual chair, and he greeted us with his customary kindness and courtesy. He had had a fairly good night, had slept three or four hours anyway, but complained of his head. He asked where we had been, etc., and I told him about seeing Ed. Lindell.

W. W. "Ed. is a curious fellow. Like the singed cat he is better than he looks."

J. W. W. "There are a good many folks like that, are there not?"

W. W. "Perhaps so. A wise and profound writer once said that the worst man—if studied fully, exhaustively—would be found to deserve pity or compassionate affection. It has a long tail, as I say, and so much depends on circumstances—often hereditaments."

Traubel told him that I wanted to take some calamus home, and that Ed. was chewing the root. W. began to describe it, and I told him that we med_sm.00253_large.jpg had it in England and called it "sweet flag," or, in our own district, "sweet-scented flag." "Yes," said he "we used to call it sweet flag sometimes." He asked Traubel to get a bundle of roots and some leaves for me from Ed.

H. T. "Ed. said they were brought by negroes."

This led to a talk about the market in Washington to which negroes go. I cannot report his words, but he described the folks there, young and old; their curious, quaint wagons; their curious fetishes and superstitions. He described the negroes in the country districts; how they hire themselves out on farms, or cultivate small patches of garden; their economy; how they will walk long distances to save a few cents of railway fare: one man used to wheel a barrow with Christmas evergreens several miles: a man who took home a few quarters, or a dollar or two, being looked on as the magnate of the neighborhood.

He also described the darkies who used to be at Ed. Stafford's farm—his going over with Ed. at supper time to see them—their food, their merriment, etc. At Election times they sell their votes to highest bidders. At the beginning of the day the price of votes is high, and as the day goes on they become cheaper and cheaper. The fellow who hasn't sold his vote feels he has done badly. "Poor wretches!" he exclaimed. "They are invariably—invariably—almost without exception—a superstitious, ignorant and thievish race. William O'Connor used to be a great defender of theirs; used to find palliations, excuses and alleviations."

Speaking of Canada Traubel said he thought W. had not seen much of French Canada.


"Oh yes," he replied, "I saw a good deal of it about Quebec, and about the Saguenay river."

He described the curious towns and villages. "The people speak French," he said, "a sort of patois—some of them don't know any English. They are far removed from all sophistications and civilized life. They are Catholics—Roman Catholics. There are a good many priests—fine, superb fellows some of them—young and middle-aged and old. Some of them have been to France to be trained in the ecclesiastical institutions there. Others have never travelled at all. They do trading, farming, boating; and all do something. I was once in a boat rowed by priests. And how suave they were! And full of politesse! And not a skin-deep politesse either. I used to feel quite ungainly. Always smiling and pleasant. One fellow never spoke to me without saying 'Monsieur' and touching his cap. Every time he spoke up went his hand. They have a sea trout there, a fish about so big" (indicating its length), "with pinky flesh, very common and very cheap. They don't think much of it, but I like it, and every morning they had two for my breakfast." (Some other dainty was described, which they got regularly for W.) "I was never more tickled than I was when an old priest told me that my politeness was different from theirs, but it was better! Of course I knew it was all nonsense, but it tickled me."

"I have just written a short postal to Doctor, and a letter to Harry Buxton Forman. I have given him full power to act as my representative in the book publishing business. I should like him to do med_sm.00255_large.jpg it and I believe he will. I have given him absolute authority."

"Have you ever seen 'Richelieu,' Wallace? No? Well, at the first opportunity you have you go to see it. I think Bulwer Lytton has made his title clear in three plays: 'Richelieu,' 'The Lady of Lyons,' and 'Money'—and 'Richelieu' is the best. It is not a work of genius, but of first-rate talent—of first-rate talent, with dashes of genius. It keeps the action going. When I was a young fellow and went to see it we used to like to see something going on and the pot a-bubbling all the time. Well, the old king gets into terrible difficulties all round, and doesn't know how to extricate himself. He sends for Richelieu to help him and gives him authority to act. Richelieu is very old, bent, with white hair and beard, and he coughs 'ugh! ugh! Ab-so-lute authority?'" (W. mimicking.) "'Yes,' the King says, 'absolute authority.' Up goes his old head, and he says then to the man who had been opposing him: 'You look pale! you are not well! Put five hundred miles between yourself and here within twenty-four hours, or your head will be chopped off!' So I give Harry Forman 'absolute authority' in the same way." (The foregoing was spoken and acted by W. with splendid dramatic power and vigour, and he looked the part of "Richelieu" to the life.)

He spoke of operas and of some of the famous artistes he had seen, and said that Fanny Kemble loomed out in his memory from them all. He had always loved the Italian opera. But the greatest contralto singer he had heard was Alboni; a woman with two children, fat, black hair, low forehead, med_sm.00256_large.jpg not considered handsome, but he thought so. He had seen her shed tears—not sham tears, but real ones trickling down her cheeks. He used to sit quite near and could see them. "It was in 'Lucia.' Lucia kills her own children. There is the bed in the corner where the children sleep, Lucia with dagger approaching. Alboni was said to have two children away in Italy, and I suppose she thought of them. Whether there was passion in the opera or not there was in her. She used to sweep me away as with whirlwinds."

"But how garrulous I am getting!"

I hoped that he would be no worse for talking so much. He replied that he would not, as he had been sitting quite alone all the time and it was a change—it reversed the scene—but his head was "like ten devils." We came away immediately.


—I walked in the morning to Harleigh Cemetery to see the tomb which W. had had erected for himself (and for his father and mother, and other members of the family) and which was now very nearly completed. The Cemetery, which was comparatively new, is situated in undulating ground, with many trees of various kinds, and is very tastefully laid out. Perhaps with some remembrance in his mind of the burial hills of his ancestors in Long Island, Walt had selected a low hill for his place of burial, but instead of arranging for a grave on the top of the hill, he had a tomb built into its side, surrounded by trees and the front only showing as one approaches near it from a side path. The front is built of unhewn grey granite, with a great upright block on each  med_sm.00257_large.jpg description in caption THE TOMB, HARLEIGH CEMETERY (1904). Photograph of the entrance to Whitman's tomb in Harleigh Cemetery, Camden.  med_sm.00639_large.jpg side of the entrance and a projecting lintel over, surmounted by a triangular block, like a steep pediment, with a sunk panel and "Walt Whitman" in large letters in the centre. The door, which opens inwards, is also of grey granite, with a wrought iron gate in front. Inside the tomb is a vestibule about ten and a half feet wide by six feet, with granite floor and roof; and the side walls are lined with rough-faced tiles of a light red colour above a marble skirting twelve inches high. The receptacles for the coffins face the entrance and are eight in number, four in width and two in height. The shelves and divisions of these are of dark blue marble, with skirting, frieze, and a small cornice mould of the same material.

The external appearance of the tomb is one of great simplicity and massive dignity, and is very appropriate. As in Whitman personal dignity and self-esteem went along with a loving and tender identification of himself with all lowliness, so the tomb, behind its proud front, nestles into the earth like a child in the bosom of its mother. On the sloping bank above it grows in untrimmed profusion the grass which gave the title to his book and which symbolized so much to his mind, and around it is the quiet and beautiful seclusion of the trees, with the soft and ever-varying music of their rustling leaves and the soughing wind. Above it, seen through the trees, is the deep sky: and at night the stars he loved so well.

Before leaving the Cemetery I called at the Entrance lodge to see Mr. Moore, the superintendent of the Cemetery, with whom W. had arranged the med_sm.00259_large.jpg contract for the tomb. He kindly invited me to lunch with his wife and himself, and offered, if I would join them, to drive me afterwards in his buggy to Camden, and to accompany me to W.'s—an invitation which I gratefully accepted. Instead of driving by the direct road, he took me by a long detour through beautiful though flat and somewhat marshy country. Arriving in Camden, Moore put up his horse and buggy near Mickle Street, and we then walked to W's. After a few words with Warry we went upstairs together and were both cordially received by W.

We talked for a time about the tomb which W. described as perhaps seeming queer at first and not esthetic, but strong and substantial. He didn't wish it to make much show, but to be let well into the back and amongst the trees, shrubs, vines, etc. It would look better in ten or fifteen years than now. He seemed pleased to hear from Moore of an old army captain and experienced traveler who thought it the best he had ever seen. And Moore said the majority of people liked it.

Moore told W. of our drive, and said he had wanted to show me some Jersey dust. W. said: "He has come to see all he can, dust included. To see America fully requires months and years. I myself have not seen it. Like the cat it has a longer tail than we supposed. But every day and every hour helps."

At this point Moore took off his overcoat and W. asked if I had not one. I replied that I had left mine at Traubel's. He said: "The wise man takes a coat, or cloak, or shawl. I used to carry a shawl which I found very useful."


I assured him that I had been quite warm enough and that I had walked to the Cemetery.

"Good!" he said; "I wish we walked more, instead of so much devilish riding. I am sure it would be better for us."

I remarked that I thought that Englishmen on their first arrival here were less susceptible to cold than Americans.

"Yes," he said, "I believe they are. Mrs. Gilchrist used to say so, and she used to open all the doors and windows for fresh air."

After discussing some details about the tomb Moore rose to go, and asked W. if he might come for him some day the following week—the first suitable warm day—to drive him over. Would he come? He could be well wrapped up and protected.

"Yes, I will," said W. "I should like to do so." And so it was arranged.

When Moore left I rose to go too. W. asked me to stay a little, but I feared to fatigue him as he was not well. He said that he was relieved to find himself better than he had anticipated in the morning. He had feared that he would have an extra uncomfortable day, but his headache (of which he had complained on the previous day) had lifted. He said he had written a supplementary letter to Buxton Forman suggesting that his books might be brought out in three volumes: "Leaves of Grass" with the two annexes in one volume, "Specimen Days" in another, and the prose in the third. But this was only a suggestion to be worked out later.

I said it pained me to leave him alone and to med_sm.00261_large.jpg be able to do nothing. He was very gentle and tender as he replied: "My dear friend, there is nothing you can do. And I am used to being along. You and Johnston and Traubel go too far in your estimation and kindness. Traubel is invaluable, and I don't think I could live without him."

I spoke of the impression Traubel's letters had made on us of comradeship, etc.

"Yes, he has all that about him."

"Have you seen his mother?" he continued. "She is a fine woman and I like her. And I like his father too. He is of German birth: came over here as a young fellow and married here."

I was anxious that he should not be fatigued by too much talk, and rose once more to go. He asked me again, as he had done once before, "won't you have some tea?" but I declined, and we shook hands and said good-bye.

I hade quite a long talk with Mrs. Davis and Warry downstairs, and finally decided to have a cup of tea with them (now four o'clock). Warry and I sat down together, I in W.'s chair, and I poured out the tea, pouring out a cup also for W., which Mrs. Davis took upstairs. On her return she reported that W. had said: "Here comes Mary Davis with my tea. Good!" To which she had replied, "Yes, and Mr. Wallace poured out the tea," and W. responded: "Good!" After tea we went into the front room where Warry played his violin for a little time, after which I had to leave to keep an appointment with Traubel.


—I spent the morning in writing letters and had lunch with Mrs. Traubel. med_sm.00262_large.jpg I had arranged to spend part of the afternoon in Philadelphia, and on my way there I called to see W., but I knew that he was too unwell for much conversation, and I intended to make my visit as short as circumstances permitted. Warry opened the door, and in reply to my enquiry, said that W. was about the same as on the previous day. After reporting my visit to W. he brought me word that I was to go upstairs at once. As I entered W.'s room he received me with smiling welcome and outstretched hand as usual, saying: "I am glad to see you." On enquiry he said that his head was bad, and added: "How is it with you? Did you go to Harned's last night? At Traubel's all goes as usual I suppose?"

I told him that I had been writing letters all morning. "All those fellows will be glad to receive letters I suppose." He said he had received a post-card from Edward Carpenter, merely giving slight change of postal address. He had also received a letter from Dr. Johnston. "He seems to be quite busy now."

I said that I was going to the post office in Philadelphia, and asked if I could post any letters for him, and he gave me three postals which he had written. I asked If there was anything I could bring from the city for him, but he said there was not. None of the talk was of much importance, and, though he was kind and courteous as ever, he was obviously very unwell and only able to talk with considerable effort. So I left him at the end of a quarter of an hour or so. After a little talk with Mrs. Davis and Warry, I proceeded to Philadelphia, where I did a few errands, including a med_sm.00263_large.jpg visit to the book store of David McKay, W.'s printer and publisher (where I bought three copies of "Good-Bye My Fancy" and other books), and also a visit to Gutekunst's, where I bought a photograph of W. taken in 1889, which was new to me. Then I met Traubel by appointment, and later Harrison Morris, and went with them to the studio of Eakins, the artist, where we saw his recent portrait of W. We also visited J. D. Law, another friend of W's.


—On arrival at W.'s soon after one o'clock, I learned from Mrs. Davis that he was better than on the previous day. I found him sitting as usual and looking quite bright, and he said that he was "not so unwell as yesterday." I had brought a parcel with me (containing the three copies of "Good-Bye My Fancy" which I had bought the day before and some copies of the pocket-book edition of "Leaves of Grass") which I laid on the bed before taking a chair, and he asked what it was. I explained that I had brought the books for his inscription. He offered to write the names at once, but I said I would leave the books to await his leisure.

He said McKay had been to see him the day before. He was bringing out the final edition of the "Leaves." Perhaps it was not necessary. It contained nothing new and was the same as the '83 edition published by him but with the two appendices bound in with it. He did not care very much about the binding and the get-up—as Dr. Bucke did and he believed Horace did—but he considered the contents the main thing. This would contain the second appendix and com- med_sm.00264_large.jpgplete the pagination of the book. With this addition he would feel that he had finished the work on the "Leaves."

"We have had some serious difficulties—setbacks—and seemed at times to be wrecked past recovery; but we have pulled through, and here we are. I do not consider 'Leaves of Grass' to be rounded and complete, but so far as it can be I think it is complete now."

I said I was told that McKay opposed the issue of "Leaves of Grass" in a cheap edition.

"Yes, he does," W. replied; "and I let it go at that. He has a good deal of publisherial tact and judgment, though he is a little given to whims, and even whimsicalities, and I give way to him a good deal. And he gives way too. He said that if I insisted on the cheap issue then it should be so. But I said: 'Oh no, it does not amount to insisting at all. I approve it and prefer it, but let it go at that.'"

I said that I had seen McKay in his store. His assistants had told me that Peter Peppercorn had been in the day before.

"Do you know Peter?" W. asked. "He has good qualities, human, a good head, and is a good fellow, but he lacks pilotage, a rudder. He must be getting an old fellow, is poor, and used to drink. Does so yet, does he? What sad work the rum makes! But I guess it's not so much the rum as the want of steering."

I asked how far it was to Timber Creek and the best way to get there.

"It will be eight or nine or ten mile from here," he answered. "You go past the Cemetery med_sm.00265_large.jpg you were at to Haddonfield—a beautiful village—and you can easily get someone to put up a wagon or something for a dollar and drive you there. See Mrs. Stafford and her husband, George: they are the old people. They have removed from the house I used to go to and now live about two miles away, at Glendale. You stay there two days. It will be quite worth while. Mention my name strongly: say that you are not only a personal friends to me but that I wish you to go there, and I daresay it will go a long way. You will find them quiet reticent people, not demonstrative, and you may think them rather cold. Andrew Rome is rather like that. But, as I said of Emerson, 'the fires burn within,' and they will make you welcome. When I was sick in '76 and had to take drugs, medicines, I gave it all up and went out there, and stayed there weeks, months. But for them and my stay there I should not have been able to finish 'Leaves of Grass.' Whether that is a good thing, and whether the world has cause to be thankful, is doubtful (smiling). But I owe them a good deal. They are plain farmer people, but Mrs. Stafford is naturally a refined lady-like woman and I like her very much. Her husband George is a fine fellow too in his way; a different way. He is getting elderly now; a cute, black-haired, quiet fellow, not demonstrative. They are poor and you had better pay them. Pay them two dollars. They are spunky, high-spirited folks and won't hear of taking money, but pay them—not too much, two dollars will be enough—and say that I said so. Do it courteously, but of course you will do that anyway."


"You should see Ed. the son; a cute, industrious young farmer—a good specimen of a Jersey farmer. I like him—and he comes here often. Stay there two days and look about you."

"And there is Debbie, as they call her—a married daughter—Deborah Virginia Browning. She has dropped the Virginia (folks often drop what they should not and keep what they should) and she calls herself Deborah Browning. They have two children now, a boy and a girl, and a small house; but nice I guess. I liked her very much as a girl."

"Herbert—Herbert Gilchrist—used to like to walk there, went there often and made himself at home, and did some artistic work there."

"I should like you to go there and I think you had better go soon. The weather is good, and will remain so a little, I think, but there seems to be storm hovering round."

I said I should like to see a typical American farmer: I had perhaps seen a Canadian one of Scotch stock in Tom Rutherford, at Fenelon Falls.

W. "A typical American or typical American character hardly exists. Like nature it is not a thing that is done or made, but a becoming."

I told him about meeting Harrison Morris, etc. "Harry? Morris?" he said. "A nice fellow—nervous, literary—snatched from the ranks of the enemy through Horace. A great friend of mine, and comes here."

He enquired how I had spent the previous evening. I told him and added that I had read a few pages that morning to Mrs. Traubel from the '55 edition of "Leaves of Grass."


"Oh! I should like to see it. Show it to me—what a curio it is! And I will write the names in the books now, and then I can write them just as you want them. Fred Wild—shall I write it here? What shall I write?" I replied that the name and date would be enough. "I believe I should like Fred Wild from what you have said of him. Any more then Fred? No 'e' in Wild?" He wrote: "Fred Wild, from his friend the Author, October 21st, 1891." As he was about to write the next inscription. "Thomas Shorrock," I told him that Shorrock was the best fellow amongst us—not literary but manly, etc. He wrote: "With hearty good wishes." The next was F. R. C. Hutton. "Does he care about the 'Rev.'?" he asked, to which I replied, "No, either way." When he had finished I thanked him and he said: "Give my respects to them all when you return, especially Fred." There was some talk too about Dixon and Greenhalgh.

"Did you bring the picture from London?" he asked; referring to some copies I had ordered when in Canada of a photograph of W. taken in 1881 when he was staying with Dr. Bucke, and at the same time as that reproduced in Bucke's book. "If it is the one I think, I do not like it. I will give you a picture" (showing me one) "for the friends. I have a good many and will give you twelve or more." I said there were fourteen of us. "Well, I will give you fourteen or fifteen." I told him that I wished to take back some copies of the pocket-book edition of "Leaves of Grass" which he kept in stock, and I gave him a list of names in an envelope in which I had enclosed med_sm.00268_large.jpg dollar bills for the total cost. Seeing these he exclaimed "Oh, let me give them to you!" I declined and he said: "Well, if there are any inscriptions or pictures that you want you must let me know. I intend to send copies of the complete edition to Dr. Johnston and you."

Remembering his condition the previous day, and fearing that too much talk would fatigue him, I spoke a time or two of going but he would not hear of it. He said: "Your fear of intruding or disturbing us is almost morbid. We do not trouble so much about it in America. We are coarser. You are our guest and we are the hosts now. I've felt the kindness of you folks to me and to Dr. Bucke when he was over there. Now the scene is reversed."

He read me a letter he had received from Dr. Bucke that morning. It contained a reference to the water meter, and I expressed a regret that he should be loaded with meter business in addition to his other work.

"He can stand it. He is in the full prime of his strength, has great superabundant energy and needs something to spend it on. Of course he knows—as a man of common sense, as a physician, as a scientist, as a physiologist—that a decline in his strength must come. And I suppose he has caution enough. That is an important point and has been a great stay with me. The phrenologists put my caution at seven. And I guess Doctor is cautious enough. With his meter work, his Asylum work and his 'Leaves of Grass' work he is fully loaded, but his shoulders are strong enough to carry it."


I said that I like Bucke very much, and that the feeling had grown on me instead of lessening since I left him. "I think that is often so," said W. He referred to the nice way in which the Doctor dealt with the patients—he had often watched him—and said he seemed just the right man for his place. He should be sorry if Doctor were to leave Asylum work.

I came away at 2.30, feeling that I had stayed long enough for W.'s good, though he did not seem fatigued and he was quite bright and cheery. He was wonderfully kind and courteous throughout.

I went on to Philadelphia and returned to Traubel's at four o'clock. Half-an-hour later Mrs. Traubel and I went to Dr. Longaker's, where Horace had arranged to meet us for supper. In the evening we went to a Class meeting of the Ethical Society, where Joseph Fels opened a discussion on "Profit Sharing" with Traubel as chairman


—The morning was wet and I stayed indoors till 1.15, when I went to Mickle Street. Here I found W. not so well: "the catarrhal trouble—the apple-dumpling feeling, as I call it—in my head coming on."

"There is a change of programme for you in the weather. Have you decided when you will go to Timber Creek?"

I replied that I would probably go on Sunday, and that Horace thought it better that W. should write to Staffords, or write a letter of introduction, but perhaps it was not needed.

W. "Yes, I will write. You can tell them and med_sm.00270_large.jpg arrange for yourself, but I will write too. I like to write to them anyhow. How are you going? I wish it were so that I could go along with you. I should like to do so very much."

"What is that you have got?" It was one of the copies of the photograph of W. which I had ordered in London, Ontario, and I unpacked it and handed it to him. "I have not seen this before. It is not the one I thought of. The hat looks familiar. I had a grey beaver—made for me and given to me by a friend and admirer in Philadelphia. It was not so high in the crown as that, but it was a better beaver."

J. W. W. "Horace does not like the picture at all."

W. W. "No, he said so."

J. W. W. "I had decided that if you did not like it I would not take it."

W. W. "I don't dislike it at all."

J. W. W. "The pose is good."

W. W. "Yes, it is."

I then showed him the photograph of himself which I had bought from Gutekunst's two days before. "I remember this," he said, "but I do not like it." I thought the unsatisfactory effect chiefly due to the way the head seemed sunk between the shoulders and covered all up except the face. But still he did not like it. He pointed to a parcel of photos which he said were for me. There were "enough to give the boys one each."

I did not stay long, and, after a little talk with Mrs. Davis and Warry, I went on to Philadelphia. On my return to Camden I took train to Pavonia med_sm.00271_large.jpg to visit some people I had known in Bolton who now lived there. At 8.30 I returned to Camden and went to Harned's, where Traubel joined me soon after. In the Dining Room there was a portrait of Lincoln over the mantel-piece. Until no longer able to do so W. used to dine with Harneds every Sunday, sitting at table immediately opposite the portrait, to which he would lift his glass saying: "Here's to you!" In the Drawing Room was hung a fine collection of etchings and other pictures, and one—of an old dismantled ship—was pointed out to me as having suggested one of W.'s short poems. "That's me, Tom, that's me," W. had said to Harned. Horace told me about several of W.'s talks in that room. Horace's own talk as we returned home was very fine and memorable.


—About eleven a.m. I accompanied Mrs. Traubel to Philadelphia, where, after lunch together, she assisted me to purchase some things for the Bolton friends. After leaving her I met Horace by appointment and we called on Talcott Williams at the Press office. Then, after visiting Carpenter's Hall and the old State House, we went to "Reisser's," to see the room in which the banquet was held on W.'s seventieth birthday. To my surprise I found four of our friends there waiting for us, and learned that a "surprise party" had been arranged. Eight of us sat down to supper (Harned, Dr. Longaker, Morris, Clifford, Buckwalter, Williams, Traubel and Self), after which we had coffee and cigars. Our waiters were those who had attended the Whitman med_sm.00272_large.jpg dinner. We left early and Harned, Buckwalter, Traubel and I crossed the river to Camden to visit W. On entering his room we found him sitting in the corner near his bed, and he welcomed us with great and even jovial cordiality, with his hand outstretched to its full length as usual, and immediately enquired: "Have you had a good splurge?" But, before an answer could be given, Harned asked: "Walt, have you had that bottle of whisky?"

W. "No."

H. "There is one for you at our house and my wife should have sent it to you to-day."

W. "Oh! That's the best news I have had for a month!"

After a little talk it was arranged that when Harned went home Horace and I would accompany him, wait a few minutes then bring the bottle back if Warren (who was then out) had not already done so.

Harned said: "We've been drinking your health, Walt. But we hadn't champagne; we're a beer crowd."

W. "Who were there?"

Harned. "Longaker, Morris, Clifford. Frank Williams and we four."

W. "And what did you do?"

I said we had had dinner and talked, etc.

W. "What about?"

Harned. "Wallace has been telling us about their Bolton group. He says that your influence has drawn together and strengthened their comradeship."

J. W. W. "I started from that to speak of med_sm.00273_large.jpg the comradeship and kindness with which they had received me."

Harned. "It must have seemed a quiet affair to you. When Bucke visited you you wrote songs and sung, etc."

W. "And shouted hurrah!"

J. W. W. "Well, making noise was about all we could do."

Traubel. "Wallace is a temperance man and didn't drink beer."

J. W. W. "But I smoked."

Someone asked W. how he had been during the day.

W. "I have had a pretty bad catarrhal condition, but am better this evening. I have just put my duds on after a wash—a bath."

(To me.) "I have written the names in those books of yours and they are ready for you. I ought not to take the money from you, but I have spent part of it to-day for another purpose." I thanked him and added: "I want you to inscribe another book; I will bring it down for you tomorrow," to which he replied, "I will do so with pleasure."

W. "I have been reading Carlyle's Diary of his visit to Paris" (in the New Review). "What a growler he was! He looked to the left and growled, he looked to the right and growled and he looked forward and growled. Someone who came here—Moncure Conway, I think—said that he and Carlyle went out for a walk, as they call it. It was a beautiful night—clear, stars shining—I guess an exceptional thing in that country. Conway looked up and said: 'It's a med_sm.00274_large.jpg beautiful sight.' Carlyle looked and said: 'It's a sad sight.'"

I said the story was told by Leigh Hunt rather differently, and I gave his version in detail.

W. spoke a few words (of which I have no record) in praise of Carlyle, saying in effect that people who roused and shook others from their comfortable habits and convictions perhaps did the best service to them.


—In the morning I accompanied Mrs. Traubel to Philadelphia, where we took train to Carpenter to visit Mrs. Lichtenheim, Horace's sister Agnes. I saw there a fine crayon picture of W. by Horace's father, based on the well-known photograph by Gutekunst taken in '89, but with careful direct study of W. himself. It was a very beautiful day and I enjoyed the visit very much. We returned in the afternoon and on arrival in Camden I left Mrs. Traubel to visit W., arriving about six o'clock. He sat in his usual position, but looked obviously very unwell and said that he had had a rather bad day. He was as tenderly kind and courteous as ever and talked freely, though with some effort. He said that Jeannette Gilder, of the Critic, had been in to see him along with some girl friends, otherwise he had had no visitors. He had been pleased to see Jeannie and the three or four charming girls who came with her.

He enquired about our doings during the day and about Agnes and the baby. And he enquired again about our party the previous evening and as to what had been said.


I told him about letters I had received from Johnston and Fred Wild, and of the pleasure of the latter in receiving W's. message. I told him that I had written to Fred, saying that if he had come with me he and W. would have been "thick as thieves." W. smiled and, when I asked if they had that phrase in America, replied, "Oh yes—that and others."

He asked what I had got under my arm. I told him that it was a copy of "Good-bye My Fancy" which I wished him to inscribe for Henry and S. J. Dearden. He consented with his usual readiness and courtesy and listened with interest to my account of Deardens, whom I said he would like. "Yes, I think I should." I left the book with him so that he might inscribe it at his leisure.

He enquired if I were going to Glendale the following morning, and directed me to enquire—after leaving Haddonfield—for "the little church," Methodist church. Stafford's place was opposite.

I said I would go as I did not wish to fatigue him. He replied: "I guess you'd better sit a little as Horace may be here soon." But I said I would sit with Mrs. Davis as I had not had a talk with her for a day or two. So I left him and sat with Mrs. Davis and Warry till 6.40, when Warry walked with me most of the way to Traubel's.

After supper Horace and I started out to attend a reception at the Penn Club, in Philadelphia, but called on our way at Mickle Street to see W.

I thought it best that Horace should see W. alone, and I stayed behind in the parlour while med_sm.00276_large.jpg he went upstairs. But in a minute or two I heard him calling from the landing: "Wallace, come up!" I found W. sitting in the corner near the bed and looking rather brighter than before.

He enquired about the Penn Reception, what was to be done, etc., and said he thought we should have been already there "in the thick of it." Horace said he wished me to meet some of the fellows there. W. said that Horace Howard Furness would probably be there, but Horace thought he didn't go now: he was very deaf. W. "Oh, he will get along all right. I can get along with him. He has an ear trumpet and ears." Some talk followed about Edison's microphone, etc., in which, however, W. did not join.

He took up an illustrated magazine belonging to Traubel which he offered to return, asking if Horace would take it now, but he said he would leave it. It had an engraving of a Dutch portrait in front which I admired, and something was said in praise of the breadth, etc., of Dutch paintings.

W. "Yes, they help to free us from slavery to Greek art, Greek ideas, and have power, momentum, solidity, weight and bottom—which is not to be 'despiged,' as one of Dickens' characters would say."

Horace spoke of an article in a magazine called Brains.

W. "Yes, I have heard of it, I think."

Horace. "I am not sure that it should not be called 'Guts.'"

W. laughed a little. "That is a favourite word with Herbert Gilchrist. Speaking of a picture he will say: 'That is very refined and shows excel med_sm.00277_large.jpg lent drawings and line and a good sense of colour—but it has not guts in it.'"

He referred again to my proposed visit to Stafford's and said: "You must go as the old knights used to go in search of adventures, and take what comes. You will find Staffords are not demonstrative, but you will be welcome. And I will give you a dollar that I will send to Harry's children. He has two: a boy and a girl. Give it to Mrs. Stafford and she will give them each half a dollar."

Horace told W. a story—but I don't remember in what connection—about an American lady, Mrs. Jones, who visited Europe and saw amongst other things the Apollo Belvedere. After looking at it a long time and listening to what was said, she remarked: "So that is the Apollo Belvedere! Well, give me Jones!"

I followed this with the story of an old woman in Bolton who said: "They talk abeawt Heaven an' they talk abeawt Hell—but Bowt'n for me!"

W. laughed a little at both stories, but made no comment, and, after saying "Good-night," we left.

We then went to the Penn Club, where in a suite of rooms on the first floor we found forty or more men in evening dress. Frank Williams was there and took us in tow, inviting us to refreshments (oysters, etc.) and a cigar. Harrison Morris came late. We had interesting talks with different people and I was introduced to Morris Jastrow (son of a Jewish rabbi in Philadelphia, himself "a come outer" and Professor of Assyriology), Professor Smythe, and a man med_sm.00278_large.jpg named Estlin, who had just returned from a stay of eighteen months in Europe. Judges, lawyers, doctors, etc., were there, and they were all said to be men of more or less note; but the return home, after midnight, with Horace—our walk and talk under the star-lit sky with the shining half-moon—was to me by far the best part of the night's entertainment.

Back to top