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Disciples

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WITH WALT WHITMAN IN CAMDEN
 
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WITH WALT WHITMAN IN CAMDEN

(July 16, 1888-October 31, 1888)

Horace Traubel
NEW YORK
MITCHELL KENNERLEY
1915

Copyright, 1908, by Horace Traubel

Copyright, 1907, by D. Appleton and Company

Copyright, 1907, by The Century Company

Copyright, 1907, by The Phillips Publishing Company

Published February, 1908

THE PLIMPTON PRESS NORWOOD MASS USA
 
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ILLUSTRATIONS CONTAINED IN THIS VOLUME

     

Walt Whitman From a photograph by Sarony Frontispiece
Facing page
A Page from a Burroughs Letter to Walt Whitman 44
Rudolf Schmidt From a photograph 84
A Page from a Dowden Letter to Walt Whitman 90
Original Manuscript of Whitman's Poem, "The Sobbing of the Bells" 136
A Page from a Bayard Taylor Letter to Walt Whitman 154
Edward Dowden From a photograph, 1889 216
Walt Whitman 272
From a photograph by Henry Ulke & Bro., 1871
Letter to Walt Whitman from J.Q.A. Ward 278
A Page from an Oscar Wilde Letter to Walt Whitman 288
First Draft Manuscript of One Verse of Whitman's 332
"My Captain"
Walt Whitman From a photograph by J. Gurney & Son, 1865 405
Walt Whitman From a photograph, during the War 454
Walt Whitman 496
From a photograph by W. Kurtz, 1860
Walt Whitman From a photograph by W. Kurtz, 1860 546
 
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LETTERS CONTAINED IN THIS VOLUME (INCLUDING OTHER MANUSCRIPTS OF WALT WHITMAN)

      Alden, Henry M., 211, 218, 220, 226
Alden, William L., 211
Atlantic Monthly, 213
Bakes, Charlotte Fiske, 263
Baxter, Sylvester, 192, 299, 305, 378
Browning, C. H., 146
Buck, Jerome, 501
Bucke, Richard Maurice, 6, 147, 242, 337, 338, 400, 417, 536
Burroughs, John, 43, 86, 171, 318, 494, 548, 549
Clapp, Henry, Jr., 375
Clifford, John Herbert, 83
Cook, Kenningale, 219
Conway, Moncure D., 284
Dowden, Edward, 80, 90, 363
Ellis, F. S., 447, 448
Fields, James T., 22, 211
Flower, Cyril, 372, 461
Forman, H. Buxton, 265, 266, 433
Foss, Sam Walter, 227
Garland, Hamlin, 160, 509, 530
Gilder, Helena deKay, 118
Gilder, Richard Watson, 165, 166, 212
Hall, George, 399
Horne, Herbert P., 528

 
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      Hotten, John Camden, 285
Houghton, Lord (Richard Moncton Milnes), 310
Ingram, William, 320
Johnson, Lionel, 180
Johnson, Robert Underwood, 218
Johnston, John H., 431
Kennedy, William Sloane, 243, 263, 466, 507
King, Preston, 415
Lathrop, George Parsons, 315
Linton, W. J., 201, 442, 473
Macaulay, G. C., 62
Mather, T. W., 465
Miller, Joaquin, 139
Miller, F. C., 279
Morse, Sidney H., 322, 387
O'Connor, William Douglas, 12, 60, 101, 176, 238, 258, 400, 409, 431, 467, 495
O'Reilly, John Boyle, 38, 136
Redpath, James, 73, 74, 75, 226, 232
Reid, Whitelaw, 212
Rhys, Ernest, 30, 31, 33
Robinson, Nugent, 220
Rolleston, T. W., 67
Rossetti, William M., 123, 291, 330
Shepard, Elliott F., 201
Shillaber, B. P., 96
Spielman, M. H., 104, 232
Stedman, Edmund Clarence, 141, 301, 362, 470, 537
Sumner, Maj. Gen., 157
Swinton, William, 120

 
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      Swinton, John, 271, 339, 393, 426, 487
Symonds, John Addington, 277
Taylor, Jessie, 450
Taylor, Bayard, 148, 153
Trowbridge, John T., 109, 224, 292, 524
Tucker, Benjamin R., 253
Ward, J. Q. A., 278
Whitman, Walt, 22, 47, 48, 57, 76, 85, 105, 108, 127, 159, 208, 246, 310, 326, 327, 332, 355, 358, 370, 380, 419, 420, 447, 463, 479, 482, 483, 516
Whitter, John G., 8
Wilde, Oscar, 288
Williamson, George M., 441
Wilson, James Grant, 135

 
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      "It won't be long and I will be dead and gone: then they will hale you into court—put you into the witness box—ply you with questions—try to mix you up with questions: this Walt Whitman—this scamp poet—this arch-pretender—what did you make him out to be? and you will have to answer—and be sure you answer honest, so help you God!"

      "You'll be speaking for me many a time after I am dead: do not be afraid to tell the truth—any sort of truth good or bad, for or against: only be afraid not to tell the truth."

     W. W. to H. T.

 
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     WITH WALT WHITMAN IN CAMDEN

 
Sunday, July 15, 1888.

     "So far as good meals and a relish of them would prove," said W., as evening wore on, "this has been for me a better day—a best day altogether." Said he was getting "venturesome," enjoying "high hopes of a positive rally.""But," he wound up with saying, "we had better not brag.""I read over the entire Sands at Seventy this afternoon, doing so to get them in total view—to see them together in their proportions, places—to get their general atmosphere. I find myself much better able to appreciate a piece if I put it aside for a time after it is written—for months, even years: returning to it with fresh spirit." Spoke of the Harneds—"parents and children: their constant, untiring attentions." Again: "I ought to die but I have promised you to live to finish this book."

     I had been out on the Wissahickon with Anne Montgomerie. "That reminds me," said W., "that years ago I thought some of pitching my own tent out there—squatting—loafing the rest of my days in that vicinity. I cannot be said even now to have wholly given up the idea: though I don't suppose that it matters much where I happen to spend the rest of my days. And you are right, too, Horace, about abandon—the giving in to the hour—steering clear of mental botheration—particularly of the botheration how to be good and all that. Oh! I love that beautiful country—that long road along the creek—even the very fence—(the long lines of the fence up hill and down—the rugged, knotty lines): some of my happiest hours have been spent there—some of my freest hours."

 
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     Reference being made to O'Connor's Hamlet's Note-Book W. said: "I have never read it myself: I have very little faculty or liking for books which require charts, comparisons, references—close application—the observance of rules of logic: in the immortal words Swinton addressed to me in a peevish humor: I have a damned ill-regulated mind. The volume was the result of some correspondence between William and Mrs. Pott. Take Donnelly's cryptogram: I could read the first part but never the cipher business—I could not unravel such a devilish tangle." Getting to the subject by a question I asked him W. said: "Goethe suggests books—carries the aroma of books about with him—seems to be a great man with books, by books, from books. Now, whatever Shake-speare was or was not, he was not that sort of man: he came, with all his scholarship, direct from nature. To me that means oh! so much: to come straight from life—to be rooted in an immediate fact. Bucke sees a great deal more in Goethe than I do—sees Goethe as if come fresh from the soil—regards him in a more liberal light: insists that he articulates the soundest philosophy of the modern world. Bucke says my trouble is in the fact that I cannot read German—that Goethe cannot be translated."

     Baker goes to-day. My reference to the fact drew from W. the remark in a grieved tone: "It is inexplicable." Added: "I do not understand it. I thought it might have been caused by something I had said or done—but no, Mary says it is not that. I wished him to stay—he is welcome to stay: I am indeed fond of him. I had hoped he would stay until I got on my feet again—or," here he stopped an instant—"until you buried me." The new nurse, whose name is Musgrove, is an older man than Baker. W. hates to have his routine disturbed. Upon my remonstrance he said: "I will make it a religion to like the new man."

     I trod on a Sarony portrait of Bryant face down on the floor, saying to W. of it: "That ought to be put where it will be safe." He took it out of my hand, scanned it, handed it back. "Maybe you have some place at home where you can keep it safe." Then

 
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he talked a bit about Bryant: "Some one who was in here and saw that picture said: 'That's you, Walt, when you're finished.' He thought that if a gold beater got at me, hammered me down some, I might get a polish that would turn me into a real man. There's no use talking: I won't do but Bryant will do. Don't you like the picture? It is every way like the old man—every way: it has a sort of Thanatopsis look. Take this now—this picture"—he reached forward towards me a soiled old photograph of himself: "Do you think this could ever be tinkered into that?—that this loafer, this lubber, could ever be transmuted into that gentleman? All I've got to say is, that I wouldn't like to undertake the contract. Bryant was very masterful in his own way—wrote a few things that time cannot kill—but after all his contribution was not novel—it was nature song, philosophy, of rather a formal cast. I always go back to Emerson—say of Emerson: he was our one man to do a particular job wholly on his own account."

     W. laughed about our labors together. "If I die in the midst of things you may fall heir to all my work: think of that: all my work!" I took the old portrait of W. along with the Bryant.

 
Monday July 16, 1888.

     W.'s worst day for a week. Digestion poor and pulse low. Depressed. Change of nurses has something to do with this. Musgrove is a cloudy man. I asked how M. got on. W. evaded the question by some general remark. Baker came in and afterwards had dinner with me. When W. was offered medicine by Musgrove he asked what it was for &c. M. said he did not know. He is only a nurse—not a doctor. W. motioned the medicine away. Baker had always met such questions with answers. Have now reached the end of the reprint for the book. Hicks next in order, though not ready. "I take it up daily but no day so far have been able to stick to it. I want to get it into general view again—then give it final form. Give me a day or two more: I will do my best to be good. Considering the terrible fuss, hubbub, talk, I have made about this piece it would

 
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be pretty to have it go out too full of sins. A few sins won't hurt but we must not overload it with our imperfections. Horace, I feel that I am living for but one thing now—for one thing only: to finish this book—to make it what it should be—the little book: not to let it discredit us. Rather than have the Hicks too damned bad I'll close with the printers where I am and burn this up. I find it sadly out of joint—good enough, what there is of it, but crying for this or that right along—everywhere: something to weld the pieces into a total. Talk to the printers tomorrow. You know what to say. Tell them I am sick—oh! very sick—and sore: tell them I feel as if the whole ground had been swept from under my feet—as if I stood on nothing." Later he said of his eyes: "I seem to be approaching a semi-blindness. I experience whole hours every day during which I can scarcely see anything: then I am fully recovered again."

     W. has received a copy of To-day (London) containing a paper by Reginald A. Beckett: Walt Whitman as a Socialist Poet. Says: "Yes, I read every word of it—not, however, because of its literary quality (though that is respectable enough) but just to see how I look to one who sees all things form the standpoint of the socialist. Of course I find I'm a good deal more of a socialist than I thought I was: maybe not technically, politically, so, but intrinsically, in my meanings." I asked W.: "Are you the last of your race?""Neither the last nor the first""Will there be more poets or less?""More—more: and greater poets than have ever been.""What kind? Your kind?""I don't know about that: some free kind, sure: they are bound to come—to come soon." After a silent minute or two: "I think I'll get there. The stylists object to me—but they lack just what Matthew Arnold lacks. They talk about form, rule, canons, and all the time forget the real point, which is the substance of poetry. I do not look for a vast audience—for great numbers of endorsers, absorbers—just now—perhaps not even after awhile. But here and there, every now and then, one, several, will raise the standard. Leaves of Grass will

 
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finally make its way. The book is like the flukes of a whale—if not graceful at least effective: never super-refined or ashamed of the animal energy that imparts power to expression."

     Kennedy returned me Harrison Morris' American piece with comments. I read them to W., who said: "They are bright—they have quite a sparkle. Take them over—show them to Morris." I seemed to hesitate. W. added: "Do so—do so: Morris will be glad to see them—they will do him good: he'll know how to take them. Then we must reflect that Kennedy may be wrong and Morris may be right. We must face all the objections—they require to be said. Even the other Morris—Charles—who damns me without reading me, we must not prohibit: let him come in—cheer his oration. What I object to are the sneakers—the men who hit from the rear. Criticism is a matter of course—often the best food: the right negative word spoken at the right time saves many a soul. Criticism is a necessary test—the passage of fire: we have got to meet it—there is no escape. I do say with regard to myself that I must be judged elementally—that the Arnolds, the disciples of books as books, the second and third hand men, the scholars pure and simple, the lovers of art for art's sake, cannot understand me—cannot take me in—I elude their circumscriptions. Even Goethe, in loving beauty, art, literature, for their own inherent significance, is not as close to nature as I conceive he should be. I say this with all due respect for Dr. Bucke, who reads Goethe in the German and declares to me that I have but very little conception of Goethe's real place in the spiritual history of the race. Well, maybe I have. I care less and less for books as books—more and more for people as people. When I go to my tailor I lay down a law to him: that among the prime requisites of a suit of clothes are pockets, buttons, thread—but the tailor always wants to make me up his own way anyhow. The objections to me are the objections made to all men who choose to go their own road—make their own choice of methods. I ought to be very readily understood by young men and women, but"—Here he stopped. I put in nothing. He resumed: "A few take

 
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it in—just a few—but to most of them I still seem ridiculous—perhaps even vicious."

     W. put Morris's address into his note book. Did he keep a diary? "No—not that—nothing as formidable as that: just a book for memoranda—statistics—memory things, so to speak: naked figures—the briefest entries." He always keeps the book about. Another book near by is very old—crammed with written notes, scraps of print-stuff, and so forth. Harned said to him today about it: "I'll bet that's a gold mine, Walt." W. responded: "You might look at it that way: the roots of Leaves of Grass are in that book."

     I read him letters received today from Kennedy and Morse, he, as usual, being much interested. He for his part produced an old letter, of which he said: "This is already a letter of long ago: this was Bucke's first appearance on the scene. You will notice, he comes in quite frankly, quite frankly, without flattering adjectives, yet also without impudence. To Bucke, to me, this document is historic. Read it aloud to me: I would like to hear it again before you take it away." I read:


Sarnia, December 19, 1870.


Walt Whitman,


Dear Sir;

     Will you please send to the enclosed address, two copies of Leaves of Grass, one copy of Passage to India and one copy of Democratic Vistas. Enclosed you will find $7.25—$6.75 for the books and fifty cents for postage. I do not know exactly what this last item will be but I fancy fifty cents will be enough to pay for it. I am an old reader of your works, and a very great admirer of them. About two years ago I borrowed a copy of the 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass and I have a great ambition to own a copy of this edition myself; would it be possible to get one? Before getting that the only thing I had ever seen of yours was Rossetti's selection. Lately I have got a copy of the 1867 edition of Leaves of Grass, and I have compared the Walt Whitman in that with the same poem in the 1855 edition, and I must say that I like the earlier edition best. I have an idea

 
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that I shall be in Washington in the course of 1871; if I am it would give me much pleasure to see you, if you would not object. I am afraid, however, that, like other celebrities, you have more people call upon you than you care about seeing; in that case I should not wish to annoy you. At all events believe me


Faithfully Yours,


R. M. Bucke.

     When I was through W. said: "Try to think what that innocent letter has led on to—what it was finally to mean to Maurice, what it has long meant, means today, to me—and to you, too, Horace, God help you: for we are all aboard the same ship—be it frail or strong, aboard the same ship." As I was about to leave W. said: "I also laid out a little Whittier letter for you but it seems to have got astray among the papers again. I guess it will last, I guess you will last, till to-morrow." He smiled on me. "I am always poking fun at your appetite, Horace, but, after all, I respect it." I asked W.: "Does Whittier commit himself to Leaves of Grass in that letter?""Good heavens no! He has too much respect for himself, for his puritan conscience, to take such a leap." W. was playful. Then he concluded seriously: "But Whittier has a right to his conscience—God bless 'im!—and the letter—well, the letter was written in good faith—touched me."

 
Tuesday, July 17, 1888.

     W. rallied somewhat from yesterday's depression. "I am not grown strong: I am only easier. H am keeping a watchful eye on myself." Still complains of his eyes. Held a letter gleefully up before my face. "Here is the Whittier," he said: "Take it—be satisfied." Laughing: "Yet there's lots more to come, Horace. In spite of all I have lost and all that has been stolen—""Stolen?" I broke in. He said gravely: "Yes, stolen. Every now and then after some respectable visitor has come and gone something disappears and never turns up again—some book—some document or other." I expressed some astonishment but W. rallied me by saying: "Don't let's bother about that.

 
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Just sit down over there and read the Whittier letter. You will be pleased to see how successfully the old man steers clear of trouble."

Oak Knoll, Danvers, Mass., Jan. 13, 1888.


Dear Friend.

     But for illness I should have thanked thee before this for thy vigorous lines of greeting in Munyon's Illustrated World, combining as they do the cradle and evening song of my life. My brother writers have been very generous to me and I heartily thank them for it.

     With all good wishes I am thy friend


John G. Whittier.

     When I had finished reading I said: "I see no harm, no shortcoming, in that letter. If you'd been writing him on the same subject you wouldn't have said anything about his poetry." This half-nettled W. "Maybe I wouldn't—then maybe I would. What I said of the letter was not so much intended for that letter as for things that went before and come after—Whittier's general attitude towards me, with his friends, with my friends: it has been made a part of his business to keep me at a distance—to discredit my work." W. showed a little feeling here which I disputed. "Generally you are very stoical as toward criticism—sometimes your wall of indifference crumbles." This immediately aroused W. He said: "Horace, you are right I am wrong: for a minute I forgot my own principles—I was wrong, wrong. I am not thin-skinned about opposition: it is being misunderstood—that's what tantalizes me. I know from this or that quoted from Whittier about me—words not so much of censure as of regret—that he got started wrong with the Leaves and never recovered.""But wouldn't you be rather surprised after all if a man of Whittier's spiritual bent understood you? Wouldn't he have to change his bent in order to understand you?" W. was very still. Was slow to answer. "I don't know but that's about the best summing up that could be: we would not travel well harnessed to the same rig."

     W. spoke of a letter received from Burroughs. "John used

 
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to be so equable, quiet, buoyant, happy: so like a strong helpful stream of water: all eyes for joyous reassurances—a grown man with a boy's soul. Now much of that beautiful John is gone: I could not tell why. He was so wise, so gay, though never boisterous, in those times. We were thrown much together—very much—in Washington: were like chips off the same block—members of a common family. Why is John's faith less seaworthy than it was then? The material must all be there still—all of it. Why does he put it aside—refuse to make use of it? I am sure he still stands for me, even with affection, or something akin to it." No more was said about B. We were both silent for awhile. Then he suddenly exclaimed: "Horace, all the fellows think I am on my last legs—at the jumping off place—about to make a total surrender, soul and baggage. But I, for my part—we—must not play the game with that end in view. I am not at all disposed to make concessions before I must—concessions, good or bad—especially bad."

     Mitchell not in today. W. was "glad.""For," said he, "Mitchell is inclined to drug me—to fill me with the doctor poisons—which is no help, in fact always an injury, to me, as I too bitterly know. Osler respected my objection." Box of flowers from Charlotte Fiske Bates. Spoke of them affectionately. "From Cambridge," he said—then with a twinkle in his blue eyes: "From under the shadow of Harvard.""You talk as if you had no right to expect things from Harvard.""Have I? Ask yourself that question." W. said to Mrs. Davis: "Drop in every now and then, Mary, if only for a look. It's hard papers up here nowadays: a big lubber like me so used to moving about freely, confined to one room, denied every outdoor indulgence, deserves some pity." Made some attempt on the Hicks today. It would not go. Read three galleys of proof, however, and four pages of the revise. "You will have to justify me to the printers again." What did I make out of the To-day piece? "I do not seem to get the thing very clearly in my own mind: it eludes me."

     Discussed Sands at Seventy. "O'Connor kicks against them

 
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—is unfavorable—seems to regard the new poems as in some sense a contradiction of the old—alien to the earlier poems—as if I had gone back on myself in my old age. I do not feel that way about them: I have examined the whole matter over again—over, over—without any prejudice in favor of myself—from every side—weighing every possible argument in the negative—and I give the decision to my book. I am sure of myself—that the poems are all right—that the pain, the sickness, the sorrow, the misery, are not too prominently paraded—not in fact predominant. After all I cannot suit everybody nor am conscious that I have wished to or should. So the line is unbroken, so the new chapter of my story fits with the chapter just before it, as I am confident it does, I am satisfied. I love O'Connor—love them all—like to be told about myself as I seem in other peoples' eyes—but in the end I must go my own road with such light as I have. William resented the Emperor piece. Why? Because he had not quite got hold of my philosophy—missed one of its important minor streams. And yet," he cried with great vehemence, "if I thought anything in my last work disgraced the Leaves as it stood in its prime—ran counter to the original statement of the book, from which I am conscious of no deviation whatever—I would end the whole thing here and now without a single regret."

     I called his attention to some errors on page 37, in Precedent Songs Farewell and An Evening Lull. These poems were written when he was in his very worst recent condition. Several bad breaks. He said of it: "I have no doubt you are right: I will give the poems my attention. Considering how I felt at the time—how I was shaken up (the last timber in me trembling with the force of the earthquake)—it is not surprising that I should have sinned more or less. Be good to me: give me time to straighten out all the warps."

 
Wednesday, July 18, 1888.

     8 p.m. Day reasonably good for W. Ate quite fairly. Up a good part of the time. Complained, however: "While that is

 
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true, my vim and strength do not return: I despair of recovering them." I looked skeptical. "Now what's the matter?" he asked. "You promised not to despair: despair is the worst medicine." This rallied him. He laughed quietly: "You are a good doctor: I am willing to take your medicine." Had made another try at the Hicks. "It don't go very well: my brain is not equal to it: could not cope with it—gets tired, takes my pen out of my hand." Yet he said he had read considerably. "Reading only passively tires me: writing is an active assault.""Some evening," he went on, "you will come here to be told that I have pitched the Hicks into the fire. If it eludes me much longer, fools me, rejects me"—here he stopped because I interrupted him: "Nonsense! You'll do nothing of the kind!" He repeated my exclamation smilingly and replied to it: "Well, maybe I won't do that—won't be as extreme as that—but." There he stopped. "At least, before I do it I will let you look it over. I think if you saw it in its present condition you would advise me to destroy it." Finally: "Hicks is entitled to my best—not my worst. My best would be too little—my worst would be an insult."

     Still insists that O'Connor "misses his cue on Sands at Seventy." I happened to say of O'C.'s Good Gray Poet: "It is so eloquent—vocal: when I read it I want to, I do, hear it." This elicited his immediate response. "Exactly: that's just it: that's what we all felt—feel. William is in the best sense an orator—is eminently passionate, pictorial, electric. I'd rather hear O'Connor argue for what I consider wrong than hear most other people argue for what I think right: he has charm, color, vigor: he possesses himself of the field: he pierces you to the vitals and you thank him for doing it. I think he learned all that in the anti-slavery school—whether for good or bad I do not know—learned it all there, in the clash of classes—won his spurs in the struggles of the abolition period. But that is not the whole story. Williams is also a book man—profoundly so—the most bookish of all my friends, I believe (to use the word 'bookish' in an allowable way). The post-Elizabethan era in England

 
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—especially in England though not confined to that one country—developed a great many men, whole classes of men, polite, educated, conventional, keen, haughty—who became exquisite fencers, exquisite literary swordsmen—men not particular what they struck or in what cause, whether for wrong or right—contented if they but displayed agility, skill, and threw their man. O'Connor, one side of him, is quite like those old literary mercenaries—that is, like them on the score of expertness, shrewdness, acumen, polish, scholastic acumen, with a distinct moral nobility added. Dr. Johnson was of the same class—in fact, one of that class before all else." I asked him: "Was Johnson a fencer or a pugilist?" W. laughed and answered: "Perhaps a bit of a pugilist, at the worst, but, at his best, a fencer, I should say: he was not clumsy—was one of the ripest example of the school—a master graduate."

     It seems our talk on this line was all to lead up to an old O'Connor letter which W. had been reading today. This letter he handed to me with the remark: "It is one of the most splendid of all William's splendid letters: it hits you like meeting with something possessing identity in the midst of a crowd—like a sunburst on a dark day." Then: "William could not do even the comparatively innocent things without the air, the authority, of a sovereign will. Stay right where you are—read the letter—see if it is not a proud example in point." I read a large part of the letter aloud, W. listening intently, several times exclaiming "bravo!"


Washington, D. C., May 20, 1882.


Dear Walt:

     I have yours of the 17th., and also your picture, for which many thanks. It is a fine presentment.

     My article has gone to the Tribune with a note to Whitelaw Reid, and we await the result. I hope, if it appears, you will like it. Of course, you are not in any way responsible for it, and this is the position for you to take. Learning the facts, I use the independent privilege of a friend, and of a citizen, to criticise the offenders. I alone am responsible.

 
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     I composed the article under great affliction, for as the devil would have it, there were several days of shocking raw weather, followed by five consecutive days of rain, and I got the influenza, and was half dead with headache, a racking cough and all the accompaniments. Nothing therefore was right for composition but the heart. Despite conditions, Charley Eldridge, who got here from California in time to read what I have written, and of whose cool-headedness and judgmatical quality I think highly, considers it the best thing I have done, which I hope will prove true. At all events, if it gets printed, it will be the opening gun in a tremendous cannonade, and we will have war on the enemy in England at any rate, which is what will hurt Oliver Stevens and company here.

     My object is to smoke the hidden movers in this business out of their holes, and I kept this in mind through the whole composition. Hence, although I knew that Marston was behind the Boston attorney, I took care not to even mention his name, but focussed all my fire right upon Oliver Stevens, who, you know, is the only one that appears officially in the transaction. He will never endure to be exclusively blistered in this way, but will in defence inculpate the State Attorney General. The minute he brings him forward, I will give them both the devil. In the present article I have been very guarded, and have interwoven fury with moderation, but when we get Marston to the front, there will be augmented fire for his hide, and I hope to make it so intolerable for him, that he will in self-defence peach on the holy citizens who have egged him on. Then, when we get their names, will be the time for punishment, memorable and terrible. They shall never be forgotten. The whole gang shall hang in chains for all time.

     This must be our object—to discover the history of this persecution—the names of the subterranean movers. You must help me in this all you can. Perhaps Lathrop can discover.

     You are quite right in feeling as you do towards Osgood and Company, besides being magnanimous, but it is not for me, nor

 
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for anyone else, to approve their course, which has simply been on the lowest plane of huckster providence. You had grounds against them for an action for damages. They solicited your book, they knew its character, they agreed to non-expurgation, and at the first breath of trouble, they flunked. It is all right for you to take such an attitude as you do toward them—for you personally: but my part, and the part of all your friends, is to whale them. You, of course, are not responsible.

     I have a strong suspicion that when the truth comes to be known, the Reverend Thomas Wentworth Higginson will be found behind the State Attorney General as an instigator. His tone toward you, in the Woman's Journal article (and the Nation was probably his,) shows extreme venom. I know him, and know just where he is vulnerable, and will in due time plant a javelin where it will do him good.

     I have seen and read twice your article in the N. A. Review. It is splendid and cannot fail to do good. I only wish the style was a little clearer. I like better your earlier manner, so free from sub-clauses, involutions, parentheses—so direct and simple. In this country, in this age, when the necessity is upon us of addressing the whole people, and not the college professors or bookmen merely, I set extreme value upon communication. To be readily apprehended by your auditory is, the truth being yours, the whole battle.

     Your position in the Review article is impregnable. Gibraltar is less strong. It only remains to show the relations of poetic statements to these didactic truths. With many excellent people, especially when devoid of imagination, the trouble is to accept a passional expression, though they are quite willing to accept one simply descriptive, as in a physiological treatise. We live in a cursed abyss of society. Everything is sophisticated, everything polluted. To a sane man or woman it is simply monstrous that the august and tender supra-mortal experience of a nuptial night cannot be put into living poetry.

     I hope my Tribune letter will appear and be satisfactory to you. It cost me great pain, as I had to move gingerly and with

 
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audacity at the same time. You will see how I have worked Emerson's letter against Stevens like an engine.

     You must be careful in what you say of Emerson's position toward your amative passages. You have often told us that in his talk with you on the Common he had nothing to say on intrinsic grounds against these passages, but only on commercial or popular grounds. I remember your telling me that it was the saddest thing you ever heard that Emerson had nothing to urge in all his vehement talk, but that the exclusion of these passages would make the book sell better. Nor could he have had. These passages are capable of the most unanswerable vindication on purely intellectual grounds merely, not to go deeper, and this Emerson knew. In his letter to you he approves them. What else does his panegyric on your "courage of treatment" mean? I mention this because I have thought from your way of mentioning the matter, that the enemy might say that you had allowed that Emerson was opposed to these passages on moral grounds, which would be untrue.


Good-bye.


Yours Faithfully,


W. D. O'Connor.

     I said to W.: "O'Connor gives your style a rap." He smiled over this. "So he does, so he does—but then my style has got nothing but raps from the start, so I am well used by this time to the man who says no. O'Connor himself would fly into a fury over my literary sins—give me hell about some comma I did use or some comma I didn't use. You mustn't suppose that because William is so staunchly my friend he will stand for everything I do. Somehow, it always nettles me some to be lectured about my style—to have much said about style anyhow—said pro, said con. I am willing they should all take a fly at it—only I wish they would meanwhile let me alone—not bother me about it. A plague on the whole worriment—the worriment of blame, the worriment of applause—both: a plague on 'em!" I said to W.: "I suppose William is right about Emerson. You

 
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have always explained the incident to me in the same way.""Exactly right—right to the letter. In fact, Emerson distinctly said to me that I was not to construe any of his objections to be against the purport of the book. He repeated that assurance to me over and once again, in different ways—seemed anxious on that point beyond any other to be rightly understood."

     Talked of Voltaire. "Now there was a great man, too," said W.: "an emancipator—a shining spiritual light: a miraculous man whose ridicule did more for justice than the battles of armies.""Voltaire never was of a mind to condone Shake-speare: Shake-speare's crudities were offensive to him: there was something crude, powerful, drastic, in the Shakes-speare plays: Voltaire could not reconcile his nerves to their brutal might. But you cannot shift such luminaries from their orbit by a sneer—by an adjective. Do you think Leaves of Grass was ever really hurt by the people who went at it with a club?"

     Had he met George Bancroft in Washington? "No—we never met—though I have seen him many times. If the way had been open I would have introduced myself. Even as it is, today, were I eligible, I would take the trouble to write, if do no more by him. Bancroft is a man of sagacity—honest—rather prosy and slow: a plodding hewer of wood and drawer of water—yet an indispensable collector—a man going before to gather materials for philosophy." Had Bancroft any opinion of Leaves of Grass? "None that I ever heard of." What of Holmes? Had Holmes such an opinion? "Holmes seems to prefer to keep his mouth shut—to say nothing." But Lowell? "Ah! there we are on surer ground. Lowell says no to me in ways anybody can understand."

     W. threatens each day to take a trip down stairs. Each day I jolly him about it. "Set the day," I said: "I want to be around." He was merry over it. "That's what I dare not do. I am a poor hand to make promises: I never make a promise that I can avoid. I guess that's the reason I never got married; if I had a set apart a day I might have begged off when the date arrived." I rose to go. Kissed W. for good-night. He said: "Sometime

 
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there will be a last good-night. Then you'll have to keep up the story alone." I said however: "But that don't worry you: a man who isn't afraid of life isn't afraid of death." He fervently answered: "No indeed! I do not worry—I am not afraid: it all belongs to the same scheme: we've got to see it through in the spirit of the cheerfullest faith."
 
Thursday, July 19, 1888.

     8 p.m. Not frisky today though inclined to eat well. Spoke of his head again as "sore." When I entered he was making for the bed, his cane in one hand and a chair in the other. "Navigation grows increasingly difficult. It now takes all my energy merely to get to the chair and back to the bed again. I am not hopeless, however: I am a good wrestler." Read papers today but did not work. Hicks untouched. Brought me Bucke and Burrroughs letters, which he thought I should see—"though there's nothing of importance in either"—adding: "I think we all like to have letters whether they amount to much or not." I could not see in the Burroughs' letter the "depression" of which W. spoke—"the sentence of death," as he called it. W. pointed out to me a passage in Bucke's letter of the 9th: "It is a great comfort to me to know that you are at last being looked after. In this regard I feel sure nothing could be better than Baker and Traubel, and I think we are most fortunate in getting the assistance of these two young fellows.""That," said W., "is where you come in in fine feather—and rightly, too. I am not saying much myself about it these days but I think I know even better than Doctor how true his remark is."

     Had I read Ossian? Was very circumstantial in talking about the book. "Macpherson was a sort of a rascal—had scamp qualities. There was a great Ossianic debate. I have always had an Ossian about me, though I can't say I ever read it with any great fervor. It was a curious controversy—there were great men on both sides of it—many things were said both pro and con—ideas it did no harm to ventilate. Ossian is of the Biblical order—is best to one who would come freshly upon it—to one

 
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who knew nothing of the Hebrew Bible. I don't think Ossian would satisfy the modern young man—the radical—the new man with the new spirit. Ossian's fame lasts—he is still sold—I am told he has been highly thought of by continental critics—very highly. You say you can no longer read Milton—the bigger poems. Well you musn't feel bad and guilty about that—you're not alone in that fix: there are plenty like you: you may count your uncle here in for the same complaint." He laughed. "Let's be honest with each other," said W., "even if the book is a bigwig. If we think a book's damned tiresome let's say it's damned tiresome and not say 'how do you do?—come again.'"

     Referring to the Hicks: "What a poor disjointed fact it is if fact at all. As the old woman said, I don't know yet whether it will be a be. There's one voice which says, don't do it: there's another voice which says, yes, do—and that's where I stand right now, listening both ways.""I knew the habitats of Hicks so well—my grand-parents knew him personally so well—the shore up there, Jericho, the whole tone of the life of the time and place—all is so familiar to me: I have got to look upon myself as sort of chosen to do a job as the Hicksite historian. I have seemed, to myself at least, to be particularly equipped for doing just this thing and doing it as it should be done—have felt that no one else living is exactly so well appointed for it. Now it threatens to go up in smoke! Do you know anything about the method of the Quaker meetings? Well, if you do, you know that they never take a vote: they discuss questions (one this side, one that)—or sometimes most of them on one side and only a few on the other: then the moderator (I think they call him that—at any rate, the man who presides) announces the result, yes or no, as he sees it in the balance of feeling this way or that. It is remarkable, I think, in the history of the sect, that these decisions have never in a single instance been appealed from. If there's not a pretty ardent leaning one way or the other, the moderator reserves judgment: that is the only guard. They seem to select their most judicial men for the place—men who cannot be swayed by momentary passions, interests, prejudices, even

 
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sympathies. What all this comes to is, that just that sort of a debate is going on in my mind now, whether to condemn or save the Hicks—whether to send it to the printer or throw it into the stove—a debate not to be put into figures or votes, but real, with a decision pending which I must abide by at last. Tell the printer to give me till Monday—this is Thursday: till then it will be a life and death struggle. For thirty years I have had it in my plans to write a book about Hicks. Now here I am at last, after all the procrastinations, stranded, with nothing but a few runaway thoughts on the subject to show for my good resolutions. Well—if I can't do all I started off to do I may be able to do some little towards it—give at least some hint, glimpse, odor, of the larger scheme." He paused a minute then asked me: "Do you know Quaker women? The women are the cream of the sect. It was not Lucretia Mott alone—I knew her just a little: she was a gracious, superb character: but she was not exceptional: it distinguishes most of the women—seems to appear in them inevitably. Did you know (but I guess you did not) that when I was a young fellow up on the Long Island shore I seriously debated whether I was not by spiritual bent a Quaker?—whether if not one I should not become one? But the question went its way again: I put it aside as impossible: I was never made to live inside a fence.""If you had turned Quaker would Leaves of Grass ever have been written?""It is more than likely not—quite probably not—almost certainly not. I guess you are right, Horace: you have hit the nail on the head. We must go outside the lines before we can know the best things that are within."

     W. gave me before I left a little war-time card photo of his brother George "in his sojer clothes," as W. said. "We have just been talking Quakerism—peace—no war: now look at this picture by way of contrast. You will see, it is a New York picture—made by Bogardus." I said to W.: "I have sometimes tried to imagine you in a uniform but could never make it go." W. first smiled, then grew quite serious: "I should hope not—thank God, thank God, not—not—not!" I was stirred by his vehemence. "Yet they say you condoned the war.""They

 
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say that, do they? Well—they say many things, many things. Thank God, Horace, you could never make it go: thank God! thank God!"

 
Friday, July 20, 1888.

     Bad day again: "A great languidness, feebleness, weariness besetting me at the start and lasting all day." He also said: "It has been almost two months since I tangled myself into this snarl and I am still without the first show of substantial strength—though it is true the acute phases of my trouble are passed. I am still in the battle, though—not conquered but badly banged." Yet he advised me to write to Burroughs and say: "Tell him I send my love—tell him I suspect that I am slowly on the mend." W. remarked: "Mrs. Stafford was in today—paid me a long visit, which did me good. Mrs. Stafford is not literary—I account that one of her merits." But did she know the W. W. of Leaves of Grass? "Yes, indeed, essentially knows it well: I think she takes it in—reads nearly all my books. I always say that it is significant when a woman accepts me." Recurring to Burroughs' letter of the other day: "It's the least vital of all the notes I ever got from John. He wanted to write—felt it to be a duty to write—but having nothing to say, this was the result. Sometimes it's better sense for a fellow to simply yell hello and then stop. I am often in the hello mood myself."

     Horace Howard Furness over yesterday but did not see W. No callers today except Mrs. Stafford. Reporters drop in occasionally. Tom Harned of course. Speaking of Harlan W. said: "That act sunk him a thousand fathoms deep and he never came up. The literary fellers in Washington (there were many of them there—there are many of them there still)—hundreds of scribblers of one sort or another who today are not even a memory—writers for papers, hacks, penny-a-liners: they were all generous, frank, quick to resent a wrong: they almost instantly came to my aid, with very few exceptions indeed."

     As to criticisms of his style: "I care little for a man's means so the end comes around in its time. You might tell your friend

 
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Morris, the point is, not to prove your possession of a style, but to move the people along the line of their nobler impulses. The style will readily enough accommodate itself. Napoleon didn't study rules first: he first of all studied his task. And there was Lincoln, too: see how he went his own lonely road, disregarding all the usual ways—refusing the guides, accepting no warnings: just keeping his appointment with himself every time. I can hear the advisers saying scornful things to him. They offered him ready-made methods. But Lincoln would only retort: 'I want that battle fought—I want that battle won: I don't care how or when: but fought and won!'"

     No work on the Hicks today but had got ready a little manuscript not originally intended to go into the book—notes made in Washington in August and September, 1865, and a brief statement on the Harlan case not before printed: the first headed: Small Memoranda: Thousands Lost—Here One or Two Preserved: the second called A Glint Inside of Abraham Lincoln's Cabinet Before—One Item of Many. Had read some page proofs. No letters. "I tried to write Burroughs but could not nerve myself to it." Spoke of swimming: "I was never what you could call a skillful swimmer but was quite good. I always hugely enjoyed swimming. My forte was—if I can say it that way—in floating. I possessed an almost unlimited capacity for floating on my back—for however long: could almost take a nap meanwhile"—laughed: "That is to say I was very much at home in the water. I never could do any of the surprising stunts of the other boys when I was young but I was a first-rate aquatic loafer."

     Proud Music of the Storm appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, February, 1868. W. gave me some little correspondence attaching to it. It seems that he asked Emerson to intercede for him and that Emerson took the poem to Fields. W. said of the affair: "It went through without a flurry. After I had written my letter to Emerson I wondered if I had not overdone my call. But Emerson proceeded without delay: he evidently had no qualms: then Fields took the matter up offhand, writing me at once, as you

 
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see. The whole business was done in about a week.""How did you happen to appeal to Emerson as a mediator?" He laughed. "For several reasons, I may say. But the best reason I had was in his own suggestion that I should permit him to do such things for me when the moment seemed ripe for it." W. first writes Emerson. Fields then writes W. W. then writes Fields.

Washington, Nov. 30, '68.

sent Dec. 2.


Dear Mr. Emerson:

     On the eve of sending the enclosed piece abroad I have taken a notion to first offer it to the Atlantic and, if not too great a liberty, to solicit your services for that purpose. I would be obliged if you would take it in to Mr. Fields the first time you go to Boston. If available at all, I propose it for the February number of the magazine. The price is one hundred dollars; and thirty copies of the number in which it may be printed. Of course Mr. F. may read this letter.

     I shall require an answer from Mr. Fields within a week from the time of the reception of the piece.

     I scrupulously reserve the right to print the piece in the future in my book.


Boston, Dec. 5, 1868.


My Dear Sir:

     Mr. Emerson has handed me the poem which you offer to the Atlantic Monthly; which I shall gladly publish in our February number, and enclose herewith, check for one hundred dollars, the sum named in your letter to Mr. Emerson.

     With best wishes, I am


Very sincerely yours


James T. Fields.


J.T. Fields, Sent Dec. 8, '68.


Dear Sir:

     Your letter has come to hand, with the check for one hundred dollars, as payment in full for the piece "Proud Music of the Sea-Storm"—leaving me, however, the right to print it in future book.

 
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     Please when ready send me proof, which I will return forthwith. [W. had added and then excised this with two penstrokes: "Please send me, by express, thirty copies of the number, when ready, to my address here. With thanks and best respects."]


 
Saturday, July 21, 1888.

     Day favorable, W. at last tackling the Hicks manuscript. "I have been wondering whether I should write some prefatory note or not. I started something with that end in view, but my condition at the time was rather dubious, so that I am not sure whether it may not have to be rejected. I find that as soon as I can do any work at all I want to do too much. The Hicks needs little re-writing but many after-touches."

     Letters to W. today from Bucke, Rhys and Charlotte Fiske Bates. He said of the latter: "She is itching to write books—does write poetry some, I think. It is always a serious disease—sometimes even fatal: a few recover entirely unhurt—but very few." Growls about Bucke's handwriting. "It's all in up and down angles—sharp, like his voice: I never get used to it." I said I had no trouble with it. W. smiled and replied: "That's right—contradict me." He went on to say something about his own hand. "My writing has been clear from the start—almost from boyhood: not beautiful, but legible." He called my attention to a letter from the West and called it "empty". "People often sit down to write letters much as the professional author sits down to work: they have nothing to say but say a great deal about saying nothing." Speaking of his brain inertia he said: "It's as though you tried to make something fluid out of something all slush, squid." Handed me a book—Specimens of Early English Metrical Romances: Bohn, 1848. "You have read it? No? Well take it along—look through it. I think it is better than Percy's Reliques: richer, deeper, larger. But you should have a copy of your own."

     Talked some about the tariff. "The politicians do not deal fair with the people, though that is nothing new. They keep the question of the tariff remote, distant, like a priesthood: they

 
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won't let the subject reach the people in the right way. Republican newspapers are now all flings, libels, slanders, smart paragraphs, light assertions: not one of them ever stops its humbug to make a respectable statement." Then referred to newspapers generally: "They are all getting into the hands of millionaires. God help our liberties when money has finally got our institutions in its clutch."

     A good day having come at last after much waiting he tried to improve its hours. Pushed along a bit on the Hicks. "I see the importance of going while I can. I can never know when the door will be banged shut in my face." W. gave me a Dante portrait which Symonds had once sent him. It bears this on the reverse, in S.'s own hand: "Portrait of Dante copied from a fine Lithograph (published by the Arundel Society) of a fresco Portrait Discovered in Florence 1840 or 1848 said to be painted by Giotto vide Longfellow's notes to his translation of Dante.""The face is wonderfully clean-cut," said W.: "the face of a man who was quits with the impurities of life. To get that in a face much has to be lost as well as won. Dante is unquestionably one of the first-class men, if there are classes in men: he is up on the peak—high up: emancipated, in a way, from the tendencies of the flesh. I do not make too much of that—attach any exclusive importance to it: the flesh, too, has its divine (who knows, maybe the divinest) uses: still, the Dantesque sort of man is vital, must be reckoned with, stands in this thing or that for the supreme ideals. They are not my ideals but they are ideals—very lofty ideals."

 
Sunday, July 22, 1888.

     A good day but no strength gained. Worked enough to get the Hicks piece into shape for the printer—at least as much of it as related to Hicks direct. Originally the study embraced both Hicks and George Fox. W. now decides to halve the paper. I am to take the Hicks to Ferguson. Yesterday afternoon and today wrote a prefatory note. "The text is a little mixed up," W. said of it apologetically: "My mind is not now-a-days a perfect

 
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machine." He has had some trouble finding it a satisfactory head-line but at last struck upon one that relieves the paper of assumption without convicting it of weakness. The manuscript is on sheets of various sizes, thicknesses, and colors. The old matter was written with an indelible pencil—purple. That is, the matter written before his illness. The new is in ink. The old phrasing is "vigorous and sure," as he says of it himself. The new is less certain, "unkempt-like" in his own words. "My brain often takes speed and is away—gets rein-free and flies without will or plan—and I am helpless for it all."

     W. received today from the Century people proofs of the War Memoranda—Army Hospitals and Cases they have so long held up. It is to appear in October. W. read the four galleys "and did not detect a single error." He had not originally intended putting this matter into November Boughs but thinks he can now do so. Will write Gilder for permission. Gilder had added underneath the headline: "By Walt Whitman, volunteer hospital nurse." This excited W.'s ire. "My whole soul revolts against that line: my very first feeling was one of utter disgust." I laughed. He asked: "What do you mean by that laugh?""That you take the matter too seriously." He queried: "Do you say that too? That's what Talcott Williams says. He was here today with Mrs. Williams."

     W. then talked about the War itself: "As the period of the War recedes I am more than ever convinced that it is important for those of us who were on the scene to put our experiences on record." W. said the Harlan piece sent to the printer the other day was his "first public expression in that matter," adding: "And even that I put forth, not because it has any personal significance, but for its bearing on the events of its day—as one evidence of the curious things thrown to the surface in an era of major disturbance. There is infinite treasure—oh! inestimable riches—in that mine. And the secret of it all is, to write in the gush, the throb, the flood, of the moment—to put things down without deliberation—without worrying about their style—without waiting for a fit time or place. I always worked that way. I took the

 
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first scrap of paper, the first doorstep, the first desk, and wrote—wrote, wrote. No prepared picture, no elaborated poem, no after-narrative, could be what the thing itself is. You want to catch its first spirit—to tally its birth. By writing at the instant the very heart-beat of life is caught. My place in Washington was a peculiar one—my reasons for being there, my doing there what I did do. I do not think I quite had my match. People went there for all sorts of reasons, none of which were my reasons: went to convert, to proselyte, to observe, to do good, to sentimentalize, from a sense of duty, from philanthropic motives: women, preachers, emotionalists, gushing girls: and I honor them all—all: knew them, hundreds of them, well, and in many cases came to love them. But no one—at least no one that I met—went just from my own reasons—from a profound conviction of necessity, affinity—coming into closest relations—relations oh! so close and dear!—with the whole strange welter of life gathered to that mad focus. I could not expect to do more for my own part at this late day than collect a little of the driftwood of that epoch and pass it down to the future."

     So he talked on, in monologue, I putting in scarcely a word. Then Harlan was mentioned again. "Harlan was a despicable man—had a sort of penny-a-line character: was made for little issues, was set for small victories. He was a child of the Methodistic order. The Methodists were entitled to Lincoln's attention—not his alone but everybody's—for their loyalty in the War—their abounding loyalty, which marked them out in a crowd of other sects in the North. What I put into that little piece I got chiefly from Philbrick, a clerk at the White House, who was always favorably disposed towards me—often met and talked with me in those days. Nicolay I did not know in Washington—Nicolay, who probably has little use for me now as he had then—would hardly perhaps remember my name. I did meet Hay in Washington during the war—talked with him frequently at the White House. Hay and Nicolay were for Harlan at that time, but Hay, at least, warmed towards me later on and has been nobly loyal ever since." W. full of fervent reminiscence. Still

 
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kept on: "Life is seen more richly in Washington than at any other one point on this continent, taking it all in all—except perhaps, if we include the great Southern bar-rooms: for instance, those in New Orleans—the acre-large bar-rooms—in which come all classes, for talk, discussion: and the listeners, too, silent, inarticulate. I have known men in such places to be speaking to a group of a hundred and more people, spontaneously gathered together—several groups like that—no one group interrupted by any other group. Some of this life was mad, wild, hellish, to contemplate—to diagnose." He remarked "the propensity of certain kinds of men—especially the kinds that hang round a capital like Washington, living on their wits—to desert sinking ships—to scamper from declining reputations." Then: "Take a case like Harlan's. Time has now made it possible for us to see why it was inevitable that he should be deserted, fall from his high place, sink into total obscurity: but on the stage, at the moment, while the play was going on, he seemed like a chief figure to which ruin was impossible."

     I spoke of an unconventional photographer who had met with hot professional opposition in making experiments looking towards the progress of his art. W. forcibly exclaimed: "There it is over again—the same old bark: the canons: sticking to the old road—the prior claims of rule, custom: the old anti-Napoleonic objurgation: 'He ought to lose the battle—ought to lose it even if he does not—because he don't prepare to win it according to rules!'" Feeling better W. is beginning to see his way towards an enlargement of the book. "Why, I'm feeling so good today I'm almost nasty. A day or two more like this and I'll fight!"

 
Monday July 23, 1888.

     W. passed a good day in all respects except as to strength. Complains of appalling weakness. Wonderfully cheerful in the evening on my arrival, talking most freely for more than an hour. Little work done. Read some papers. Wrote notes, one to Mrs. Stafford. Letters received from Gilchrist and Pearsall

 
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Smith. Answered Smith at once. Wrote Gilder about war piece. "It was a delicate matter: some of the publishers won't consider such requests: but in this case I hope to make my point. It seems so fit and proper to put that piece in November Boughs. I struck out the 'volunteer hospital nurse' line. My last thought confirmed my first: it seemed like supererogation to impose such a statement upon the headlines." Spoke of the memoranda itself: "I like it well. It has lain there in New York nearly two years—perhaps over. Now it comes back fresh to me—almost like a new thought, a new story. It stirs, moves, me—even me—just as though I had had no hand myself in writing it down. I have been sitting here today and saying to myself: 'If that is all so, it must have a value, a pertinency, to others fully as great.'"

     Gilchrist reported in his letter that Rhys had said to Baron Sternbach: "I gained a fortune in America and lost it." What did he mean? W. had "no idea." Was it a compliment directed toward W.? "I think not—am sure not. You know, Rhys is not one of my thick and thin admirers—he don't swallow me whole—is not overflowing in his endorsements—not swept away by Leaves of Grass, as are some English people. Rhys is very interesting to me—I easily love him. He is not original—brilliant. He is young—he may still go on to greater things—but he is rather a plodder than a dreamer. How he and Kennedy fell afoul of each other was a caution! Kennedy does not like Rhys—and for that matter Rhys does not like Kennedy—which squares 'em up. Rhys thinks the Kennedys the nervousest couple he ever came across (as perhaps they are) and Kennedy thinks Rhys the stolidest dullhead he ever came across (as maybe he is) but for all that both of them sit with equal prestige in my parliament. Kennedy evidently thinks the center, the core, of Rhys is selfishness—that he is in for the make—that whatever he does is done with certain definite returns in view. I am sure Kennedy got his glasses on his nose upside down when he sat in judgment on Rhys. Rhys should come to America and stay—he belongs here. He is bright, smart, wide-awake,

 
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with an instinct for new things, delighting in strange doctrines. He was intensely interested in America—saw what was to come—was not disturbed by inharmonies. Rhys is very modern, the best of him—very modern—though I must say of him that he has too deeply dipped into Elizabethan literature—into the literature of stilts, as some of it is: Dekker and those others—does that sort of work right along for the Walter Scott publishers there in London. Those old writers were made for an age of smartness: they write in sounding phrases, make stiff speeches: they are full of the affectations, false humors, wittinesses of the swell boudoirs and reading rooms."

     He spoke of the cities he liked best: Brooklyn, Washington, New Orleans, St. Louis, New York. "Camden was originally an accident—but I shall never be sorry I was left over in Camden! It has brought me blessed returns." He looked at me affectionately. "But Washington, New Orleans, Brooklyn—they are my cities of romance. They are the cities of things begun—this is the city of things finished." He paused. Then said: "Of things finished—yes, that's it: soon I will be all finished!"

     If the Century people will give him the War Memoranda he will insert it ahead of the Hicks piece. "I want to have the book end with the Fox paper." Sent his "best respects and love" to Myrick, the printer. Could not "muster up the courage" to write Burroughs. "I still have the instinct, the grasp, the pith, of the printer. It is like swimming—the stroke comes back however long and many the years since may have been." Speaking of original writers W. said he thought that "Tennyson in England and Emerson in America constitute the best recent examples—or possible examples, if a fellow has a little doubt left!" Asked me who were yet to be heard from in the American symposium. I knew of Agnes Repplier and Lüders—not of others. W. had never heard of Lüders but said of Miss Repplier: "She is the woman who talks and talks at meetings and then talks again—eh? ain't she? I don't seem to like smart people and I hear that she is damned smart—damned. Yet they belong to the great whole and must have their fling."

 
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     He asked me some questions about my health. "When you come in, each day, any time, when I ask you, as I always do: How have you been? your invariable answer is: Well, always well. Are you always so well? It is so great—so superb—to be always well. However, these are your years to expect it—from eighteen to forty-five—halcyon days, sure enough—and if there's anything in a man, physically or mentally, it's sure to come out, to give an account of itself, along through that stretch of life." Just as I was leaving W. gave me three letters in a bunch, saying of them: "They are safer among your papers than among mine. They are three of the letters Rhys wrote me while he was in America. They are memoranda of travel—very interesting, too, though short: in one of them—maybe in two—you will find a little look in on the Colonel, who seems to have taken Rhys by storm as he does everybody else—except, I suppose, the parsons, who have for business reasons"—laughing—"to dissemble their love. After the much talk we have had about Rhys to-night these letters are in point." Here is the first of the Rhys letters:


St. Botolph Club, Boston, 3rd April, '88.


Dear Walt Whitman,

     Thanks for note forwarded,—reached me this morning. Here in Boston I have had some queer ups and downs. The notorious blizzard ruined one lecture completely, but since then two have passed off with good success, and I am safe from bankruptcy,—glad to be able to get off with a whole skin to England and home. I think of leaving here for New York next Monday or Tuesday, and then taking a trip to Washington, returning via Philadelphia for a last visit of two or three days. Spring is probably more forward with you, than up here; I hope the brighter weather is giving you good cheer,—after the long imprisonment of winter.

     Kennedy has not crossed my sight very recently; I hope to spend an evening with him before I leave. He went with me the other day to see the collection of Jean Francois Millet's paintings at Mr. Quincy Shaw's, Brookline. A grand array

 
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they make,—giving one new insight into the human environment of earth and sky and water. How paltry this life of parlors and carpets in comparison!

     The note from H. Gilchrist, which you sent on the other day, shows him full of work and good spirits. Of course he ends with "Love to Walt" as usual. Several other young fellows over there, who have written lately, have also sent greetings and love, to which adding my own, I am, as always,


Yours affectionately,


Ernest Rhys.

     W. said: "That reference to the Millet pictures made me home-sick. I, too, have seen those pictures—seen them in that same place. Millet excites all the religion in me—excites me to a greater self-respect. I could not stand before a Millet picture with my hat on."

 
Tuesday, July 24, 1888.

     The second of the three Rhys letters given me by W. yesterday follows. It contains a poem for W.'s birthday.


The Union League Club,

New York, 30th May, '88.


Dear Poet,

     I write to wish you all that you wish for yourself—all that is best, on your birthday to-morrow! I meant to have had the lines overleaf complete to send you for the day, but somehow they do not fall into the right order. However, you will take the will for the deed, I know; and perhaps in a day or two I may be able to render them in a better shape, when I write again to tell you of my doings since I saw you last. A splendid time to-night at Metropolitan Opera House, listening to Col. Bob Ingersoll. (Vide morning papers!) More of this anon. I am at Stedman's. He sends birthday greetings.


With great love,


Ernest Rhys.

 
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xxx
 
TO WALT WHITMAN
xxx
 
On his 69th birthday.

Here health I bring you in one draught of song
Caught in my rhymster's cup from earth's delight
Where English fields are green the whole year long,—
The wine of might
That the new-come Spring distills most sweet and strong
In the viewless avis alembic wrought too fine for sight.


Now shall all pain be gone for this one day,
As, drinking deep of this brimm'd wassail cup,
You feel the years uncoil and their travailing pass away,
Till, ere you drink it up,
Again the sun's quick fires you feel pulse brainword through
         the blood,
Again, as when in youth they pulsed, making the world seem
         good.


For this the Magic wine,
That, tasted by the chosen lips, makes Life as long as
         Thought,—
Elixir this long sought,
Filled of the sun and the wind and all green growing things,
The salt of the sea and the sweet of the earth,
And the potencies of death and birth,—
That tasted once makes men as gods and the common world
         divine.

     W. was inclined to see a merry side to the Rhys poem. "You see, if I can't write poetry I can inspire it.""So you like this poem?""Yes, don't you?" He spoke particularly of the last verse, and of the descriptive lines: "All green growing things, the salt of the sea and the sweet of the earth." I had these letters in my pocket when I saw him today. Letter three he had me read aloud. "I like to hear such things about the Colonel. He is always a marvel of a man to me—a sort of child man who is honest with himself: who acts out according to his nature—is on the square—has neither false reserve nor false parade."

 
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The Union League Club,

New York, 7th June, 1888.


Dear Mr. Whitman,

     These last days have been so crowded with work and play that there has been no fair chance to do any writing. What with Stedman—who celebrated my last night in America yesterday by toasting me with mint-juleps at the Hoffman House, and Col. Bob Ingersoll, who has been giving me all sorts of wrinkles in oratory at his own house and in public. (It was a great experience to hear him speak to an audience of actors at Madison Square Theater on Tuesday,)—and what with endless other episodes of a friendly and delightful kind, it is a wonder that I have the heart to say Goodbye to America at all. At last the end has come however. I sail by the Crystal this afternoon at three o'clock for Leith, and with this news I must say once more Goodbye, and be silent again for awhile.


With much love!


Ernest Rhys.

     W. said, commenting again on this letter: "Do you notice Horace, nobody ever says of Ingersoll: 'He took me round to the club,' or 'he bowled me off with a big dinner somewhere or other,' or such things? Ingersoll seems to have no taste for that sort of life—he lives too close to nature. No doubt he lives a full life—is comfortable—all that: but he seems to disdain the sham pleasures, the sickly sophistications, of the professional man-about-town, who is seen everywhere at resorts, who is a good fellow to all the literary swells. God bless the Colonel for his simple heart!" W. still resting upon the slender thread of an improvement that imparts no strength. But says his "mind is easier" and "for that a man should be grateful.""I am like Mary Davis' old woman," he added, "who says: Don't talk to me about trouble and trial—I am too busy with my blessings!" Harned rallying him on his possible vote for Harrison W. retorted: "Don't be too damned sure on that score. I was inclined to Harrison at one time but now I hold off. I couldn't swallow him at the best without gagging."

 
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     I was visited last evening by a press reporter—a son of Rebecca Harding Davis. He brought a letter of introduction from Talcott Williams. W. said: "Yes, he was here too—but I didn't know that was what he was here for. I asked him his name: he said he was Richard Harding Davis.""He asked me if you had any political opinions. I said, 'No—none of a decided sort that I knew: I knew you were a free trader but that was all.'""That was about right—you said about all that could be said. You might have said also that if Walt Whitman has any political or religious opinions, he would like to have some one tell him what they are.""I told him I thought you had a great faith but that your stock of opinions had run out." W. was very merry over this: "That was mighty good—better still, was mighty true. I wonder if the young man took it in?""The boy brought a photographer with him," further explained W. "Yes—he got a view of the house.""Is that so? Then I'd bet he took it from the most detestable point of the compass.""You talk like a victim." This made him laugh. "Probably I do. But I have had some tough experiences with reporters and illustrators." After a pause he added: "So you say that was the son of Rebecca Harding Davis? I thought him an Irish boy: I like him—he was so candid, so interesting. Such tall, wholesome looking fellows are rare among American youngsters."

     Harned broached the subject of the restriction of immigration, and happening to say, "most people believe in it—it's very unpopular now-a-days not to believe in it," W. exclaimed contemptuously: "All, did you say, Tom—or almost all? Well, here's one who spits it all out, contract labor, pauper labor, or anything else, notwithstanding." Harned said: "I did not say I believe in restriction—I said most people do." W. went on vehemently: "Well for you, Tom, that you do not say it. I have no fears of America—not the slightest. America is for one thing only—and if not for that for what? America must welcome all—Chinese, Irish, German, pauper or not, criminal or not—all, all, without exceptions: become an asylum for all who choose to come. We may have drifted away from this principle

 
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temporarily but time will bring us back. The tide may rise and rise again and still again and again after that, but at last there is an ebb—the low water comes at last. Think of it—think of it: how little of the land of the United States is cultivated—how much of it is still utterly untilled. When you go West you sometimes travel whole days at lightning speed across vast spaces where not an acre is plowed, not a tree is touched, not a sign of a house is anywhere detected. America is not for special types, for the caste, but for the great mass of people—the vast, surging, hopeful, army of workers. Dare we deny them a home—close the doors in their face—take possession of all and fence it in and then sit down satisfied with our system—convinced that we have solved our problem? I for my part refuse to connect America with such a failure—such a tragedy, for tragedy it would be." W. spoke with the greatest energy. It is a subject that always warms him up. "You see," he said finally, "that the immigrant, too, like the writer, comes up against the canons, and has to last them out."

     W. read some proof today. In reading proofs W. rarely consults his copy. Yet he seems by instinct to catch the printer's aberrations. "I rely a good deal upon my general feeling about a piece when it comes back to me in type." In generally easy mood all though our rather vigorous talk. He said: "The best medicine is time: let us not rob time of its due." Harned had brought in some pears: "They seem right from God Almighty—are the best I have ever eaten—beautiful to look upon and quite as fine to taste." W. wrote to Bucke today. Says he rarely hears from O'Connor. "William has his own troubles." I wrote to Burroughs for W. yesterday. "For years and years John has seemed to avoid me. I never try to guess why. Sometimes I think he is a little afraid of my friends. You, for instance, Horace—Bucke: you are too boisterously radical!""But you don't think he is afraid of you?" To this he instantly said: "It never occurred to me that he could be: I do not think I have any reason for believing John's attitude towards my work or towards me has changed."

 
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Wednesday, July 25, 1888.

     W. reasonably well. "My head is behaving itself right decently just now. But it's funny, how unambitious my body is. I am possessed of an incredible inclination to flop. I am like a wet rag—I seem to be eligible to do anything except stand erect. Bucke has evidently got scared about me. You haven't been telling him things to scare him? Don't do it. Just send him hurrahs. I got a letter from him today or yesterday, in which he says to me: 'Stop—stop all labor: your mind won't stand it: put the Hicks aside instantly—the book—let Horace finish it—let anybody finish it—but stop, stop, stop at once!'" W. laughed heartily. "Why, Maurice wouldn't a' made more fuss if the town was afire. I have written him that the work is doing me no harm. Why, I have been here for six weeks or more—imprisoned, practically—with nothing to think of but this. Instead of a hindrance it has been a tonic in all the dreary days. I would have died sure if I had not had this book to do. The siege is a long one—I don't know how long or when or where I shall get through with it: but I am satisfied whatever eventuates so I get my book out before the curtain is rung down."

     Spoke regretfully of the Hicks. "My infernal laziness, neglect, inanition, for thirty years or fifty or more has put this off and off till now it is no longer possible. My fatal procrastination has tripped me up at last. I wanted to write of Hicks as a democrat—the only real democrat among all religious teachers: the democrat in religion as Jefferson was the democrat in politics—and not merely to say it as I say it to you now, assertively, nakedly, but to show it, picture it, follow the lines of evidence. No one, no writer, I mean no writer of the requisite quality, has done this for Hicks. The Quakers themselves, with their damnable worldliness and fashions (or no fashions) do not understand Hicks—even those who go by his name rather fear him, do not comprehend the gospel he preached and lived. Hicks was a greater hero than any man Carlyle celebrated in his book. But is does not surprise me that nobody has written him up: he was

 
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not sensational—he was too commonplace—too much like the rest of the people in his bravery to be taken for an official hero. I would have had a lot to say about his democracy. There were features in his mysticism with which I had little sympathy but the purport of his message had my entire approval. Hicks was in the last degree a simple character—carried no aureole or shrine about with him—liked to be taken for one of the crowd. He kept a house over his head and a little money in bank. He was not irresponsible—he did not default in his obligations: he lived the plainest life and he paid his bills." Had worked on the Fox today. "My notes are very accurate. I have found by experience that when I undertook to make a historic statement my facts were straight. I have made a headline, George Fox (and Shakspere) just as I once wrote of Father Taylor (and oratory)."

     W. had a letter "from the German-Japanese Sadakichi Hartmann" today. Spoke of Hartmann's attempted Whitman club in Boston. "I want no club founded in my name.""Suppose a Whitman club could be founded without a Whitman doctrine—how would that strike you?""That might strike me—but it is impossible." Again: "There's Sylvester Baxter—he's a theosophist and says I'm one. I had a letter from London the other day—from a young man there. He says he's a socialist—then says I'm a socialist, too. Tucker sees anarchism in the Leaves—sees me for an anarchist. So it goes.""Every man thinks you are his personal fellowman, Walt. You are in the Plato class—the world class. You include all if you can't be included.""Do you say that, knowing all it implies? Thank God! I hope I make room for all—include all—exclude nobody—nobody whatever—shut no door. If I have not achieved all I hoped for in that direction I hope I have hinted of it, started for it, made some motion as if to break the way." W. spoke of Boyle O'Reilly and O'Connor as "like as two peas in some ways"—said they both belong to the "tempest class.""Ardent Irish natures—clean, clear, afire with ideals of justice—willing, eager, anytime to live or die for justice." This was called out by a letter which W. told me to "take along and pigeon-hole."

 
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The Pilot Editorial Rooms,

March 5th, 1885.


Dear Mr. Whitman:

     I am delighted to hear from you—and that you are well. The books came all right. I enclose check for them.

     Phil. Bagenal writes me from London that he has lost your picture by an accident to his house—fire, I suppose; and he wants another copy, with your autograph addressed to him. (You remember that I introduced Bagenal to you; and he wrote an article about you in The Gentleman's Magazine; and he was an old friend of Standish O'Grady, &c. His name is O. H. Bagenal. He is now, by the way, doing well: assistant editor of the St. James Gazette, and private Sec. Of the Earl of Dunraven.)

     When sending the photo for him, I wish you would send one to me also with your autograph, and one to Dr. Kelly. It will gratify him exceedingly. I enclose the price of the photographs. Good bye. Love to you.


John Boyle O'Reilly.

     "If you take a pinch of the best Irish salt you get the best salt of the earth," said W., again referring to O'Connor and O'Reilly. Then talked of his paralysis and the blood poisoning that led up to it. "The surgeons there in the hospitals got on to my trouble before I did myself. I seem to be remarkably constituted in one way—for being slow to affect things or be affected. I would never take a disease in a hurry—never make a convert in a hurry—and so on, so on. The trouble at Washington was the culmination of an unusual sympathetic and emotional expenditure of vital energy during those years 63-4-5: partly this and perhaps directly from the singular humor of a New York lad there in the hospitals who demanded to have me—would accept no one but me—to see him through his trouble—a whim quite frequently encountered in sick people. I attended to him—bound his wounds—did everything possible for him. He was an extreme case—an awful case—dangerous at any time as a charge. The effect upon me was slow, though one of the surgeons there finally

 
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called my attention to my own peril. He said that what would have made itself manifest in most others at once took a long time to appear in me. Even now, when they give me medicine, which in other men acts in an hour or two, it sometimes takes a day or two for that medicine to take effect. I always was deliberate—except for my vigor much as you see me now. I can see why Clifford said the other day that I made him think of Socrates. I never was nervous or quick. On the other hand I had, I may say, an unusual capacity for standing still, rooted on a spot, at a rest, for a long spell, to ruminate—hours in and out sometimes. The stories of Socrates—of his courage, invincibility, nerve, inertia—are very credible: they seem quite possible: and, as you say, Horace, the non-miraculous garb in which they have come down to us does in some degree attest them."

     I heard a preacher speak of a man who was a "centerstance" rather than a "circumstance" in the universe. This struck W. as "very good" though "a bit too premeditated, deliberate." How could Clifford, being so free, talking with such freedom, stay even in a Unitarian pulpit? "It is phenomenal—it is indeed—but I do not look upon it as a condition that can last. The church is against freedom—the best church—against free interpretation—Clifford will some day rub the fur of the wrong fellow or fellows among his church-folk and then he will have to step out. It must happen sooner or later." We discussed the book. W. said: "Nobody can know our anxieties—we know: you know, I know: but, like Lincoln, while the hour is on we stick to the task resolutely and forget the hard ways by which we must effect it." Brought over today proof of pages 105, 6, 7, 8—also four galleys of the Hicks. "I see you do not mean that I shall get out of work." W. will put final touch on the Fox to-morrow. W. said, raising his right arm: "Nowhere but in this hand, wrist, arm, do I notice anything like physical vigor left: all the rest of my body has felt the irremediable nature of my recent losses. My left arm never fully recovered from the shock of 1873, though it has always been a useful remnant. My left leg was never itself again—was not restored—never reawakened."

 
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Again expressed disappointment with the Hicks: "Let Clifford see the proofs. He may find a note or two for a text for a sermon. It is not without fear and trembling that I let it go—watch its course—send it on its voyage. What will be its effect? God knows. I have more fears than hopes. Horace, one of these days, after I am dead, when you find yourself saying things for me, say this for me—say this about Hicks: tell them how I planned for one thing and did another: repeat to them the words I have addressed to you about Hicks' democracy."

 
Thursday, July 26, 1888.

     W. still weak though mainly well. Century proofs arrived. Gilder acquiesces in W.'s wish to use the War Memoranda in the book. "Some kind words from my friend William Carey there—William Carey. So I set to and rearranged the piece: discarded some parts, changed the position of certain paragraphs, besides inserting here and there a new sentence or dropping a bit." The George Fox is finished. Fixed it with minute directions to the printer. This completes the copy for the book. In the Century piece—Army Hospitals and Cases—he had changed the title for the book to Last of the War Cases. He thought the new title called for because of the many changes made in the text.

     Had a letter from "a Western professor", he said, giving him "some sound advice concerning the prosody of Leaves of Grass.""Did he offer to come on?""No—but he intimated that if what he said in this letter was not convincing he had other material to back it up.""What a shame you did not call a council of the school-masters before you wrote your book!" He laughed a good deal. "Yes—yes: and now it's too late! The harm's now about all done!""You get lots of letters of advice?""Lots of 'em! and not all of 'em mere letters of advice. Some of 'em are even threatening. You take this advice, Walt Whitman, or, God damn you, we'll know the reason why! That kind of a gentle gentleman emerges from a schoolroom or a study once in a while to take me in hand.""But you are so stubborn. Why

 
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don't you do what they demand!""I would—I would—but they can never agree together as to what they want. Some don't like my long lines, some do: some don't like my commas, some do: some cuss my long catalogues, some think them holy: some call Children of Adam decent, some call Children of Adam obscene: and so on, and so on, and so on. Nothing I have done but a lot of somebodies have objected—nothing I have done but a lot of nobodies have praised. What's the use? What's the use?" He was first serious then merry over it. Wound up with saying: "My old daddy used to say it's some comfort to a man if he must be an ass anyhow to be his own kind of an ass!"

     Saw the Photo-Engraving Company today about the reproduction of the Hicks. They sent some samples over to W. who looked at them with great interest. Some of them were landscapes. W. said: "They make me feel home-sick for the open air. My proper habitat is out-of-doors." We found that the photo of the bust made by Frank Harned would not reproduce well. When I repeated this to W. he replied: "Never mind: I've got something that will serve better anyway." Reached for his batch of Hicks notes, opened it and took out an old steel-plate portrait. "After all this is better adapted to our uses in the book." Along with the engraving was a letter from Sidney Morse, a portrait of Hicks with a hat on, a small oil of Hicks, made by Morse, a replica of some original he found in the West. W. said: "This is a batch of stuff for a curio."

     W. spoke of Cortland Palmer, just dead. "He was kind and friendly to me—was very hospitable—expressed every sort of desire to have me visit him, to have me as his guest. They all say great things of Palmer—of his big-minded, big-hearted ways. He and Ingersoll were dear friends, I am told. I have heard many stories about him and they were all the right kind—all on the side of love. Yes, he was the founder, the father, the good genius of the Nineteenth Century Club, the purpose of which, his purpose, was eternally fine. Palmer was what they call a free-thinker—and a free-thinker he indeed was. He left his

 
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impression on the public life of New York—of America, in fact. Such a man is a vital influence. He don't write books or paint pictures but he does something a big sight more important. They may bury Palmer—they will bury him—and I do not feel like crying over his grave. There's only one word for some graves—hurrah is that word. Hurrah is the word for brave Palmer!"

     Letters today, among others, from Bucke, O'Connor, Kennedy—the latter containing an enclosure of a note from Rhys, dated 4th July, coming from New-Castle-on-Tyne. "I laid them here for you—you need not bring them back. They don't contain anything special, but then we all like to read what is said by the other fellows who are in the swim with us—afloat on the same stream, gyrating in the same circle." We talked about the mechanics of the book. W.'s memory for present things has not been first class for a few weeks. He fights a bit with me over details. Then he caves. Tells me of the Hicks: "Some of these bits were written as many as thirty years ago. Some of them I have written within the past year. They are a miscellaneous lot but they all belong in the same stream." Gave me a portrait of John Forney bearing F.'s autograph and W.'s own note on the reverse: "John W. Forney, Philadelphia 1879-80-81.""Forney was of the high-class journalistic type—a type that is passing off the stage. We no longer associate newspapers with great men but with great pocket books. The Greeley Raymond Forney sort of newspaper is gone for good—gone, rather, for evil. I do not suppose anybody pretends that the present newspaper with all its parts—and it has parts—I concede them: great parts—stands for that something or other above money and the monitions of money which controlled and inspired the journalist of the ideal stamp. Forney was not the last of his line but certainly was one of the last. Personally, to me, he was always noble, gracious, conciliatory: he had in a certain sense the grand manner, as polite writers are pleased to call it, but was a simple man of most loveable traits under all hauteurs." Giving me an old Burroughs letter he said: "That is like a visit to John:

 
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it is just as if I took a trip with him into the woods. I can taste his fruit—I can hear the birds sing. It is an old letter—it has been about this room now many a year. John was fresh at Esopus then: he had a tussle there at first—but he has won out: he is a master vine-dresser these days: and all the time his grip on himself has grown firmer—his intuitions have grown cuter. John is a wood wizard: things come out of their holes—present themselves—ask for orders—when John goes into the woods." W. had written on this letter: "ans. May 21."

Esopus, N.Y. May 17, '74.


Dear Walt:

     I rec'd a magazine (the Galaxy) from you yesterday, which I have been peeping in a little today, but the day has been so beautiful and the charm of the open air so great that I could not long keep my eyes on the printed page. The season is at last fairly in for it, and the fruit trees are all getting in bloom. My bees are working like beavers and there is a stream of golden thighs passing into the hive all the time. I can do almost anything with them and they won't sting me. Yesterday I turned a hive up and pruned it, that is cut out a lot of old dirty comb; the little fellows were badly frightened and came pouring out in great consternation, but did not offer to sting me. I am going to transfer a swarm in a day or two to a new style of hive. I spend all my time at work about the place and like it much. I run over to M. to look after bank matters for a day or two then back here. The house is being plastered and will be finished during the summer. The wrens and robins and phoebe birds have already taken possession of various nooks of it, and if they are allowed to go on with their building I must stop mine. During that snowstorm the last of April the hermit thrush took refuge in it. We are surrounded with birds here and they are a great comfort and delight to me.

     Your room is ready for you and your breakfast plate warmed. When will you come? I know the change would do you good and your presence would certainly do us good. We are counting on your coming; do not disappoint us. I will meet you in New

 
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York if you will tell me when. Let us hear from you soon. Ursula sends love.


As ever,


John Burroughs.

     W. said further about J. B.: "Did you stop to take a second look at that line in the letter, 'a stream of golden thighs passing into the hive'? John's power is in his simplicity. He writes well because he does not try to write.""Do you mean that a man should not be deliberate? Your writing is deliberate enough." He replied: "I may say it this way—that we should try to secure expression but that we should not try to make an impression.""But don't expression make an impression?""I see I have not said the thing very well myself. Let me say it another way. We make one sort of impression by sincerity and another sort of impression by trickery. I mean that we should not try to make an impression by trickery." Seeing I was satisfied he went on about Burroughs: "John never bowls you over with any vivid passion of speech—it is not in him to do it—but he calms and soothes you—takes you out into the open where things are in an amiable mood. John might get real mad—his kettle boil over—but his language would remain conciliatory. William O'Connor under the same excitation would blow fiercely and leave his mark on the landscape.""But don't both ways lead to clear weather?" He laughed. "Yes, they do, and I was about to say so, but you took it out of my mouth. Why do you take all the good things out of my mouth?"

 
Friday, July 27, 1888.

     W. much today as on other days this week but not quite so much interested in general matters. No mail, except a note from Frank Gilman, asking W. to autograph a photo, which W. did without hesitation. An autograph letter yesterday started, "I am glad to see that you are about again," and then said, "would you be kind enough," &c. This made W. laugh. "He thinks I'm about again just for that." But running a pen-line

 
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across the written page and pointing to the reverse side of the sheet, W. said: "Those fellows have one virtue—they always use good paper: and on that I manage to do a good deal of my writing." He averages two or three letters of this character a day. I saw the process people about the Hicks picture with a result which induced W. to say: "I guess we may take it as decided that the Inman is our picture. If the reproduction comes anywhere near it I shall be satisfied." We are to pay four or five dollars for the work. W. talked of the Hicks: "Hicks I remember as a presence rather than in outline as a concrete body. I do not know that such a picture as this would in itself have been recognizable. I was too young when I saw Hicks. But Inman was a famous man in his day—one of the greatest of the artists—and I do not know but he is still highly regarded. I have always understood that this particular portrait of Hicks is as good as it is rare—and it is rare indeed. What a study it all is—this of portraits: no two of them identical: every interpreter getting another view. What amazing differences develope in the attempt of a dozen observers to tell the same story!" The engravers today said of the Morse and Inman portraits: "They are too unlike to be of the same person." W. replied: "Not so—not so: there are as many views as there are people to take them." W. was "Not proud of the photographs of" himself. "I've been taken and taken beyond count—taken from every side—even from my blind side"—laughing—"taken in utter wretchedness of posture for the most part. No man has been photographed more than I have or photographed worse: I've run the whole gamut of photographic fol-de-rol." I kicked. "It seems to me many of your pictures are better than good—better than you deserve, maybe." He regarded me with great merriment. "Better than I deserve, no doubt—that's what consoles me—but still damnable."

     Spoke of Last of the War Cases. He had put "last" into the title because the incidents cited "were left over after the close of the war, having to do with the final batch of the injured and needy." In this connection W. remarked: "By the way I have

 
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saved you another document of the war period: here it is now—take it along in your pocket." He handed me an envelope on which he had written: "Oct 5, '63 Margaret S Curtis care Charles P Curtis Boston, Mass." He got the impression that I proposed to sit right down and read it. It was a rather long letter. "You can read it when you get home. We had better finish our talk first." He had the Hicks proofs on his lap. Was he satisfied with it? "I am not disappointed—I could not say I am disappointed—but I am not enthused, either. It is so far—so very far—from the thing I dreamed of doing. It was to have been a very complete story—I had the largest hopes, designs, for it—still, as I read it now, it's not so bad (though bad enough) as I feared it would be. I must be satisfied now if I have succeeded in hinting at matters which it was a part of my original scheme to enlarge upon. On the whole it is not a radical failure—neither is it a radical success."

     Having read the full account of Cortland Palmer's funeral yesterday W. confessed that he was "aroused by Ingersoll's speech.""Ingersoll certainly has what I would call a genius for such a function: all his funeral addresses are marvels of beauty: short, musical, rich in cadence, pithy, never too much, never too little: and the best part of Ingersoll is, I don't think anybody ever loses interest in him who hears him speak—ever goes to sleep—ever goes wool-gathering to other scenes in his presence. He is one of the very few—the very select few—who are alive and keep others alive with them." W. did not like Phillips as well. "He was haughty, noble, powerful, but without Ingersoll's jovial reactions. He never spoke but to cut—cut somewhere: with a keen blade, infallibly cut."

     Called my attention to a newspaper clipping in which he was again taken to task for not going to the front and fighting during the war. "I had my temptations, but they were not strong enough to tempt. I could never think of myself as firing a gun or drawing a sword on another man. Higginson has more than once, and in print, too, called me to the same account, quoting my record decisively to my discredit, seeming to regard it as an argu-

 
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ment entitled to a great deal of weight—indeed, as being final." He pointed to a haversack on the wall. "That's a souvenir of those days: it was given to me by Allen, of the Commissary Department, I think. I often used it at that time in going about Washington—in the hospitals—among the soldier boys: slung it over my shoulder in a way to make it comfortable. I have never once used it since I came to Camden. [Several years afterwards W. presented me with the haversack and it has ever since hung on my wall. 1906]

     Ingram called today but was not admitted to W.'s room. W. sent his regrets. Ingram was hurt, Musgrove tells me. But W. explained to me: "I love the old man but cannot stand his busy talk in my present mess of mind." Hinted that he might "make a try towards going down stairs to-morrow." W. and I had a little jollification over a bit of his writing that I picked up off the floor. "Burst in lecture (or poem)" it was called. This is the way it reads:

     "We talk of our age's materialism—and it is too true—in gloomy hours—how, amid all the sordidness, the entire devotion of America, at any price, to mere pecuniary success—merchandise disregarding all but direct business and profit—how for a bare idea and abstraction or mere heroic dream and reminiscence—this war burst forth in its great devouring flame and conflagration, quickly and fiercely spreading and raging, and enveloping all, [break] into two great ideas—that of the Union cause—and the other—a strange, deadly Interrogation point, hard to define what—have we not now safely confest it?—Even that other, with magnificent rays, streaks, of noblest heroism, fortitude, perseverance and even conscientiousness, shedding flashes of light through its pervadingly malignant darkness. Was there not something grand—and a perennial proof of American grandeur—in that war."

     "That," said W., "is a piece of an unborn oration: it was to be a burst, but the bomb never exploded—though I don't know

 
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but the substance of it got into the books somewhere anyhow.""You often gave yourself advice on paper.""I suppose I did: I wrote things down: I saw them better in my handwriting than in my mind's eye—could tell better whether they suited me or not.""Ingersoll once asked me whether your writing was pretty well finished before you wrote at all or whether you wrote mainly, and revised, on paper. I told him I thought you made lots of use of pens, inks and papers." W. smiled and assented. "So I do—so I do: your answer was the answer I would have made myself." As I left W. said: "We are not keeping Ferguson on the anxious bench nowadays. He is a patient man. He suffered a heap from us, didn't he?"
 
Saturday, July 28, 1888.

     This is the Curtis letter W. gave me yesterday:


Washington, Armory Sq Hospital,

Sunday Evening Oct 4


Dear Madam,

     Your letter reached me this forenoon with the $30 for my dear boys, for very dear they have become to me, wounded and sick here in the government hospitals.—As it happens I find myself rapidly making acknowledgement of your welcome letter and contribution from the midst of those it was sent to aid—and best by a sample of actual hospital life on the spot, and of my own goings around the last two or three hours—As I write I sit in a large pretty well-filled ward by the cot of a lad of 18 belonging to Company M 2d N Y cavalry, wounded three weeks ago today at Culpeper—hit by fragment of a shell in the leg below the knee—a large part of the calf of the leg is torn away, (it killed his horse)—still no bones broken, but a pretty large ugly wound—I have been writing to his mother at Comac, Suffolk co. N Y—. She must have a letter just as if from him, about every three days—it pleases the boy very much—he has four married sisters—them also I have to write to occasionally—Although so young he has been in many fights and tells me shrewdly about them, but only when I ask him. He

 
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is a cheerful good-natured child—has to lie in bed constantly his leg in a box—I bring him things—he says little or nothing in the way of thanks—is a country boy—always smiles and brightens much when I appear—looks straight in my face and never at what I may have in my hand for him—I mention him for a specimen as he is within reach of my hand and I can see that his eyes have been steadily fixed on me from his cot ever since I began to write this letter. This youngster is no special favorite—only a needful case—it will not do at all to show partiality here—there are some 25 or 30 wards, barracks, tents &c in this hospital—This is ward C, has beds for 60 patients—they are mostly full—most of the other principal wards about the same—so you see a U S general hospital here is quite an establishment—this has a regular police, armed sentries at the gates and in the passages &c,—and a great staff of surgeons, cadets, women and men nurses &c &c. I come here pretty regularly because this hospital receives I think the worst cases and is one of the least visited—there is not much hospital visiting here now—it has become an old story—the principal here, Dr. Bliss, is a very fine operating surgeon—sometimes he performs several amputations or other operataions of importance in a day—amputations, blood, death are nothing to him—you will see a group absorbed in playing cards up at the other end of the room.

     I visit the sick every day or evening—sometimes I stay far in the night, on special occasions. I believe I have not missed more than two days in past six months. It is quite an art to visit the hospitals to advantage. The amount of sickness, and the number of poor, wounded, dying young men is appalling. One often feels lost, despondent, his labors not even a drop in the bucket—the wretched little he can do in proportion.

     I believe I mentioned in my letter to Dr. Russell that I try to distribute something, even if but the merest trifle, all round, without missing any, when I visit a ward, going round rather rapidly—and then devoting myself more at leisure to the cases that need special attention. One who is experienced may find

 
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in almost any ward at any time one or two patients or more who are at that time trembling in the balance, the crisis of the wound, recovery uncertain, yet death also uncertain. I will confess to you madam that I think I have an instinct and faculty for these cases. Poor young men, how many have I seen and know—how pitiful it is to see them,—one must be calm and cheerful and not let on how their case really is, must stop much with them, find out their idiosyncrasies—do anything for them—nourish them—judiciously give them the right things to drink,—bringing in the affections, soothe them, brace them up, kiss them, discard all ceremony, and fight for them, as it were, with all weapons. I need not tell your womanly soul that such work blesses him that works as much as the object of it. I have never been happier than in some of these hospital ministering hours.

     It is now between 8 and 9 evening—the atmosphere is rather solemn here to-night—there are some very sick men here—the scene is a curious one—the ward is perhaps 120 or 30 feet long—the cots each have their white mosquito curtains—all is quite still—an occasional sigh or groan—up in the middle of the ward the lady nurse sits at a little table with a shaded lamp, reading—the walls, roof, &c are all whitewashed—the light up and down the ward from a few gas-burners about half turned down—It is Sunday evening—to-day I have been in the hospital, one part or another, since three o'clock—to a few of the men, pretty sick, or just convalescing and with delicate stomachs or perhaps badly wounded arms, I have fed their suppers—partly peaches peeled, and cut up with powdered sugar, very cool and refreshing,—they like to have me sit by them and peel them, cut them in a glass, and sprinkle on the sugar—(all these little items maybe may interest you).

     I have given three of the men this afternoon, small sums of money—I provide myself with a lot of bright new 10 ct and 5 ct bills, and when I give little sums of change I give the bright new bills. Every little thing even must be taken advantage of—to give bright fresh 10 ct. bills instead of any other helps break the dullness of hospital life—

 
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     I said to W.: "What you said the other day about Burroughs I think also applies to you. This letter is alive all through—every word of it. It carries me back with you into that old experience. I think I can see you there writing in the hospital and see that boy looking at you and smell the medicines."—W. broke in: "Good for me if you can do all that: good enough for me! My main motive would be to say things: not to say them prettily—not to stun the reader with surprises—with fancy turns of speech—with unusual, unaccustomed words—but to say them—to shoot my gun without a flourish and reach the mark if I can. The days in the hospitals were too serious for that."

     W. spoke of this as his "best day since the throw-down.""I took a bath as I like to—alone, quietly." Resents the attentions of Musgrove. He got to like Baker but Musgrove rubs him the wrong way. Did not go down stairs yesterday. For the first time fully dressed this evening—gray coat and all—as he sat in his chair. "If I remind myself of it I can see that my mind is not quite all right, but otherwise I can be as chipper as a well man." Feeling weak but very cheerful. I had with me concluding proofs of Last of the War Cases. Letters from Bucke and Logan Smith today. The latter writes from London. W. laughed: "The fellows abroad have an idea, all of them, that we're roasting here. Every letter I receive condoles with me over the heat by which I am tortured." He stopped to pick up his knife that had fallen to the floor. He often plays with his penknife, opening and shutting as he talks. "This is on the contrary the most remarkable July I have ever known—so far it has been entirely comfortable."

     Speaking of churches: "I never made any vows to go or not to go: I went, at intervals, but anywhere—to no one place: was a wanderer: went oftenest in my earlier life—gradually dropped off altogether: today a church is a sort of offense to me. I never had any 'views'—was always free—made no pledges, adopted no creeds, never joined parties or 'bodies.' Many years ago a reporter came to me about some comments anent me that

 
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appeared in Appleton's Journal: how did I dress when I was young, how now, what were my habits—and more like that. I said to him: I always dressed as I do now and spoke and acted as I do now—that's all I know about it—that's all I can tell you. And that's what I could say now about churches and views: I am as I was: I have not changed. I have met many preachers in my time—some of the sleek kind, but many of them personally good fellows, who treated me well. Always remember, though I hate preaching I do not hate preachers." Pointed out to me an editorial paragraph in the Tribune: "I regret that anybody is willing to accept the doctrine of protection no matter what may be its good fruits—that anybody in America is willing to acknowledge no obligations to other lands, other peoples, demanding protection, welfare, for themselves, no matter how it is secured. America should be an example not an echo—therein lies her chief function—not to follow, oh no, but to lead the way." W. believes in "free Sundays. The boys should have their ball or any frolic they choose: the grown folks should do very much as they please: theaters should be open—there should be plenty of music. Sunday should be a light, not a dark, day. Any law that interferes with innocent enjoyment is a barbarous law no matter who is in favor of it. I would wipe such laws out with a sponge—every one of them,—if I could."

     Some one asked W. if Emerson's manner lacked in emotion, W. answering: "I do not think so: it had the true ring: Emerson would satisfy all demands of that sort I could make of him. I did think that Thoreau and Emerson, both of them, years ago, in the Brooklyn days, were a little bookish in their expression of love: I say I used to think so, for I don't know how the thing would strike me now." W. has not read Carlyle's Sterling or his Frederick. Said he would "like to read the Sterling—indeed, thought" he "should do it" but imagined "the Frederick is much too big a big thing for" him "to tackle at this late day.""I do not believe the book would interest me a great deal anyhow: I have looked it over—Carlyle makes too much of the battles. My experiences on the fields have shown me that

 
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the writers catch very little of the real atmosphere of the battle. It is an assault, an immense noise, somebody driven off the field—a victory won: that is all. It is like trying to photograph a tempest."

     I said to W. this evening: "Your style is not very new—it is very old." He laughed, shaking a finger towards me: "That is wicked: who told you? Who put you on to my secret?""It's not even a secret—anybody might know it who looked." To which he replied: "So they might—so they might—if they would only forget their canons, rules, for awhile. It's a great thought, Horace,—you have said it all. I am willing to acquiesce in Heine's notions of criticism. Heine would ask of a book and its writer, not, 'has he written it as I would like him to do it?' but first: 'had he an idea, a point of view, a central thought?' and then, 'has he said what he undertook to say?—done what he undertook to do?' Heine had no doctrine of art with which to flay the rebel: he let the rebel alone: he knew that the rebel was a rebel for reasons."

     W. wondered "what the Germans would think of Lewes' Life of Goethe," adding: "I have my own troubles with the German poets: I ought to read them a lot but the translations do not satisfy me. Leland's translation of the Reisebilder is, however, a joy and a delight. My nature, my temperament, my blood, should take me close to the Teuton.""It is singular," said W. suddenly, "how people may get to believe they are saying a new thing when they are simply rehashing a very ancient text. Take Democracy, for instance: the American, the average American, thinks he has a new idea. The truth is that even our proud modern definitions of democracy are antiquated—can be heard reflected in the language of the Elizabethan period in England—in the atmosphere created by Bacon, Ben Jonson, and the rest of that crowd. I would not like to say there might not have been latent in the utterances of that group of men the seed stuff of our American liberty—not to speak of the still older suggestions of it to be found in Greek and Roman sources." Referring to an Italian who had been murdered: "The poor

 
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Italian immigrants! The popular fury now seems to be applied to them—and what have they done, indeed? I wonder if our people really believe the Chinese menace our institutions—the industrious, quiet, inoffensive Chinese? Maybe our institutions ain't no good if they're as thin-skinned as that."

     Pointing to a scrapbook on the floor at his feet: "It is a strange miscellany—a hodge-podge, some of it only pulp, some of it very vital: curious, rejected reviews, critiques, odds and ends of newspaper gossip—all of it in the past, the far past—gathered together fifty years ago and on from that time for many years. I have always had it about me as a book for personal reference. It was mislaid for a long time, then reappeared—has been fished out of its barrel again lately: I am again making use of it.""What has that particular book to do with Leaves of Grass?""Oh! everything! is full of its beginnings—is the a b c of the book—contains the first lisps of the song. How much of it has come and gone like last night's rain!" he exclaimed. "But," I protested, "that was sweet and useful.""Yes—so it was—and so was the book—sweet and useful! Here was my first tally of life—here were my first tries with the lute—in that book I am just like a man tuning up his instrument before the play begins." [The contents of the book were afterwards included by Dr. Bucke in Notes and Fragments. 1906] Finally he said as I was about to withdraw: "Our talk to-night has not been a song without words. I have talked like a man with a new dictionary—have celebrated my re-entrance into clothes by tooting for two hours on my tin horn."

 
Sunday, July 29, 1888.

     W. spent a pretty good day reading proof and writing letters, the almost inevitable note to Bucke among them. Appetite not bad. Still weak. He stepped into the hallway yesterday and threw some soiled clothes down stairs. Mrs. Davis cried: "You must be feeling stronger!" but he demurred: "I'm not, Mary: I feel as weak as a cat." Said he had "a few vague suspicions of returning strength but very few." Gave me a Bucke

 
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letter mostly talking about W.'s health. He had read the Press article about himself today. It contained a good picture of the house and lots of cheap talk about W. and his habits since the attack in June. W. asked: "Could we call that flat? it certainly is stale and unprofitable: but we should not complain—it could so easily have been worse: we may congratulate ourselves upon being let off with such slight damage." Then he laughed and added: "We could do better than that ourselves." Told me he had been reading Moore, Scott and Burns today. "I go to them again and again in certain humors: they are very consoling." Added a paragraph to the prefatory Note going with the Hicks. Changes not many—several of them, however, characteristic: for instance, where he had "father and mother" he made it now "dear, dear father and mother." Read eight galleys of the Hicks and four of the Last of the War Cases. Nothing left to go into type except the Hicks notes and the Fox paper.

     W. asked me whether I had seen The American this week? "Here it is—and it contains a paper by Miss Repplier. It is curious and unfortunate that this should be the best of the lot so far." He read a tariff interview had by some reporter with Ingersoll. "I like Ingersoll, sure enough, but his logic in this matter is queer, to say the least. What will America do? Is she for the great mass of men?—the race, the whole globe? No man is a democrat, a true democrat, who forgets that he is interested in the welfare of the race. Who asks only, what is best for America? instead of, what is best for man—the whole of man? Is a man a citizen of Camden only? No—no indeed. And if not of Camden, not of New Jersey, nor even of America. No—no—no—no: a man is no democrat if he takes the narrow in preference to the broad view. He may talk of democracy, of the people, but it's all a lie—all false—nothing but nuts crackling under a pot. I am not interested in what Carnegie is doing to establish libraries abroad but in what he is doing to keep peace with and render justice to his men here. My item in Specimen Days asking what the working man gets out of the tariff

 
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still holds good. I haven't grown conservative on that question with age."

     W. answering my inquiry said: "No, I didn't go down stairs today. To-morrow I'm going to make a motion for doing so though I don't know as the motion will be carried: I must go, if only for a few minutes. I want to prove to you fellows—to myself—that I've not entirely gone up the spout." I protested some. He laughed. "Oh! it won't hurt me: my caution, you remember, is six and over! I shall go only when the spirit moves me: if it don't move then not at all. I find the best way to spend my days—at least did long ago—is the free way: not to make plans, but to go this path or that as the mood dictates." Gave me the Hicks picture—the Inman—with many admonitions to me to see that the engraver took good care of it. On a November Boughs proof page given me for size W. wrote: "Size of page Nov: Boughs to picture is illustrate." That's the way his phrases mix up occasionally, especially in writing. When he speaks a confused sentence he corrects it at once. I suggested that he should preserve the manuscript of November Boughs. He acquiesced. "The first manuscript copy of the Leaves—1855—the first edition—is gone—irretrievably lost—went to the ragman: the copy for the Osgood edition I think is still about somewhere. But I make nothing of that—of the money value of the manuscripts—attach no importance to curios. The collectors are inflamed with the curio desire but to me the appetite is unwholesome—at least never excited even my momentary interest. And yet," he reflected, "for Eddy's sake it might be wise for me to husband such stuff—though I don't know: even that seems to me rather wide of the mark. I have for years done so many things with reference to Eddy—have stinted, spared, saved, put by, cherished, watched—so that I might not slip cable some day with him unprovided for. Eddy is helpless: has been at Moorestown—is shortly to go elsewhere: was a poor, stunted boy almost from the first. He had the convulsions—it was all up with him—the infernal, damnable, fits, that left him not half himself from that time on

 
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forever." I said to W.: "There is a line in Faces that always makes me think of Eddy." He replied: "There should be several. Eddy had much to do with the inspiration of that poem." I quoted this: "I knew of the agents that emptied and broke my brother.""Yes," said W. "that's one line—you might take the whole verse." I reminded W. of one of my sisters similarly afflicted. "Yes, I remember: Tillie: poor dear little Tillie! but she never was so far gone as Eddy, who practically has never had any mental life at all: who has lived in darkness, eclipsed almost from the start." Paused. "And so I turn every thing I can into provisioning for him. The little property—Lord knows it's little enough: all, all, for Eddy—for such boon as it may bring to him after I am gone." I found on the floor a slip containing a prose paragraph which may be taken as the origin of the first stanza of By Blue Ontario's Shore. I made this guess to W. He said: "Let me see it." Took it—looked it over—handed it back. "No doubt you are right: I remember. Get the book—let's hear how the poem reads." A copy of the book was on the table in front of him. I read to him. He concluded: "You guessed right first time. That's more than I could have done." This is the way the slip read:

     "A song America demands that breathes her native air—an utterance to invigorate Democracy. Democracy, the destined conqueror—(yet treacherous lip-smiles everywhere, and death and infidelity at every step.) Of such a song let me, (for I have had that dream,) initiate here the NOVICE'S ATTEMPT,—and bravos to the bards, who coming after me, do better far."

     The last phrase had originally read: "to those who, coming after me, do better." As I was leaving W. remarked: "I was destroying some papers today but I saved a few for you." I kicked at once. "I knew you would growl—but no matter—you growl but you do not bite. I am, in fact, Horace, saving you all the essential things—the things that make history: what

 
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I chuck away or burn up is not worth while keeping either for your purposes or mine. Here—take this bunch with my blessing and be happy. He was ahungry and I gave him meat: I feed you with the food you love!" He seemed to enjoy himself a big lot while he was saying this. Then he passed a little package over to me. "You can carry this stuff along with you in your side pocket. If they arouse any questions you can put your questions to me to-morrow." The packet tied with a string contained several Redpath letters and single letters from Rolleston, O'Connor, G. C. Macaulay, W. W., and a receipt to Allen Thorndike Rice from W. W. I looked them over a bit before going home and said to W.: "Yes, this is a full meal." He chuckled gleefully. "I am glad to satisfy you now and then. One of my main concerns in life nowadays is to keep you in good humor."
 
Monday, July 30, 1888.

     This has been one of W.'s worst days. "It may be the weather—it is most likely something else. I haven't cast out all of my devils yet." Brought him new proofs which he at once glanced over. Was astonished to find that the Last of the War Cases made nine pages. "I do little nowadays but sit and thank my stars that I have fallen into such good hands in the time of my need." Today for the first time since taking Baker's place Musgrove found W. willing to invite assistance. Harned and his little girl Anna came in. No letter from Bucke. Spoke of it. Bucke's letters have become a part of W.'s routine. "I sent off a package of papers to Nellie O'Connor—O'Connor's wife." Harned asked: "Is she a bright woman?""Bright? Quite so—remarkably so—interested in the big things always—a rare beautiful woman: sweet, equable, calm." After a pause: "Did you know O'Connor is writing a long reply to Donnelly's critics in this Shakespeare business? I have no doubt it will be very bright—brighter than Donnelly himself, by far. William is thoroughly grounded in the lore of that period—no man more so: I am convinced that he understands the philosophy of that

 
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question much better than Donnelly himself. But while Donnelly's knowledge is not novel, he has put it better than any of his predecessors—than Delia Bacon, for instance, to cite one of them. To me Donnelly's general argument was conclusive: I was in fact ready to be convinced and he passed along and drew me after him. Mine was no sudden conversion, however—it was the outcome of years of study and thought: I drifted, drifted, always in one direction, and arrived at last." W. very animated. Harned sat down. They went on for some time about Bacon.

     W. said of yesterday's Press piece: "The more you look at it the worse it seems." Did he expect to make any money out of November Boughs? He laughed: "If I get out of it what I put into it I will be lucky: if I got in addition a little fob of bills for my vest-pocket here I would feel like a millionaire." Harned put in: "I suppose the book will be a dollar and a half." W. shook his head. "No—that's too much: not more than a dollar and a quarter at the most—a dollar if possible." W. added, answering another question of Harned's: "I like to keep my prices down to the level of my real friends. The people with money wouldn't buy me anyhow. I must make it possible for the people without money to buy me."

     W. expressed great happiness over what he construed to be O'Connor's "improved condition.""They are a part of me—I am a part of them—William, Nellie. They received me with open arms when I was rejected—they were my dearest, dearest friends, staunchest from the start. They have had their profound sorrows—children lost, two children, one of them a girl, a fine girl who almost grew up." Spoke of the precautions necessary for him to maintain his health. "I must do nothing now to stop the book: I mustn't be the cow to upset the pail of my own milk." Asked Harned to bring him some pears. "They are divine food when the stomach is ready for prayer." Did not go down stairs today, as he threatened last night. "The fact is, I forgot all about it—the spirit did not move me." Harned remarked that the campaign was cool now but would

 
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be hot in the fall. W. denied it. "No—cool then, too. What is there for anybody to enthuse over? The real issues are not in politics yet. I notice the Press has its flings, slanders—prods itself into anger: but what does that amount to?" Harned withdrew with his youngster. We then had some talk over the letters he gave me yesterday. I spoke in such enthusiastic terms of the O'Connor letter that W. said: "Read it to me again—I would like to hear it read again: I have to read it myself a dozen times." He smiled quietly: "When William gets going he is more exciting than an alarm of fire. Read it." So I read.

Washington, D.C., July 20, 1882.


Dear Walt:

     I just have your postal of the 19th, announcing the first edition out and gone in a day! Hooray! Come on, Vice Society!

     I am rejoiced. Rees, Welsh and Co ought to have printed more, but no matter. If they manage right now, they can secure a prodigious sale. The main thing is not to be afraid, but to face persecution. The thunderstorm mounts against the wind.

     Comstock is here, probably merely on Post Office business, he being a special agent. If he is moving against your book, I shall hear of it. But the Department is in his way, as he will find. He ought to be pitched out of the public service.... I just want a square chance—a clear sight—to embalm him in a letter. Properly shown up he would be bounced.

     I have a bad dose in preparation for Tobey. There has been some delay, work presses me so much, together with the load of the dog-day weather, and I have been really quite ill for a week with a severe cold. I wish I could go North for a while to recover.

     I got the Press you sent with the Rev. Mr. Morrow's remarks, which I had already seen in the Tribune. He is a pearl among clergymen, and I feel grateful to him. I heard a story once how the brilliant Douglas Jerrold astonished an evening party in London by a constant fire of jeu de mots for hours, which continued until every person in the room, man or woman, had been

 
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the subject of a jest or epigram, always splendid and nearly always tart. Finally, when the admired wit was leaving, every eye fixed upon him, every ear bent to hear whatever he might utter, Charles Knight, the historian, whose sweetness of nature made him loved by all, standing near the door, said to him with a smile, "You've said something this evening about everyone here except me, Douglas; have you nothing to say about me?""Yes," replied Jerrold, tenderly pressing his hand as he went away, "Good Knight!" I feel like imitating this wit, and saying, not in parting but in welcome, to our new friend, "Good Morrow."

     I have an immensely cordial letter from Dr. Channing, who says he is going to write to you.

      Send me one of the new edition when you can.


Faithfully,


W. D. O'Connor.

     "Yes," said W., "I was selling books then: they went like hot cakes. I never sold them before, I have never sold them since. The next thing to being fashionable is to be unfashionable. Did you notice William's fling at Comstock? What a foolish question—of course you noticed it. The best or the worst of it is, it is all deserved. Of course we should always admit with regard to Comstock that he is what he is for reasons: he is quite honest in all his imbecility." W. thought the "Good Morrow" incident in the letter, "most characteristic of William—most beautiful: just like him in every way," adding: "You know William never stopped to invent, to manufacture, such things—they just came to him, were in and out in a flash." When I asked him about G. C. Macaulay W. said: "He once wrote a paper about me and published it somewhere or other—I don't this minute just recollect where. Didn't you like his letter? It was very warm—very comfortable: like a fire for your backbone when you go in out of the cold. I just nestle up to some letters as if I needed them the worst way. Then you must remember that more things are coming our way now than five

 
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or ten or twenty years ago." W. likes to have me read letters to him. He settles himself comfortably in his chair or on the bed listening, sometimes interrupting with comments, though inarticulate. So he had me read Macaulay, though he was quite well aware of the contents of the letter.

Rugby, England, Jan. 9th, 1883.


Sir:

     I have received the copy of the Specimen Days and Collect which you were so kind as to send me, and I hope to have the opportunity soon of saying what I think about it in some English periodical. ["Funny," said W., breaking in, "he did write but I can't for the life of me think of the magazine he got his essay into"]. I have been deeply interested in the book, especially in so far as it supplies the "embryons" of Leaves of Grass, and I am especially gratified to receive it from yourself. My acquaintance with Leaves of Grass dates from my early university days some ten years ago, when having come across Rossetti's edition of selections I was induced soon after to get a complete edition. Since then I have never neglected them, and often enjoyed the effect of awakening others to a perception of its great force and beauty, which being accompanied by so much which (justly or unjustly) excites prejudice, are too often overlooked. As regards the new book, which I have eagerly read, some of it was familiar to me already, e.g. Democratic Vistas—but Specimen Days was entirely new and altogether delightful. I am inclined to think that it will place many readers in a better position to appreciate Leaves of Grass than heretofore.

     With thanks both for this book and for former benefits received, I remain—


Yours faithfully,


G. C. Macaulay.

     After I was through reading the letter I had to get out to meet an engagement. I wanted to talk with W. some about the Rolleston and Redpath letters but put it off. Before I left he said: "You must never drop the reins—I am depending upon

 
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your firm hand in our affairs to bring this journey to a successful finish." He asked me: "Do you go to New York sometimes?" and after my answer said: "You should some day drop in on the Gilders—they would be glad to see you. You mustn't suppose Watson is the only member of the household who is worth while: after you see Mrs. Watson you will find yourself acknowledging a divided allegiance. Women are often the silent partners but they are quite as essential to the business of life as the men-crowd with their incessant catawauling. Look at me—sitting here all my days now, talking, talking, like a dictionary with legs on and a mouth."

 
Tuesday, July 31, 1888.

     Favorable change in W. today. Still no letter from Bucke. W. wrote to Burroughs, "not," as he said, "so much to say anything myself (for I said very little) but to enclose the note from Nellie O'Connor, which I knew he would like to see. I believe I told you O'Connor is better than for a long time. It is as though he had reached a high plateau with a clear stretch of a country ahead of him, the winds blowing free, the air tonic. William might now go to his journey's end uninterrupted." Before leaving O'Connor W. added: "I don't know whether his criticism of the critics will be a book or a pamphlet: whatever it comes to in the end it will be sharp and fierce, we may rest assured—stronger than anything Donnelly has written. I believe William knows a good lot more than Donnelly about the subject—draws deeper water." Mentioned the Lady Mount Temple's vest: "It was never made for me—the owner has not been found yet."

     I had been stirred by the last paragraph of the Fox. "It's splendid: perfect strength and eloquence—you never went higher than that." W. exclaimed: "Ah! You find that all there—just as you say it? I am glad—glad: there is at least that much to it all. I have never made any full statement on religion in any of my writings but I have always intended to.""But your whole book is religion. We do not want the figures for it.

 
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We are satisfied with the spirit.""You say that, too? Well—maybe, maybe. No doubt I have said enough on the subject—said really all there was in me to say: a few figures more would not have helped. In the days when I was planning to write and deliver lectures I designed one lecture at least on religion—indeed, collected a great mass of material for it. I never felt as though the discussion of religion should be left to the priests: it never seemed to me safe in their hands:"

      Took him this evening the Hicks notes and the Fox paper, which together make three galleys. This puts the whole book in type. W. very happy over it. "But we will go right on," he said, "without pauses, stoppages, which at this stage of the game would be dangerous." Discussed press-work, binding and so forth. Gave me his flexible Epictetus for sample of paper but said: "Don't leave it with the printers—show it to them—then bring it back: it's a precious book to me—I don't want to even risk losing it." W. has an idea of putting the Hicks-Fox matter eventually into a special pamphlet. Made many changes of the make—up in order to get the Hicks started on an odd page. This is one of his memorandums to the printer: "begin making up Elias Hicks on page 119 I will supply something for page 118—(if it suits well and prints well we will put the now being made portrait of Elias Hicks on page 118)—don't mind on page 118 nor wait for it—but go on making up with E H &c when ready." A blank space occurred on a made-up page between two notes. Instead of having it closed in by shifting the pages he simply added a line. He always knows the easiest way out of printer's puzzles.

      Harned brings him fruit almost daily. W. says: "Most people think Tom rough: underneath his rough exterior he is as sweet as the fruit he brings." H. comes generally after dinner in the early evening, with one or both of the children. W. always kisses the youngsters warmly and has dear things to say to them. He is not backward at any time in asking Harned for any choice bit of food he craves. H. says: "That's what I'm here for," and W. replies: "I take you at your word, Tom—

 
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God bless you!" Last week's pears hit him hard. "Yes, bring me pears—pears are good for me—but pears like those you'll never get again."

     I quoted something Huxley said about evolution—that he did not hold it as a dogma but as a working hypothesis. W. exclaimed: "It is beautiful—beautiful—such a confession as that: the most glorious and satisfying spiritual statement of the nineteenth century. Can the churches, the priests, the dogmatists, produce anything to match it? How can we ever forget Darwin? Was ever a great man a more simple man than Darwin? Was ever a beautiful character a more simple character than Darwin? He was one of the acme men—he was at the top. I could hope for no better fate for my book than that it should grow strong in so beneficent an atmosphere—breathe the breath of its life." Again: Dr. Mitchell was over today and tells me of a letter from his father—S. Weir—who is in Italy now and encountered there a furious snow-storm which drove him over the mountains. When Mitchell first came he thought he should do something so ordered several drugs, none of which I would take. I took calomel and calomel until it was of no effect. Drugs are not for me nor I for them—Mitchell himself now admits it. They do me no good. Of course I do not set it down as a doctrine for everyone to observe, under all circumstances, but I do insist upon it for now, to meet existing conditions."

      W. never seems to be as easy with Musgrove as with Baker. W. referred to Musgrove this evening as "the gentleman who is here to assist me." This is the first allusion made to M. in two weeks. Talked of Bucke: "Bucke is a marked man—a man you would accept as such from his mere appearance—but not contemplative in any severe sense, though including contemplation, too. Bucke I should describe as an ensemblist with supreme steadiness and nerve force—not brutally but always truly heroic. We usually associate courage with battles or brawls but Bucke shows courage in peace—never quails before anything life can crowd on him—the worst, the most tragic. This force he derived not from books but from life, from experience, from

 
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cute observation, from broad interests. Bucke includes the whole of life in his province: he is vehement, eager, inquisitive, even militant in the best sense of that violent word. You ask about Mrs. Bucke? She gives me the ideal of maternity. While not a striking woman in what are called intellectual matters she is a great mother—a noble mother. Do you know anything in all this universe superior to a noble mother? I have seen Mrs. Bucke and a group of the children going about together there in London, and the manner of it all was to me most beautiful, convincing. Bucke is a man of sane habits—disbelieves in stimulants for young or old, sick or well—don't dogmatise about it or impose his theory on others—leaves the other doctors up there who work with him perfect freedom to use stimulants if they want to do so with patients in their charge—yet is firm, unyielding, exacting, with himself. And after all that is a thing for which there can be no rule—no rule to use, no rule not to use."

     W. handed me W. E. Henley's book of poems inscribed to "Walt Whitman from the author": "It is peculiar—a third or so of it about hospital cases, the work of doctors, and so forth—a curio, I should say in work of that sort: not wanting in power, yet not all-powerful." So much of the book he had looked over but no more. Eddy was here today and was to remain over night. Is being transferred from Moorestown to Blackwoodtown. The meeting between the brothers mostly and impressively silent—Eddy mentally inarticulate, W. sadly ruminative. They talked in monosyllables. I noticed that while Walt will kiss Jeff he merely takes Eddy's hand and holds it and says nothing. He talked to me of Eddy. "The poor boy—the poor boy." As the evening wore on W. grew more and more uncommunicative as towards Eddy. Finally he said to Mrs. Davis: "I think you had better go now," and to Eddy: "Good-bye, boy—I will send for you soon again: you shall come whenever you choose: good-bye! good-bye!" W. saying of it to me: "Eddy appeals to my heart, to my two arms: I seem to want to reach out and help him."

      I said to W.: "That was a noble letter you gave me the other

 
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day—Rolleston's letter.""I say so too: we won't quarrel about that.""He takes you to task a bit about your strictures on the American poets.""Yes, I remember it quite clearly. I deserved his whip, maybe.""You say 'maybe'. I don't believe you believe you deserved his whip." W. laughed. "Not literally deserved it, possibly: but, you know, there is another side to everything. Have you got the letter in your pocket?""Yes —I wanted to talk with you about it.""You did, eh? Well—don't let's talk just yet: read the letter to me—let me hear it again." He settled in his chair. W. had written on the envelope in red ink: "Oct. 80—from Rolleston, Dresden—has some good paragraphs about the poets &c: can be printed." I read:

DRESDEN, October 16, '80.

      I was very glad to hear that you had been so well this summer—so comparatively well. Paralysis, even partial, must be a terrible enemy to fight against. I should think it would put a man's faith in the sources of spiritual joy to a very severe test. Yet I have sometimes felt as if I wished that some such calamity would overtake me—it seems so very easy to be free and happy when one has perfect health and strength—and how can one say to a suffering friend: "Be strong," without seeming to speak impertinently? But for myself I do not feel that I could be overwhelmed by any misfortune that left my mind untouched. Insanity however is sometimes a terrible problem to me. To think that
However we have writ the style of Gods
And made a push at chance and sufferance,

our impregnable fortress, the mind, can be attacked at its very center: that accident, heredity, a little meddling with the cortex of the brain, can reduce the proudest stoic that ever lived to a helpless, soulless idiot! There is a cynical irony in it, as if man seeking to assert himself in the universe, saying "Here at least, in the spirit, I have freedom and empire inalienable," were to find that there most of all he is enslaved—the sport of the blind forces

 
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of materialism. Yet sometimes when I seem to see that their is no such thing as "materialism," your passage about the insane in Faces seems sun-clear to me—one must live in the faith of one's hours of brightest insight.

     I am sending you herewith a translation of the Encheiridion of Epictetus which I have been working at for sometime. I came across the book this last summer, and it laid hold of my mind so that I could not put it away till I had finished as good a translation as I can make of it. I have had a dozen copies printed here as I want to ask the opinion of one or two friends about publishing it as a little book, a "hand-book" as the Greek name describes it. Read with sympathy and understanding I think it is very valuable—at least it has given me some solid nutriment, and might to others. The copies only came home this day. I had for some time intended to write to you when that would happen.

     I saw in the Academy a paragraph saying you were going to write something about the English poets of the XIX Century in one of the London Magazines. I shall look out with great interest for that. I hope you mean English writing poets for I should greatly like to hear some of your definite ideas about the Americans. To say the truth, I never could quite accept your utter condemnation of all American authors, expressed both in prose and poetry. I certainly see that tried by a right democratic standard they fail. Longfellow, Whittier, &c., are just as much poets of Europe as poets of America, if not more. But then you do not condemn the non-democratic European poets in that wholesale manner—for so far forth as they are poets, so far forth as they help to put ideas of beauty, nobleness, love, into our minds, they help mankind, democracy even included. And do not Americans do this also to a certain extent? I am not by any means a worshiper of Emerson, but can it really be said of him that he "expresses nothing characteristic, suffices only the lowest level of vacant minds?" And Thoreau, surely he is something, very much. Shall we not thank men for what they are? (though emphatically demanding something more).

 
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     Do you ever hear of what passes in Ireland? Things are at a lamentable pass there now, and the House of Lords stands like a block in the way of deliverance. I venture to say their late action has made England take a great stride in the direction of republicanism. Indeed I sometimes think that time is very close now; people are beginning at last to find out that our "constitutional sovereigns" are a little ridiculous, and that £500,000 is rather a large annuity to pay a monarch for having the goodness to do nothing. If the scattered republicans in England could unite their forces and (say) found a paper in which politics, literature &c would all be treated from the highest republican standpoint, it might do much—I have the idea at some time of trying to found some such thing. But at twenty-three years one has not experience enough for carrying out such schemes. Besides, I don't know whether I won't give up any ideas of a literary life entirely and take to farming in the backwoods. Anyhow, I shall be here for six months longer, and I will not forbear to say how much I should like now and then to write to you, and sometimes to hear of you.


Yours always,


T. W. Rolleston.

     "Yes", said W., "you are right: he gives me a good sound rap on the sconce. I seem to have various feelings about Emerson but I am always loyal at last. Emerson gratified me as a young man by what he did—he sometimes tantalized me as an old man by what he failed to do. You see, I both blaspheme and worship." I reminded him: "You once addressed Emerson as Master." He nodded his assent. "So I did—and master he was, for me, then. But I got my roots stronger in the earth—master would not do anymore: no, not then: would no longer do.""And when you say your last word about Emerson—just before you shup up shop for good—what will it be?" He laughed mildly. "I will be loyal," he said: "after all the impatiences, loyal, loyal."

 
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Wednesday, August 1, 1888.

      W. lay on the bed, this evening throughout our talk but seemed at ease and was communicative and rather more cheerful than yesterday and day before. The staple of our talk was the book, but he wandered off from time to time into general matters, and I did not try to stop him. My method all along has been to not trespass and not to ply him too closely with questions necessary or unnecessary. When a lull occurs I sometimes get him going again by making a remark that is not a question. Other times we sit together for long seances of silence, neither saying anything. One evening during which we had not done much more than sit together, he on his chair, I on his bed, he said: "We have had a beautiful talk—a beautiful talk." I called it "a Quaker talk." He smiled quietly: "That will describe it! But oh! how precious!" Spoke of his 1881 trip to Boston: "I was there four or five weeks—went about in leisurely fashion—seeing what was to be seen—people, places—doing my work and having my jaunts together. I could get about then, a few blocks, anyway, which is more than I can do now. The Leaves if Grass we made then was very vigilantly proof-read—I gave it more than my usual attention: examined it, word for word, with the copy in my hand, which is an unusual caution for me."

     Replying to a question: "I am curious to know the result of the Burroughs-Kennedy camping out venture—what will come if it, especially for Kennedy. There is a good deal in what Rhys told us here about Kennedy's irritability: Kennedy has nerves (damn nerves!): I do not know how his nerves would succeed with Burroughs, who is such a different sort of person—who is so calm, so poised, so much at home with himself, so much a familiar spirit of the forests.""How would you feel about it if I was to go in Kennedy's place?""Oh, perfectly safe: I would not feel in the least uncertain about you." W. said further: "I see John—Burroughs—breaks out again in the August Century: but he is not at his best there, nor has he been recently. Some subtle change seems to have come over John—he manifests less of his

 
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old buoyancy, joyousness.""Do you mean a permanent change—or a mood?""A mood, rather—a difference of mood, perhaps. John has a reputation to keep up and sometimes a hundred dollars to earn (I don't mean that in any evil sense)—therefore, he cannot always be at his best. He keeps on writing, mostly for the periodicals, his books bringing him in so little of themselves. I can see where John's charm should be for a young fellow of your years and tastes: he is a big man just calculated to do a peculiar work. He is a child of the woods, fields, hills—native to them in a rare sense (in a sense almost of miracle). My own favorite loafing places have always been the rivers, the wharves, the boats—I like sailors, stevedores. I have never lived away from a big river."

     Took up Brinton's suggestion that W.'s philosophy "lacks in definiteness.""Well, it is true, I guess—indeed, true without the shadow of a doubt: the more I turn it over the more convinced am I. Of all things, I imagine I am most lacking in what is called definiteness, in so far as that applies to special theories of life and death. As I grow older I am more firmly than ever fixed in my belief that all things tend to good, that no bad is forever bad, that the universe has its own ends to subserve and will subserve them well. Beyond that, when it comes to launching out into mathematics—tying philosophy to the multiplication table—I am lost—lost utterly. Let them all whack away—I am satisfied: if they can explain, let them explain: if they can explain they can do more than I can do. I am not Anarchist, not Methodist, not anything you can name. Yet I see why all the ists and isms and haters and dogmatists exist—can see why they must exist and why I must include all."

      Referring to the Encheiridion sent W. by Rolleston: "Epictetus is the one of all my old cronies who has lasted to this day without cutting a diminished figure in my perspective. He belongs with the best—the best of great teachers—is a universe in himself. He sets me free in a flood of light—of life, of vista. Even the preface of that little book is good—Rolleston's little book." Was Epictetus a youthful favorite? "Yes, quite so—

 
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I think even at sixteen. I do not remember when I first read the book. It was far, far back. I first discovered my book-self in the second hand book stores of Brooklyn and New York: I was familiar with them all—searched them through and through. One day or other I found an Epictetus—I know it was at that period: found an Epictetus. It was like being born again." His Epictetus has been all underscored with purple pencillings. He has inscribed it: "Walt Whitman (sent me by my friend the translator T. W. H. Rolleston, from Dresden Saxony,) 1881." There is another memorandum below: "March 1886—T. W. R. is now in Ireland (Delgany, County Wicklow)—and edits the Dublin University Review."

      Spoke of Moncure Conway: "He is very brilliant, and, I think, if not favorable, at least not averse, to me. I have met him, know him: at one time I wondered whether he really knew me at all—knew Leaves of Grass—what I stood for, what I stood against, if I may say it in that partial way. But however that was settled, he has been kind to me. Conway's fault is that he lacks the scientific spirit—has had a glimpse of it, now and then makes use of it, but lacks it as a characteristic. He is the advocate, the debater—more anxious to have his case or his man proved true than to be true. There is in him a strong vein of the sensational—he likes to take odd views because they are odd." "How do you know his motive in taking odd views?" "That's so—how do I know? I don't know—I only feel—it. You mustn't think I object to odd views when they come natural to a man—are part of a man. I only object to them when they are put on for effect. As I said, Moncure is brilliant—he shines—he is used to having his eminent lustre admired."

      W. jokingly remarked: "I was quite a hero today—I took a bath—I washed myself all over with my own hands: now what have you got to say?" Finally had a little talk with W. about the Redpath letters which he gave me last Sunday. He said of them: "They are a choice bit of our history." Then he had me take them up, the first date first and so on, and read them all to him. "I seem to get a mighty sight better idea of some things

 
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when I let you be my better eyes to read for me while I concentrate on what is being said." The correspondence follows.

Willard's Hotel,

Washington, June 30, '85.


Dear Walt Whitman:

     I intended to call over and see you yesterday when I was in Philadelphia, but I was unexpectedly detained by one man and forced to go to Washington so as to reach here last night.

      I will call on you on my way back to New York.

      But I write now to tell you why, because my visit will be on business.

      I believe you have never met Mr. Rice, proprietor of the North American Review, altho' nominally he may have corresponded with you—that is, his office editor may have written to you in his name, as he always does, even when Mr. Rice is in Europe. It is at Mr. Rice's instance that I will call on you.

      He has conceived the plan of procuring a collection of papers that, united in one volume, will be a permanent memorial of Lincoln. He has set about to secure the reminiscences of all eminent Americans who came into personal relations with him—each man to tell his story, whether it shall be short or long.

      That's what he calls his Lincoln Series. Some of these papers he may publish in the North American Review, and others in the North American Review Syndicate: a group of influential papers which he supplies and that publish simultaneously articles from famous men whom ordinarily newspapers cannot reach—nor afford to pay separately even if they did reach them. All the articles that you see marked "Copyright" in the New York Tribune or Philadelphia Times (Sunday editions) are supplied by Mr. Rice.

      Next: he intends to secure a series of papers giving the civil history of the Civil War—legislation, &c.

      He wants me to see you and ask you to write a paper on your experiences of the Civil War—the hospital life, and other phases that you witnessed and have not yet described.

 
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      Could you write an article giving your recollections of Lincoln and also your memories of the War? Short or long it will be gladly accepted and liberally paid for. He will take it, whether it is a page or a hundred pages.

     I shall be here a week. I suppose I shall have no difficulty in finding the good grey poet in Camden.


Ever truly yours,


James Redpath.

      The second letter was endorsed in this way by W.: "from James Redpath abt articles on Lincoln and on War incidents—both articles sent accepted and paid for." The letter above was all written in Redpath's own hand. The two letters that follow were dictated to a stenographer and signed by Redpath.


North American Review,

New York, July 16, 1885.


Dear Walt Whitman:

     I got your letter when I was in Washington and fully expected to stay over and see you on my return, but I was kept so much longer than I thought I would be kept and so much more work was thrown on me that I was compelled to hurry back to New York by night. It is possible that I may be in Philadelphia this week—indeed it is probable—and in that case I shall certainly cross the ferry; but in the meantime why should you be idle? I shall not presume to give you any hints as to how to write; I think you know what I want:

      1st, Lincoln: Mr. Rice has got the ambition of editing a work that can never be superseded. He proposes to get every man of note now living who ever met Lincoln to write down in plain words and as accurately as the human memory will record, just what Lincoln did; just how Lincoln looked; just what impression Lincoln made on him. However, he does not want the last clause (that is to say, the impression) recorded by anybody but only by men whose names will go down into history. Like Gradgrind, "what he wants is facts." You, of course, are among the favored few whose impressions will be acceptable;

 
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so you see, if you will write down an account of every interview you ever had with Lincoln, that will complete what I ask of you in his name on that subject.

      2nd, Memories of the War. He would like from you an account of some phase of the Civil War which you witnessed. But I will see you before you have time, probably, to write the second article, and, possibly, I may be able to suggest the best topic from his point of view to begin with.

      Now, my dear Walt Whitman, won't you go to work at once because Rice is chained lightning in a dress suit and damned impatient.


Yours Ever,


James Redpath.


North American Review.

New York, August 11, 1885.


Dear Walt Whitman:

     I wrote you several days ago asking you to tell me whether one hundred dollars was your lowest price. I think I said also that if you charged lower than that price I could sell a great many more articles for you than I could at these rates. I enclose a check for sixty dollars, which is payment for the article according to your own estimate of three thousand words, at the rate of twenty dollars a thousand, which is the very highest rate they pay. I had to decide within ten minutes whether I would accept it or not, as Mr. Ferris, who is in charge of the syndicate, was just about to start for Mount McGregor. I told him, however, that if you refused to sell the article for less I should consider myself responsible for the balance and expect payment for it either from him or from Mr. Rice.

      So my dear old friend I have protected your interests to the best of my judgment and if you want me to follow orders and break owners in the future let me know and I shall do it. The great problem that the universe is asking you this moment is whether I am to regard this check as payment in full or payment on account. I would also like you to answer my letters. I

 
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have no interest whatever in the syndicate to which I sold the manuscript.


Ever yours truly,


James Redpath.

      This was W.'s reply and receipt sent in answer to the last letter:


sent James Redpath

August 12, 1885.

      All right my dear J. R.—$60 for the Booth article will do, in full—(I reserve the right of printing it in future collections of my writings—this is indispensable) I have been and am lingering under the miserable inertia following my sunstroke—otherwise should have sent you one or two articles—have them on the stocks—Am very slowly gaining the tally of my previous strength—had none to spare before.

      Thank you, dear friend, for your services and affectionate good will.



Aug: '85

      Received from Allen Thorndike Rice—by Mr. Ferris attorney and through James Redpath—Sixty Dollars for article Booth and the Old Bowery—of which article I reserve the right to include and print in future collections of my writings.


      I read all the letters aloud to W., who interrupted me now and then to say, "let me hear that sentence once more," or to say, "yes, yes," or, "I was not sure but I yielded," winding up with this remark: "There you have the psychology of some of my pieces and the psychology of dear Jim Redpath, who was a friend among friends. Redpath said to me once when he was here: 'Walt if you have any money scrapes I want to help you out of 'em.' This he did—did it again and again. Redpath was one of your radical crowd—he was way out and beyond in all his ideas—stalwart, searching—a sort of pioneer, going on and on, always in the advance. Some men stay in the rear with

 
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the beef and beans but that was not Redpath's style. Didn't you tell me that Redpath and Ingersoll were great friends? I shouldn't wonder—they have much in common." I said to W.: "You said, 'your crowd.' Why didn't you say 'our crowd.' Don't you belong with us?" He laughed gently: "Yes, yes I do—but not in whole and part. Sometimes I think some of you fellows have outstripped even me—have gone on even beyond me flaunting your red flag of revolt." "Do you mean that for a rebuke or a blessing?" He replied without hesitation: "For a blessing to be sure: God bless the red flag of revolt!"

 
Thursday, August 2, 1888.

      W. stayed on his bed this evening as we talked. Was free enough, and easy, but weak. "I have had one of the feeblest days of all—one of the very feeblest." Added: "But I do not growl—it might be worse: as long as better is not worse I can enjoy better even if it is not best." Has done little work. "Here are the proofs—but, Horace, do not rely upon my readings. Take the proofs along—scan them for yourself." Still refers every now and then to Eddy. "Poor Eddy! I wonder how he is getting on today?" Returned him Henley's poems. Told him I had read the book through. He exclaimed: "All through? Why, I had no idea anybody was capable of that. I read only the fore part of it—the hospital pieces—was peculiarly, intensely, interested in that—but as for the rest—" After a pause: "It struck me as extremely deliberate verse—verse written of malice prepense—all laid out, designed, on mathematical principles. Did you get that impression of it? Or did it carry you right along as if you could not help it?" Referring to Agnes Repplier: "She is a woman who tries for smartness at all hazards—that is her caliber, the most or the whole of it: and that is what they are all doing, all society, all professionalism, in books, poems, sermons—a strain to make an impression—everything loved that will dazzle the beholder, everything hated that will not." Why had he left his name off the title page of McKay's Leaves? "It was deliberate—not an accident. It would be sacrilege to

 
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put a name there—it would seem just like putting a name on the universe. It would be ridiculous to think of Leaves of Grass belonging to any one person: at the most I am only a mouthpiece. My name occurs inside the book—that is enough if not more than enough. I like the feeling of a general partnership—as if the Leaves was anybody's who chooses just as truly as mine." He said this: "I don't care which sea the ship comes on so it finally gets home—I don't care who brings the wheat or by what route it is brought so the wheat is good to the man who brings and the man who receives it."

      Speaking of his War pieces he said himself: "Their merit is not chiefly literary—if they have merit—it is chiefly human—it is a presence—statement reduced to its last simplicity—sometimes a mere recital of names, dates, incidents—no dress put on anywhere to complicate or beautify it. And by the way, talking of the War—have you seen what Conway has to say about that? It is Conway's opinion that the Rebellion was in great part a war that could have been avoided—a war of the politicians. I want Conway to say it all, of course—preach, write, argue, for his point of view—put in his negative in any form he chooses—but still I am forced to dissent. The War was the boil—that was all: not the root. The War was not the cause of the War: the cause lay deeper—could not have been shifted from its purposes. There are cute historical writers—very cute ones, the best of the whole group—who trace events in modern history back to the Crusades—establish a definite and conclusive connection. So it must be with our Rebellion: to try to consider it without considering what preceded it is only to dally with the truth. There is one thing I shall always regret for myself—always reproach myself for having neglected. I had some brief experience in the South—an intimate experience while it lasted—was convinced that the 'poor white' there, so-called, had never had justice done him in our histories, newspapers, official documents—in our war-talk and after war-talk. Everybody everywhere seems to be interested in crushing him down and keeping him crushed down. If I could I would even

 
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undertake the job yet—even yet make some record on its side to show how I hate the tyranny that has oppressed it—pay some tribute to a class so thoroughly, so universally, misunderstood. The horrible patois attributed to the 'poor white' there in the South (and not to them only—to Western and Northern classes also) I never found—never encountered. I discovered courtesy, chivalry, generosity, and by no means such external ugliness as is usually charged to them. In fact, all my experiences South—all my experiences in the hospitals, among the soldiers in the crowds of the cities, with the masses, in the great centers of population—allowing for all idiosyncrasies, idiocrasies, passions, what-not, the very worst—have only served to confirm my faith in man—in the average of men. Take the hospital drill I went through—take the mixtures of men there, men often supposed to be of contrary types—how impressive was the fact of their likeness, their uniformity of essential nature—the same basic traits in them all—in the Northern man, in the Southern man, in the Western man—all of one instinct, one color—addicted to the same vices, ennobled by the same virtues: the dignity, courtesy, open-handedness, radical in all, beautiful in all. When I first went to Washington I had a great dislike for the typical Yankee—had always had it, years back from the start—but in my very first contact with the human Yankee all my prejudices were put to flight."

      W. said: "In talking with you the other day about great editors I forgot to speak of one man who is maybe the greatest of all—and who is besides my dear friend. I mean Dana—Charles Dana. Dana's Sun has always stuck to it that Walt Whitman is some punkins no matter what the scorners said. Bryant once said to me that he supposed that Dana on the whole was the imperial master of the craft. I don't like to take sides with any greatest man of all—I don't say Dana is greatest of all—but I put in my vote for him as a tremendous force. Dana has a hissing, hating, side, that I don't like at all—it goes against my grain—but it is not the chief thing in the man, and when his total is made up cuts only a small figure." W. reached his hand under

 
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the pillow and drew out a letter which he handed to me. "Take it over to the light—turn the light up—read it to me." I looked at the signature—Dowden's. Then read.

Montenotte, Cork,

Sept. 3, 1872.


My dear Mr. Whitman,

     I can hardly understand how I have left your most welcome letter so long unanswered. In Paris two months ago I saw one morning in a newspaper that "the American Poet Walt Whitman would shortly visit England," and there and then I sat down and wrote part of a letter to you but the weariness of illness (I was ailing a good deal) caused it to remain unended and unsent. Now I have just heard from Mr. Burroughs that there is, or may be, a fair chance of your coming to us, and of your giving readings from your poems. As far as my own opinion goes, I would say that there is a certainty of success, a sufficient success at the least, and perhaps a complete one, in Dublin. Do come. You do not know how welcome you would be to many of us. ["God bless 'em" exclaimed W. as I read]. I need not say that if you would come to our house in Dublin, my wife and I would be made abundantly happy, and would remember 1872 as a year good to think of.

      There are several things for which I owe thanks—two copies of Democratic Vistas and newspapers from time to time. Each I assure you has been valued, (though my thanks are tardy); and your letter has been read or heard of by those who would care for its contents.

      Mr. Burroughs tells me that you have been not as well as heretofore since the great summer heat. I trust that it is only a slight and temporary yielding of your health. You will be best able to feel yourself whether a run across the Atlantic, and the absorbing of new life and scenery in England and Ireland, would not be just the tonic you require. We at all events are interested in believing this, and think that you are just the communicator of vitality and joy that we require. I mean by this, besides its more direct personal meaning, that such influences

 
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as yours are precisely what our poetry in its latest development needs to make it sane and masculine. And I have not a doubt that your personal presence in England would do much towards bringing the time when the recognition of your power and soundness in art and literature must become general.

      I have written to Mr. Burroughs anything about myself that I thought would interest him, and I will not write the same again to you. Also I have sent him two or three things I have written, and if he thinks you would care to see them he will give them to you.

      I will write to you again before long. I hope you will continue to let me see or hear of such things of yours as otherwise I might miss. The Mystic Trumpeter I was very glad to have seen. But chiefly I hope to hear that you are coming, and coming to us.

      My address is as before, 50, Wellington Road, Dublin.

      This has been a year of comparative loss to me as regards physical health, but I am well again now; and in other respects it has been a year of gain and progress. But I don't in the least find that, with progress, I slip aside or away from your poems.


I am dear Mr. Whitman
Very sincerely yours,


Edward Dowden.

     "One of the interesting things about Dowden," said W., "is his simple acceptance of my work. He don't say maybe I ought to maybe I ought not—he is not forever weighing pros against cons—he takes me for granted and then stops. Even some of the men on this side who call themselves my friends seem to be looking about all the time to see whether their endorsement may not be a mistake. Dowden never made any fuss, never got excited about it, was just affirmative, just nodded yes and let it go at that. I don't mind the simple, straight-out negative—indeed, I like it: I don't mind the fellows who say without a tremor: 'Here, damn you, Walt Whitman, what do you mean by all this nonsense. To hell with you, Walt Whitman: to hell with you! to hell with you! That don't sound bad—on the contrary it

 
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sounds very good—it is tonic. But when a fellow comes along, convinced and not convinced, hungry for your society and afraid of your society, blowing hot and cold, with praise on his lips that had better be blame, you are at your wit's end to know how to meet him. As I say, Dowden didn't come along with a brass band—a flourish of flags. No, not that way: he just came along simply by himself, said how d'ye do, and stayed without a question. That's better than having an army on your side."

      As I was going W. said: "I'm nursing up a surprise for you." "Good or bad?" "We shall see—we shall see! In the meantime, brace up—it may break on you any day now." He reached under his pillow again and handed me a paper. "What's that?" he asked—"look at it—tell me." It was too dark where he was. Taking it to the light I answered: "It's your rough draft of a letter to Schmidt." "That's right—that's what I meant it to be: take it along with you. I was tearing up some useless odds and ends today—saved this out of the mess for you. I like you to know just how our crowd got along with each other—what we were saying to each other in those old days of battle. You had not then flashed on the scene—you were a youngster then—but you ought to be informed of all the whys and wherefores so that by and by when the right word needs to be said about us you will be in a position to say it." Put the Schmidt note in my pocket. W. said: "Come, kiss me for good night." He was still lying down. I reached over him and we kissed. He took my hand—pressed it fervently. "I am in luck. Are you? I guess God just sent us for each other."

 
Friday, August 3, 1888.

      W. brighter physically than yesterday, yet "still strangely languid." "It is getting to be difficult for me even to walk across the room." Very cheerful. Almost merry here and there in the talk. "My today's mail has been chiefly an autograph mail. I did get a letter from Bucke and that was a consolation (the first letter from Bucke for three or four days). Not a day but the autograph hunter is on my trail—chases me, dogs

 
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me! Sometimes two or three appear in the very same mail. Their subterfuges, deceptions, hypocrisies, are curious, nasty, yes damnable. I will get a letter from a young child—a young reader—this is her first book—she has got fond of me—she should be encouraged in her fine ambitions—would I not &c &c—and I would not, of course—why should I? I can see the grin of an old deceiver in such letters." Today a woman came in whose husband had been one of W.'s fellow clerks in Washington. She asked for an autograph, which W. gave her on a slip of paper. "And a sentiment," she added, offering to pass the slip back. W. took no notice of the slip but quietly said: "That is all." She withdrew. Autographed Harrison Morris' copy of the Leaves. Is generally quite willing to give his autograph but hates to be worked. "Sometimes two or three letters will come together in one mail and I say to myself: Here's a fillip for a few thoughts. I settle myself in my chair, get the glasses on my nose, and lo! every note is for an autograph. One man the other day wrote: 'I am very sick—liable to die soon—it would be a great comfort to me to have yours signature on this card.'" "Did you send the signature?" "Yes, I did. I felt quite sure the man was lying but I didn't want to run no chances in so serious a case." Laughed. I told W. I didn't agree with what he said of Burroughs' Century paper. "Maybe I was too quick—did not perhaps, look it over carefully enough. After hearing what you say about it I am inclined to think I should take it up again and see if my second impression is better than the first." W. spoke of B's "berry farm" as he calls it—"up on the Hudson, embowered in beauty."

      Harned brought some pears. Then talked with W. about politics. W. spoke with great force. "There is no enthusiasm—they cannot work it up—neither side—though the tariff men seem to be straining with might and main to create an issue. The Clevelandites are wise to lay low—to remain quiet. The big shindig they have been arranging for Blaine in New York sounds interesting. If I was not beyond managing myself I

 
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would go over to New York—down the harbor and back—around—to get the feel of such a vast popular outpouring. Yet there's a lot of humbug thrown in to spice it all. As things are the working classes, as such, belong to neither party—are not billed to either. I am glad to see that it is getting through their wool that the tariff, for instance, is more for capital than for labor—has always been so. The great country, the greatest country, the richest country, is not that which has the most capitalists, monopolists, immense grabbings, vast fortunes, with its sad, sad foil of extreme, degrading, damning poverty, but the land in which there are the most homesteads, freeholds—where wealth does not show such contrasts high and low, where all men have enough—a modest living—and no man is made possessor beyond the sane and beautiful necessities of the simple body and the simple soul. The great country, in fact, is the country of free labor—of free laborers: negro, white, Chinese, or other. To use the word 'great' to describe any other sort of country is to my mind a confession of ignorance or hypocrisy. I do not mean this to be counted as an expression of despair: men are in the main decent, pure, or want to be. Things are about as good as they can be under present conditions (of course man can always change the conditions). Systems, institutions, even the vile ones, have a work to do—do the work." Harned asked: "What place do you find for corruption in politics?" W. answered: "I do not need to find a place for it: it has found a place or itself. But there's more to the story than that, Tom—oh! much more. The spiritual influences back of everything else—subtle, unseen, invisible, mainly discredited—they finally arbitrate the social order. Science tells us about excretions—the throwings off of the body—that the chief results are secured in the form of invisible exhalations—the whole flesh casting it forth. That strange, inarticulate, force is not less operative in the institutions of society—in politics, literature, music, science, art—than in the physical realm. We must not forget such forces—not one of them. Society throws off some of its ephemera, its corruption, through politics—the process is
 
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offensive—we shudder over it—but it may be true, it is still true, that the interior system throwing off its excreta this way is sound, wholly sound, prepared for the proper work of its own purification."
I asked W. something about the letter to Schmidt which he gave to me yesterday.

To Rudolf Schmidt.

Feb. 2, 1872


Dear Mr. Rudolf Schmidt,

     Your note of Jan. 5, acknowledging receipt of "papers", and enclosing to me your photograph, is just received. I like your photograph and thank you for it—I like indeed the good frank way of sending such pictures when interested and curious. I wish to know whether you have safely received the particular copy of the last edition of my poems, in one volume with loose sheet photos enclosed, which I sent you by Mr. Clausen. Mr. Clausen tells me that he put up the various matter I furnished in three parcels—if you have got the three it is all right. I mailed you a letter of some length, Jan. 16. I shall send you, probably by next mail, my latest piece, in a Western Magazine for February. Also a second copy of my pamphlet "Democratic Vistas"—If the first copy reached you, send the second to Mr. Bjornson—if not, not. Yes, I am sure I should like your friend Bjornson much.

      I am going next week to New York to stay there until April 10—my address there will be 107 North Portland av. Brooklyn, New York, U. S. Amer—about April 10, I shall return here again and my address will be——

      I am writing this at my desk—as above, Treasury Building, middle of afternoon. From my great south window I can see a far-stretching and noble view, many, many miles of open ground, the Potomac river, the hilly banks, the mountains of Virginia, &c. We are having a severe cold spell. Everything is white with snow but the sun has been clear and dazzling all day. The hour of office-closing is nigh and I too must close. I have much pleasure in writing to you and expecting yours. Adieu.


 
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      I said to W.: "I came today prepared for my surprise—but you have not yet surprised me. Am I still to be kept in suspense?" He laughed quietly. "I am afraid so—it looks that way: but I've put a couple of letters in this string to assuage your feelings—one is from Dowden, the other from John Burroughs. You will like what John says about 'style': it is very deep—oh! very deep: I guess nothing goes below it: it is the last foundation on the last foundation.""Shall I read them now?""No—not now—take them with you—put them where they belong. My mind advises me that I must suspend operations for to-night. Take my love to your mother: and how about Anne Montgomerie? She has not been here for ten days. When she was here last she brought me a bunch of roses, which were very beautiful, very beautiful—though she was more beautiful than her roses. She has cheeks like the prettiest peach in the orchard." I will put the Burroughs letter right in here. I was so curious from what W. had said that I stopped under the street lamp at the corner and read it.


West Park, N. Y.

Dec. 31st, 1885.


Dear Walt:

     A happy new year to you, and many returns of the same. I was right glad to get your letter and to know your eyes were so much better. I feel certain that if you eat little or no meat, you will be greatly the gainer. It will not do to take in sail in one's activities &c unless he takes in sail in his food also.

      We are all pretty well here this winter so far. I have just sent off the copy for my new vol: I think I shall stick to Signs and Seasons for the title, as this covers all the articles.

      Kennedy sent me his article on The Poet as Craftsman. I liked it pretty well: what he has to say about you is excellent. He wanted my opinion about the argument of the essay, so I told him that I never felt like quarreling with a real poet about his form; let him take the form he can use best; any form is good if it holds good poetry and any form is bad if it holds bad poetry. I would not have Tennyson or Longfellow or Burns use

 
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other forms than they do. If a man excels in prose he is pretty sure to use prose. Coleridge is greater in prose than in poetry. Poe is greater in poetry than in prose. Carlyle tried the poetic form and gave it up.

     I hope you will keep well and that I will see you before long. How much I wish you was here to eat a New Year's dinner with us. I wrote to Herbert Gilchrist the other day. These must be dark days for him and Grace. To me a black shadow seems to have settled on all England since I read of the death of Mrs. Gilchrist.

      I wish you would send me by mail or express those books of Emerson, the Essays and the Miscellanies. I want to use them. I am going to re-read Emerson, and see how he strikes me now.


With much love


John Burroughs.


 
Saturday, August 4, 1888.

      In the progress of W.'s disease this has been one of his worst days. Till three o'clock—all through the morning and the hours of the early afternoon—he "felt utterly exhausted—sick in head and body—with everything promising another spell except the spell itself."To-night complains of being "melted and weak though better." The day very hot. Has done practically nothing except write to Bucke. Read no proofs. "On the whole I feel like Abe Lincoln who would not growl over the scars and the losses but thought that the government was lucky to come out of its troubles alive." Went on: "I have been incessantly thinking of the fearful, frightful tragedy in New York—that terrible fire in the tenements last night. I often wonder how the people in those foul rookeries manage to exist anyhow in such weather. I have often been accused of turning a deaf ear to that side of life—of being too unconcerned—of treating it as if it was not. Lately, as I have sat here thinking, it has come upon me that there must be some truth in the charge—that I should have studied that strata of life more directly—seen what it signifies, what it starts from, what

 
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it means as a part of the social fabric. I have seen a lot of the rich-poor—of the people who have plenty yet have little—of the miseries of the well-to-do, who are supposed to be exempt from creature troubles. One of the painful facts in connection with this human misery—a fact insisted upon by the men who know most and who know what to do with their knowledge—is that the evil cannot be remedied by any one change, one reform, or even half a dozen changes and reforms, but must be accomplished by countless forces working towards the one effect. Hygiene will help—oh! help much. But how will we get our hygiene? I am quite well aware that there are economic considerations, also, to be taken into account. It strikes me again, as it always has struck me, that the whole business finally comes back to the good body—not back to wealth, to poverty, but to the strong body—the sane, sufficient body." I said: "You don't expect the sane body in the tenements, do you?""No—I do not. The tenements are hot-beds of disease—scrofula, syphilis, of everything, almost: disease just fattens in the tenements. You have touched the nerve of the trouble.""Then isn't it possible to produce social conditions which will make the sane body possible?""Surely—surely: that is the problem. I think all the scientists would agree with me, as I agree with the scientists, that a beautiful, competent, sufficing, body is the prime force making towards the virtues in civilization, life, history, I think I now see better what you mean when you speak of the economic problems as coming before all the rest and though I have not stated it in that extreme way myself I do not doubt your position: I have great faith in science—real science: the science that is the science of the soul as well as the science of the body (you know many men of half sciences seem to forget the soul)."

      O'Connor writes W. of Charles Eldridge's 1889 calendar quoted from Leaves of Grass. W. says: "It is a dubious experiment—I don't shine in bits (there are no 'gems' in Leaves of Grass) though O'Connor says this collection is a strong one. I was at first inclined to demur powerfully but suppose such an experiment may best be left to find its own level." He talked

 
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of the propositions to take him away: "I look now for a hot siege of it—for sultry weather: but after going this far we must not admit that such a little thing can keep us from going to the end. As to leaving this place just now—it is impossible—out of the question: my legs would not take me if I wished to go, as I do not. Besides, the compensation would not fit the case: while gaining something in the mountains or at the sea shore, I would lose more than I gain—lose the sense of being on a spot of my own earth, of doing what I choose—and what a comfort that is! If I went off somewhere into more complaisant surroundings—had servants at my beck, the best of food, a down bed to sleep on—what would it all come to? I might be tempted some——I could not be tempted enough to go—my decision would be finally reverse."

      W. said regarding a certain passage in Leaves of Grass which I thought particularly effective: "I am glad to hear you say that. It has often happened, often happens—not with me alone—that an author thinks himself very simple, clear, true, at a point considered by others of all points silly, befogged, inane." Referring to another paper in the American series on W. W. "Well, let them go on. It is interesting to be in court and find that none of the witnesses called know anything about the case." I remarked: "You had a lot of good and right things to say about the Burroughs letter yesterday but you said nothing about Dowden's. Had you no amen for Dowden's letter?" He replied: "I am guilty—put me down for guilty. The fact is, Dowden's letter is of the best sort. I happened to say extra much of Burroughs because of what he wrote about style, which seemed to me the best first and the best last thing to be said on the subject. Dowden has a wonderful passage in his letter—a passage about death. Read it to me again, won't you? just that one bit. The whole letter is human—it is not the letter of one literary man to another but of one simple man to a man as simple as himself. Won't you read the letter?" I answered "yes". "I like to get all my relations with people personal, human. I hate to think I can possibly excite any professional feeling in another." I

 
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read the whole letter again to myself and the particular part he asked for aloud to W.

Winstead, Temple Road,

Rathmines, Dublin,

Oct. 4, 1876.


My dear Mr. Whitman.

     Some days ago came my parcel—many thanks—Mr. Grosairt's books included. That for Mr. Graves had come previously. I have waited a few days expecting to hear from my brother (from Edinburgh) of the arrival of his copies, but it is sometimes his way to put off writing to me too long, and I have little doubt he has got the books safely.

      Rossetti let me know from time to time any news of you that reached him, and I have to thank you for some newspapers now and again.

     It was a real sorrow to us, dear friend, to hear of the death of your little nephew and namesake. A friend of mine, Harold Littledale, watched this summer by the side of a little sister (about twenty years younger than himself) who died and he told me that in the presence of death and with its consciousness enveloping him it was words of yours which expressed the deepest truths of the hour and the event. Littledale is President this year of our principal society of students in Trinity College, the Philosophical Society, and I believe his opening address, which is the event of the session, is to be partly concerned with your poetry. It was a great satisfaction to me this year, also, to get a kind of confession or self-revelation from one of the most promising men in my class of the really saving and delivering power of your writings when he was lapsing in that lethargy and cynicism which is one of the diseases of youth in our Old World, if not in your New one—(but in both I should suppose).

      I have done too little this last summer. I copied out about 200 pp. of verse, and am about to have them published. I will send you a copy, but I doubt whether you will care for them—I don't claim to be an "Answerer," but I do assert a right to be one of the tribe of the singers—"Eye-singer, ear-singer, head-

 
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singer, sweet-singer, echo-singer, parlor-singer, love-singer," or something else. And these have their place and raison d'etre. Probably my next bit of work will be the arranging for publication a volume of essays on 19th century writers, including Tennyson and Browning, Victor Hugo, and the Westminister article (somewhat altered) on your poetry.

      You asked for O'Grady's address. I don't know it at this moment; but he would like to get your photograph (of which you spoke)—if you address it to my care he will get it.

      I hope the cooler weather (after so hot a summer) may do your health good. We are all well.


Always affectionately yours,


Edward Dowden.

      I repeated to W. that phrase—"the really saving and delivering power of your writings," and he repeated it back again, and still again, finally saying of it: "It has gospel beauty and beat: I hope I deserve it—oh! deserve it, deserve it."

 
Sunday, August 5, 1888.

      Very hot sultry day. W. a little stronger and less languid. He stayed on his bed—talked fully an hour, cheerfully, of matters general and particular. He asked me: "What do you mean by the word 'enervation'?" adding after my reply: "I see I am all right: I often use the word and yet lose the sense of it. I feel enervated—the weather melts me—melts me completely. This is the kind of weather from which people want to escape somewhere, anywhere, only to get off—to get beyond the ordinary tones and semi-tones of life. It is a study—a profound study—the play in life as much as the work in life—and it is all right, too, that the people should go—should have the gala-days. They talk of the extravagance of the people. Nonsense. The people spend their money—help each other—save something—are generous, sacrificial—in so far as they can be are most lavish. Sometimes you don't pay too much for play if you pay your last cent for it."

 
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      Letter from Elmina Slenker today. "She is in Virginia—has read some of the—highly-colored reports in the papers—is afraid that I'm pegging out—so writes me, wishing me well in the most friendly fashion. I am inclined to be agreeably impressed—she seems interested and interesting. She approaches me freely—is an aged woman—she has given much time to the study of sexual matters (sees a hint in that direction in Leaves of Grass): she has done her work, her good work, and is now hale, placid, companionable, in every way rounded, on all sides. The old woman is always the best woman, certain other things being equal." Again W. said: "It is curious, what are people's likes and dislikes—how their hates appear and remain, as well as their loves. You will find one man who hates another worse than the devil, exhibiting almost a snake-like poisonous antipathy, and yet can give no reason for it, has no reason for it—simply knows he feels it, that is all. I have myself been the victim of such humors in the human critter—repeatedly the victim—so that nowadays I attach very little significance to the phenomenon. A man came to me in Washington once and said: 'Walt Whitman, I hate myself for hating you, but I hate you!' I assumed at first that he was joking but he would not let it go that way. 'It's no joke, no mistake,' he said, 'somehow there's something in you, in your work, to excite me to a fierce animosity: I don't like it, but it exists.' Wasn't that a touch of psychology for the initiated? I never quite made it out myself."

      Spoke of Philadelphia Ledger. "The Ledger fights shy of me. It is queer, too, Childs being so unmistakably my friend. But the Ledger, as a paper, is McKean's work, I suppose, and he don't like me, has no time for me—is, in fact, devoutly opposed to me. I imagine that it is an act of religion in McKean not to patronize a man of my make. I like the Ledger—some of it—but not its tariff. It is probably a tariff paper under pressure. Some of my enemies are malignants—for instance, Littlebill Winter, as O'Connor calls him, and Stoddard, and others of that stripe—violently on the other side—Winter especially—Winter, who is a little man in all ways: little in body,

 
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little in soul, little in spirit—a dried-up cadaverous school-master who flourishes his nasty doctrines threateningly over the heads of the anointed."

      Read a poem by Florence Earle Coates in The Century. "I am told she bears me in mind and is of a disposition to look with something of favor on my work—which I might say, quoting one of William's playful quips, 'shows her good sense.' They tell me Mrs. Coates is quite a woman among women—is beautiful, shines with great brightness, and, by those who know her well, is admired and cherished. I used to meet Mrs. Winter, now and then—found her quite attractive, though I never could reconcile myself to the literary fiddle-faddle for which her husband in common with so many New Yorkers and others stood and which he swore by. I always found Gilder and Stedman in a group by themselves in that New York art delirium—two always sane men in the general madness."

      I asked W. whether he had read Browning's Paracelsus. He talked then of Browning: "You should read The Ring and The Book. That, at least, it would repay anybody who had the leisure to read. Browning is in some respects utterly free—free not to explain: free to put down his statement where it may be seen and then let the world find its own way to a meaning—free of the desire to be at once or ever understood. Browning was also free of humor as an architect of verse, though I feel that his freedom here drifts him rather towards an angular than a facile result. Browning has what O'Connor calls 'elements'—powers of the first class—virility, fiber. I think it would mean a hard tussle for anyone to take Browning up in the bulk—attempt to take him in in the large—the whole of him for better or for worse. I don't believe I could do it. I don't find Browning's technique easy—it beats me sore, bruises me—though I don't make much of that: the fault is mainly my own. I have friends who dose themselves with Browning to the bitter end and regard him as the most invigorating influence in the modern world of books. Browning is full of Italy—knows it—writes of it—has something of its air, its sky, in his work, his soul. And there is even to me a

 
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great charm in Italy, in things Italian, in the simple Italian immigrant, in so far as I can get the feel of the country at this distance. When I got sick that time and went down to the Staffords' on Timber Creek, there was a gang of Italian laborers came along to work on the narrow gauge railroad then just being laid: a number of Italians came, all sorts—they lived in huts there, accessible, of course, to me, and I, as you may well believe, was only too ready to seize the opportunity and prospect among them a little. Oh! the good talks we had together! We became almost intimate. I found in them the same courtesy, the same charm, the same poetic flavor, that have always been associated with Italy and things Italian. I often read of accidents on the road—accidents in which the little Italians are the main victims. They are accorded but scant sympathy—nobody seems to care: it makes me sad and mad—riles me. Yes, they are the 'damned dagoes'—always so harmless, quiet, inoffensive. Italy seems in some things to represent qualities the exact opposite of qualities we cultivate here in America: the Italians are more fervent, tenderer, gentler, more considerate—less mercenary: it runs through the whole race, cultivated and ignorant—this manifest superiority.

      W. always gets exasperated when he reads a protection argument. He said: "I believe in the higher patriotism—not, my country whether or no, God bless it and damn the rest!—no, not that—but my country, to be kept big, to grow bigger, to lead the procession, not in conquest, however, but in inspiration. If the procession, not in conquest, however, but in inspiration. If Patrick Ford rightly reports himself in his North American Review article when he attributes the miseries of Ireland to English free trade, then Pat Ford is the biggest fool of the whole lot of fools—then Pat Ford is the prize fool of our time. As for Ireland, who can point out the queen bee in the clusters of reason for her condition? The reasons come by many ways, mysterious reasons, plain reasons—each reason important with other reasons—no one reason telling the whole rank tale.""Then you think the Irish have a grievance? that the tale is really rank?""Rank? Rank as hell!"

 
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     W. is terribly persecuted for autographs. "If the thing gets any worse I shall be driven to an old trick. I used to put portraits containing my autograph with the folks out at the Children's Home, turning all applications over to the Home, which asked a dollar apiece for the pictures, and, often, got it." Talked of Burns: "He was all heart—Scotch from top to toe, which means human from top to toe: with limitations, to be sure, but limitations that seemed to rather perfect than mar him. James Hunter was here today—you know Hunter?—Scotch, too, as he is, to the bone: hearty, merry, laughing, canny (using 'canny' in the right sense): pouring over your troubled waters the oil of a pacifying humor." I asked W.: "Would you say the best man would be imperfect with humor left out of his composition?""I don't know: would I?""Or could a man without humor be a best man?""I don't know: could he? You are driving me hard with major questions.""Emerson thought it a defect in Jesus that he lacked humor—if the records are correct.""I am not so sure: the idea startles me.""Emerson don't mean laughter or guffawing but that something or other which oils life—gets rid of its angles and incongruities—a sort of lubricator.""Does he make humor to mean that?""I make it to mean that after reading Emerson.""Good! Good! that is a noble distinction to make: I don't know but having the distinction made that way I am prepared to accept it."

      W. asked me if the Boston Investigator is still in existence. "It is of the free-thinking bigoted order—much needed, of course, but very narrow and very small in some of its definitions. We seem to require all kinds of bigots to complete the chapter of our sorrows—Methodist bigots, Presbyterian bigots, the bigots for the Bible, the bigots against the Bible, Quaker bigots, stiffer than their hats: all sorts, all sorts: we need them all to finish off the ornament of our hari-kari world." I laughed. "Is that all?" I asked. "It stands for all, I guess. We ought not to neglect to include the political party newspapers—they are as bad as the worst."

      W. gave me a war-time letter from B. P. Shillaber. Asked

 
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me if I knew Shillaber. I was familiar with his Mrs. Partington fictions. Had also visited him once at Chelsea with Sidney Morse. W. said: "That interests me. Some day you will have to tell me about it. They say he was a good deal of a man. You will remember about the soldier Babbitt he mentions in the letter—I asked someone up there (was it the Curtis or the Wigglesworth women?) to look him up. Shillaber found him—found that he remembered me (God bless 'im). Do you know, Horace such things as that—just little things, insignificant things—are the big things of life after all? Babbitt didn't say I wrote beautiful poems or did anything that people looked at but just 'brightened up' on hearing my name mentioned. Ain't that a thousand times better than writing poems—just that—to brighten up those who suffer?""Except it happens that the poems also brighten them up.""Well, that is a reasonable amendment. But the man always comes before and always remains after the poem."

      This is Shillaber's letter:


Boston, December 10, 1863.


Walt Whitman—

      My dear sir—I went to the hospital in Pemberton Square yesterday and saw your friend Babbitt. I found him in a bad way. For two months, he tells me, he has been unable to do any thing for himself on account of giddiness if he attempts to rise. He therefor is confined to one position—poor fellow!—flat on his back, but is cheerful nevertheless, and on hearing your name he brightened up and gave me a warm welcome. He was in Barre some time after his return from under your care, and among his friends he grew better—was able to go about; but the ride—some sixty miles, I think—so unsettled his nervous organization that for three weeks it seemed to him that he was still on the cars. He has not sat up since. He was very grateful for your interest, and his last words to me were—"tell him to write to me." He cannot speak a loud word owing to his diseased throat. He looks pretty well, however, and his hand

 
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was strong and honest when I shook it at parting. His case I think a very painful one—how much harder than though he had gone into the battle and lost his life or a limb! There seems a sort of hopelessness about this, and being unused to hospitals my feelings were far from cheerful, though I tried to say brave and encouraging things to him and uttered the customary platitudes—the "Be thou clothed" and "Be thou fed" formulas,—without giving a rag or a crumb else. I asked if I could do anything for him. He told me no, thanking me. His thought seemed most on getting a letter from you.

      If you are in the Armory Hospital and inquire for Frank McDonald, Ward E., I believe you may say a kind word to a friend of mine.

      Hoping what I have written may interest you, I remain with much regard


Yours


B. P. Shillaber.


 
Monday, August 6, 1888.

     Heat still excessive. W. says: "There is some peculiar atmospherical influence which reacts strangfely upon the chemistry of my body. The days go on from bad to bad, from early morning until about four in the afternoon, when I experience a sudden rally: from then on to bedtime I am another man." Took some proofs from me. Stuck them in his pocket. "The Herald man was over this late afternoon—Browning, their Philadelphia representative. He wanted something from me on Sheridan. At first I said it was impossible—really felt that it was out of the question—but after he had gone I turned the matter over in my mind and after all wrote a dozen lines or so, which I have just sent up to the post office by the nurse here—glad, to be sure, as I am, to squeeze a word or two for Sheridan out of the damning lethargy of these trying days. Sheridan was in many respects our soldier of soldiers—was the most dashing of the lot—though as I sit here nowadays I am wondering if the whole soldier business is not cursed beyond palliation."

 
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      Had been reading Carlyle's Sterling, which I took to him last evening—was reading it when I arrived. "Yes, it is interesting—sort of: I have been going through it—skimming what invites me, getting glimpses of it." Asked me: "Do you know much about Aaron Burr? There's a man, now, who is only damned and damned again in history and yet who had his parts. I have always designed writing something about him to show I did not stand in the jam of his vilifiers. I had a piece on him which should have gone into this book. You don't know (I guess I never told you) that when I was a lad, working in a lawyer's office, it fell to me to go over the river now and then with messages for Burr. Burr was very gentle—persuasive. He had a way of giving me a bit of fruit on these visits—an apple or a pear. I can see him clearly, still—his stateliness, gray hair, courtesy, consideration. Two or three years ago I wrote up some reminiscences but the manuscript got buried with other manuscripts down stairs. Sometime I must hunt it up."

      A copy of Hollyer's etching of W. came today. W. said of it: "My mind is a slow one—it never hustles: I don't seem to know yet what I think of the portrait." Delighted over our success with the Hicks. "I had for several days been fighting off a damnable suspicion that it was to be a failure—a slouch, a botch, job." Then: "I want you to say that to the man for me. I should like to send something over to him: what shall it be? Something above his bill"—after a pause adding: "Get the candle, Horace. I have in the other room a whole pile of books—copies of As a Strong Bird on Pinions Free: how would one of them do? And one for you, too, if you say so." He got up from his chair in rather painful fashion, took my arm, and went with me into the back room. The books were found. We returned in the same way to his chair. He dropped into it heavily with a sigh of relief: "God! What a strain that was—and only a few feet of walk, too. How sweet is this chair—how I hunger for it!" Inscribed the books: "Walt Whitman, Aug: '88""I made that singular excursion to Dartmouth—delivered the little poem you see here. I wonder how it happened that I was chosen for the

 
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poem there? It was never quite clear to me. But I went—was royally received. When I returned to New York I produced this little volume. Nobody wanted it—nobody cared for it—even my friends mostly left it unread—and so five hundred copies or so fell into my hands—five hundred, which I have given away right and left until now only a hundred or less remain." The "something else in view" of which W. spoke to me yesterday was a portrait of himself for frontispiece—a sitting portrait taken he could no longer tell by whom, in Philadelphia, last year—which he designs to print with this inscription: "Walt Whitman in his 70th year." He gave me a sheet of suggestions to submit to engraver, saying: "That picture is in the nature of a surprise: my niece was here the other day—found it lying around—asked for it. It seems to me a satisfying picture, all in all. Do you and the man over in the city put your heads together and make what you can of it, using you own best taste. I rely upon you particularly, Horace, because I know you have lived among pictures and are not easily satisfied." Examined the Hicks: "A number of the fellows in England are off after Blake—after the work of Blake's time: but, if I do not err, some of that art is not sufficiently admirable to be imitated. Blake is great—very, very—and is not to be imitated: Blake began and ended in Blake. As for this"—holding up the Hicks proof—"I would think myself replying to a reproach if I said: This is what it is because of four dollars and a half and for no other reason."

      Had he ever seen Theodore Parker? "Yes indeed. When I visited Boston those days I would alternate between Father Taylor's and Theodore Parker's meetings. I clearly remember seeing Emerson at one of the Parker meetings. I find my memory sometimes playing me tricks—working a little rusty: I may be saying to myself, 'it was thus or so' yet for the life of me I can produce no supporting evidence. Then again, if I don't try to bring it back all comes back." He is "afraid" Bucke's expectations as to the quality of the Hicks will be disappointed: "There's an expression among the boys—I heard it often enough

 
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when I was a boy myself—'taking chances,' 'taking his chances' (how good it is, too, don't you think so?)—and so, though I tremble and am afraid this is all going amiss, that none of you will realize from it what you expect, yet I 'take chances,' 'take chances,' and must wait and see what all my gamble comes to." He had "another anxiety:" "If the Century should not use the Memoranda in October what a stew it would put us in! It is true the piece has been so cut and changed it has become another piece: still I feel pledged to them—there is a principle involved. Yes, they said October—but even that don't clear it for me. I always give the publishers all that is due them if not more.""You always prefer if you err at all to err on the side of bankruptcy." He laughed with great glee: "Good! Good! That's what keeps me poor: it is also what keeps me happy."

      Bucke said in his letter to W.: "I do not understand your plans about publishing. You say you may not publish for awhile 'for reasons.' I think myself a good idea would be print a hundred or two hundred copies on good (and large) paper, bind them nicely, and sell them yourself for five or even ten dollars with autograph, by and by publishing through McKay or another." W. remarked: "In these days of cheap printing, when such beautiful books are so easily and reasonably produced and sold, we can't hold ourselves too high. I for my part don't want to be either haughty or humble. I had thought of an edition for a dollar—and Lord only knows, that dollar may be more than any number of people would care to pay. Bucke does not seem to realize that I am still a rejected quantity in the market."

      Dr. Baker came in. B. thinks W. "preceptibly improved." B. asked W. if he had been down stairs yet. "I have not but should have been—I shall in fact make a try for it to-morrow, not to stay, not to brag, but just to convince myself and you fellows that I am not as Horace says 'all paid up' yet." Baker protested: "Don't be reckless." W. smiled. "There's no danger: the phrenologists mark my caution at six to seven—nearer to seven than six—which amounts to cowardice." Showing me a copy of the English Hobby Horse Guild he said: "I never have

 
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thought of it with respect to what it contains but in connection with its mechanical beauty—and yet the motive of the thing after all is its only reality: if it lacks in high motive it will always deserve to be kept flat on the ground whatever its convincing mechanism." Letter from John Baker, Penfield, New York, saying he had suffered from an affliction similar to W's and wondered what it was had, as he heard, "improved" W. Gave me O'Connor's letter of the 3rd. "It is about the calendar—will give you the latest news about the calendar. William is always wideawake—always plants both of his two eyes on life. Bucke's letters often go off into words—off into the air—but William is always true to the scent of himself." This is O'Connor's letter:

Washington, D.C.,

Life Saving Service,

Aug. 3, 1888.


Dear Walt:

     I enclose for your information a letter I got yesterday from Dr. Channing about the calendar, which reads well.

      Today I have a letter from Stedman, in which he cordially undertakes the task of getting a publisher. I think this very good of him, as he is quite driven with all sorts of commissions.

      I feel sorry that the delay of last year prevented our getting Mr. Stetson to draw the picture I wrote you of for the card, because he is a man of singular genius, and appreciates deeply Leaves of Grass, the central sun of which, and permeating all its parts without exception, is, he thinks, Spirituality. I think he would have given us something really good—something artistically bold, any way, though maybe not. But he cannot do it this year, and I understand is getting ready to go for study in Italy.

      I did not know the Ms. of the calendar was to be placed in Stedman's hands, but it could not be in better nor friendlier.

      Send me back the letter when you have done with it, that I may write to Dr. Channing, who has been very laborious and earnest in the matter. Grace [Grace Ellery Channing] the cherub deviser of the scheme, is now up at Bristol, Rhode Island.

 
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      I have been much comforted by the newspaper reports about you, as by your card of the 27th ultimo, though I realize how badly ill you still must be. But I have strong hopes. If you can but weather the summer!

      I am myself pretty bad—very back-achey and weak leggy. But, like Webster, we still live, and who can get us under!

      I am glad you can sit up and work a little on your book, which must be a comfort.

      I have another letter from Dr. Bucke, whom I treat disgracefully, not answering promptly. But it is pretty hard to write and keep the office stone rolled up the hill daily.


All consolation! all cheer!
Affectionately yours,


W. D. O'Connor.


 
Tuesday, August 7, 1888.

      Harned come in to see me after dinner and we went down to W.'s together at 8. W. a trifle easier than yesterday but still, as he says, "silly weak." Then he said: "Mary Davis and I agree in one thing—that, all the drawbacks considered, I am getting along well—as well as could be expected—yes, even improving, I may say. Yet, such are the drains of the heat on my small treasure of strength, that the vim I had (Lord knows it was little enough!) threatens to go—to go completely—so that if this weather continues I guess I won't." "I have been reading for a couple of hours this afternoon Gabriel Harrison's Life of John Howard Paine. I have had the book a couple of years (Gabriel sent it to me himself: he is my personal friend) but have never until now taken it up in a right mood of appreciation. It appeals to me greatly—even the sadness of it, the pathos of it, which element is very considerably interwoven with its texture."

      W.'s Sheridan not in The Herald today. His first question was about it. "Well, well, it's all right if it appears to-morrow, all right if it does not appear at all." Harned asked: "What have you been doing to The Herald?" W. replied: "Now I can

 
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tell you nothing about that: I doubt if I would recognize it myself if I saw it again. It was eked out the last thing, in the last ten minutes, before darkness set in: without weighing, testing, changing it, I mailed it off, to let what would come come." This led him to speak about Sheridan: "He was in essentials a genius: he had almost phenomenal directness, and genius is almost a hundred per cent directness—nothing more. He was characterized by a rough candor which always meant what it appeared to mean. Of all the major men developed by the War he was closest to the top. The War brought out a lot of ability of its own kind. There was Hancock: Hancock was not as distinctly individual as Sheridan but was nevertheless a splendid soldier—a soldier born, rarely bettered upon. Grant, I suppose, take him for all and all, was our most comprehensive man—took in most, was composed and potent. Grant was just spared being too considerate: McClellan was not—was therefore a failure."

     Reference being made to Ireland W. remarked: "A search for the cause of the misery of Ireland would be like a search for the cause of the weather: a history of the one would be a history of the other.""Well, but you must see that there are economic and political ingredients to the problem.""No doubt—but what are they? Do you know?" I looked at him without answering: "I have no doubt you radicals have a theory about it that would settle the whole trouble by daybreak.""You talk like an Irish landlord, Walt.""Well, I don't feel like one—I feel more like an Irish pauper. And as for all that I may say, that though I haven't any theory in the matter you can't hit a landlord too often, Irish or American, and if you hit and don't hear my amen that's because I didn't see what you were about." Harned raised his hand in mock horror: "Walt, you are a bloody Fenian!" W. seriously: "There were the Fenians, yes: God knows they didn't come too soon or without a reason."

      W. does not acquiesce in the recent revival of Bewick and William Blake. "It is as if a fellow started out of a morning and said to himself: 'I've lots of money but I don't like the railroad

 
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and so I will betake myself to a coach or go afoot'—though the distance be a thousand miles. Our friend Blake in Chicago—the Unitarian preacher there—objects to the present current style of writing, that it has ceased to be archaic or classic and has become journalistic. I do not think we will ever go back to Chaucer or Shakespeare—nor back to Dryden or that ilk—nor back at all." Harned suggested sending up a stenographer to help W. through with some of his work. W. replied: "It's decent of you, Tom, to propose that, but it would not do—I could not make it work: your dog here is too old to learn any new tricks: to stop at the door of the tomb and study a new a b c." W. replied to Harned anent November Boughs: "I must see to it, rather that I am suited than that the public suited. I don't know if a fellow ought to say it, but if it might be allowed I would say: so I please myself I don't care a damn what the public thinks of me." Spielman writes:

London, July 24, 1888.


Walt Whitman, Esq.,

      Dear Sir, After some months' delay I publish in this month's Magazine of Art (which will be next month's in America) your poem of "twenty years;" and I should be glad to hear from you if you think the drawing in any way adequately expresses your feelings.

     In the hope that your health has improved, I remain,


Faithfully yours,


M. H. Spielman.

      W. said: "I hope he will have the good grace to send me a copy or two when it appears." I told him I took the Magazine. "Ah well—that will do: keep a sharp look-out for the poem." Gave him messages from Kennedy and Burroughs. No letter from Bucke. Put the photo for the frontispiece in my hands: "I leave it all to you fellows to do right with: if you do wrong, God help you! Though slow I am fierce in anger." Brown sent thanks back for the book. W. said: "Isn't it in Shakespeare,

 
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in one of the comedies, where some one speaks of 'poor things, poor things! but mine own, mine own'?" Harned left. I picked a bit of W's manuscript off the floor and reading it laughed. "Now what's up?" asked W. "Nothing much. This is a place where you have put yourself under a magnifier.""Let me see—let me see. No it's dark over here—read it to me." He had got back on the bed. I read.

     "It is not when matched with other verse and tested by the ordinary intellectual or esthetic lineaments they compare favorably with that verse; probably by those tests indeed they do not equal the best poems. But the impalpable atmosphere which every page of Leaves of Grass has sprung from, and which it exhales forever, makes a spell, a fascination, to one capable of appreciating it, that certainly belongs to no other poet, no other poem, ever yet known."

      W. laughed heartily about this: "That's where I lift myself by my suspenders and put myself on a pedestal of my own make." I waited to see if he would say more, which he did, this time in an entirely serious vein: "It is a kind of self analysis which may amount to much or little according to whose perspective it gets into. You know I have said from the first that Leaves of Grass was not to achieve a negative recognition—was bound to be either a howling success or a stupendous failure. When I wrote that paragraph I must have felt prosperous." Gravely humorous. I left soon after. Found a little picture of Emerson on the floor. Recognized it as a waif from Morse's collection worked with when he was here. Smeared with clay. W. said I "might as well have it as consign it again to the floor, where it seems destined to remain," explaining: "I picked it up a dozen times and put it on the table here but it always seems to get back to the floor. It is a noble little bit of portraiture—shows Emerson at his best: radiant, clean, with that far-in-the-future look which seemed to posses him in the best hours. Emerson's face always seemed to me so clean—as if God had just washed

 
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it off. When you looked at Emerson it never occurred to you that there could be any villainies in the world."
 
Wednesday, August 8, 1888.

      Stormy when I went to W. this evening. W. sat by the window, a fan in his hand, and talked cheerfully of the fallen temperature and his immediate physical response to it. The lightning flashed. W.'s head stood out against the northern sky. The rain fell in torrents. For the first time in a week the air was fresh and inspiring. "How sweet it is, boy!" exclaimed W. "My body is a splendid barometer." Gave him today's Herald containing the Sheridan piece. "I don't know too much about Sheridan, personally: we met, met several times, but that is all. You know I don't enthuse over him or over any military man—simply military man—any more than over a sword, a cannon, a bombshell. Sheridan had Napoleonic dash, nerve—as a soldier was a good one. He was psychically an uncommon character—had military philosophy as well as military ardor—was always cool in action, never lost his head, always knew what to do when the unexpected turned up."

      Still reading Carlyle. "Today I struck upon the chapter on Coleridge—was intensely interested. It mainly hits the nail on the head—is just as true as it is enjoyable. I do not find anything in Carlyle's style to criticise. I never found any difficulties in it—or in the thought either, for that matter. It seems to me Carlyle's style is the expression of the man—natural, strong, right, for him. I know what is everywhere being said about his style, but I do not see what the objectors want. Do they mean that Carlyle should have turned about face just on their say-so? It is too much to ask of a man. Carlyle was not an accident—he was law, design."

     "For years and years," said W., gravely, "I have argued with myself whether to write a prefatory note for Leaves of Grass. I never wrote one, never even got it laid out, but never forgot my intention. Should I make some such statement of my original purpose as would in the end account for all the mysteries of my

 
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book? I always decided against it—always came round to one conclusion—always planted my heel on the temptation at last: no, no, nothing there; if there's a thing to be said say it in your prose—don't trespass on the integrity of the Leaves—don't! don't! I was once driven down a steep hill by a friend of mine: he hurried the horses along at a breakneck pace, I protesting. 'Ain't you afraid to go so fast?' I asked. 'No—not a bit of it' he answered: 'I'm afraid to go slow. That's the only way I can overcome the difficulties of the road.' So it is with the Leaves—it must drive on, drive on, without protest, without explanations, without hesitations, on and on—no apologies, no dickers, no compromises—just drive on and on, no matter how rough, how dangerous, the road may be." W. said he had never dedicated a book. "I do not know why—probably there was no why. Dedications have gone out of vogue—are no longer regarded as necessary."

      Referring to Notes and Queries: "Hunter has gone to work on it: God save him! I see no place for a paper of the sort. A literary class in America always strikes me with a laugh or with nausea: it is a forced product—does not belong here. We should not have professional art in a republic: it seems anti to the people—a threat offered our dearest ideals." W. wrote postals to Bucke and Mrs. Heyde. "She is afraid I am going to die—is always anxious and trembling." No letters today. "No mail at all, in fact, but Tucker's Liberty. I read his defense of Cortland Palmer—that though he was a man of great wealth he was profoundly concerned over the economic problems. The best of that statement is its truth—it is every word true. Palmer was a man of vista: he saw far ahead of all the commonplaces of the day." If Brown does well with the W. W. portrait W. will have him try the Eakins. Looked over a photo-engraving catalogue. "It is beautiful stuff. Art will be democratized. The people will yet some day get a look in on the best art of the world: the castes will have to get out of the way of the crowd." November Boughs complete ran to page 139—end of the Fox paper. W. thought it should go over to page 140, so prepared an additional

 
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"note" to go in with the Hicks—part of it written many years ago, part of it today. Likewise re-arranged page 118. From the first W. has been displeased with page 118—that A Backward Glance ending there fills the page. "I shall alter the plates—get a little blank at the foot of the page." To get that blank he today sacrificed this bit of text:

      "I hope to go on record for something different—something better, if I may dare to say so. If I rested 'Leaves of Grass' on the usual claims—if I did not feel that the deepest moral, social, political purposes of America are the underlying endeavors at least of my pages: that the geography and hydrography of this continent, the Prairies, the St. Lawrence, Ohio, the Carolinas, Texas, Missouri are their real veins and current concrete—I should not dare to have them put in type, and printed, and offer'd for sale."

      W. added explanatorily: "We want to do our best with the book. I want it mechanically so well done, so carefully thought out, that we may show the English printers that we, too, can do creditable work—that we, too, can make conclusive books." I said to W.: "It is interesting about Shillaber that though he was so broken up by his sympathies when he visited the hospital to see Babbitt for you he was real game when he was sick himself. When Morse and I visited him in Chelsea he was all gone to pieces, roomfast, waiting to die, but he was full of reminiscence, fun, even of a certain kind of hope." This interested W. "I see what it all means—it is in accord with my own experience with me: a man of heart often suffers more pain seeing sickness than being sick." At the time I went with Morse to see Shillaber Morse was making a bust of the old man. W. suddenly said: "It's rather odd you should have referred to Shillaber and Babbitt again as it reminds me of a letter I have laid out on the table for you. Look for it over there yourself—on the other side: yes, that's it: the yellow envelope. It's from Trowbridge—also

 
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about Babbitt." I opened the letter and started to read it to myself. W. said: "Let me hear it again, too—read it aloud."

Boston, Dec. 21, 1863.


Dear Walt,

     I am here at the bedside of your friend Babbitt in the Mason Hospital. I read him your letter; and he wishes me to say to you that he would be glad to answer your letters to him if he was able. He is in about the same condition he has been in for three months. He wishes to go home to his friends in Barre, and could get his discharge, but Dr. Bliss, of the Armory Square Hospital, neglects to send on his descriptive list, although the surgeon here has written to him for it. No doubt you can see to having it sent. Mr. Babbitt's father, who has been out with the 53rd, is going out again, and he is anxious to get his son home before he leaves. The descriptive list is the only thing necessary now to procure his discharge. Your friend wishes you to see Dr. Bliss, and write to him what he says about it. I shall come and see him whenever I come to town. What he needs is sympathizing friends around him. He is very lonesome lying here with no Walt Whitman to cheer him up.

      I have been to see about getting together a package of books for you, but the booksellers are so busy it will be several days before I can get them packed and sent.

      Let me hear from you. I write in haste with numb fingers—it is bitter cold here today.


Yours,


J. T. Trowbridge.

      The letter was addressed to W. at Washington care of Major Hapgood. I said to W.: "I know one sentence in the letter that pleased you.""I do too.""'He is very lonesome——'""That's it," said W., delighted: "You are a firstrate guesser: you keep a little ahead of me every time." Said again to W.: "I am still waiting for that surprise.""Why, so you are—I had almost forgotten. A day or two more and you may come to your own." W. called my attention to a little

 
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slip of paper which he had endorsed in red ink: "from O'Connor from Washington Nov: '82." This is what O'Connor had written:

     "That was a mighty good thing the President said about Tobey after his visit recently: 'Is that the damned old fool that threw Whitman's book out of the mails?' So like Arthur too—the urban Arthur—the gentleman and man-of-the-word Arthur."

 
Thurdsay, August 9, 1888.

      The cooler day has had a brightening effect upon W. He regains no strength, but feels less depressed physically. He deplored his weakness, though quite satisfied to have things as well as they are. He makes no motion, however, towards going down stairs. Read and wrote more considerably than usual today. Is quite interested in the Blaine reception at New York. "Is the ship yet in? Is the grand to-do yet done?" Seemed to take it as the prime event of the week. He sat much of the day across the room from the bed working a mild way. His raw product is about him, on the table, the floor, in boxes and baskets, on chairs, and pretty nearly all things he may need are within reaching distance. At his foot is the pitcher of ordinary (never iced) water, which he takes up from time to time and draws from copiously. Books are piled promiscuously about, his will remains on the box-corner where he placed it when it was drawn up—letters, envelopes, are scattered over the floor,—autographed volumes hang on the edges of the table-leaves, chairs, the sofa—everything seeming in disorder. My impression of W's appearance at this date is a favorable one: though it is clear enough that his recent severe trials have added burdens to his life. His face is not so full as it was: he has nervous irritations: there are lines, down-lines, never until now in his cheeks. His complexion, though often as ruddy and strong as it was a year ago, is less to be depended upon, is unstable. W's room is a large one, considering the house—it has three north windows—

 
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one door opening from it into the hallway, another into a connecting apartment. In this latter (he never works here) are most of his stored papers, books, and with them the Morse heads—three or four of them—and boxes more or less laden with letters, &c. Often he points me about the rooms: "Poor as these are, they are a comfort to me—my own—giving me freedom: such freedom as I am competent yet to enjoy. Why, then, should I leave them now for strange scenes—scenes in which I might gain much but would surely lose much more?"

      W. wrote a Sheridan poem to-day and intimated to the Herald that he wished it printed Saturday, the day of the funeral. "Keep a sharp look-out for the paper," he said to me: "And another thing, Horace—take a wink or two at the Cosmopolitan, which, Tom says, has been taking a fly at me: then tell me what you think of it. If it's mere frippery, smartness, let it go—don't speak to me about it, forget it: but if it's worth attention, whether because it's strongly for or against, bring the magazine to me. You know what I like, what I can read—endure: you know me better than all the rest: so, anytime, anywhere, if you pick up odds and ends of stuff which you think belongs by rights to me, cart it into this room—give me my little see-saw with it."

      He spoke of George Ripley as a man superlatively equipped for the office of critic. "I met him here and there but we were never on close terms. His great learning always impressed me—but that was where Ripley stopped: with the learning: he never talked of life direct: he talked of the talk of life. He was a sort of news-carrier—and I do not deny that he carried the news well and that the news was worth carrying." "Did you ever notice," W. went on, "—or perhaps you haven't (you're younger than I am)—that the bitterest, most severe, most malignant, conservatives—old conservatives—are made out of men who in their youth were the extremest radicals—radicals of radicals? I don't know what will become of you—no doubt you will come out all right—but that has been the history of some of the best friends of my own youth—men who started with me—the best

 
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of them." I quoted Emerson: "The old conservative is the young radical gone to seed." W. exclaimed: "How good! how good! And dear Emerson, too. Well, there was a man who never lost his youth."

      I had a letter from Edward Coates, husband of Florence Earle. Quoted it to W., who said: "I don't know Mr. Coates but I know the wife—a beautiful, true woman, I have always believed her. We have had several talks together—or maybe only one talk: I am not clear about that now—but I shall always remember what she said—the effect of her talk, which was mainly about Matthew Arnold, who was her guest in Germantown. Arnold is a man for whom I never seem to be able to get up any stir—with whom I never have had and never could have a thorough-going affinity. But Mrs. Coates gave me the other side of him—the social side, the personal side, the intellectual side—the side of deportment, behavior—the side which I ought perhaps most to hear about and did willingly and gladly hear of from her. For every man has that better thing to be said of him—is entitled to all it may mean, signify, explain."

      W. remarked: "I think The Critic is rather doubtful of me if not actually adverse—seems to delight to quote this squid and that making light of my work. You can detect the bent of the editorial mind with perfect ease by what it quotes. Littell's used to quote consistently the meanest things that were being said about me. Anyhow—I have no idea that Joe Gilder cares a fig for me. Jennie is more favorable, though not red-hot at all, nor anywhere near it. My only uncompromising friend in the family is probably Watson—he swears to me—not everything in me, but to me—without shame. There are critics and critics. You don't know the tribe as I do—the damned mean stuff they are often made of—the very poison (not the salt) of the earth. Some of my opponents are fairly on the other side—belong there, are honest,—I respect them: others are malignants—are of the snake order. Look at Stoddard and Winter—at Winter, particularly, who is the smallest of the crowd, however you try him, whether for brain or emotion. If you have not experienced

 
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a direct encounter with the monitors, critics, censors, you can have no idea of the venoms, jealousies, meannesses, spites, which chiefly characterize their opposition. It has been a rallying cry with a little group of men in this country: down Walt Whitman—down him in any way, by any method, with any weapon you can—but down him—drive him into obscurity, hurry him into oblivion! But suppose Walt Whitman stays, stays, is stubborn, stays again, stays again, will not be downed?"

      He seemed to greatly enjoy the idea that he was not to be downed. But happening to pick up an illustrated paper containing some Tyrolean pictures which attracted him he got right off on another subject: "These great hills are wonderful but not exceptional—you don't need to go to Europe to find them. Take the Rockies, for instance—they sweep along the horizon like cloud: to the novice they would be no more than grand cloud effects: sometimes they even puzzle the initiated. You know what worlds live in the cloudlands—worlds as real as ours while they last. We do not need to travel to find these worlds—they are always just where we are. Cross the Delaware almost any night and you will become a discoverer: there are no wonders anywhere greater than the wonders you see right over your head as you cross the river in the boat. When I was in Denver I spent my longest hours in contemplation of the mountain ranges."

     Then he talked of his mother. Where were the letters he wrote his mother in Brooklyn from the War? "They are here—I have them—I got them after she died—a hundred or more: all scrupulously kept together—still about somewhere with my manuscripts. The reality, the simplicity, the transparency, of my dear, dear mother's life, was responsible for the main things in the letters as in Leaves of Grass itself. How much I owe her! It could not be put in a scale——weighed: it could not be measured—be even put in the best words: it can only be apprehended through the intuitions. Leaves of Grass is the flower of her temperament active in me. My mother was illiterate in the formal sense but strangely knowing: she excelled in narrative—

 
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had great mimetic power: she could tell stories, impersonate: she was very eloquent in the utterance of noble moral axioms—was very original in her manner, her style. It was through my mother that I learned of Hicks: when she found I liked to hear about him she seemed to like to speak. I wonder what Leaves of Grass would have been if I had been born of some other mother and had never met William O'Connor?"

      Letter from Bucke to W. in which B. says: "I am glad you are getting cheerful letters from O'Connor. I am sorry he is worrying himself about the Cryptogram, which I fear is more or less of a fraud, though not perhaps intentionally so on Donnelly's part." W. asked: "What does Bucke mean by fraud—fraud? I would like to hear him say fraud to O'Connor: there would be an explosion.""You do not say anything about the cipher yourself—pro or con.""No I don't—it's beyond me: but I don't cry fraud. I like, agree with, the plain English of Donnelly's book—the mathematics are too much for me."

     W. gave me some directions concerning our work at Ferguson's, saying laughingly afterwards: "The things I don't tell you to do you do anyway and do right, so I do not have any anxieties. You seem some ways to know better what I want than I do myself: I have to try and try: you go straight to the mark." I took off my hat to the compliment. He reaffirmed: "It's not flattery, Horace—not even praise: it's the everyday truth." I kissed him for good night and left the room. When I got out in the hallway I heard his call: "Horace! Horace!" and hurried back. "Here," he said, still sitting near the table, handing me a little bunch of letters or something tied in a red string: "Here is a prize package for you: put it in your pocket: don't let the police catch you with it. If you draw a jewel I'll go halves!" Seemed very jovial. "And one thing more—before you go for good help me over to the bed."

 
Friday, August 10, 1888.

     I have been writing Bucke frankly about W.'s condition. Bucke today referred to my letters in writing to W. This was

 
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a mistake. W. consequently a little reticent. When I quizzed him he said frankly: "I don't want Bucke to know the worst until the worst is hopeless: he worries over bad news: write him in a cheerful vein—lie to him, buoy him up." "Lie to him?" "Well—lies won't help, I suppose—but don't tell him the evil until there's no more any good to tell about." W. is reading and writing again, almost steadily, for several hours of each day. Said he worked too hard yesterday. "It told on me so that I got up this morning feeling stale." Sometimes W. suffers a sort of aphasia—can't get his words without a search: but his mind is always clear. Lay on the bed most of or all the time of our talk. Was at times even hilarious. He has been interested in the Blaine reception in New York, but says: "I doubt if there are even a few of the noisy hurrahers who could stop their noise for a minute or two and tell us why their great man is great." Then: "The working class is slow to learn—they are cheated, swindled, robbed, pay all the pipers' bills and hear none of the music—yet go on year after year putting their robbers back in Congress, in the legislatures—making them mayors and what not."

     Spoke of Kennedy's W. W. "It seems to come to nothing. And Kennedy himself—what's the matter with him? He writes a trite message—then ends." Said he was not in favor of the W. W. calendar: "I not only don't enthuse—I do not even approve. Leaves of Grass does not lend itself to piecemeal quotation: can only find its reflection in ensemble, ensemble: cannot be rendered by any selection of pretty lines, strange allusions, passages from here and there: it belongs to bulk, mass, unity: must be seen be with reference to its eligibility to express world-meanings rather than literary prettiness. It is true O'Connor thinks a good deal of the calendar: it comes from his nieces: and then Grace Channing is a bright, good girl, too, and might to trusted to do what could be done in that sort of work and with Leaves of Grass. But my first impression was a bad one and I have not moved from it. I shall not interfere (I did not interfere with Walt Whitman Club in Boston)

 
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but I shall have my friends know that I don't endorse calendars or any other such miniaturing from Leaves of Grass." He thinks: "The New York fellers regard me as an oddity—most of them—even those who more than half like me. No one can know Leaves of Grass who judges it piecemeal: it makes no revelations to the merely literary eye."

      Asked me questions about Wagner operas. "So many of my friends say Wagner is Leaves of Grass done into music that I begin to suspect there must be something in it. Doctor Bucke, who don't go much on operas, banks a lot on Wagner. I was never wholly convinced—there was always a remaining question. I have got rather off the field—the Wagner opera has had its vogue only in these later years since I got out of the way of going to the theater. Do you figure out Wagner to be a force making for democracy or the opposite? O'Connor swears to the democracy—swears to it with a big oath. Others have said to me that Wagner's art was distinctly the art of a caste—for the few. What am I to believe? I confess that I have heard bits here and there at concerts, from orchestras, bands, which have astonished, ravished me, like the discovery of a new world. The masters keep on coming and coming again: nature can always do better than her best: is prodigal, exhaustless."

     I have started a Whitman fund—am trying to get a small monthly guarantee each from a group of people to pay for the nurse and the extras required by W.'s persistent illness. W. does not know about the fund. He knows the nurse is put here by his friends. I have not explained anything to him in detail. Hard to find the friends, however. Many excuse themselves when approached on the subject. I said to W.: "I sometimes find that certain people who profess a big conviction about you do not back it up." He laughed. "Are you just learning that? A lot of the Whitman talk is simply glamor (I call it that: is it a right use of the word?)—pretense, good nature, and so on—not being willing to justify itself in a crisis. I do not complain—only I like to know a fact for a fact. A man wrote in a paper the other day: 'All this English talk about Walt Whitman is a fraud:

 
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the English accept Whitman as an eccentric, a rough, something different. He is not sincerely considered: he pleases a whim and when that whim has fed itself full good-bye Whitman in England.' That's about what was said. Whether true or not, the truth of it, the falsity of it, will find a proper level in time—like water whatever its troubles finds its level at last." Again: "They used to load all their indecent stories on Lincoln: now some people are loading all their indecent interpretations on me."

     I said to W.: "Ferguson lets us have our own way in his place.""That is true—and we appreciate—yes, respect the concession. Such treatment involves reciprocal obligations: it removes our relations to a plane above trade.""The 'prize package' yesterday contained four jewels instead of one jewel," I said to W. He appeared pleased. "Which half do you want?" I asked him. He remembered that he had said he would go me halves if I found a jewel. "My half is in seeing you tickled," he replied. Then he asked me seriously: "You found something there worth preserving? It all contributes towards the history. It won't be long and I will be dead and gone: then they will hale you into court—put you into the witness box—ply you with questions—try to mix you up with questions: this Walt Whitman—this scamp poet—this arch-pretender—what did you make him out to be? And you will have to answer—and be sure you answer honest, so help you God!"

     One of the jewels was a portrait which W. had endorsed in this way: "Rudolph Schmidt Copenhagen Denmark April 5 '74." He said of it: "It is simple, imperative, pleasing: is the face of a man not too much in doubt about himself—a telling autobiographical item. I always remember that Schmidt has broken several lances in my interest off in that strange country." The other jewels were letters from William Michael Rossetti and Mrs. Watson Gilder to W. and a never-delivered letter from William Swinton to Charles Sumner "to introduce Walt Whitman." When I got talking of these letters to-night he had me start reading them to him. I first took the Gilder letter. He had

 
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written in red ink on a blank page: "From Mr. and Mrs. Gilder New York (Gilder you know is a sort of chief literary man now on Scribner's)."

"Kaywood," Staten Island,

Nov. 20th, '80.


Dear Mr. Whitman,

     We were delighted at receiving your books—and from you. We have always intended owning them and were only waiting to return to our little house in town, as we have now a volume belonging to Mr. Burroughs. Your poems have a great hold on us, and grow more and more to us in value.

     In London last winter we saw the Gilchrists several times and of course talked of you. Mrs. Gilchrist spoke most enthusiastically and affectionately of you, and Mme. Modjeska who was acting there wanted us to remind you of her having had the pleasure of meeting you. She is making a great success.

     We read some of you poems to a group of people—artists etc.—in London, who were all intensely interested and impressed. One, Alfred Hunt, the landscape painter, was much moved over some of the descriptions of nature, the mocking bird and the pine trees especially. Richard talked about you with William M. Rossetti, your good friend, and others, who all were anxious to hear from you. Richard is very desirous to know whether you got some of your poems done into Provencal, by W. C. Bonaparte Wyse. Would you write a line of acknowledgment to the latter, to be forwarded through Richard? Mr. Wyse would value it very greatly.

     Mr. Burroughs and Richard were camping out in September and there was a great deal of talk of W. W. under the pine trees beside the little Ulster Co. lake.

     I know you love children and I wish I could show you my little boy, of whom I am very proud.

     In February we will be again in our house—hope to see you there once more.

 
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     With renewed thanks I am dear Mr. Whitman one of your sincerest admirers


Helena deKay Gilder.

     We are both greatly obliged to you and I endorse the foregoing.
R. W. G.

     "Horace," said W., "you must never forget this of the Gilders—that at a time when most everybody else in their set was throwing me down they were nobly and unhesitatingly hospitable. This letter gives you a clue—a fine clue. It was about that same period some other woman in New York invited me to a dinner but just as I was about to start off for the trip sent me a second letter withdrawing the invitation on the ground that some guests who were indispensable to the success of the dinner refused to sit at the table with me." The story seemed incredible. While I was wondering what to say W. added: "It was God's truth, Horace—God's amazing truth! Nor was the affair a solitary one—I had dozens of such or similar rubs if I had two. Now, the Gilders were without pride and without shame—they just asked me along in the natural way. It was beautiful, beautiful. You know how at one time the church was an asylum for fugitives—the church, God's right arm, fending the innocent. I was such an innocent and the Gilders took me in." While I was reading the Swinton letter W. said: "William just let himself go—kept nothing vital back. I never delivered the letter. I felt that I would rather own the letter than have the job it asked for. Would you have supposed the school-bookman—Swinton—William—could ever so forget himself—wax so eloquent, make such a darling hullaballoo—about a man like your uncle? Some of my friends when they fairly got going about me made the stars look faint. My friends were fewer than my enemies but they blew a trumpet loud enough for everybody to hear." Swinton's letter was enclosed in a New York Times envelope.


Washington, Jany 6th, 1863.


Hon. Charles Sumner:

      My Dear Sir: The bearer of this is Walt Whitman—of New York—a poet and absolute devotee to literature in the sense of giving America something genuinely her own—something that is robust while full of feeling and idiomatic while universal. He is the author of Leaves of Grass. He is ardent for future poetic works—I think noble and enduring ones. In New York the young men count with faith upon his future.

     Mr. Whitman has for years remained poor. He is in Washington seeking to push his fortune,—to get some clerk-ship, appointment or whatnot. His claim rests upon literary grounds, not political ones—though he is and has long been a Republican in politics.

     I have known him for years and know that he is an honorable and trustworthy man in all relations and in the highest sense.

     Finding him here without access to the great quarters, I have taken the liberty to give him this note to one so well fitted to advise him; and although I see and know what demands are made upon your time and influence, I am sure you will not confound Mr. Whitman with the ordinary herd of Washington axe-grinders.


With best respects and regards,


William Swinton.

     It was getting after ten. W. looked tired, I said: "Let's lay over the Rossetti letter until to-morrow." He acquiesced: "All right—to-morrow. Did you particularly notice in William's letter—'robust while full of feeling and individual while universal'? That fits my intentions to a t—describes my ideal absolutely. Leaves of Grass must answer to that call or be forgotten. Don't you think it was a bold thing for a man to say at that time: 'The young men count with faith upon his future'? That letter is a capital example of what I call let-go. A man who will talk that way in the face of a general opposition must

 
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care very very much or very very little for his reputation." W. finally said: "Take care of the book—the book's the thing!"

 
Saturday, August 11, 1888.

     W. still holding his own, though weak. Busy reading and writing. Took him a bundle of page proofs, up to 140. Page 118 contains the Hicks portrait. W. said: "I would not be surprised either way with the portrait—surprised for good, surprised for bad." Still debating whether he would write a preface for November Boughs. "Why should I?—the book itself explains all I wish explained: is personal, confessional: a variegated product, in fact—streaks of white and black, light and darkness, threads of evil and good running in and out and across and through achieving in the end some sort of unity. I have often, especially in recent years, asked myself whether in rounding up Leaves of Grass I should not add a prologue and an epilogue—some fore-cast and resumé reasserting the designed and achieved tempo—some closing transcript of the aspirations, intuitions, that went and go to the making of the book—the appreciation of its message. But why should I? The same question—the same answer: no, no: I feel the no without defining it—and no is best, is best."

     The Sheridan poem was not in today's Herald. "Not today? To-morrow then, or next day—or maybe not at all (why at all?)—which would be all right, too." Harned came in. Talk got on politics. W. said: "What about Blaine, Tom? Tell me the news about Blaine." He didn't wait for the news but went on: "Blaine has a wonderful intuition concerning current affairs and people—concerning the average thought, the everyday passions and prejudices of the street—yet the longer I live the more contemptible, the more utterly contemptible, seem his style and make—up, the instrument upon which he plays, the flagrant insincerity of his ambitions." Harned asked: "but hasn't he brains?""Yes, brains—but of the superficial, sharp, evanescent kind. Take that matter of protection. After awhile it will strike the masses that protection does bring money

 
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to somebody but not to them—that the benefit is all one way and not their way—and then the throne will fall. I give protection ten or twenty more robbing years—not more than twenty, nor less than ten. There is always the wave and the counterwave—the tide goes up the tide goes down—the storm arrives, the storm departs. Protection had to come and has to go. Protection talk comes with bad grace from a man like Blaine having his clean or dirty twenty thousand a year—from the easy, comfortable elite of our money world who clap their hands over their hearts and say: 'Don't disturb any of these things: we're having a good time of it—plenty to eat, drink, wear: palaces to live in, servants to flatter and fawn upon us—luxury, yachts, money in the bank: don't disturb things as they are—don't ask questions—don't riot within the sacred precincts of our success.'""They don't see the end," I said. "What is the end?""Revolution.""Or evolution—which means the same thing in its results."

     Harned withdrew. He had the two children with him. W. called them "the darlings" and kissed them good night. Henry George said in a speech in New York the other night: "The republic should lead the world to freedom." W. reaffirmed: "It will lead the world to freedom or to hell—I prefer freedom." Asked me questions about Lew Wallace: "I had Ben Hur here once and started to read it but before I had got along far it disappeared—whether through being stolen or lost or given away I do not know. I thought it really interesting and well done. I don't know but in reading the best method is to simply let the mind caper about and do as it chooses—or as it don't choose, as it must. I never try to create interest for myself in a book: if the interest don't come of its own account I drop my experiment: I would no more force my reading than my writing. I read the papers in the forenoon, about ten: I sort of toy with them—amuse myself with them—dawdle with them."

     W. spoke doubtfully of Wagner's choice of Niebelungen themes for his operas: "I question the wisdom of selecting the Jack and the Beanstalk stories and putting them into this modern

 
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medium. Without a doubt there are points here which I have not considered—which are not quite familiar table-talk to me—but my first impression, my original instinct, (I can only give that) is adverse, critical, though not, of course, absolutely negative." This led him to ask me a question: "You speak of young Neumayer as a true bass. Is he that? pure, strong, without being coarse? Oh! the true bass is the most precious of all voices because the rarest of all. I have known so many yet so few—so few with the full equipment—one or two (not more than two) in all my experience." Allusion to the Leaves: "I am much less concerned to have them believed true than to have them true—much less concerned to have people recognize the good things than to have them there: and yet I like to have applause, too—like to hear the hurrahs that I don't have to go back and meet." I said to W.: "I've still got the Rossetti letter in my pocket." He said: "Yes—read it: I want to hear it once more before you take it away for good."

56 Euston Sq.

London, N. W., April 12, 1868.


Dear Walt Whitman,

     I received with thanks, and read with much interest, the article by Mr. Hinton which you sent me. Besides Mr. Hinton's own share in the article, I was particularly glad to see in full Emerson's letter written on the first appearance of Leaves of Grass. Of this I had hitherto only seen an expression or two extracted.

     Will you allow me to respond by sending two English notices of the selection. The one in the Academia I find is written by a Mr. Robertson whom I have met occasionally—a Scotchman of acute intellectual sympathies. The alterations noted in ink in his article are reproduced by me from the copy which he himself sent me: I infer that they are in confromity with the original Ms., but cut out by a less ardent editor. The Sunday Times is edited by a Mr. Knight, of whom also I have some slight personal knowledge. I think the review in that paper is very likely done by Mr. Knight himself. The Academia is a recently

 
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started paper, chiefly scholastic, and I suppose of restricted circulation. The Sunday Times has no doubt a very large circulation, and a good standing among weekly newspapers—not being however a specially literary organ.

     You will, I think, have seen through Mr. Conway the notice, also eulogistic, in the London Review. I am told of a hostile one in the Express (evening edition of the Daily News) but have not seen it: the Morning Star (the paper most closely connected with John Bright) had a very handsome notice about a week ago—but, like all literary reviews in that paper, a brief one. These are all the notices I know of at present. Perhaps I ought to apologize for saying so much to you about a matter which I know plays but the smallest part in your thought and interest as a poet.

     As to the sale of the book I really know nothing as yet—not having once seen the publisher since the volume was issued.

     A glance at the Sunday Times notice recalls to my attention a sentence therein which I should perhaps refer to—about your having given express sanction &c. Where the writer gets this from I know not—certainly not from me: indeed the P.S. to the selection asserts the exact contrary, and I have not so much as seen Mr. Knight for (I dare say) a couple of years.


With warmest regard and friendship, yours


W. M. Rossetti.

     "That was twenty years ago," said W., "and Rossetti is still serving under the flag—a pirate flag, somebody said: but it is hardly that: it is more like the red flag—the flag of revolution. The best of Rossetti is in the natural way he takes this whole Leaves of Grass business, without apologizing for, without glorifying, me."

 
Sunday, August 12, 1888.

     10:30 A. M. Went in to W. early to take him his N. Y. Herald containing Taps for Sheridan. He sat in his armchair reading

 
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the Press, but at once took the Herald out of my hands. "The poem amounts to nothing in itself: was the work of ten minutes or so the other day: but I was quite anxious to have it appear in the Herald, which has been so kind to me." Then he saw how conspicuously it had been placed, at the head of the long story describing the Sheridan obsequies: "They've gone and done it after all—the very worst thing—the thing I especially didn't want them to do. It was my desire to have it come into the personal column—to appear there casually as something swept along in the current and picked up and set into a place."

     Paul R. Cleveland refers to W. in the August Cosmopolitan as "a vagabond." I quoted this to W. "The sad fact about the story that I never made a living through literature is, that it is for the most part true. That has been made the staple complaint of numerous old and new accusers of Leaves of Grass. If I should care to make a guess I should say that Paul R. Cleveland is not an actual person—that the name is an assumed one. If the article was not poorly written, as you say, I should ascribe it to Stoddard: but Stoddard writes well. And yet I am sure that if Stoddard did not write he at least dictated it—is at least responsible for it—Stoddard or some one or several of that group. It is a sore thing to some of them that I got along at all—much worse, that I got along so well."

     Examined a rough proof of the Hicks and said: "It makes him look like a cross between an Injun and a Nigger, without a drop of white blood in his veins. There's one reason in particular why I want this picture to appear. With the damnable unreason of a sect the Quakers—too many of them—are fiercely opposed to pictures, music, in their houses. I want this head, therefore to flaunt itself right in the faces of the Quakers who see this book—who read November Boughs."

     "Horace," said W., suddenly, "I think the time has come for the American magazine—for a magazine designed to reflect America—its mechanics, its great labor masses—to give the smack of the heath—the native heath: to get its color from a

 
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life particularly American and offer the result to the world. Americana in the best sense—that we need. It's about time we had outgrown the Lord Adolphus Fitznoodle business—the Dobson, Lang, ballade, villanelle, business: the looking abroad for suggestions, for models, for ideals. Oh! I can see that such a venture would even pay for itself in money in time, not to speak of the other pay—not today, not to-morrow, but finally, after tussle, in the long run. We are so commercialized in this country that we will do nothing without the pay is in sight—nothing, nothing: the profits must be near enough to grab: we seem to lack that great faculty of wait, wait, wait, which distinguishes and accounts for the world-power of the English merchant. Yet there are signs of an awakening. We may soon have to revise our notions on this score. Some day we may rise to the standards of moral, spiritual, profit, letting all the baser standards fall into disuse. By and bye the American magazine will come as the gift of some far-sighted far-hearted individual, who is willing to throw away all the vulgar prizes of the market for the sake of a cause, a future."

     Advised me to meet Browning, the Herald's Philadelphia representative. "He is a fine, dark-browed, vital, affectionate sort of a man—a newspaper man made of the real stuff. The Herald people have always treated me as if I was what the boys call the real thing." W. laughed heartily when I told him Bucke said Walt Whitman never took advice: "In a way he is right: but again he is not. I do not object to advice but to having it made imperative. I claim the final privilege—claim the right to pass upon the advice that is passed up to me. I can honestly say that I like to hear all that is to be said in criticism of my work, my life: but you know well enough that it is impossible for a man to get down on his hands and knees before the advisers." W. thinks he has but two copies of Drum Taps left. "If there should be more I want you to have one—the first beyond the two that turns up shall be yours." The two he has are flung about different places in the room from day to day—on the round table, on the chairs, on the bed, on the floor. "As

 
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a Strong Bird I still possess in some quantity: you can take three or four or more of them any time you choose."

     Letter from Bucke to W. today. Bucke says: "I should like to hear that you are gaining strength. I do not hear that. How is it?" W. repeated: "How is it? I don't know. Do you? Tell Maurice we've given up guessing here: let him make a guess in Canada." We had a little talk over one of his War letters, the rough draft of which I turned up in trying to find a Camelot book for him. It was in sheets pinned together, without an envelope or any sign of an address attached. W. turned it over and over mystified: "I don't know for sure who it was written to—probably one of those Boston women—the Curtis people, it may be. Is it of any use to you?" He passed it over. I was eager for it at once. This excited his remark: "Did I ever know you to decline anything like that? I don't believe you know how to decline." I replied; "I don't—I don't." My vehemence amused him. "Well, you must pay the penalty: sit right down there under the light and read me the letter. That will be my good-bye to the letter. After all, for your purposes, I don't suppose it matters at all who it was meant for at the time—its history is just as good for whoever. I guessed a Massachusetts name because I notice I make a point of mentioning the Yankee boys." I read the letter, W. closing his eyes and listening, breaking in every now and then with monosyllabic ejaculations:



Dear Friend.

     I am going to write to you to ask any friends you may be in communication with for aid for my soldiers. I remain here in Washington still occupied among the hospitals—I have now been engaged in this over seven months. As time passes on it seems as if sad cases of old and lingering wounded accumulate, regularly recruited with new ones every week—I have been most of this day in Armory Square Hospital Seventh st. I seldom miss a day or evening. Out of the six or seven hundred in this Hospital I try to give a word or a trifle to every one without exception, making regular rounds among

 
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them all. I give all kinds of sustenance, blackberries, peaches, lemons and sugar, wines, all kinds of preserves, pickles, brandy, milk, shirts and all articles of underclothing, tobacco, tea, handkerchiefs, &c &c &c. I always give paper, envelopes, stamps &c. I want a supply for this purpose. To many I give (when I have it) small sums of money—half of the soldiers in hospital have not a cent. There are many returned prisoners sick, lost all—and every day squads of men from the front, cavalry or infantry—brought in wounded or sick, generally without a cent of money. I select the most needy cases and devote my time and services much to them. I find it tells best—some are mere lads, 17, 18, 19, or 20—some are silent, sick, heavy-hearted, (things, attentions, &c. are very rude in the army and hospitals, nothing but the mere hard routine, no time for tenderness or extras)—so I go round, —some of my boys die, some get well.

     O what a sweet unwonted love (those good American boys of good stock, decent, clean, well-raised boys, so near to me)—what an attachment grows up between us, started from hospital cots, where pale young faces lie and wounded or sick bodies. My brave young American soldiers—now for so many months I have gone around among them, where they lie. I have long discarded all stiff conventions (they and I are too near to each other, there is no time to lose, and death and anguish dissipate ceremony here between my lads and me)—I pet them, some of them it does so much good, they are so faint and lonesome—at parting at night sometimes I kiss them right and left—The doctors tell me I supply the patients with a medicine which all their drugs and bottles and powders are helpless to yield.

     I wish you would ask anybody you know who is likely to contribute—It is a good holy cause, surely nothing nobler—I desire you if possible could raise for me, forthwith, for application to these wounded and sick here, (they are from Massachusetts and all the New England states, there is not a day but I am with some Yankee boys, and doing some trifle for them)—

 
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a sum—if possible fifty dollars—if not then less—thirty dollars—or indeed any amount—

     I am at present curiously almost alone here as visitor and consolator to Hospitals—the work of the different Reliefs and Commissions is nearly all off in the field—and as to private visitors, there are few or none—I wish you or some of your friends could just make a round with me, for an hour or so, at some of my hospitals or camps—I go among all our own dear soldiers, hospital camps and any, our teamsters' hospitals, among sick and dying, the rebels, the contrabands, &c &c. What I reach is necessarily but a drop in the bucket but it is done in good faith, and with now some experience and I hope with good heart.






     When I started to go W. asked: "Going, Horace? Where are you going?" And when I answered, "To Harned's for dinner," he seemed reminded of something and commenced to rummage among his papers. "Is there something to go?" I asked. "Nothing I have particularly looked for: I was only trying to get my hands on something to send Tom"—then, as his eyes fell upon the table: "Ah! yes! this!" picking up Symonds' Wine, Women and Song and handing it to me: "This: Symonds sent it to me: I have read a great deal of it: take it to Tom.""For him to read?""Yes—to read and to keep: and for you to read, too. It is a little loose, but not much so: not bad: not out of place with those French books at Tom's—the beautiful books from that Parisian publisher." I reminded W, that I was losing sleep and meals in my anxiety over the "surprise" that he still held back. "Still harping on my daughter" he exclaimed and said no more.

     Evening, 7:30. Harned with W., who was in vigorous talking humor. Went on for an hour. The death of Dick Spofford everywhere spoken of in today's papers aroused W. to some affectionate reminiscence: "Dick was bright—had a mind like a star, so clear was its radiance. His body was very frail—you could break it almost like a pipe-stem: yet his brain was so

 
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active, effective, you never remarked his bodily defects. Dick was a Walt-Whitmaniac in the common ways of life—consciously or unconsciously that: hospitable to all sorts of me, all froms of thought, all contrasts of life: a brilliant apparition: always kind to me, thoughtful, friend of my friends as well as directly (while not intimately) friendly to me." W. sceptical about Blaine's declaration that "if the tariff goes down it can only be by the failure of the working man to sustain it." "A wonderful remark!—and the Press seizes on it and prints it in Italics as a watchword—God help us! Alas! what have we come to! The day of emancipation is yet way off. The tariff must still hang over us, prescribing its petty principles—just as Methodism, Presbyterianism, hold on like the devil though without a leg to stand on."

     W. spoke of Emerson: "I shall never forget the first visit he paid me—the call, the first call: it was in Brooklyn: no, I can never forget it. I can hear his gentle knock still—the soft knock—so"—indicating it on the chair-arm—"and the slow sweet voice, as my mother stood there by the door: and the words, 'I came to see Mr. Whitman': and the response, 'He is here'—the simple unaffected greeting on both sides—'How are you, Mr. Whitman,' 'How are you, Waldo'—the hour's talk or so—the taste of lovableness he left behind when he was gone. I can easily see how Carlyle should have likened Emerson's appearance in their household to the apparition of an angel." W. thought Cabot's presentation of the anti-controversial Emerson "capital": "That was like him: he would take a stand, he would not hit out." W. said: "I always hated formal controversy anyhow." "I like to see the scuffle—I feel the necessity of hearing the last word of challenge—but am not to be lured into the fight. The world must move on without my fighting for it."

     He said he had "resolved" today "to keep that unprecedented thing, a scrap-book." "I started it with the two Herald pieces on Sheridan." Harned spoke of English Traits as "the best study of English character extant." W. objected: "I do not

 
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think so: it never struck me so forcibly as that." But he added: "Emerson was a great vessel: he held a lot. When a man is dead we begin to see what a buffer he is." Then: "You should sometime get John Burroughs, when he is in his best humor, to tell you of his visit with Conway to Carlyle: it is so full of interest—so rich in touches of Carlyle's character. John speaks of Carlyle's laugh—the hearty, roaring, indescribable laugh, about which Horace has just given us Emerson's description. I remember one incident John told me of the visit. Conway spoke of him to Carlyle as an ornithologist, whereupon Carlyle had a story to tell. He had gone a long journey—the purpose of the journey was defeated—he had been forced to walk home—was despondent, depressed, dispirited. Suddenly the song of a bird in the distance came upon him—the fresh clear notes of a song—and swept his heart clean of its debris, so that a journey's end which was threatened with sorrow was accomplished with gladness. It was wonderful to me—the undertone, the overtone, of that story. Mrs. Gilchrist will not hear to it—that Carlyle was what the average world makes him out to be: will not yield an inch to the clamor. She gives a clean bill to both of them—to Thomas, to Jean: she says the stories of their dissensions are vagaries, malicious and impossible: that she knew—that she was their neighbor, a frequent visitor in their home."

     W. finally has something to say about the Hollyer etching. "I do not think it good enough to be good—this is especially true of the eyes——they are too glaring: I have a dull not a glaring eye." Harned asked: "After all, Walt don't you think you're very much photographed and very little caught?""Exactly, Tom—very rarely. Tom—Horace has the best picture of all: the Gardner picture—the Washington picture. I remember well the afternoon that was taken. When a reporter saw it in the case by and bye he wrote that Walt Whitman had been photographed in his night-dress. The Gardner people were fiery mad over it—to me it seemed funny." Back to the Hollyer: "It is not first class as an etching—far from first class as a portrait.

 
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It is taken from the Lear original. Do you know, it was Mary Costelloe who gave that picture its name?—a good name, too, as most of my friends have allowed."

     Discussed November Boughs. Thought we might try a flexible cover for it. Then looked over plans for the full-edition Whitman—a one volume W. W. to contain all the prose and verse up to the date of issue. We are to go to work on it at once. "It's a new baby to be born," said W., "and we must get to work at once to prepare its clothes." Attempted to walk round the house today but got no farther than the bathroom. The first daring venture. Said of it: "I am a lame though not yet quite a dead duck." Gave me a Bucke letter: "Tell me what you make of Bucke's warnings and objurgations."

 
Monday, August 13, 1888.

     Day wonderfully cool. W. like a child in his joy. "For the first time I feel sassy with returning vigor. I take the benefits as they come: when they do not come I do not worry reaching out for them." Harned came in. Applauded the Herald poem. "So you think the old dog is at his tricks—and that that is a sign of improvement? Well—let it go at that: you can't teach me new but I won't forget the old tricks." When I arrived he lay on his bed and we had an earnest talk, no one else being present, about the big book. W. is fully resolved. "Tell Ferguson we'll back him up for the best he can do: tell him the story of the old woman who said to the hen: 'This time I'm going to give you a chance to fling yourself!'—so let Ferguson fling. A few dollars more or less—what do they amount to?" He laughed. I said: "A few dollars more mean a good deal if you ain't got 'em.""I should say! and don't I know? hasn't my prosperity walked on its uppers almost from the start?" Still: "I think I've got enough to see the book through so let's see it through right. I am familiar with the small economies, meannesses, of publishers: but we are not publishers: let us travel over the best road." I secured a rough estimate today on a book of nine hundred pages. W. satisfied. "That

 
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seems reasonable: hitch up—let's start." The idea is to issue a limited edition including Leaves of Grass, Specimen Days, and November Boughs: press work first class, paper good, margins liberal, with "powerful but modest portraits" ("if any: are portraits indispensable?" he asks): the books to sell for five or ten dollars and be autographed. This is an old idea revived. We discussed and abandoned it while W. was sick and seemed to be getting hopelessly worse. Gave me multiplied cautions to see that the Hicks portrait comes up right in the printing. "I have set my heart on that head—on its satisfactory presentation: I would rather leave it out altogether than have it go in bad."

     "Though always objecting to prefaces," he said, "I think I shall have to write some note amounting to a preface for this de luxe edition." He waited for me to notice his "de luxe." I said nothing. "What's the matter with de luxe? I thought you would say amen to it." Said further of prefaces: "They are much like bowing and scraping a man in through your open door. The door being open, that should be enough. I tie myself to no rule in such a matter but I believe that they are mainly superfluous. This seems to be a case where a preface—some explanation—is in order." When he came to light up his gas he said quickly: "Hullo! I haven't turned the facet against the wall"—he has a table jet attached—"What a thing is habit!—how habit makes monkeys of us all! We forget once or twice to turn the facet—after that we always forget it: it has become a habit. From that time on we are slaves. Curiously, it is harder to break away from your vices than from your virtues: sometimes it seems easier to go to the Devil than to go to God!"

     Harned came in and after a bit called the children up. Then there was a great munching of molasses candy—yellow jack—W. partaking most heartily. "How extra good it is, too, kiddies: ain't it better than the usual run?" Anna laughed and replied: "Oh yes! this kind you can only buy three cents worth of: you can't buy a cent's worth of this!" W. clapped his hand

 
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down on the big arm on his chair. "That explains it—I thought we were enjoying an extra extra treat!"

     W. gave me his notions of a cover for November Boughs. Again produced the little Epictetus volume. "The book is precious to me—I think is one out of an edition of a hundred printed especially for Rolleston. Take it along however—show it to the binders—but don't take any risks with it." He called my attention to Twenty Years, which appears in the Magazine of Art, a copy of which he received today. "I like the drawing as drawing, though it is far enough away from anything I thought of when I wrote the piece. The general make-up of the page is very flattering. The boy there in the shrouds—he is best of all: splendid, easy, natural. It is true, too, as you say, that this figure down here on the shore—this strong, straight somebody with his hands in his pockets—is a try at me—of me as you know me in that Leaves of Grass portrait. Do you remember, the Magazine man said he would like to be infromed whether the page pleased me? Well, I am pleased—much pleased—and you can say so to him or anyone. I don't mind it that he chose his own way of illustrating the poem—that was his own little privilege: he tried his hand at explication. The picture is like Hamlet—it has various ways of being interpreted. I used to make a fellow I knew mad by saying there were as many Hamlets as there were actors to act Hamlet, but he would not have it so: there was but one Hamlet, only one, and God help the man who didn't act that one! Winter is one of the worst of that crowd of jackasses. I have felt Salvini and Rossi to be all the greater for preferring their own Lears, Hamlets, Othellos, to the heroes of the critics."

     W. of Stedman: "Stedman would I think be freer and easier with me if it was not for the rabid crowd of literary wolves by which he is surrounded in New York—that crowd of yellers and screamers who declare that Walt Whitman is no good—is to be in no way endorsed, tolerated, commended. Even Stedman could not resist all that pressure. Yet he is noble, generous, lavish of his love. I shall never forget his kindness

 
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to me—his many kindnesses: why, he once paid thirty dollars I am told for a single special copy of Leaves of Grass. That was surely an act of great faith. The worst I hear about Stedman is not that he has failed in business but that he is sick." W. gave me an 1887 letter from James Grant Wilson: "I knew Wilson very well—he was a cordial and convincing character. This letter was sweetened by a touch of frank cameraderie—no more but that truely. Wilson belongs to the conventional literary old guard in New York.""You never broke into that crowd?""No—they broke into me. I find them here and there hospitable, conciliatory: as a rule they are haughtily set against my claims—which is all right too, for their denial may in the end be confirmed." Wilson's letter was written on the stationery of Appleton's Cyclopedia.

New York, April 8, [1887]


My dear Mr. Whitman:

     Am glad to see by a morning journal that you are well enough to undertake a visit to New York, and the delivery of your address on Lincoln. If you have no better place to go, I shall be happy to give you shelter under my roof No. 15, East Seventy-fourth st, where I think you spent an hour some years ago. In any event, I hope to hear your address and to see you at my office. I am anxious to have one or more contributions from you for my Cyclopedia for which we pay ten dollars per printed page. Will you suggest some that you would like to write? Prospectus enclosed.


Very faithfully yours,


Jas. Grant Wilson.

     P.S. I can offer you a large chamber on the second floor, with a bathroom connected with it, for your exclusive use!

     "I might have written up Paine, Hicks, Burr, Frances Wright—the unpopulars—but do you think the book would have stood for it? I'm afraid my pen let loose would have seemed out of character in such a place: my pen tied up I haven't to sell." "But," added W., "while the conventionals, on their side, are

 
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generally too timid, we, the radicals of us, on our side, are often too cocky." He shook his finger at me: "Be cocky, you young quarrelers—be cocky, be cocky, don't be too damned cocky!"

     W. gave me a bit of his writing which proved to be draft of his Garfield poem, The Sobbing of the Bells. I found it was written on the reverse of a letter written to W. by Boyle O'Reilly. Spoke of it to W. "Yes, so I see. That must have been in the eighties, while I was in Boston. Yes, we want art: I saw the Millet pictures at Shaw's: it was a great day." As W. had cut the Boyle letter and pieced it together again irregularly it is now difficult to make out. Up in the corner of the letter O'R. wrote: "Shall see you at Bartlett's Thursday." This is the letter as I have got it together with perhaps a word or two not literally in place:


The Pilot Editorial Rooms,

Boston, Sept. 21.


Dear Mr. Whitman:

     Can you come, with Bartlett, Kate, and a charming lady and myself, to see Mr. Quincey Shaw's pictures on Friday at 2 p.m.? I shall call for you with carriage. Don't say no: you'll enjoy it. If you don't answer I shall take it for yes.




Boyle O'Reilly.

     Regarding the manuscript W. said: "Some of my enemies who think I write in the dark without premeditation ought to see that sheet of paper: there ain't a word there that seems to have had an easy time of it—that wasn't subjected to catawauling. I tell you, Horace, it's no fun for words when they get in my hands, though the howlers may not know it."

 
Tuesday, August 14, 1888.

     To W.'s at one o'clock. Sat in chair. Bright and chatty—"garrulous," he said of himself. He had been rooting in an old basket of odds and ends, "destroying a lot of stuff, saving some"—looking at me with reassuring eyes: "I haven't destroyed anything it was better to keep." Gave me galley prints of Burroughs'

 
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Science and Theology. "I have never read it," said W., "I can't get up an interest in such subjects: Ingersoll and Huxley seem to be my only exceptions for anti-theological reading. Do you take John along with you—read him: if you can make anything particular out of him there tell me of it. I would rather go with John among the birds and beasts than among the parsons."

     He showed me several of his little improvised note-books of the war-time. One was marked "September & October, 1863." He read some memoranda from it to me. "I carried sometimes half a dozen such books in my pocket at one time—never was without one of them: I took notes as I went along—often as I sat—talking, maybe, as with you here now—I writing while the other fellow told his story. I would take the best paper (you can see, the best I could find) and make it up into these books tying them with string or tape or getting someone (often it was Nellie O'Connor) to stitch them for me. My little books were beginnings—they were the ground into which I dropped the seed. See, here is a little poem itself"—he handed me the book: "Probably it is included in the Leaves somewhere. I would work in this way when I was out in the crowds, then put the stuff together at home. Drum Taps was all written in that manner—all of it—all put together by fits and starts, on the field, in the hospitals, as I worked with the soldier boys. Some days I was more emotional than others, then I would suffer all the extra horrors of my experience—I would try to write, blind, blind, with my own tears. O Horace! Horace! Horace! Should I ever get to Washington again I must look up my old cherry tree there—the great old tree under which I used to sit and write, write long, write. I want to give you one, several, of these books, if you would like to have them from me. They are more than precious—precious because they recall the old years—bring back the pictures of agony and death—reassociate me with the scenes and human actors of that tragic period.

     He spelled out a name from the book—Lige Fox: "Yes, I remember Lige—he was from Northwest—very free-going, very

 
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honest-like. Some day I'll gather all the stories of these books together and give them out: what a jail delivery there will be! There's the story of Lige: it plays the dickens with the character of Stonewall Jackson—taking him down (whipping him off) the pedestal he has decorated by general consent. Everybody in Washington wanted to think well of Jackson—I with the rest—and we were inclined to the very last to distrust the many stories which seemed to reflect upon his glory. But Lige's tale was so modestly told I could not doubt it—was told so entirely without brag, bad temper—without any desire for revenge—in fact, without any consciousness that Jackson had done anything but what was usual and right. Lige had been captured. Jackson subjected him to an inquisition—wanted information—would have it—would, would, would, whether or no. Lige only said and kept on saying: 'I'm a Union soldier and can't do it.' Finding he could get nothing from Lige Jackson punished him by making him walk the ten miles to Richmond while the others were conveyed. I could never think the same of Jackson after hearing that—after seeing how he resented in Lige what was a credit to him—what Lige could not have given and what Jackson could not have taken and either remain honest. And think of it, too! Jackson such a praying man—going off into the woods, flopping on his knees everywhere and anywhere to pray! There are a number of reputations I could prick in that same fashion. It always struck me in the War, how honest and direct the private soldiers were—how superior they were, in the main, to their officers. They would freely unbosom to me—tell me of their experiences—perhaps go into minutest details—always, however, as if everything was a matter of fact, was of no value—as if nothing was of enough significance to be bragged of. Their stories justified themselves—did not need to be argued about. My intuitions rarely made a mistake: I believed or did not believe in certain men because—and that was all the reason I had for it. I could always distinguish between a veteran and a tyro: the don't-cry, the calmness, the entire absence of priggishness in the veteran was obvious, conclusive, at once."
 
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     W. contrasted the punctiliousness of Lee and the freedom of Grant. "Grant was the typical Western man: the plainest, the most efficient: was the least imposed upon by appearances, was most impressive in the severe simplicity of his flannel shirt and his utter disregard for formal military etiquette. Lee had great qualities his own but these were the greatest. I could appreciate such contrasts: I lived in the time, on the spot: I lived in the midst of the life and death vigils of those fearful years—in the camps, in the hospitals, in the fiercest ferment of events."

     We talked some about a Miller letter—an old letter. W. said of it: "It takes me back and sets me forward. Joaquin himself lit a pretty good torch at the divine fire. The singers come sometimes in streams—spiritual streams: are swept into the world, out of the world again, fortified by anonymous inspirations, not great or little in themselves, seeming to be in the round-up only a voice to utter the dreams, hopes faiths, of the people. If you look at it that way the best man is not enough best to be vain of his performances." Asked me: "Can you read Miller's letter? I always have trouble with his handwriting."


N. Y. Apr. 16, '76.


My dear Walt Whitman:

     I met a mutual friend last evening who informed me he had just procured your books from you by mail, and I directed him, since he had been so fortunate and knew how to do it, to write at once for me and have the books sent to the Windsor Hotel.

     Well I am not living at the Windsor, and in fact have no fixed abode. Besides, I want your name written in the books if not asking too much for so little. And so on reflection I have decided to write you that when you receive my order through Mr. Johnston, you will please write in the books, saying they are from you to me, and then lay them to one side and I will call and get them next month. For when the Centennial opens I want to bring you some friends who are so anxious to meet the good and the great gray Poet. Thine.

     Of course it is idle for me to congratulate you on your accession

 
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to immortality and your well deserved renown. I will only say that my soul and my sympathy all go out towards you and I often think of you as the one lone tree that tops us all, battered by storm and blown but still holding your place, serene and satisfied.

     Hoping to see you early in May—Good bye and the gods be with you.




Joaquin Miller.

     W. laughed as he said: "Some newspaper man in New York who wrote as though he saw Miller with me somewhere said: 'Their poetry may be no good but there's no discount on their curls.' And he said something more. He said: 'If hair is poetry then Walt Whitman ought to be a great success.' So you see everybody is not deceived by our disguise. I can't make out all the arguments on the other side: some of them are not clear: but this man was a good shot. Don't you think he was good shot enough to bring down his game? Or maybe he was a barber in masquerade." So W. talked amusedly. I had a letter from Stedman today. Read some of it to W. who said: "I disapprove of the calendar anyway—will therefore not grieve if it fails to go through. Stedman is generous to take an interest in it. I am proud, you know, Horace, when I think of Stedman as my friend—but you know the wife, mother, of that household is no less my friend: that sets me up extra high. I have been more than lucky in the women I have met: a woman is always heaven or hell to a man—mostly heaven: she don't spend much of her time on the border-lines." W. asked me to write to Burroughs. "Tell him that for the past week I have really been getting a certain sort of grip on things again. Tell him it looked like total ruin but that our stock threatens to retrieve itself." Signed for me two portraits I received from Mrs. Talcott Williams. Also give me a five pound note to have cashed for him. "I got rooting into old things today by accident. I asked Mary for something that was down stairs and she brought up an entire basket, which I am now sorting out. You are liable to get a number of

 
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rag-babies before I get through with my scavengering." This is the Stedman letter:

44 East 26th st.,

New York, Aug. 12, '88.


Dear Mr. Traubel,

     My thanks for your very good note. But surely I still possess the means and the privilege of joining, for the present, in a matter which you make so light for each member of the Circle. I only meant to intimate that I am unable to apply any noteworthy sum, in view of my obligations. . . . . . . . . . Nor can I pledge any contributions for an indefinite period. But I can easily spare three dollars a month, and must beg you to receive now the enclosed six dollars for August and September, and also to let me know if any special sum is needed at any time.

     Don't speak to Walt of the following. The calendar reached me August 1st, long after all Christmas books &c. had been arranged for by the book-trade. The Scribners say that they think it admirable, and more likely to "take" than any other calendar that could be devised; but that the calendar idea has been worked to death, overdone, and they have resolved not to issue one henceforth. The Cassell's are now considering the matter, but I fear it is quite too late for this year.

     You may tell Walt that I have selected thirteen pages of his poetry, with great care, for our Library of American Literature, and am going to have him well represented. I hope Linton will let us use his engraving. If not we will make a new engraving of W. W. for vol. VIII.


Sincerely yours,


E. C. Stedman.

     I did not read W. the first part of Stedman's letter. He does not know how I am paying for the nurse. The "circle" is my own creation. I read him the calendar matter, in spite of Stedman's interdiction, because I knew he was not stuck on the idea of piecemeal selections made from his book—would rather

 
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have the scheme fail than succeed. W. said of the letter: "The cut belongs to me still—it is not Linton's: say yes to Stedman—yes, yes. Have you read all the note, Horace. All I should hear? Eh? Just so—just so. Give him my love. I haven't things ready-made to say to him. Just give him my love. Let him know too—or I will let him know—that his hospitality to me, to the Leaves, in his big book is taken by me for what it is intended to signify." W. every now and then will reel out this couplet:

"Not heaven itself upon the past has power,
But what has been has been—and I have had my hour."

Today I found it written in his hand on an old slip of paper with this superscription: "Horace, translated (improved) by Dryden."

 
Wednesday, August 15, 1888.

     W. physically bad today. Called at 10.30. Sat reading papers. Nurse said he stayed up unusually late last evening. Generally turns in about ten. Last night it was eleven. When I asked W. how he felt he replied: "How do I feel? only so-so, only so-so." He had read Lüders' paper in last Saturday's American. "Somebody sent it to me—it came in Sunday's mail: I read it—not critically—scanned it, ran over it. It's not bad—only it lacks guts.""I like the way some people say no better than the way some other people say yes," I put in. "Exactly—exactly: so do I: this man says neither in a way to excite my admiration. I admire a good many of my enemies more than I admire some of my friends. If these fellows would only read Leaves of Grass—read it through their eyes rather than through their prejudices: but when they condemn it without reading it—that's what nettles me. Lüders (how do you pronounce his name?) gags at my 'catalogues.' Oh God! how tired I get of hearing that said about the 'catalogues!' I resolved at the start to diagnose, recognize, state, the case of the mechanics,

 
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laborers, artisans, of America—to get into the stream with them—give them a voice in literature: not an echoed voice—no: their own voice—that which they had never had before. I meant to do this naturally, however—not with apologies—not to lug them in by the neck and heels, in season and out of season, where they did belong and where they didn't belong—but to welcome them to their legitimate superior place—to give them entrance and lodgment by all fair means. Maybe I have failed, maybe I have succeeded—but whatever, my intention has always remained clear, unshakable. I have often heard the dismal growl—here, Walt Whitman, what do you mean?—the shadow of the same axe has always been on my head: has been made the staple of quite a number of the brilliant assaults of which I have been the victim. I have never budged—never. I have had five or six chances to revise—to concede a point here and there to conciliate the howlers: Leaves of Grass has gone through a number of editions since those objections were first promulged: but the more I consider my purpose, my early and now confirmed end, aim, hope, the more the propriety, the justice, the inevitability, of all I have done is driven in upon me."

     He paused. I was wholly silent. He then went on with the same line of thought: "I have deeper reason than all that however: a reason deeper than reasons—a reason that always seems conclusive, to say the last word—the conviction that the thing is because it is, being what it is because it must be just that—as a tree is a tree, a river a river, the sky the sky. A curious affinity exists right there between me and the Quakers, who always say, this is so or so because of some inner justifying fact—because it could not be otherwise. I remember a beautiful old Quakeress saying to me once: 'Walt—I feel thee is right—I could not tell why but I feel thee is right!'—and that seemed to me to be more significant than much that passes for reason in the world."

     I wrote to Stedman and Burroughs today repeating his messages. W. said: "John particularly will be glad to hear I am on the mend. Tell him all the favorable things you can but don't

 
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brag." W. copied Taps for Donaldson today. "I don't know what got into his noddle, but he seemed to be particularly urgent in the matter. He did not come over—he wrote." Handed him cash for the English note. Alluding to one of his poems I said: "Things you write sometimes may lack the formal body but they certainly contain the soul of a poem.""Do you say that deliberately? The trouble with most poems is that they are nothing but poems—all poetry, all literary, not in any way human." Not entirely satisfied with the Linton portrait: "It is good—I have always thought it good—rather rough as a woodcut, but if rough then like me. It fails in one thing surely, if in no other thing—in the eyes—and fails there as much and much in the same fashion as Hollyer does. My eyes are by no means bright, liquid, startling—no, not a bit that sort of eyes: they are rather dull—rather sluggish—to be pictured, as I often say, by what they are not rather than by what they are."

     The Herald poem now being copied everywhere as Taps was sent in as Interpolations. "What are taps?" he asked me. "I have a dim notion of the truth in my brain but I am not confident I know. I want you to ask the first soldier you meet for a lucid explanation—then I want you to repeat his explanation to me. As I guess at it now it is a military good-night—a last sort of ceremony before turning in—the final message of the drums before sleep. It has a certain kind of solemn significance: I notice that the soldiers attach great sentiment to it—regard it with great respect."

     An actor, Nestor Lennon, sent up his name. W. handed the card to me. "Who is it—do you know?" Musgrove intervened: "He says he's in the profession." "The profession," smiling—"yes, I see—that's the way they speak of it: the Jews speak of the people. Anyhow," finally said W., "tell him to come up—it won't hurt—but tell him, too, it must be only for a minute—or two minutes." Lennon came up—stayed ten minutes. He made a lot of formal remarks to W., who took them with rather a bored air. He then asked for some autographs. W. gave him three. Lennon said: "One of these is for Steele Mackaye."

 
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W. thereupon monologued a bit: "I have a weakness for actors—they seem to have a weakness for me: that makes our meetings rather like family affairs." Then asked Lennon: "Do you like your business real well?" When Lennon got up to go he cleared his throat, hitched his trousers, scratched his head and blurted out to W. as if it was a hard job to get his message delivered right: "Mr. Whitman, do you need money? I've been delegated to ask you whether you need money. I know a hundred actors in places about and in New York who would like to get together and give you a benefit." W. was visibly touched. He frankly offered Lennon his hand and said with a voice that was shaken with emotion: "God bless you—God bless you all—for that! I have enough money, more than enough, for all my earthly wants, so I need not acquiesce in your beautiful plans: but you make me happy, nevertheless. I shall feed on your good will for many a day to come. Tell all the boys what I have said to you about that—give them my love." As Lennon was withdrawing W. added: "The English theatrical people have always seemed to like me—Irving has been here—Wilson Barrett, too: I have had letters from Ellen Terry: then there is Bram Stoker—he has treated me like a best son." Lennon was not to be outdone: "Yes I know, Mr. Whitman: they like you, no doubt—like you: but we—we love you." After Lennon was gone W. said: "Did you notice how he set his American love up against the English like? It was very pretty, Horace. And his offer—what did you think of that? It was very handsome—it took me unawares—almost bowled me over."

     W. pointed to a pile of letters and papers on the table. "That came out of the grab-basket Mary brought up stairs. Most of it will eventually go to you, no doubt: you'd starve to death if I didn't feed you! I will look it all through as I can—report to you on it from time to time. You must possess your soul in patience. And by the way, our 'surprise,' that we have talked so much about, has threatened to be a boomerang." I pricked up my ears. Was the revelation about to come? He saw my interested face. "Are you ready for it?" I laughingly replied:

 
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"I'm leanin' up against myself strong!" He took this in a jolly way. "How good that is—leanin' up against yourself! That's about the best any man can do when he needs support. But to go back to the surprise, I don't mind telling you about it—also, why it has hung fire. You remember I have several times promised you a couple of Bayard Taylor letters I knew I had? The letters turned up one day awhile ago in a mess of things when I wasn't looking for 'em. That night when I first mentioned the surprise to you was the night of the day of the find. I wanted to read the letters again before I passed 'em over to you. The next day when I looked for the letters they were gone. They had evidently got pushed back into chaos again. And so every day until today. Today I found one of the letters. Where the devil the other is I don't know. I won't wait for the other before giving you this because we had better secure our prizes when we have them. You will take this along with you and chew on it and tell me how it strikes you. When the other finally shows up again we will put that with this. This rare game seems hard to bag. I have very particular reasons for wishing to get these letters into your hands where they may be kept and used on occasion in the future. Things said of me in the Tribune and by way of gossip attributed to Taylor in recent years will find a foil in the cordial warmth, the enthusiasm almost, of these two volunteered letters." I started to open the letter right where I was. "No, not now," said W., "open it in broad daylight when you can get it in a sunny perspective."

 
Thursday, August 16, 1888.

     Day awful hot. W. about knocked out. Calm, however. Read some, wrote some. W. had a note from the Philadelphia office of the Herald: this:


Aug. 15, 1888.


Dear Mr. Whitman:

     Won't you read over carefully Amelie Rives' poem in today's Herald and give an expert's opinion of it for publication in the Herald? I will call for this tomorrow,

 
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for I am sure you will have something instructive to say about the poem.


Very truly yours,


C. H. Browning.

     W. mad as fire. "Sure? is he? Sure? Damn his 'sure!' I know nothing about Mrs. Chanler—I have never read a thing she has written. Besides, I did not see The Herald—it is not sent here any more. And there was more than that to it, too. The letter seemed to me impertinent, impudent, if not worse: that 'expert' fling, now—what do you make out of that? Browning don't know me or he would have chosen his words and his manners a little better. He sent his message and then would send his boy for the stuff the next day! I was under orders, you see—an 'expert' under orders—to write something about a writer whose writings I had never seen. Well, the boy appeared today, and when Mr. Musgrove came up and said he was there I sent word back that Walt Whitman was a very sick man and had no goods to deliver. I think this is Browning's own little spec: I don't believe it was suggested from headquarters. I sent the Sheridan piece to The Herald because I knew Sheridan, for one reason, and because they asked for that—did not demand it. I don't see why I am to be bothered to put myself on record on any and every subject in order merely to satisfy a newspaper's desire for a sensation." W. said after he was calmed down: "There's a letter from Bucke. Read it."


London, Ont., Aug. 15, 1888.




     I received last evening the last pages of the book. I admire the Elias Hicks greatly and think I understand the drift of it. Do not think you have ever written better prose. It is altogether an admirable and most valuable piece. I shall write more at length another day. Am rather crowded this morning. I think I shall remodel my piece (that I sent Walsh of Lippincott's) and make it into a review of the new volume. Perhaps in that shape I shall get some "able editor" to print it. I have

 
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seen your little piece on Sheridan (one of them). You must be coming round finely to be able to write so vigorously. All well here. A little warmer today.




R. M. Bucke.

     W. said: "Bucke is eligible to approve, to be pleased, to accept: his yeas are not surprises." Concluded to make the first edition of November Boughs a thousand copies. Showed him a Tacoma paper which contained his portrait and a lament over his "approaching death." W. laughed. "Thank you Mr. Critic—you're cheerful! Death is always approaching, but Horace and I have a job of work to do before we bow it into the house and ask it to sit down—eh, Horace?" After a bit he suddenly said: "And, now, Horace, what about the Taylor letter? Did you read it? There was no ahem and ahaw in that letter, do you think? Have you got the letter in your pocket? Yes? Read it to me."


Kennett Square, Penna.

Nov. 12, 1866.


My dear Sir:

     I send to you by the same mail which takes this note, a copy of my last poem The Picture of St. John. I do not know whether the subject of the poem (the growth and development of the artist-nature, and its relations to life) will much interest you, but I hope you will here and there find something drawn immediately from nature. I am, at least, not aware that anything in the book is simulated or forced: whether successful or not, it is an honest conscientious effort.

     I value, above all things, sincerity in literature; hence I am not one of those who overlook your remarkable powers of expression, your broad, vital reverence for humanity, because some things you have said repel them. The age is over-squeamish, and, for my part, I prefer the honest nude to the suggestive half-draped. I think the proper question to be asked is: does a certain thing need to be said? If so, let it be said! The worst form of immorality, I have found, veils itself in decent words.

     There is one quality I recognize in you, which warmly and

 
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constantly attracts me. That is, your deep and tender reverence for Man—your unwearied, affectionate, practical fraternity. There is too little of this quality in the world, and the race will be better and happier in proportion as it is manifested.

     I shall be in Washington on the 27th of December, to lecture, and hope that I shall then be able to meet you personally. If you can spare me an hour or two after the lecture, you will greatly oblige


Your friend,


Bayard Taylor.

     The letter was addressed to W. at Washington. W. endorsed the envelope: "from Bayard Taylor Nov. 16, 1866." As I finished reading W. asked: "Well—what do you say to that? That don't sound like the note of a man who was in great doubt, does it? I don't make too much of such things. They come and go—or they don't come: and if they don't come, that is right too. But I find the Taylor of that time interesting because people say (the gossips say) the Taylor of today won't have me on any terms—hates to hear my name mentioned. I don't know about it all: men do change their minds: the Taylor who did like me may be wrong, the Taylor who does not like me (if there is such a Taylor) may be right. Who knows? Who knows? I wish I had the other letter now for you to read—it puts a finish on the little story. Damn it, I wonder where that letter got to? Sometimes I'm all in a heap here—goods, chattels, anything, myself with everything, all in a heap." After a laugh he added: "No matter what the fellers said, didn't say—no matter for the curses, the blessings—no matter for anything, I had to stick to my business. If I had stopped to dispute with my enemies, even to dally or luxuriate with my friends, the book would have gone begging. The book—the book: that was always the thing!"

     Picked up a copy of the Press and threw it down again with a gesture of disgust: "I hate the bigotry of the high-tariffites. Even Blaine, I notice, thinks that a revenue reformer is in

 
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English pay—or says he thinks so: is a foe to the republic—a wilful marplot—bent upon the enslavement of labor. Read this paper: did you ever see anything more absolutely asinine than its attitude on this question? Charles Emory Smith might be a king among asses, but among philosophers—well, I wouldn't like to say what he would be among philosophers. Even Williams, Talcott, seems to have given in to the pressure—the hue and cry of the provincials—yet, if I recollect rightly, Talcott's view of five years ago was quite different. I do not say this from what I know but from what I infer. Talcott always impressed me as being on the liberal side of such questions."

     I had a long Wissahickon walk with Harrison Morris today. W. asked me about it. We had talked a great deal about W. I repeated some cardinal things. W. said: "It is likely you got more warmed up on that subject than I do or should. If they call me no poet then no-poet it may be. I don't care what they call me—by one name or another name—it is all one—so that I produce the result—so that I get my work spoken and heard—maybe move men and women. Morris should read Bucke's book—read it without prejudice. Bucke does not argue—does not fuss: makes a calm, almost cold, statement, like a man of exact science—then drops the point. It is hard for a man born, bred, luxuriating in the conventions, to shake that all off. Sloane Kennedy was five or six years ago just where Morris is now—still floundering among the canons—and in the end came around all right. Why, Kennedy was almost violently opposed for a time. Kennedy is a thinker, thoroughly original—a strong man on many sides—and such a student is rather more eligible for the freer processes, more sensitive to the newer intimations, than the ordinary literary dabbler. Yet I feel a little as though Morris left to himself—the reins thrown down, the ways everywhere left wide open for ingress and egress—may yet escape the professional tangle and take his place with the elect outcasts. The tendency of art is all towards the delicate, the refined, the polished: that I am forced to eschew—it is outside, it would vitiate my purpose. Well, what's the use fighting over the

 
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matter? Time will settle it one way or the other—time, and what goes with time: settle it better than any immediate hammering—any high-handed disputation. What people won't see as it stands in the fact they won't see much better if at all in our dogmatism about the fact. As to Leaves of Grass—the literary man pure and simple will never acknowledge it: its premises are so different from those upon which he stakes his theories of art." I said: "It's queer about Morris—when we are walking out in the country he's always complaining of the mathematics of goodness—of the trees planted in a row: but don't Morris plant all his art-trees in a row?" W. laughed several times over and asked: "Did you fellers go walking today just to have it out with each other?—to fight that fight to a finish—to settle that question?"

     Tomorrow we get our plate-proofs. Burroughs is to come here for a visit in September. "I expect you and John to take a shine to each other. I need not tell you about your own virtues—but John's virtues? Well, they are many and they are the kind of virtues you like. John is never a gamble—he is always a sure risk." W. asked me: "Horace, what is this Henry George thing—this single tax fandangle: tell me about it: tell me all you know: I hear so much said for it, against it, that I feel as if I should know what all the fireworks are about." I talked for the next half hour about Progress and Poverty. He asked a lot of questions—led me to explain the theory in a way to make it clear to him. Finally he said: "That'll do: now I begin to know what the hullaballoo means. It's a plausible scheme, too, it seems to me, at first blush. I have no doubt the statisticians could come along and disprove it—but what can't they disprove? Somehow men live and think and love and have their being in spite of statistics."

     W. spoke dismally of American maternity this evening. "Our women don't seem to be any longer built for child-bearing. We have gone on for so long hurting the body that the job of rehabilitating it seems prodigious if not impossible. The time will come when the whole affair of sex—copulation, reproduction—

 
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will be treated with the respect to which it is entitled. Instead of meaning shame and being apologized for it will mean purity and will be glorified."
 
Friday, August 17, 1888.

     W. sat in his room reading Scott's The Antiquary. 7.45 evening. He laid his book down. "Ah, Horace, is that you? And what have you done, learned, today?" For his own part he had read, written letters and received two reporters—one from the Camden Courier and one from the Philadelphia Press. Gave me a copy of As a Strong Bird, inscribed: "John Clifford, Aug: 21st '88 from Walt Whitman and Horace Traubel.""There is your little book," he said—"is that what you wanted?" "Aunt Mary," an old woman who often comes in to help Mrs. Davis, had a stroke of paralysis in W.'s kitchen this evening. W. concerned but not worried. A carriage drove up to the door. "That's for the old lady," he said: "Go down and see if you can help: I wish I could do so myself." Later on he exclaimed again: "Oh! how I should like to go down to Aunt Mary's home to see how she fares!"

     He seemed suddenly to have thought of something in danger of being forgotten. Reached forward to the table—picked up a letter. "Hurrah!" he cried, shaking it in the air. I repeated: "Hurrah!" and then asked: "But what is it?" He laughed gaily. "It's the Taylor letter, damn it—didn't you guess?" and before I could have replied he added: "It was here on the table all the time, of course, under a lot of other things. Now we have it let's keep it." He passed it across to me. "It's a warm letter," he added—"about as warm as the weather. Read it for yourself, read it for yourself! Seeing is believing: just look at it." I quoted my dentist who got off an old saw while he was working on one of my sensitive teeth: "Seeing is believing but feeling is the naked truth." W. laughed again: "That would not be regarded as quite proper but it's true, nevertheless. Read the letter to me: you will feel its naked truth before you get through." I asked W.: "Why is it you

 
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have lately had me read so many things to you that you were already perfectly familiar with?""I don't know—read, read, and ask no questions." So I read.

Kennett Square, Penna., Dec. 2, 1866.


My dear Whitman:

     I find your book and cordial letter, on returning home from a lecturing tour in New York, and heartily thank you for both. I have had the first edition of your Leaves of Grass among my books, since its first appearance, and have read it many times. I may say, frankly, that there are two things in it which I find nowhere else in literature, though I find them in my own nature. I mean the awe and wonder and reverence and beauty of Life, as expressed in the human body, with the physical attraction and delight of mere contact which it inspires, and that tender and noble love of man for man which once certainly existed, but now almost seems to have gone out of the experience of the race. I think there is nothing in your volume which I do not fully comprehend in the sense in which you wrote; I always try to judge an author from his own standpoint rather than mine, but in this case the two nearly coincide. We should differ rather in regard to form than substance, I suspect. There is not one word of your large and beautiful sympathy for men, which I cannot take into my own heart, nor one of those subtle and wonderful physical affinities you describe which I cannot comprehend. I say these things, not in the way of praise, but because I know from my own experience that correct appreciation of an author is less frequent than it should be. It is welcome to me, and may be so to you.

     I did not mean to write so much when I commenced, and will only say that I shall be in Washington on the 27th—only for that night—and would be very glad if we can come together for awhile after my lecture is over. I am afraid I shall not arrive in time to call at the Dep't before the lecture, but if I can I will. If not, will you either come to Willard's or tell me where to find you, and oblige


Your friend,


Bayard Taylor.

 
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     W. said: "Taylor has been of recent years quoted against me—especially against the sex poems. Now, it is precisely on that point that the declarations of his letter are the most unqualified and decisive. What are we to believe? It would be easy to quote one Taylor against the other—but which against and which for?" He smiled good-naturedly: "I prefer to believe in the Taylor of my letters even if it does smack of egotism for me to do so.""Are you afraid of being accused of egotism?""Hardly afraid—I am accused. I say just this: I hear all sorts of vague stories about Taylor nowadays—vague stories which may be false or true. Now, here are two letters: they are in his hand, he signed them, they are not vague. Why shouldn't I believe the letters?"

     He said reflectively after awhile: "I wouldn't know what to do, how to comport myself, if I lived long enough to become accepted, to get in demand, to ride the crest of the wave. I would have to go scratching, questioning, hitching about, to see if this was the real critter, the old Walt Whitman—to see if Walt Whitman had not suffered a destructive transformation—become apostate, formal, reconciled to the conventions, subdued from the old independence. I have adjusted myself to the negative condition—have adjusted myself for opposition, denunciation, suspicion: the revolution, therefore, would have to be very violent indeed to whip me round to the other situation." He stopped to laugh. "But I guess there is no immediate danger: I am not very near such a crisis. I remember when Swinburne at last turned against me, John Burroughs said he felt that things were coming right again—that things had got back to their equilibrium—that the inexplicable community of admiration between him and Swinburne had come to its legitimate end—had had to perish of its own dead weight. John seemed to think that for the two of them to say the same things about me would prove either that Burroughs was not Burroughs or Walt Whitman wasn't Walt Whitman. Then came the Swinburne outburst: presto! the air was cleared: John breathed free again! It is a good story to know and tell.

 
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I don't feel myself like damning Swinburne for saving himself!" W.'s little sallies of humor like this are always quiet. His laugh is a silent one—yet infectious. "Swinburne has his own bigness: he is not to be drummed out of all camps because he does not find himself comfortable in our camp." I said: "The people who instance Tennyson and Swinburne as masters of poetic form should not forget that both of them have in later years taken all sorts of liberties with the code." W. nodded an assent: "It is indeed so: so with Swinburne, so with Tennyson: almost phenomenally so."

     Commenting on Bucke's approval of the Hicks piece: "I have not yet adjusted myself to it: I cannot tell today or tomorrow what will be my own matured impression. Judgment never comes to me in a hurry. My first notion is one of disappointment. That comes because I am at the moment too sensitive concerning the thing I did not do. Some day I will get the matter in another perspective—maybe see that it after all possesses qualities that excuse its creation." Talked of Browning's letter: "I am glad he did not come over in person: if he had done so I might have been tempted to see him—then there would have been a storm—and a storm would earn no sort of profitable interest on my present capital." Some one had been in to take W.'s picture. W. said: "So you think every man will by and by be his own photographer, painter, shoemaker, again? Well—who knows? The world is turning around again towards the simple—the condition in which each man may supply his own needs. A day may yet arrive to find us grown aboriginal again—civilized aboriginal if I may say so."

     W. says he misses Kennedy's "old-time letters." "He used to write martial letters—warlike letters: was up in arms about things. He got about a good deal, saw people, had a story to tell. Now he seems too busy. When Kennedy was passing through the early stages of his faith in the Leaves—the first fervors of conversion—he made Whitman the password: opposed to Walt Whitman opposed to me—that sort of chip-on-

 
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the-shoulder business: so that in ways Sloane got unpopular—people avoided him—they didn't want to hear his wild Indian ideas, and so forth." I brought W. over today plate proofs, three sets, to page 125. Has finally decided to make the price of the book one dollar. Has finally decided "no" as to de luxe copies. "I want no autocrat editions." Heat intense all day and evening. "I manage to stay—to hold on—that's about all."

     I met Edward Coates today—husband of Florence Earle. He asked me about W.'s autograph editions and the Cox portraits. "The curio collector is from everlasting to everlasting," said W., "but he has his parts, too. Some of my old editions, which I could not give away at the time, now bring fabulous prices, ridiculous prices: it beats the devil, the ups and downs of authorship—especially the downs: I've had my fill and fill again of the downs. Yes, tell the Coates people—Mrs., Mr. Coates—to come over: I will see them." Then said as to the Cox portraits: "Advise Coates to go to see William Carey—no doubt Coates is often in New York (those men are): send him, then, to my friend Carey: Carey puts up with the Century Company—works there. Carey has the photographs, all duly autographed. If Coates goes let him know that I like one of the pictures in particular—the laughing philosopher, I call it—and one other, perhaps as well—my head resting in my hands forward, this way"—indicating—"and always, of course, the unsilvered copies—always those. And should you want one of the heads, Horace, I want to give it to you." I objected: "It would be robbery." "No—no: I want to and you must let me do it." Again: "Pictures are partial—they give a dash of a man, a phase: many are called but few are chosen: there is a success here and there to a hundred failures. I guess they all hint at the man—even Herbert's, maybe, strange as that may seem. The very worst place in the world to put Herbert's picture would be right next to Eakins'. It would be sure death." W. gave me a Washington relic which he had endorsed as "Pass Burnside's Army Jan. '63." It read this way:

 
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Headquarters Rg D.

Near Falmouth Dec 27 1862.

     Pass the bearer Walter Whitman, a citizen, to Washington Rail R. and government steamer.


By command of
Maj Gen Sumner


I N Taylor
Chief of Staff Actg—

     W. said nothing much about it: "Would you like that for a curio? It won't pass for money—". I laughed and said "pass?" and he said "pass?" after me, adding: "Did you ever know me to pun? It's not in my line at all. I am guilty of most the real bad sins but that bad sin I never acquired."

 
Saturday, August 18, 1888.

     7 P.M. W. on bed. Greeted me heartily, though quietly, as usual. Is never boisterous. Said concerning his health: "I hold on, as you see, but only hold on: I am not slipping down nor am I climbing up." Both Musgrove and Mrs. Davis spoke of his pallor all day. The heat is hurting him. Our talk was mostly in the dark, W. staying on the bed, I sitting over under the lowered light. Referred sympathetically to the old Aunt Mary. Then said: "Bucke's book about me is not to be skipped. I like it better now than I did when it first appeared. It is strong, suggestive: I have not always realized its full importance. It is not conclusive, of course: Doctor is a bit too much on our side, in a sense. I do not lay much stress upon his explications—upon his inferences—upon his far-away speculations: I esteem the book for its atmosphere, ruggedness, simplicity—for something that is almost like a wholesome brutality. The best thing about the book would seem to be the fact that you must go back to it if you would possess yourself of its whole truth—it has a new suggestiveness each time."

     I asked W. what he knew of Kennedy's Whitman. "What do I know of it?" asked W.: "Well, I know something but not

 
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much. It is full of dash, spirit, side-flash, sparkle: whether it has any spinal thread—of that I am none too certain. Kennedy is like a brilliant soldier—a leader of cavalry—full of ability to go, to push on to an objective point—to invent means, to revise prejudices, to meet unexpected crises." "A Sheridan, perhaps," I suggested. "Yes," nodded W., "a Sheridan—and that is a remarkably good parallel: a Sheridan, full of the fire of action, the romance of achievement: and yet far-seeing, too, and not to have his philosophical importance belittled." I quoted my observation made in a discussion about W. "You fellows admit to me that versification rules do not constitute poetry, and yet you say Whitman is not a poet because he ignores versification rules." W. exclaimed: "What an upset that must have been for their apple carts, to be sure. But I doubt if our hot and heavy arguments in themselves make an impression on the reactionaries."

     W. received copies of Notes and Queries. "I suppose they came from Mr. Hunter. The paper is a mystery to me. I doubt if it can last—there's not enough curiosity of the sort to back it up in this country. It might get on in England because there we are ushered into an entirely different situation—lords with so many thousands a year, leisure, backgrounds of lineage, old colleges—seats of learning—a great literary class: a dawdling, temporizing aristocracy trying and failing to fill out an empty life. The paper takes up the most trivial questions—questions of origins—questions of literary finesse—of words, axioms, proverbs, colloquialisms, slang, and God knows what and God knows what not. After a long debate over the question of the first authorship of this or that famous phrase, for instance—one fellow with two columns, another with four, another (going from worse to worse still) with six—then number one with two columns more: after all this I find myself just where I was before with the confusion become aggravated. There's the word 'flunkey': who first used it, why was it first used: has its meaning remained what it was: and so on and so on and so on: all about flunkey. So they set to, all fours, tooth and nail, and

 
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discuss it ad nauseum—in the end with no approach to the truth on either side and little good feeling. This may be compensated for in one way, I suppose, by very interesting and valuable sidelights that may be developed in the course of the controversy: though I must say that, like all argument, or much of it, the results have not at all come up to the value of what was sacrificed in the struggle."

     W. let me read and was willing I should take his draft of an old letter to Schmidt. A mem. on the letter said: "Books sent to Mr. Clausen to send." The letter was short:


Dec. 7, 1871.


Rudolf Schmidt,
Kopenhagen, Denmark.

      Dear Sir: I have received (through Mr. Clausen) your letter of 19th October from Kopenhagen, and I cheerfully forward you my poems Leaves of Grass and a small prose work Democratic Vistas. I also enclose several articles and criticisms, written about my book in England and America, within the last ten years. May I say there is something about your letter and application that has deeply pleased me. How I should like to know your country and people—and especially you yourself, and your poet Björnson and Hans Andersen. How proud I should be to become known to you all. Pray let me hear from you, and if the books and papers reach you.

     My address is Washington, D. C. United States of America.






     "That" said W., "must have been one of the first letters I wrote Schmidt. The north countries were always miracle countries to me, somehow. I was particularly interested in the Norwegian Björnson. He sent me his picture once. It is that of a Viking: powerful, inflexible, clean: a face of humanity, purpose: a face of the ideal. Norway has made her best men much bigger than her own size—has made them men of world-dimensions; Ibsen, Björnson, the others." One of the things W. had laid out for me from the big budget was a Garland letter:

 
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"The first to me from him, I think: the original avowal. If you don't mind I will have you read it aloud as you sit there under the light. Turn the light up a bit: yes, that is right. I will stay where I am and listen: I'm so confounded comfortable I don't want to move." He had laid the letter on the top of the pile where I had found it at his direction.

Jamaica Plain, Boston, Mass.,

Nov. 24, 1886.


Mr. Walt Whitman.

     It is with profound sorrow that I read in the papers the news that you are again suffering from your old trouble. I trust it is not so serious as reported. My regard for you is so great that I am very sorry not to be able to buy more copies of your book and thus give a more substantial token of sympathy.

     I am an enthusiastic reader of your books, both volumes of which I have within reach of hand. I am, everywhere in my talking and writing, making your claims felt and shall continue to do so. I have demonstrated (what of course you know) that there is no veil, no impediment, between your mind and your audience, when your writings are voiced ["That's a point to chew on!" W. exclaimed, breaking in: "Read it again: I want to get it clear in my noddle for keeps!"] The formlessness is only seeming, not real. I have never read a page of your poetry, or quoted a line, that has not commanded admiration. The music is there and the grandeur of thought is there, if the reader reads guided by the sense and not by the external lining or paragraphing. Even very young pupils feel the thrill of the deep rolling music though the thought may be too profound for them to grasp. In a course of lectures before the Boston School of Oratory last summer I made a test of the matter. I do not think a single pupil held out against my arguments supplemented by readings from your work. The trouble is they get at your work through the daily press or through the defenders of Longfellow or Tennyson (whom it is supposed you utterly antagonize). When it is brought to them by one whose appreciates

 
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and measurably understands your methods and ideals, I do not think there is any doubt of the favorable result. I have found much opposition but it was mostly ignorant or misled.

     I am a young man of very ordinary attainments and do not presume to do more than give you a glimpse of the temper of that public which would not do you wrong, deliberately, but who by reason of the causes hinted at above, fail to get at the transcendent power of Leaves of Grass. If I have given you the impression that I believe in you and strive to interpret you, you will not feel that I over-stepped the privilege of a pupil in the presence of a great teacher.

     The enclosed slip is a meagre outline of a volume which I am writing and which I hope to get out this coming spring. As the motto page of this volume I have used a paragraph from your Collect which is entitled Foundation Stages—then Others. While it is not strictly essential to the book, yet I should esteem it a favor if you would consent to its use. One sentence, "In nothing is there more evolution than in the American mind," I have also used in company with Spencer's great law of progress upon my title page. It helped to decide the title, which is: The Evolution of American Thought: an outline study of the leading phases of American literature, etc. In the latter part of the volume I have treated of the Age of Democracy and its thought, taking as foundation the splendid utterances of M. Taine upon the modern age. It is in this chapter that I place your work. I quote from you quite largely both in treating of your writings and in treating the general theme of present and future democratic ideals. I hope to be able please you with my treatment of your great work. Beside this I am preparing special lectures upon the same subject. Have you any objection to the quotations which I find it necessary to use?

     In conclusion let me say that without any bias in your favor (rather the opposite from newspapers) your poems thrilled me, reversed many of my ideas, confirmed me in others, helped to make me what I am. I am a border-man,—born in Wisconsin and raised on the prairie frontier. I am a disciple of Mr. Spencer

 
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and therefore strive at comparative methods of criticism. That your poems should thus convert me, is to me a revelation of their power, especially when I can convince others in the same manner.

     And now revered friend (for I feel you are a friend) think of me as one of who radiates the principles of the modern age, and who will in his best manner (poor at best) strive to make his hearers and readers better aware of the "Good Gray Poet" and his elemental lines.

     Your readers are increasing, and may you live to see the circle infinitely extended is my fervent hope. I do not expect a reply to this other than the signification whether I may quote you or not. I wish I might see and talk with you but that is not possible—except through your volumes.


I am most sincerely yours,


Hamlin Garland.

     I said to W.: "Garland's practice of reading you aloud is one that Ingersoll, too, has told me he followed.""How so? What did the Colonel say?""That all great literature lent itself to the lips—that you were never so impressive as when rightly read aloud.""Did he say that? How interesting that is. Is that all he said?""No—not all. He said that he often argued with people about you—that argument most times did not have much effect. He said that when he found his arguments were making no impression he resorted to your book and read from it: that the argument of the book, given in that way, was many times conclusive." W. exclaimed: "How fine! And that is probably what Garland meant, too. I shouldn't wonder but it's all true. That is a striking theory of the Colonel's: All great utterance in literature lends itself to the lips! I shall never forget that—it is very startling, incisive: it's not difficult to remember anything expressed with such piercing directness." He paused for a spell. Then went on: "Now —wasn't that a dandy letter from Garland? This was his first salutation—this was what he said when he first came along: a first confession:

 
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not an obsequious obeisance made to the ground but just a manly equal shake of the hand—like that, no more. Did you notice, too, that he speaks of himself as a borderman?—a child of the western prairies? That appeals to me—hits me hardest where I enjoy being hit. That country out there is my own country though I have mainly had to view it from afar. I always seem to expect the men and women of the West to take me in in—what shall I say?—oh! take me in in one gulp! Where the East might gag over me the West should swallow me with a free throat. That letter of Garland's was two years ago—already two years ago. He ought to do something with the West—get it into great books.""The East is like hope and the West is like more hope!" I said. W. shook his finger off the bed at me. "That's very clever—very true—Horace. Be careful—be careful: they will get you into the papers—quote you—pass you around: then your troubles will begin."

     I got up to go. W. said: "If you really find a Gilder letter right there on the top of the pile, take it—read it when you get home: I will tell you more about it to-morrow." I found the letter. It had no envelope. W. said again: "Just turn the light down a wee mite: that's it—that's it." I crossed the room to the bed, leaned over, kissed him, and left.

 
Sunday, August 19, 1888.

     Much cooler today. W. more comfortable though still weak. Sat up and read and wrote some, but "irregularly, in snatches." Towards evening started reading the plate proofs. Debated with himself the merits of wet and dry proofs—"I am inclined to the wet." Said: "It is a moot subject among printers: ask the best fellers when you see 'em—ask the Century people some day." Says sometimes his physical body threatens to break him down. But: "If we keep pegging away slowly but persistently, the book must in the end come out—if I should last, and I guess I will. But we mustn't crow until we've left the last limit of the woods behind us—till we're clean out into the open. The vicissitudes are many—the certainties few. I have got

 
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beyond the point where I make the least calculation for the morrow—for any morrow. Yet it is our chief business to plod ahead, not disturbed, frittered away, with thoughts of things that might be."

     "Aunt Mary" died this morning. W. said: "Poverty, old age, trouble, the severe heat—and then the finish! The extreme poor suffer extra burdens of life—carry an unfair load. Some day we will get all that fixed right in the world—some day after many days." W. talked like a tired man—very clear, however. "I always tell you, Horace—don't you notice?—that my mind is bound to last me out whatever becomes of my body." Spoke of the Harneds. "I suppose Tom and Frank are at Atlantic City today? And the children? Ah! The dear dear children! Horace, the Harneds are true as truth itself—they are the best thing in the midst of worst things." W. asked: "Where have you been today?—who seen?—what doing?" I said: "I have met no literary people.""Thank God!" I knew he would take it that way. He always does. But when I added: "I had a long talk with Ed Lindell at the ferry," he was at once animated and said: "Tell me about it—what had Ed to say about things in general?" "He didn't speak about things in general—he spoke mostly of you." Laughed. "That was good in Ed: but things in general would be more interesting." W. said; "When you come in I asked you, howdydo? Ain't that a good word?—howdydo. It has a phonetic significance—has pith, is straight-to. I am told that in some places west the salutation is still further abbreviated. You meet a man: you ask, How?"

     No letters today from anyone—"not a wisp." Read the Press. "The Press editorially is an empty barrel: I reach clean to the bottom and find nothing." Spoke of O'Connor: "He is a withering fire to his enemies and a sustaining fire to his friends. William has more right words for right places in him than any man I know of in America." Was delighted that I had established such friendly personal relations with the printers. "You seem to be very free there—free with the workmen themselves. That is good—good. The workman always comes before the

 
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boss—though you tell me that Ferguson himself is a fine feller and I believe you. If I could get about I would like to go there myself, to shake hands all around." W. asked me: "You seem to read a lot. Where do you do your reading?""Most of it as I go about in the boats and cars—often even in walking.""That is right—in the open air—in the midst of things: that is where life meets you in the flush. If there is anything peculiar in my work it lies just in that—in jottings of the moment, made for truth, not made for effect." My father spoke of the Twenty Years' drawings in the Magazine of Art as being "so Scotch." W. assented: "They struck me the same way: God bless the Scotch!" He mentioned the New York Herald as "exceptional among newspapers in that it now and then prints an editorial which a man can read with a clear conscience." I laughed. "I mean it: they are sometimes so good I am impelled to write to the Herald in recognition of its singular virtue." W. asked me: "You took the Gilder letter with you last night: you have said nothing about it: have you nothing to say?""I was waiting for you to say—" This is the letter.

Editorial Department of the Century Magazine,

Union Square, New York,

June 7, '83.


My dear Mr. Whitman:

     I do not know whether you saw a little paragraph in a recent number of the Critic—in the Lounger's Department. I have not seen Dr. Bucke's book, but I was told that he had done me the honor of quoting some verses of mine. I was asked whether those verses were written for the book, or about yourself, and I said "no—they were published in the magazine some time ago and were suggested by another writer." I am very sorry that paragraph appeared as it did, or at all, as it might look as if I were not a friend and admirer of the subject of the book.

     Are you coming north this summer? I wish you would come and see me at Marion, on Buzzard's Bay in Mass. If you will give me the slightest encouragement I will try to get Burroughs

 
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there to meet you. Splendid pine woods, good fishing and boating—a quiet little whaling village. Think well of it and let me know by return mail.


Very sincerely yours


R. W. Gilder.

     W. said this: "Doctor was quite set in the notion that Gilder originally meant that for me but I said no—no—it didn't seem quite likely. When Gilder himself said no Maurice was furious: he wrote me: 'Your friend has not the courage of his convictions.' I said to Maurice: 'Not so fast, not so fast: you have no right to charge up your accusing inference against Gilder.' It seems the same to me today. Gilder has always been my friend—very good friend—indeed, I may say my 'dear' friend, speaking for myself, for my own affections: but I never felt that he put me quite up where placed 'the true poet.' He may have meant his poem for somebody in particular—I don't know why, but somebody: or he may have written it at large, to apply to a situation—or maybe it was only prophetic: anyway, I do not see that it fits itself to me, necessarily. I think Maurice finally conceded that I was more right than he was—that his angry reaction of the moment was not quite the mood in which to meet the incident." I asked W.: "Did you go to Marion?""No—it was out of the question at the time, though tempting in the extreme. With Burroughs along, and the Mrs. Gilder as well as Watson himself, I'd had one of the times of my life. The Gilders have always received me without ifs and buts—I am not dead sure I have always shown them that my appreciation, my love for them, has no ifs and buts either."

     [1905. I referred the 1883 letter to Gilder—asked him if he remembered it. Here is his answer:


Editorial Department of the Century Magazine

Union Square New York, November 29, 1905.


My dear Traubel:

     This letter from me I only vaguely remember, but I think it explains itself quite clearly. They (the

 
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verses) refer evidently to my poem entitled When the True Poet Comes, which was supposed by some to have been suggested by Walt Whitman, and, when asked, I had to say it was not so suggested, as, indeed, should be evident to anyone who reads the poem carefully, because in it it says: "Manners like other men, an unstrange gear." This means that the particular poet I spoke of was conventional in his dress and bearing, which Whitman was not. I may tell you that I referred to the lack of popular appreciation of Charles DeKay's poetry—a lack which Whitman himself, strangely, as it seems, exemplifies. DeKay is surely one of our most virile and imaginative poets, as well as a great admirer of Whitman, and yet, as you know, Whitman spoke contemptuously of him. Of course I did not know that until I read your manuscript.

     I do not remember the paragraph in the Critic. If you can strike the date it would not be impossible, perhaps to find it. But you see that I say as follows: "I am very sorry that paragraph appeared as it did, or at all, as it might look as if I were not a friend and admirer of the subject of the book." The letter shows that I was such a friend and admirer way back in '83. I wish I could have got Whitman to Marion, as I tried to do. It would have been a delightful memory.


Sincerely yours,


R. W. Gilder.]

     W. said to me tonight: "Beware of the literary cliques—keep well in the general crowd: beware of book sympathies, caste sympathies. Some one said here the other day—who was it?—'Mr. Whitman you seem to have sympathy for manhood but not for authorship?' It seems to me that all real authorship is manhood—that my sympathy for manhood includes authorship even if it don't make authorship a preferred object of worship. What is authorship in itself if you cart it away from the main stream of life? It is starved, starved: it is a dead limb off the tree—it is the unquickened seed in the ground."

 
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Monday, August 20, 1888.

     W. spent today depressed—physically "played-out like," as he said. Still reading Scott—and sometimes the poets lying about: Moore, Byron. The sudden taking off of Aunt Mary seems to have stumped him some. "There are no signs of a second wind—quite the contrary." Puts on a brave front. While he said to the Courier man that he expected to get out by cold weather he says to me: "Getting out seems more and more unlikely." We talked of the big one-volume Whitman. I said to him: "I guess you should let me do that work, Walt." He replied: "It is not a question of what I will or should but a compulsion—what I must: I will simply have to put myself in your hands—God knows whether not in other things, and more and more things, as well as in that. I anticipate a time, not very far distant, when I will lose my physical volition altogether—suffer an entire extinguishment of efficient physical energy—find the fire utterly going out or gone out. When there is no fuel left the fire cannot last. You know Bucke's theory about the soul—the theories of men of science—the physical theories. Well, science is too damned fast for truth sometimes. I often feel like saying to the fellers who are so sure they are sure on all that: hold your horses, hold your horses—don't be too confident that you know the whole story—the kernel, the beginning, the end. Then I have a reaction. After the long period in which the other view was upheld—the contempt of the body, the horrible, narrow, filthy, degenerate, poisonous, distaste expressed in ascetic religions for the physical man—I confess that even materialism is a relief, like a new day, like sunlight, like beauty—yes, like truth itself.""And whatever your conviction about the soul, haven't you also just as firm a conviction about the body?""Yes, just as firm—sometimes for earth reasons firmer. That is what should be and must be: a powerful loyalty to the body—to the body's desires, passions appetites, all of them, well in rein, but alive, serving the soul, like a faithful steed." Then: "But after all, there's more to it than that—

 
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more to it than these bodies—than the most superb bodies: more than that: and while I cannot argue the matter out, neither can I surrender my profound conviction."

     Donnelly has returned to America. W.: "I feel that I for one owe him a great debt. I spent several half days or whole days assiduously reading his big book—the Cryptogram—and the immense mass and value of its information staggered me. I could no longer accept the Shaksperian—the actor—authorship: that is gone—gone forever." I suggested: "But you had come to that conclusion before.""To a certain extent, yes—but not entirely, not entirely. Here everything was systematized—everything was brought together—suspicions so placed as to get the force of certainty. I was already half-convinced—that is true—but convinced in the way a feller is convinced who hears debate, hears controversy-statements, counterstatements—things massed for partisan effect, hotly assailed, even logically proved—logically made unassailable—and yet comes away with his own doubts as active as before. But now, in my case, the instinct is confirmed—it no longer argues with itself—is satisfied—and Donnelly has done that for me.""Bucke wrote me that he thought the cipher a great fraud.""I knew he disapproved of the cipher—I didn't know he went it quite so strong as fraud. But that's a little like Maurice—over emphasis is his failing—going off half-cocked, as we say. You know yourself I do not find the cipher business significant. Not that I know anything about it—anything at all: I somehow have an instinctive aversion to the idea of a cipher and that leads up to my suspicions (which I admit may be all wrong): just as I have an aversion to the church notion of an atonement, because of its essential vulgarity, its wanton treachery to what I take to be high and imperative standards of human action. We say of a certain man: the atonement is not for him by the very fact of his being what he is: he is so made that he is made free. So I would say: the cipher is not for Bacon: by the very fact of his being what he is he is entitled to an exoneration.""Wouldn't O'Connor swear this idea down to the ground.""Down to the ground and under

 
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the ground! William would call me by a few strong names and then go to work again with his heresy. But whatever becomes of the cipher, I know what will become of Master Shaksper the actor—what has already become of him. He has gone for good." Adding: "I am just as slow to say yes as no—just as cautious. I took me a long time to say no to Shaksper: the rest of the problem is still unsolved—I have no answer to its questions. I am extremely cautious—weighing every grain before giving in my adhesion."

     Bucke writes W. giving him a heap of advice anent the complete book. W. says to me: "We have talked most of those points over here. Doctor suggests that we should repaginate the book—give it consecutive pages. There is no necessity. The books have their own reasons for being—their independent reasons—Leaves of Grass, Specimen Days. They are not parts of a play—acts one, two, three—or chapters of a romance—that they need to be put together palpably by pagination. Then besides that would involve extra expense and trouble which I do not feel prepared to accept just now. All that is required under the present idea, my idea, might be a little preface, stating my reasons for this particular issue of my works."

     Talked about reading. "Reading, most of it, by candlelight, indoors, up against a hot register or steam pipes, is a disease: I doubt if it does anyone much good. The best reading seems to need the best open air. When I was down on the Creek—Timber Creek—and roamed out and along the water, I always took a book, a little book, however rarely I made use of it. It might have been once, twice: three, four, five, even nine, times: I passed along the same trail and never opened the book: but then there was a tenth time, always, when nothing but a book would do—not tree, or water, or anything else—only a book: and it was for that tenth trip that I carried the book."

     Harrison Morris over this evening but W. couldn't see him. "Again—some other time: I feel all knocked up to-night—all used up." W. said I should take an old Burroughs letter that laid on the table before me. "It gives a little look into the

 
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Carlyle country—yes, and a big look into John's soul. John and William are very different men. John is a placid landscape—William is a landscape in a storm. Does that seem to express a difference? The only critical doubt I ever have about John is that sometimes I feel as if I would like to poke him up with a stick or something to get him mad: his writing sometimes seems to go to sleep. It is always attractive to me but always leaves me in a slow mood. William is quite different: he whips me with cords—he makes all my flesh tingle—he is like a soldier who stirs me for war." Then after a pause: "But it is always hopeless—the attempt to put a man into a sentence. William and John stand for such unlike temperaments they can hardly be talked of together: I can be at home with either—equally at home—but on the whole William mixes best with my blood." W. had me read the Burroughs letter aloud.

London, June 16, 1882.


Dear Walt:

     I have delayed writing to you longer than I intended to. We had a pleasant passage over, and have been as happy as sight-seers can expect to be. We keep pretty well and take things easy. My first taste of the country was at Alloway, Burns' birthplace. We spent a week here in a cosy little inn on the banks of the Doon, surrounded by one of the sweetest and finest farming countries I ever beheld. From there we went up into the Highlands, where I did some mountain climbing: thence around to Edinburgh. From there we went down to Carlyle's country and spent a week at Ecclefechan, arriving there the first day of June just as the first red clover was beginning to bloom. I walked a good deal about Ecclefechan and shall write something about it and weave in certain things I want to say of Carlyle. I enclose a daisy or a spray of speedwell that I gathered from Carlyle's grave. There is no stone yet marking his grave. I saw the graves of eight "Thomas Carlyles." The "Carlyls" as the Scotch call them were a numerous race in this section. They were a stern savage set, not to be trifled with. One old Scotchman said they were "bullies." Then we went

 
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down into the Lake region for a few days; and thence to London.

     Mr. Carpenter has been up and spent a day and a night with me. He has recently lost his father. He is well. We have been out to Mrs. Gilchrist's twice to tea. She and Grace are alone, Herbert being off in Wales, painting. They chided me for not bringing you, and entertain hopes of seeing you yet. They are well and have a pleasant cheery house. You would have a good time if you were to come. I have seen no one else in London and do not expect to. Rossetti I hear is not well. We shall leave here tomorrow, or I shall, for Haslemere and thence through some of the southern countries for a week; wife and Julian will stay with an old acquaintance of ours at Brentford, near London. I presume we shall be home in August. June has been cold and wet here: no heat, no warmth.

     Conway has an article on Emerson in the June Fortnightly Review, but it is hasty and of not much account. I hope to hear yet that Osgood has not thrown up Leaves of Grass. I expect a letter from O'Connor every day. Drop me a line care of Henderson Brothers, 5 Union street, Glasgow, Scotland.


Ever your friend,


John Burroughs.


 
Tuesday, August 21, 1888.

     11 A.M. W. got up not feeling extra well. Yet read his daily papers (with them The Critic, which he is fond of) with a relish. Wished he might hear from Morse. "Morse went to Chicago then disappeared! We should send out the bell-man for him." I told W. I had preserved several hundred of Morse's letters. He was enthusiastic. "What a wealth of stuff that collection must be! Morse always writes memorable letters. Is there anything better in literature than the best letters?" After a pause: "Talking of letters, I have had one that will interest you. This is Tuesday the 21st—tomorrow is the 22d: tomorrow Herbert sails—Herbert Gilchrist—intending to come straight to Philadelphia. It seems to have been a sudden

 
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whim—a jump: whether because he has had some success with his work and some dollars I don't know. Ocean traveling nowadays costs practically nothing—if a man has to pay board anyhow he can as cheaply pay it moving about as standing still. Or it may be that Herbert comes for the shaking up—the sea voyage. Herbert's power so far has been chiefly latent—an unuttered force."

     Asked for his big blue coat. "This was made for me by my sister. Rhys brought me one over, too—but that I have never worn so far. It is down stairs." While I sat there Musgrove brought in a basket of peaches—luscious, big—that had been left at the door. W. took them, put on the glasses, read the tag. "There's no name but I think they're from Tom—from Mr. Harned. Harned came in with children last night, and they spoke of peaches, little Annie saying: 'Papa, it's time Mr. Whitman had more fruit.' And she added, 'It should be peaches this time'—making a big circle with her two hands—'that's the kind, papa!'—then laughing over it. Oh the dear, dear children! And there's little Tom, too full of life—joyous, exulting life! Yes, I know the peaches came from little Annie and the rest of the Harneds: the Harneds, may God bless em!" I spoke of Anna's excellent piano playing, W. taking it up: "Have you noticed that, too, Horace? I thought it was a secret all my own." Laughed gently. "She is full of musical feeling, though very undemonstrative, too. And by the way, Horace—wasn't your father a considerable something of a singer once upon a time?" And to my yes: "Ah! so I thought: and it must have been a great treat to you all. A baritone, was he? It is a noble voice. Ask him for me if he ever head Badiali: Badiali was the superbest of all superb baritones in my time—in my singing years. Oh! those great days! great, great days! Alboni, Badiali, in particular: no one can tell, know, even suspect, how much they had to do with the making of Leaves of Grass. Badiali was a big, coarse, broad-chested, feller, invested, however, with absolute ease of demeanor—a master of his art—confident, powerful, self-sufficient." I spoke of our contemporary

 
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baritone, Galassi. W. nodded: "Yes, I have heard of though I have not heard him: he, too, must have a spark of the same fire in his composition. Badiali I remember chiefly in The Puritans—in what is abominably called the 'trombone duo' by the newspaper scriveners. My younger life was was so saturated with the emotions, raptures, up-lifts, of such musical experiences that it would be surprising indeed if all my future work had not been colored by them. A real musician running through Leaves of Grass—a philosopher musician—could put his finger on this and that anywhere in the text no doubt as indicating the activity of the influences I have spoken of."

     W. confided to me some of his plans concerning the big book and answered some of my questions. "When you go in to see Ferguson today tell him we want to go right on with it—make the proper, make your own, arrangements with him: you know exactly what we want—you particularly know that we want no delays. Tell him how as Walt Whitman is on the ragged edge and needs to be pampered and shoved along—that while he may relapse into strong life again, the chances are all the other way: that he will drop into the dead sea. Tell Ferguson Walt Whitman is down on his knees saying Ferguson prayers which Ferguson like the gentleman you say he is must answer."

     Evening. W. reading The Antiquary. Has fingered the plate proofs some. "I have been thinking of our book today—trying to get it into right relations with myself. I have not yet made up my mind about November Boughs. If I end the voyage with this done I shall be happy: get into port not altogether bereft, with my colors still flying. Is that to be my good fate? I don't force things—don't force even the price of a book, the arrangement of a page of type, anything. Everything must come freely: I take up the incidents of life by the way, as they come along—and what is unwilling, loth, coquettish, I forego—I know is not for me, for my uses."

     McKay was over this afternoon. W. says; "I think Dave has treated me all right, and I shall therefore reciprocate—am inclined to treat him right—yes, not only right but generously.

 
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I have about decided to let him have the book—the little book. That is, I think I shall propose that he take the whole edition at forty-three cents—forty-three cents a volume. He may shy at that—regard it suspiciously as too big a demand: but as I have been sitting here, such is the condition that I feel bound to attach to any large or exclusive sale of the book. I shall be glad if I come out even on the job—get the plates even if nothing beyond. I am not worrying, shall not worry, dare not worry. When I have thought this all out for myself I am going to ask you to act it all out for me. For the present we will go on with the book—get it finished. I must have my own way, too: I must be humored. I think there's only one person living who ever browbeats me with success." "Who is that?" "You—you!" Laughed. "My good daddy used to say: 'Oh! What a comfort it is to lie down on your own floor, a floor laid with your own hands, in a house which represents your own handiwork—cellar and walls and roof!' In Long Island they had a phrase, 'to lie on one's own dunghill,' or something like it. I have long teased my brain with visions of a handsome little book at last—like the Epictetus—a dear, strong, aromatic volume, like the Encheiridion, as it is called, for the pocket. That would tend to induce people to take me along with them and read me in the open air: I am nearly always successful with the reader in the open air. I have my own peculiar affection for November Boughs. It is the depository of many dreams and thoughts precious to me—of many sacred aspirational experiences, too holy to be argued about—of sayings, almost of mots: of so many unspeakable records, reminiscences, worked into the soil of my matured life and now at last projected in this compact shape. To have such a book—such a book produced in every way according to a feller's simple and unimpeded humors—that has been my idea, is still my idea."

     He went on about McKay: "He is young-blooded, careful, wide-awake, vital—has a shrewd eye, a steady hand. I should predict for Dave (you know he is greatly extending, greatly, all the time) that a few years of success will show him up as a big

 
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gun among publishers. Dave never shuffles his papers—he keeps his contracts. He has just returned from a trip West—a successful trip. He tells me he is to produce an Emerson—an early Emerson on which the copyright has expired. What a cute—devilishly cute—lot the publishing wolves are. There they are, the whole hungry herd—a dozen sets of eyes straining for a chance to pounce on these things the first minute of freedom."

     This, too, was W.'s: "Often when the visitors come—visitors particularly honored and desired—my dear, dear mother, wishing to increase the richness of her cakes, would put in shortening, and keep putting it in, until from excess of attention the whole cake would fall apart. Now—warn the professionals—the artists—the men of finesse—not to put too much shortening in their cakes!" W. gave me an O'Connor letter with the remark: "It is as much your letter as mine. Make it all yours—take it home. William mentions you. This is one of William's least consequential letters, yet has the same inevitable stir of his blood. William will die with a hurrah on his lips." I said: "He'll never know he's dead he'll be so busy with resurrection day." This made W. laugh. "Horace, you ought to write that down: it's a trumpet-note." O'Connor's letter:


Washington, D.C., Life Saving Service,

July 26, 1888


Dear Walt:

     I got your card of the 19th (last Thursday's) and was greatly cheered and comforted thereby—the handwriting was so bold and vigorous. I had been feeling depressed and sorrowful—perhaps my own bad state had something to do with it: but anyhow, the brave handwriting was like Chevy Chase to Sidney, "stirring my heart as with the sound of a trumpet." Since, I saw an item in a paper reporting you better, and am encouraged. Strong hope is like strong prayer, and I shall hope for you strongly.

     I have sent the To-Day to Dr. Bucke. The article was pleasing.

 
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     One of the Transcripts you sent had a characteristic speech by Littlebill Winter. He is certainly the Winter of my discontent mentioned by Lord Bacon in his play of Richard III. Small beast! It makes me sad to think how the Devil will suffer when he gets him. For spite of his faults, the prince of darkness is a gentleman, and how can he endure such company!

     I hear from Bucke pretty often. He is a saint.

     We have had heavenly weather until yesterday which was a swelterer. But today is good again.

     I have been overrun this week, but held back the flying hour by the hair today, just to send you this note.

     I had a nice letter this morning from Mr. Traubel, to whom I will write soon.

     I hope this will find you comfortable. Au revoir.


Always affectionately,


W. D. O'Connor.

     "William always has the effect of the open air upon me," said W. "Next to getting out of my room here is to stay in my room and get a letter from William. I don't know which contains the most open air—William or out-doors. I like salient men—the men of elements—oxygenated men: the fellers who come and go like storms come and go: who grow up and out of honest roots: not the titillated gentleman of boudoir amours and parlor fripperies: no, not that man: but if need be the rough of the streets who may underneath his coarse skin possess the saving graces of sympathy, service—the first of all, the last of all, the heart of all, personal excellence."

 
Wednesday, August 22, 1888.

     W. perseveres in his reading of Scott. He seemed unusually quiet and feeble. "No—I have not felt well: not for some days past—am unable to write or do anything consecutive. I did write to Bucke today, however—but what had I to tell him? Nothing—no news. How could a feller sitting here in this room, cut off from the world, have news? With me it is but one thing

 
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—one stale thing: if I write I must harp on that alone. I sit here all day, or lie over there"—motioning towards the bed—"and that is what my life amounts to." Has not examined proofs today. "I am on the disabled list for sure. I have taken a little look in on Scott—only a little look: even that would not go."

     I read him a Bucke letter. Bucke expects to make money out of Gurd's water meter. W. says of that: "I can imagine no worse fortune for a man who amounts to anything, who hopes to grow and flower, who has in him the stuff of achievement, than to come into an income, ease, goods—be put into pawn to the world's patronage. May God help Bucke to remain a poor man!""And me—Walt: do you pray for me, too?""I don't need to: you'll never be rich: you'd run away if you saw riches coming.""Morse used to write me that when our million shiners came in we could pack up and go to Paris together—or something like that.""To Paris? And why to Paris? I don't see what use either one of you could make of Paris. Paris is a good thing to see in order to be through with it—to have it over with: like a fever or a great many evils that afflict us: or like the boy with his first watch, for instance—he can't be cured of it till he has it!"

     Someone called his attention to an error in Leaves of Grass. "I see—I see: it must be wrong—but that is one of my idiocrities—to put it there and let it be, wrong or right. Maybe what is wrong for him is right for me: such things, too, do happen." Submitted him samples of paper for the two books. He looked them over. "After all, however, I leave that to you—what you all agree to I will approve. I want you to rub up against the pressman, too—get his advice. Pressmen know the kind of paper they can handle with the best results."

     William Winter has been making a speech in England defending America against the negations of Arnold. W. said: "I have seen and read it—part of it, anyway. It came along from Kennedy, in a copy of The Transcipt, and I afterwards passed it on to O'Connor. There was nothing in it to stick a pin through.

 
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He made some reference to me, not by name, if I remember rightly, but by innuendo: some statement generously conceding my personal decency, even my goodness, and then dismissing my literary insanity and worse with a shrug of his literary shoulders, and an intimation in words that I was altogether off so far as concerned any serious poetic purpose and reputation."

     We had a little talk about Bucke's Man's Moral Nature, W. saying: "Oh yes, I have read it—more than once—more than twice. It is a book you have to chew on—chew on with good teeth, faithfully, loyally; it pays principal and interest in the end if you stick to it. No one can hop skip and jump through it—it needs to be let altogether alone or very seriously read. It is worked out on daring lines—clearly, reverently, impartially. I understand that the scientific men are coming round very generally to the same view. Of course that is not conclusive: they are all come, come again, come, come: then a new rebel appears, goes still beyond, and the men of science get up again for another walk. Speculation has its place but is not infallible—goes oftener wrong than right. We feel like saying to the metaphysicians and moralists: hold your horses, keep them well in hand—you never know when you've got to take a sharp turn-about! It's like in medicine—this year's dogma is tomorrow thrown away."

     W. much amused by a newspaper editorial someone had sent him from the West. It had a question for a headline: "Who is this Walt Whitman, anyway?" He thought the "furious phosphorescent" inquiry of his assailant "refreshing." "Who is this Walt Whitman, anyway? Well, who is he? Do you know, Horace? Yes, you know—I haven't fooled you. But just see how I have juggled with the rest of the world!" I said: "I know who you are—you are the dirty novel man!" This broke him down utterly. He laughed more heartily than I have known him to do for months. I had reminded him of a story. Years ago—I was a small boy—we were on a ferry-boat together, sitting in front of the cabin. A well-dressed man leaning against the rail had been watching us intently. Finally he motioned to

 
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me—called me by crooking his forefinger. I got up and went over to where he stood. "Say," he said—"say, bubby—is that Walt Whitman, the man who writes the dirty novels?" I was convulsed but said "Yes." When I got back Walt remarked: "He was speaking about me—what did he say?" I told him. He took the dose calmly for he saw the man still looking at him. Later on, however, he let himself go in quiet little chuckles of amusement. Again and again afterward he would hand me out manuscripts to look at—poems, often, and say: "There's my latest dirty novel." This was the incident recalled when I said tonight: "You are the dirty novel man."

     W. asked me: "What do you know of Lionel Johnson? Is he doing anything in the world that you know anything about?""Why do you ask?""Look at this." Handed an open letter to me. It was written on a small note sheet in a very delicate sensitive hand. "It came two and more years ago, as you see: it was a very remarkable letter—and he was so young, a mere boy. It hits me hard when young people take such a shine to me—makes me feel as if I had to behave myself specially well. But this Johnson—this boy: I felt that he would do, if he had not already done, some signal writing of a sort—he seemed to have writing stuff in him. We must watch for his apparition: it will surely appear. Read the letter and see if I am likely to prove a false prophet."


Rose Cottage, Winchester, Hampshire, England,

Oct. 20th, 1885.


Dear Walt Whitman:

     I write to you, though personally unknown, as writing to a dear friend: because, though happy to call many about me by the name of friends, I have no truer friend than yourself: if friendship means the receiving of light and delight and strength from the spirit of a brother man. I have lived as yet but eighteen years; yet in all the constant thoughts and acts of my last few years, your words have been my guides and true oracles. I cannot hope to see you face to face and tell you this: but you will at least believe it and feel that I am not

 
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writing from an unworthy spirit of self-assertion: but that I should feel shame for myself, were I not to show the reality of my gratitude to you, even through the weakness of words—you, whom I thankfully acknowledge for my veritable master and dear brother.

     You, in your age and glorious approach to the sure future of death—you will know that I am speaking neither empty adulation nor shallow shams.

     I am proud of belonging to the oldest school of any in England—to the great foundation of the strong priest and ruler, William of Wykeham: and it was under the shadows of the ancient walls of his college, still flourishing through the influence of his powerful personality, that I first received Leaves of Grass from the hands of a most dear friend. And the help and exaltation I have won from it have been won by many another boy and young man, of those in whose hearts rests the immediate history of the coming years—to make it splendid with strong actions and strong asserted truths. It is in your works, as in the great powers of earth and sea, that the inspiring force of no school is to be found: certain to dare all things by the strength of body and soul inseparable.

      Whether I am right or not in writing to you, I neither know nor care: I do know that I cannot keep silence.


I am, in love and reverence,


Lionel Johnson.

     "That sounds very ripe for a boy of eighteen," said W.—"ripe enough already to shed fruit. It is singular how soon some natures come to a head and how long it takes others to ripen, though I believe, as a rule, the slow fruit is the best. It's not the least flattering feature of my experience that I have been most successful with young people, the just-comers, and least successful with the full done and over done literary masters of ceremony." Finally he said: "Keep a weather eye open for that boy: he will appear again." Asked me if I had ever seen

 
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"this" portrait of Rudolf Schmidt. No I had not. He said "You might put it away in your Whitman rag-bag: it will be of use to you by and bye when you come of literary age and act as the historian of our many battles." I was present once when a preacher dropped in to see W. The visitor got talking special salvation to W. W. was impatient but held in. Finally the talker stopped as if to invite W.'s comment. W. looked up at the man, who was standing, and simply said: "Oh, hell!" The preacher looked at W. more hurt than horrified. "Is that all you have to say, Mr. Whitman?" W. was by this time thoroughly annoyed, though he only asked: "What more would you have me say, Mr. Ross?" Then the visitor left. W. turned to me and asked wickedly: "Horace, don't you think oh, hell covered the whole case?"

 
Thursday, August 23, 1888.

     Forenoon. W. reading Lippincott's. I asked: "Are you studying the tragedy?"—referring to Amelie Rives' play there printed in full. "Oh no—I am not prepared to tackle that. But who is this Mitchell—Langdon Elwyn Mitchell? The name has a new sound to me.""Is the poem better than the general run of them?""I think it is—it has some snap and go: it is worth looking over a second time." W. said he had concluded to make the edition of the complete book six instead of five hundred. "Keep your best eyes on these details, Horace. I often find I fall down—most people fall down—on details." Looks feeble, tired, this morning. Weather cool. No further work yet done by him on the proofs. W. said: "I had a note from Clifford—it came just awhile ago. He got the book." Then, handing me the letter: "It is written in the style of the Queen Anne gallows period: very complimentary—rich in compliment: but I know it is wholly sincere in him—wholly so. He likes the booklet (and what a word that is, too—booklet!—just exactly says what we want it to!)—and knows just what it comes to, too, I have no doubt." Here is the letter:

 
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Farmington, Maine,

Aug. 21, 1888.


My dear Mr. Whitman:

     I am content to have waited forty years for the birthday book which I have from you and Horace. If forty more could hold promise and deserving of such another, I should face them with best hope and patience.

     If this coveted but not-to-have-been-asked for autograph means, as it seems to do, that the hand which wrote it is much stronger than when last I felt its generous touch, that token is alone enough to gladden this my little day. Long life and all love!




J. H. Clifford

     Clifford addressed the envelope simply "Walt Whitman." W. said: "I like it so. I remember that Tennyson was at first a little shy but ended by coming round and saying I must speak of you and to you simply as Walt Whitman. Some of my friends still hold on to the belated 'Walter:' some do even worse—say 'Mr.' Whitman. Could anything be more out of place than 'Mr.' Whitman?" After a laugh: "They seem to feel that anything less than 'Mr.' breeds familiarity. My own family is for calling me 'Walt'—all of my family. Dr. Bucke always speaks of me in his book as 'Walt Whitman,' which sounds just right." I reminded W. that Clifford hates the "Rev." W. nodded: "Yes, I remember what he said about it. I do not wonder that a man made up as he is mostly of the simplest material should hate a cant title. Clifford belongs out on the road—does not belong in a church. The church is no place for a man after he has got his growth. I would like to predict of Clifford that if he don't step out of his own accord he will some day be kicked out. He is too ready to say the things which rub pews the wrong way: it is like a perpetual challenge, which will in good time be taken up. Some nabob parishioner will get it into his head that Clifford is dangerous to have about—is not a fit man to act as their spokesman—then Clifford will retire—with honor, maybe, but retire. I never knew a minister extraordinary

 
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in a church to make a fit of that kind succesfully—and Clifford is a minister extraordinary, don't you think?" W. stopped a minute. I said nothing. Then he went on: "I once said something like this to a woman, a church woman—it may have been Hannah Smith. She asked me: 'Why are you so bitter against religion, Mr. Whitman?' And when I answered, 'I am not talking about religion—I am talking about the church'—she only said: 'I don't see the difference—they are one thing to me.' Nine people out of ten would make the same protest."

     Evening. Reading Lippincott's again. "Ah Horace!" he cried in his usual fashion stretching out his hand: "And what do you bring tonight?" I laid my hat and package on the lounge and produced for him the big envelope containing three missing pages of plate proofs (128-9-30) and proof of frontispiece. Enjoyed them. Some of the proofs on glazed paper, which he hates. He studied the portrait with great care. "That will do," he finally remarked, looking over at me: "We have come out of a great trouble with our skins perfect. Sometimes when things don't go right I find myself saying: 'It's lucky not to have been worse.' I do not need to say that for the picture. The picture is a success. I won't thank anyone for it—it's all a part of our gamble—but I'll thank our stars." He suddenly commenced to poke about among the papers on the floor with his cane. "I had a Post here, Horace: something in it I wanted you to see to. The American Book Maker, it seems, has been printing something about me—a portrait—which Bonsall seems to regard with great favor. We must get a copy of the magazine." After much searching the paper was found under the rocker of his chair. "Ah! Here it is: read it." I stood reading. He turned up the light. "Don't that bear out my idea?" Bonsall had written: "The American Book Maker prints a life-like picture of Walt Whitman, which may be among the last, as it certainly is the best, given." Now W. resumed: "Go to Bonsall—borrow his copy: then we may see what we want." W. while he looked for the paper talked of the confusion in the room:

 
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"I think there is a devil—that he some days gets loose in this room."

     Expressed a desire to see the Emerson-Carlyle correspondence. Ignatius Donnelly passed through Camden yesterday and this morning an interview appeared in the Press. W. had read it. "Yes, all of it: and it was interesting: but I don't think Donnelly strengthens his case by such interviews—interviews which carry with them the cheaper atmosphere of a second or third class lawyer. Besides, all that English exploiting, noising about, weakens his position. His Cryptogram is a great book in spite of Donnelly himself—the first part of it, I mean, which staggered me and must make any unbiased man pause and consider. After that, William Shaksper is no more for me—for me, at least. But long debates at Oxford, and putting it to a vote, and arguing it up and down, as the case may be in no wise adds invincibility to the cause. I rely more on the quiet pondering of data, contemporary probabilities, and so forth, than on argument, logic, scholarly pros and cons, even if they are of the very best: on the silent conviction that is possessing many minds—the drift of the more considerable students: the not-to-be-stated but real and unassailable instinct now ripening in men here and there—in Tom, in Dr. Bucke, in you yourself—yes, in me: count me in with the 'considerable.' That seems far more potent and significant to me than the slam-dash controversy of the lawyers. The whole point is, to provide the material—to set it forth so it may be handled—and then turn on the light, which, gathering strength more and more, in its own free way, will drive inevitably to a certain result—is eligible for one result and one only."

     Thurman made a big speech on the tariff yesterday at Port Huron. W. read it. "But I fear Thurman is not the man—have always believed he was not the man. There is a great dearth in America of men who will exploit, elucidate, this subject on the highest grounds—of men not intellectual alone, but emotional, sympathetic, bound in by no narrow horizon of a special party, sect, school. We have had cute men—men too

 
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damned cute—Summer was one of them—free traders—but no one clear of alliances, conventional hesitations, limitations of one kind or another: no one without some sort of a bond to qualify the purity of his faith. All the fellers consider the tariff as an affair in itself complete, as if nothing else was involved, as it would be in a library with one shelf only, and all that for books on one subject: and yet there is no policy, no truth, no principle that draws more to itself than the tariff, considered in its real rootgerms and its infinite effects. You mention Henry George. I do not think I should say anything about him: I know so little, practically nothing, of his economic theories. It is my impression of him, however that he too is the victim of a special twist, bias—not the absolutely direct individuality, personality, I am looking for—America requires. In this campaign it strikes me that the whole batch of the spellbinders and statesmen so-called (God help us, statesmen!) are all wrong, all sides—discussing the problem from a vulgar point of view—poor, petty, unworthy, insincere, insulting in fact. These men never get up high enough to see what the problem in reality is—never recognize it in its international complications—do not see that it is not political but human—that it means something to Bohemia as well as to America."

     He stopped here to ejaculate: "Why, damn me, I'm making a speech!" I clapped my hands. He threw his arms out as if in acknowledgment of applause. Then he proceeded: "Anyhow, I am convinced that the best samples of the critter off there in England, Ireland, Scotland, beat us by a good margin—are of more solid substance—are built for a longer stay. The actors for example (there have been lots of them coming here from time to time to see me): tall, broad, plainly dressed, not grammatical in speech (a suit of tweed, perhaps, or even something plainer)—not formal, like our men—generous, lithe, averse to show in all ways—no gammon (oh! no gammon at all—it's unknown to them)—yet men to be depended upon for severe trials, stretches of tremendous labor, splendid unostentatious achievements. And these are features of the general life over there—

 
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inertia, stability. The trouble here with us is our devil of a craze for money—money in everything for every occasion—by hook or by crook, money: and, on top of that, show, show: crowning all that, brilliancy, smartness unsurpassed, repartee, social wish-wash, very misleading, very superficial: the whole situation one to discourage the more efficient factors of character. Of course this is an exaggerated statement—such statements generally are—but it contains the material of a just complaint. We will get out of it—must get out of it: we will escape our defects: I do not croak. There is one thing more to be said—an important thing. Before I was sick, particularly in the year or two previous, I was visited a lot by the better class mechanics—I mean the more serious of the mechanics (the more informed, ambitious, instructed). Frequently they would come in and talk and talk, sometimes like a house afire, of their enthusiasms—socialistic, many of them, perhaps most of them, were—very bright, quick, dead in earnest, able to take care of themselves and more too in an argument. They, their like, the crowd of the grave workingmen of our world—they are the hope, the sole hope, the sufficient hope, of our democracy. Before we despair we have to count them in—after we count them in we won't despair. All will adjust itself. But that image of the typical extra fine Britisher—his brown face, his broad deep chest, his ample limbs, his clear eye, his strong independent chest, his ample limbs, his clear eye, his strong independent mien, his resonant voice—still clings to me. One thing we must remember: we were born in the political sense free—they were not: that creates an altogether different atmosphere—is a fact never to be forgotten. We seem in many ways to have grown careless of our freedom. Some day we will have to stir our croppers and fight to be free again!" I said: "We shook off our England. We shook off the slave. What will we shake off next?""Money!—the dominion of money." I protested: "You kick when I say that: you say I am too radical: you tell me to hold in my horses." He laughed at my dig. "Maybe I do that just after some theorist has been here with an axe to convert me. That aways makes me hot—hot: I resent it.
 
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But do you suppose you see any better than I do the menace hanging over our democracy? Yet, Horace, we are safe, safe. The mass, the crowd, the vast multitude that works, is competent to, will, preserve our liberties: they are our prop, mainstay, sure, sure"

 
Friday, August 24, 1888.

     Morning, 10.15. W. sat reading the papers but was ready to talk. I asked him for money for the frontispiece plate. He began to search through his pockets. Adjusted his glasses. He carries his wallet in his inside vest pocket. He found a dollar bill in one pocket and a two dollar bill in one of the other pockets. He found two silver dollars in his trousers pocket. He looked at me, laughing: "I didn't know I was so well off. Money, money, everywhere." Suddenly he held up a single new dollar bill and said: "Ah! this—this was for poor Aunt Mary: I handed it to Mary for her and Mary came back and said the old lady was dead." He finally got the money together and gave me what was required. "I have no letters today—none at all—but there is a Transcript from Kennedy: I don't know what is in it."

     I found a poem by Swinburne—A Double Ballad of August. W. said: "Oh yes, I did see that. And if Swinburne had a few grains of thought with all his music wouldn't he be the greatest charmer of all? I never liked him from the first—Swinburne—from the very first: could not take him in, adapt myself to him. I know of nothing I think of so little account as pretty words, pretty thought, pretty china, pretty arrangements. I have a friend, a woman—a cute one, too: one of the very cutest—who take most to Bothwell: thinks Bothwell the one thing most to Swinburne's credit and likely to last, if any: and it is true of Swinburne's credit and likely to last, if any: and it is true of Atalanta, as you say, that it is rich in particulars and esteemed by scholars. My taste is alien—on other currents: I do not seem to belong in the Swinburne drift. I find it difficult to account for my dear woman's taste. Did you not hear it said somewhere that Schiller was very fond of rotten apples—had

 
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them always about him—the rottener the better? Maybe that is a story which explains her taste."

     I had brought him the Carlyle-Emerson correspondence. He handled the volume affectionately: "What a beautiful letter this book is set up in! It's a good sight for my old sore eyes: leaded, double-leaded. After all that is the one reasonable—yes, merciful—method: to spread the lines far apart." I put in: "The merciful reader is merciful to his eyes." W. assented: "Yes, sure enough. I have myself always gone on the other supposition with regard to a type-set page—that it should be solid, in the interest both of condensation and money, but lately it has impressed me that I was wrong." He looked at the portrait: "Sidney's bust of Emerson—Morse's—is a much better portrait than the one they use in this book." Bonsall will find us the Book Maker. I saw him the first thing this morning. W. said: "Don't argue about health. Horace—be healthy. When you argue about health your health is already gone."

     Evening. W. reading when I arrived. He put his book down. "What news? What news?""New? None. What news have you?""None—none at all: I get nothing—not even letters: not even a letter from Bucke." I paid Brown for the portrait today. I said to B.: "Brown, you know that's a bum portrait: but the old man likes it." Brown said: "It is bum—I wouldn't have been surprised if you had turned it down." I repeated this to W. who only replied: "I have nothing to complain of. The figure's the thing: that will not be criticised. So far as the technicalities go, well—damn the technicalities if the rest is all right!" Brown will try again if this plate is too difficult to print from. W. had settled upon a costly paper for the two books. I brought him an estimate—one hundred and ten dollars for N. B. and two hundred and fifty for the complete W. W. The figures startled him: "I confess that it staggers me—knocks me clean off my feet." I asked: "Well, shall I look for some cheaper stock?""Who said cheaper stock?" asked W. Then added: "I will see the books through if it takes every cent I possess!"

 
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      W. asked me to explain to him the purport of the President's message of retaliation (out today) on the fisheries dispute with Canada. "I can't get it into my noddle what the stir is all about. Do you know and can you tell?" And then after I had gone over the ground briefly: "Well—let them go on: let them push it as hard as they choose: let them run up their walls, obstructions, laws, as high as they choose: in the end all will inure for the best results—we will in fact pluck the flower free trade from the nettle protection. As an individual I feel myself imposed upon, robbed, trampled over, but I can still urge patience, patience. Let them push their theory to the breaking point—for break it must. I myself once fell afoul of an experience with customs officers up there on the Canadian border. Happily Bucke was along and extricated me. He took the officials aside and seemed to settle it that my baggage was not to be disturbed—gave them a few dollars to even up the trouble. The whole thing was quite a source of wonder to me—instructive, baffling: and what struck me most of all was Bucke's ease, suavity, composure, negligé—a sort of taking it for grantedness coolly expressed in his assumption of the manner of a born, tired, traveller. It seemed to me then as it had before and always has since, that here lay one of the worst evils of the system—in its encouragement of lying, bribery, misrepresentation, hypocrisy—just as in the prohibition and other special cases: yet this is a side of the situation no one considers. No one goes to hard pan with the problem—no one is more than cute in handling it—is deep enough to see it all around, in all that it includes, reflects, implies. It is not a fiscal, it is a moral, problem—a problem of the largest humanities."

     This led him to dilate on copyright. "What an infernal, outrageous, conspiracy of red-tapeism it is, not only in its initial requisites but in its after demands! It is all a matter of apery: our laws are copied after, modeled upon, the English laws—laws which proceed on the supposition that the people have nothing to do but study the comforts and purses of governments, monarchs, legislatures: the pleasure of lords, ladies

 
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nabobs. What is legality anyway?—puzzle—pretense, snare. Cute thinkers have said (Williams Legett—one of the best of 'em: Leggett, of the Post, who always said it so well, irrefutably) that there is no legal writing under heaven—not the carefullest, clearest—but may be overturned, disproved, vitiated, by sharp pleading, unexpected construction. This is so much true that some one has declared that we should never put a word—not a word, not the suspicion of a word—on paper without realizing on the legal side that when the destroyers get to work upon it it may all fall to the ground in confusion and seem to falsify the whole moral code."

     W. had been asked a question like this in a letter: Is a man's work ever greater than the man who does the work? He answered the question to me in this way: "It is obvious that the man is always superior. Any fact is superior to a statement of the fact: any statement at its best is only a half-statement." I reminded him of a remark he made to me years ago one noon-day on the boat: "If Grant is not himself poet, singer, artist, he at least contains within himself the eligibility, the subject-force, of song, art." He listened intently. "Repeat that." he said. I did so. Then he said: "Yes, I should stand by that. Dowden's Shakspere somewhere exploits a thought like that—a thought that seems to me the most significant and valuable thing in the book. Have you read Dowden? You should: he is a whole literature in himself. I have the Shakspere volume here somewhere. Dowden sent it to me himself: I have always kept it near my chair—I wanted it handy. If you find it take it along and read it. Besides it is a sample of the English printing which I am so fond of."

     Not yet done with the N.B. proofs. "I am having a hard time again trying to straighten out their kinks. After all you'll have to round them up with your own eagle eye." Told me my father was here yesterday: "I was glad to see him—he looked so well—was very cheerful. He talked to me about German poetry and music—even sang a bit, a few strains, to illustrate something he was saying. Do you know, Horace, he has a

 
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beautiful voice—a baritone? But of course you know—you only haven't happened to say so."

     I asked W. if he had ever had any correspondence with Oscar Wilde? "No correspondence, though he has written me letters. Did I never show you a fine letter I had from him while he was making his American trip? No? Well—it is about here in the mess—somewhere about, God knows where: if it ever shows its head I'll grab it—you may have it. I never completely make Wilde out—out for good or bad. He writes exquisitely—is as lucid as a star on a clear night—but there seems to be a little substance lacking at the root—something—what is it? I have no sympathy with the crowd of the scorners who want to crowd him off the earth."

     W. gave me a letter from Sylvester Baxter that he has several times spoken about since it came last month. He mentioned it to me originally because of its reference to Bellamy's book. On another occasion he said of it: "Sylvester is on several sides my friend—my friend, I think, for general reasons not one reason alone. You see, some people like this or that in me—like nothing else: as a man might like your leg or arm and forget the body of which they form a part: Baxter is of the other, the large, sort—he sees me whole. Sylvester is a quiet, sane, agreeable make of man—don't get into flusters, don't indulge in bad tempers about humanity—yet is radical, too, if not revolutionary, and looks for some shake-up in the social order before long."


Malden, Mass., July 13, '88


My dear friend:

     I have just heard from Kennedy that your illness continues. We had been hoping that the recovery would be more lasting and that the summer days would see you driving out and enjoying the precious sunshine. We had also been looking forward to the pleasure of feeling that you were comfortably domiciled in the desired cottage of your own, away from the stifling and noisy city, but your friends who worked

 
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to that end will all feel—as one of them has expressed it—that the thought that the project has given you even the briefest joy, and that it has given you the gratification of building and dwelling therein in the world of your mind—more real than the world of sense—fully compensates them.

     I am so glad that you have to help you so devoted a friend as young Traubel, and through you I give him my hand and my thanks.

     I have lately been reading a beautiful and noble story by Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward. It goes far in the direction pointed out by your prophetic Democratic Vistas and I hope Traubel will read it and tell you about it.

     In these days the glorious words you have spoken about death come up in my mind, and I feel much as must have been felt by the disciples in those calm last hours of Socrates. Whether his coming be near at hand, or later, he can only take your physical presence from us and that which you have given will ever abide with us. To many whose souls you know will be realized your words: "I spring from the pages into your arms—decease calls me forth."


Faithfully yours.


Sylvester Baxter.

     W. said: "You must read the Bellamy book and tell me about it.""I have read it already.""So? Well—you must explain it to me—but not now, not today." I asked W. whether he noticed that Death, which to him was a "strong deliveress" was to Baxter a "deliverer—he"? W. laughed. "Horace, I didn't think you'd do it—you are as fussy as a peeking critic. So he does—so he does: but it has no furtive significance: neither he nor she would say it all."

 
Saturday, August 25, 1888.

     Running about all day for W.—first to Bonsall's house for the Book Maker—then across the river for conferences at different

 
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places with Ferguson, McKay, Magarge & Green (paper merchants), Brown, Bilstein (plate printers). Struck a paper for seven cents, by which we can save one hundred and forty dollars on the lot required. W. said at once: "If you agree, we will have that—that quality for both books." He endorsed my set of plate-proofs as follows: First proof-sheets of November Boughs—to my friend Horace Traubel who gets out the booklet with me. Walt Whitman Aug: 25, '88." He wrote under a frontispiece proof of his own portrait: "The Seventieth Year—taken from life" He laughed as he did this. "You threaten to be as odd and particular as I am myself. I recollect Count Gurowski, in Washington, once directing me what to write in a book—some damnable Germanicism—and then explaining: 'I know you think it trifling, but then other people attach a great value to just such things'."

     Brought over today a number of proofs of the frontispiece plate. W. still quite satisfied with it. Proposes to put it in the big book also. I produced the Book Maker containing Frank Fowler's portrait of W., who just glanced at it and exclaimed vehemently: "That's not me—not like me: I must confess it disappoints me as a portrait. Yet, what a wonderful piece of work it is!—and after all, if not the Hamlet it is a Hamlet, and that is not without its satisfactions. But what mystifies me about it is, where the devil he got my sitting, my superscription, and when the devil I looked like that. I can't for the life of me remember Fowler—what he is like, that he met me, how he could have encountered me in this or any other fashion. I do have a dim remembrance of having been corralled at Huntington (I think that was in 1881 or thereabouts) by an artist, but I am sure that involves another person, not Fowler: oh yes! Dora Wheeler: I feel it— her: do you know of her?—painter?—artist? How little this all sounds like me: 'Yes', says Walt Whitman, and so forth, and so forth: yet it looks genuine—though how Fowler could have come into possession of it I couldn't guess: the writing is a bit off for me but the sentiment is genuine. The picture itself is not Walt Whitman—is too combed, curled,

 
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pretty for him—lacks his traits, the this or that which you know him by."

     Without waiting for me to break in he added: "I have been reading the Emerson-Carlyle letters: they are interesting to me from the word go: historic letters, letters of genius, in some respects the most remarkable letters in all English literature. I find you must get fully into the atmosphere before you can thoroughly enjoy them. But, do you know, I should say here was a chance for the critics, too. If I was myself a critic, was admitted as a critic to the reviews, I would cry out against the whole business as too deliberate, too much prepared, too top-loftical—too infernally top-loftical. God never made men this way: this is the way men are made when they are made over by men—creations of strains, creations for effect. But after that is said all the bad is said: as for the rest, the correspondence is fascinating, elevated, conclusive. I deduct only a little from the total, you see: there is plenty left."

     I read him Burroughs' letter of the 23rd closing with a request for W's opinion of B's Arnold in the June Century and admonished me not to "let him know I put you up to it." I excused myself to W. for reading the whole letter by saying: "I know you're that kind of a man to whom all is never too much.""You are right—right to read it: and how good in John: that part of the letter and all the letter so like him. I once visited Girard College—I think I went with Houghton, Lord Houghton—and the good old President said to me: 'I perceive you come to learn, to investigate. If you meet anywhere with the legend, 'no admittance,' be it just there that you do most quickly betake yourself.' That's the way with John's caution to you—best observed by being violated." B. will send on some pears.

     Happening to refer to a paper he had sent to Mary Costelloe W. said; "She has met Tennyson: the two girls went to see him once—I told you of that. Tennyson (the sly old rascal), is a lady's man—is fond of the girls—rather prefers them. They say he particularly affects children—children of ten or eleven or such years—is often seen with one on his knee." W. paused

 
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while I asked questions about Tennyson's title. Then: "He has all that in him, the eligibility for all that—for title, place, deference, hauteur—but in the great deeps behind, below, the great spirit pervading all, something more, something truly human, lasting, unerringly true. When I write him, as I have several times, I never address him except as simply Alfred Tennyson. Mrs. Gilchrist's talks with me about him were always charmed, touched, as with the contact of an unusual personality."

     I asked W. if he had kept any Emerson letters. "Yes, several—I had a number of letters from him, as you know, some of them coming to Washington—two or three of them there. If you like, and I can put my hands on them, the letters may be transferred to your collection. I am pretty certain I still have the original, the first, the great Emerson letter, too—the bravest of them all: but where it just is it would beat my poor brains to say." This revived the old question—had Emerson ever recanted his Whitmanism? W. answered; "It is my final belief that he did not—a belief confirmed by many things, many facts, many side-lights. I shall never forget Lord Houghton's visit of 1876, after a several week's course of meetings with Emerson. He sat opposite me (it was down on Stevens Street) as you do there now—raised his finger this way—and said, in a resolute manner, which was at once clear and emphatic: "Mark my words, Whitman [or Walt Whitman or Walt]—mark my words, put them down: I want to say them now because I am never likely to see you again: mark my words—Emerson never took the back track—never, never: never swerved, never retreated—is still your friend, as he was and must continue to be, recanting nothing, sticking to his faith. I know what I am talking about—I am not guessing: I have been there, talked with him, understood him and been understood: Whitman in all the essentials of adhesion Emerson is still on your side, sternly affirming your particular message.' It was just that way, in such warm words, that Lord Houghton spoke to me—almost those very words or words purporting them." Then W. proceeded reflectively: "In substance, in bulk, that is right—is confirmed by my own knowledge.

 
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That the literary fellows drove Emerson hard I know—everybody knows: that he was almost driven to cover by the pressure is also a fact not disputed. Yet I am compelled to believe that he remained to the end unmoved in all the essentials of his first loyalty. I do not mean that he always thought the same of me but that he never shifted his point of view to satisfy the protesters. Besides, there's a side to that story which is known to but one person—a side mine, never divulged—a side I have no desire to exploit, made clear by me to O'Connor but to no other person living—and on that alone I could rest much, all. None of the reasons of my friends why Emerson could not have changed can come so close home, can go so near the marrow, the spine, of what is the abiding truth of it all, as some few things, some never exploited minor assurances, whatnot, made by Emerson to me, for me alone—sacredly, wholly for me—not to be blazoned out in any confession or defense.

      I read him a Bucke letter dilating on the water meter. W. was not interested. Drifted off at once into other matters. He was in a high mood the whole evening—the best for weeks. "The prospect of an early production of both the books gives me a sense of relief beyond words. I want you to say to all the fellows—the printer men—all of them (be sure you don't forget the proof-reader) that Walt Whitman is grateful for everything they have done—that his pay is not the pay of money but the pay of love. Tell them that—tell even the flinty ones that. I want them to know that I am not in merely trade relations with them." W. was lying down on my arrival but got up at once and hobbled to the chair, asking me what I had to show him. Of his health he said: "It's nothing to brag of—at the best only so-so—has no real up-tides. I feel as if I weighed four hundred pounds."

     Bucke has sent W. a pamphlet on the uses of alcohol, negativing it even for sickness. W. says: "Bucke knows I drink—at least that I used to whenever I got the chance—was in the mood. And yet I am not sure but he is right—right even in his extremest extreme statement—that the reaction from drink is always to be feared: always, without question or exception. I

 
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know that I dare not touch it myself any more. The champagne that was brought me a couple of weeks ago was tempting and I took a little glass of it, a very little glass of it, a mere fillip—feeling, as I thought, in consequence, uncomfortable, hardly myself, the rest of the day." W. got as far as the bath-room today, going there without any assistance. But he said to me this evening: "If these things—tables, chairs, etc.—were not scattered about the room, if I didn't know every object and spot, I don't believe I could navigate at all. There's no use bawling because the batter's upset, Horace, but it begins to look as if I wasn't much feathers any more physically speaking: my plumage is about all shaken out."
 
Sunday, August 26, 1888.

     When I reached W's. in the evening I met Harned coming off the step. "Walt is in very bad shape to-night," he said. Musgrove indoors said the same thing. I went upstairs, however, and saw W., who sat in his chair reading Scott, and looking, sure enough, very worn, very tired, very much distressed. His greeting was nevertheless prompt and cordial. "Ah! Horace! another day—another day has gone: a damned bad day, too, and I'm not sorry to say good bye to it"—laying his book down and offering me his hand. "Won't you sit down? there's a chair: take it"—pointing. I protested: "No—no—I won't stay to-night—you are not well." He replied: "Oh, nonsense! Not well? Of course not well—but always well to you!" I said: "That's a sweet compliment—I shan't forget it." Then he went on: "Stay a bit of a bit of a time, anyhow—long enough for me to get a look at you. You look fresh to-night—glowing: it helps my sore eyes to see your face." I still stood up. "Well if you don't want to sit down I won't force you to. I have had a bad day—a very miserable bad day: but I notice my bad days often come just before my best days—so you see I have reasons for hope as well as reasons for despair."

     He handed me a proof of the frontispiece page on which he had written "The 70th year—taken from life." He had penned

 
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on it some instructions for the printer: "Under the picture as it seems to me would be best in two lines—the upper one caps, O. S. Roman—say l.p. the lower one lower case Roman (but use your own taste) 'The 70th year Taken from life.'" W. said as to this:"I suggest several things but you need not adopt them if you like your own ideas better." Hunter in today. Did not like the picture. "But that makes no difference to me—not the slightest: the point with me is that I be suited, and when I am suited (and I am suited now) that settles the question. Besides, this picture belongs to this particular book—it has the same air, tone, ring, color: the same ruggedness, unstudiedness, unconventionality. I am more likely any time to be governed by my intuitive than by my critical self, anyhow. On top of all my self-analysis is the fact that Aggie was in today, saw the picture, liked it, said I should use it, and, as a wise, good woman is very apt to do in my case, put a clincher on my own intentions in the matter."

     He is anxious to push the books along. Whenever he has a particularly bad day he wants to rush the work. "It admonishes me against delay." Asked me to see McKay. "I should prefer that you deal with him for me—I must be spared the worry of it." He looked at me affectionately and said this: "Whenever I think of your perfect health I think of you as a duplicate of myself as I was at the end of the war"—then after a stop—"or I might say it in another way—I think of myself as your embodied prophet." He related an experience. "It illustrates official lassitude and stupidity—one or both. I have tried again and again to find by inquiry at our post office how long it takes to carry a letter from Camden to London—to Bucke. Nobody can tell me—nobody knows—nobody seems to care to know. They put Mr. Musgrove off without even an attempt to find out or a regret expressed that they do not know.""Someone needs to go into that office with a kicker on the toe of his boot.""That's so: and what's more he needs to exercise it roundly on the whole gang." W. laughed quietly, tiredly: "I get mad at people, then people get mad at me: that's the way we even up."

 
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     W. had tied together in a string for me a little bunch of stuff of which he said: "These are acceptances and declinations of editors—invitations to write, invitations not to write, such things: I put them together for you out of this helter-skelter mass thinking you might like to see how some things came and some things didn't come my way. We have often talked of editors—of their curses, their blessings (both deserved, no doubt): the open hand, the clenched fist: the hems and haws of editors who would and who wouldn't and always wound up with wouldn't: such like stuff. That's what you'll find in this bundle. They have no interest except possibly as superficial biographical tattle." I took the stuff out of his hand. "You may get along with this to-night instead of a talk," he said, weariedly: "If you have any questions to ask anent the letters you can ask them another time. I want to give you all the pro and con in these matters that I can—all, all, not withholding anything intentionally. Horace, you are the only person in the world whose questions I tolerate: questions are my bete noir: even you at times, damn you, try me: but I answer your questions because you seem to me to have a superior right to ask them, if anyone has, which may be doubted. Cross-examinations are not in the terms of our contract but you do certainly sometimes put me through the fire in great shape." He laughed. "Now, Horace, you see how much I love you: you have extorted my last secret. You have made me tell why you are an exceptional person—you have forced from me an avowal of affection." He was quite lively for an instant while making this sally. Then he relapsed—looked miserable, as if to go to pieces. I went to him. "Help me to the bed," he said. This I did. He sank on the pillow. Closed his eyes. I reached down and kissed him. He said "Good night." without opening his eyes. I said "Good night" and left. As I stood in the doorway an instant he cried: "And will you come tomorrow again? that everlasting, that sweet, tomorrow! Yes, yes; I'll be cautious"—replying to my injunction—"I'll not do anything reckless: I'll come round by morning, I know."

     My sister Agnes had gone today to take W. fruit. He was

 
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very loving with her. Kissed her affectionately—talked freely for fifteen minutes. Alluded to me: "Horace has wonderful intuition: he divines me, perceives me, almost before I divine, perceive, myself." He said to me regarding myself: "Horace, how it happens you fall to my lot—you, being just what you are—now, in my need: who can tell? There certainly was a divinity that shaped this end." To my sister and my father who in these last few days have seen W. for the first time since his present sickness began his bodily decline has seemed shocking. Those of us who have been with him every day have not so well perceived the subtle change. My father says: "His mind to me seemed if anything clearer, firmer, more sure of itself, if possible, than ever before." My father is a materialist in philosophy. So he says: "That was of course not what I expected and it is therefore what I cannot explain." W. handed me what he called "a family memorandum" a day or two ago. "It's only a bit about George—a war bit. Can you make room for it in your bulging pigeon-holes?" He laughed. I will put it in right here:

New York, 16th April, 1862.


Lt. Geo. W. Whitman,
Newbern, N. C.
Lieutenant:

     Enclosed I have the pleasure of handing you your commission, and congratulate you upon your promotion.

     In the 51st, more especially than in almost any other regiment, promotion has been made to depend upon gallant action—and this is now doubly in your favor.

     I shall always be glad to hear from you.


I am, Lt. Very Truly Yours


Elliott F. Shepard.

Another letter W. gave me the same day was this from Linton:

New Haven, Conn., Aug: 21, 1875.


My dear Whitman:

     First—how are you getting on? Second (like a woman's postscript) have I told you at any time that I

 
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have been and am preparing a vol: of Amer: poetry up to your Centennial, for English publication? I would like, if I may, to use as frontispiece your head, which will not hurt your fame on the other side; and three thousand miles off will not, I think, interfere with the appearance of the same head here with those new things which I want to see. May I use it? Say honestly yes or no, as you feel. I do not want to do what you might not like, whether in matters of interest or feeling. But I can have nothing I should like so well.

     I wish you were here now that the storms seem over. We have had such a spell of bad weather as I have never before been treated to by U.S.


Yours always,


W. J. Linton

     W's. reply to this was written on the foot of the sheet:





     "You are entirely welcome to use the eng: as you desire. I am about as usual—not any worse. Feel or fancy I feel relief already as summer wanes. One of my doctors thinks much of my head trouble the past three months is from the sun. I am almost always easier as day departs."







 
Monday, August 27, 1888.

     Gave Ferguson order for paper today—seven cent paper: heavy weight for November Boughs, light weight for the "complete" Whitman. Also saw Bilstein about the frontispiece. W. spent another very bad day. When I entered was reading Scott again. He put his book down at once. Looked ill, tired, worn, almost haggard. Threatened to go down stairs today but did not go. "I must make a move—the time has come to make a break." Said to me: "If I don't force myself about some I will eventuate by making this room a prison, and that will be my finish." His niece was in to see him this evening early. Harned dropped in as we talked, leaving us after awhile still busy in our arguments. When H. was about to go W. remarked to him:

 
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"It's been a rum go today, Tom, a rum go: I've had a devil of a time of it—a devil of a useless time of it. I've felt brighter since you fellows came in than in all the rest of the day put together: you have cheered me up. I'm like a candle, whose flame is up and down, varying continually, never the same: that candle—that's me."

     He spoke of a Bucke letter. "Doctor is absorbed in Willie Gurd's meter—it possesses him body and soul. Even the Leaves must be set aside for this machine. I guess he has a good heap of money put away in it—far away I'd bet: so far away it'll never be got back, I'm afraid: but Doctor is very optimistic: he sees it all come home to roost with millions added to enrich the nest: God help us! Well, I don't wish Maurice any harm—and I don't wish him any money, either." Talked some about Harned: "Tom is direct—powerfully, unerringly direct—in his work in the law, I should guess. It is a Sir Matthew Hale quality: I have cited it in writing of Hicks—Elias Hicks. It is of supreme importance—perhaps the greatest faculty of all—productive of signal results: a corkscrew certainty of brain, of spirit, going this fashion"—indicating—"through all distractions to the core, to foundations, to roots. What a pity all lawyers, judges, priests (especially priests) did not have it in past ages: how much sorrow would have been saved the world!"

     I said to W.: "I didn't write to Burroughs today: I didn't know what to tell him about Arnold." W. laughed. "About me, you mean? My notion of Arnold—of John's paper? Well, what can I say? It has been some time (didn't you say June?) since it appeared. I read it then but have no definite idea of the impression it made upon me.""I remember: I remember that you seemed more occupied with the fact that you differed with Burroughs than with the other merits of the piece.""That is quite possible—no doubt true: I can never bring myself to applaud Arnold. Arnold has his pet word, adopted from the German: Philistine: a word I should apply to him above all others: and a Philistine of the sort I cannot accept, affiliate with. John himself, in spite of himself, has been touched a bit

 
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with the frost of the literary clique in New York: Stoddard, Winter, Fawcett, God knows who—the whole crew." I broke in: "But he's not one of 'em!" "No—no indeed: not one of 'em: one not of 'em—but touched, touched, bitten: touched as Dowden is in England: the noble, good, Dowden, superb as he is in instinct and equipment. John's preeminent features are good nature, good humor, eligibility for friendship: he proposes to include everybody, to accept the meanest creature in the tribe, to draw no lines: he in fact is for the ensemble: John's world would have no outcasts.""Yes," I said, "nor would your world—that kind of a Burroughs is Walt Whitman, too""True: true!—that's me, too: but I am not good natured: no; no; not at all as good and kind as John: I get riled—a fellow like Arnold stirs me up. I accept the world—most of the world—but somehow draw the line somewhere on some of those fellows. John detects in me primarily the lessons of comradeship, the comrade spirit: is drawn to that, sees that as the vitalizing spinal force."

     I showed W. an autograph note written by Wendell Phillips to C. C. Burleigh, given to me by the latter's son. "I have heard Burleigh speak," said W., taking off his glasses: "The whole Burleigh family was noble: C. C. was a powerful speaker: he was a grand looking as well as a grand spoken man: most impressive in build and demeanor. In those days I frequented the anti-slavery halls, in New York—heard many of their speakers—people of all qualities, styles—always interesting, always suggestive. It was there I heard Fanny Wright: the noblest Roman of them all, though not of them, except for a time: a woman of the noblest make-up whose orbit was a great deal larger than theirs—too large to be tolerated for long by them: a most maligned, lied-about character—one of the best in history though also one of the least understood. She had a varied career here and in France—married a damned scoundrel, lost her fortune, faced the world with her usual courage. Her crowning sorrow was when the infernal whelp who had been her husband tried in France, through the aid of a priest, to take from her her daughter, charging that the child needed to be protected from

 
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the danger of her mother's infidelistic teachings. Think of it! And this time it was a priest not a woman who was at the bottom of the villainy. They say, somebody says, almost everybody says, there's a woman at the bottom of everything. That's the half truth: the whole truth is that there's a man always back of the woman. The scoundrel, through the aid of the French law, which is of all law probably the least favorable to women, got nearly her whole fortune, perhaps the whole of it, so that at the last, when she needed five thousand dollars or so, she had to beg it of him, he even then making the concession reluctantly. But my remembrance of her all centers about New York. She spoke in the old Tammany Hall there, every Sunday, about all sorts of reforms. Her views were very broad, she touched the widest range of themes—spoke informally, colloquially. She published while there the Free Inquirer, which my daddy took and I often read. She has always been to me one of the sweetest of sweet memories: we all loved her: fell down before her: her very appearance seemed to enthrall us. I had a picture of her about here—it is probably somewhere in the house still: a sitting figure—graceful, deer-like: and her countenance! oh! it was very serene. Her hair was put in the old style, high at the back, so"—gesturing. "You don't know Mary Smith—Mrs. Costelloe?—well, if you could know her, meet her, you might in a general way see Fanny Wright as she always comes back to me.""Did she write anything, Walt?" asked Harned. "Oh, yes! one little book I remember well—a little pamphlet, a mere whiffet for size but sparkling with life: Ten Days in Athens it was called." I said: "Morse gave it to me and said he had given away hundreds of copies.""Did Morse say that to you? Good for Morse! I have myself given some copies around in places where I thought they would do the most good. The book is not great but it is interesting, even fascinating—written, I think, in her eighteenth year—immature, perhaps, crude, but strong."

     Harned got up, said good bye to W. and left. W. then went right on with the same line of reminiscence, which seemed of intense interest to him, as it was to me. "I swore when I was a

 
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young man that I would sometime—I could not say when but as the opportunity appeared—do public justice to three people—three of the superber characters of my day or America's early days who were either much maligned or much misunderstood. One of them was Thomas Paine: Paine the chiefest of these: the other two were Elias Hicks and Fanny Wright. I determined that I would bear witness to them—true witness where the great majority have borne false witness—in thick and thin, come what might to me. Some years ago I put in a word for Paine—appeared on the Liberal League platform up town, in Philadelphia—you will find what I said in the Collect of Specimen Days—holding forth, so to speak: talking right out in I think unmistakable words the conviction that had for so long beset me. Now, in our new book, I try in my Hicks to confirm another item of my triple oath. Fanny Wright yet remains: God knows whether I'll ever get to her! If I ever get back to anything like or that seems like strength I shall do for Fanny Wright what I have done for the others—that and more, too, if need be. If a Fanny Wright afternoon or evening should be arranged for anywhere by any group of people who know enough to celebrate her I must try to be about to say my say, even if I must drag myself on my half dead legs to the spot—to put in such full measure of tribute as I know ever, forever, is due to her from me. The Paine piece was very small—written diminuendo, I am aware—yet is choked, brimfull, of such feeling as the moment, the man, the old cherished associations, invoked. The boys over in New York in the Bowery used to have a handsome idiom—'Little, but O hell!' Ain't that richer than the mint? I hope if my Paine piece is little it's also O hell."

     W. asked me: "What do you think Horace—is a preface necessary?—I mean, for the big book?""Perhaps not necessary but you would make it seem so.""You are a flatterer. I have thought no, I have thought yes: today I have been thinking yes extra strong. But whatever it is, it must be very short: perhaps a bare statement of the purpose, design, of the book (has it a purpose or design?)—then a full stop—would be the best thing to

 
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meet the case. My hesitations make me think of a story. The captain of a baseball nine was to be presented with a silver pitcher. The spokesman for the Club had a fine speech written and rehearsed—the captain ditto. The day arrived, the crowd was there, but the program didn't go through. Both the stars of the occasion forgot their speeches: they flustered about, wondering what to do—then finally retreated to first causes, to their simple human nature—the spokesman exclaiming; 'Captain, here's the pitcher!' and the captain exclaiming in reply: 'Is that the pitcher?' So the affair was a success after all, though not according to the rule set. I guess I'll have to model my preface on the incident—and if the preface is half as successful as the incident I'll be satisfied. 'Captain, here's the preface!' 'Is that the preface?' We want to get the pitcher into the right hands—that's the whole object."

     W. is as he says "still mystified by the Fowler portrait and its superscription. I must have been hypnotically handled by somebody." In objecting to a line of type at the foot of the frontispiece portrait W. says: "I don't know why but I know I don't like it. I don't know what I want but I do know what I don't want. I know my game always when I see it but I do not always know how to drive it up a tree. Use your own taste—that's the best way—and when your taste is my taste (for it often enough is, don't you think, Horace?) I'll yell for you to anchor. I resign all this detail to you, to do with it what you can. You will hear from me loud and hard if you fail me but I don't think you will fail me. I have a sense of things that seems to precede all judgments—a something or other that does not immediately explain itself but likes, dislikes, not being able to say why. It's the Quaker in me—in me strong here and there."

     Though looking bad enough W's. whole talk this evening was vigorous and inspiring. His voice was at times weak. Mary Davis said to me: "You seem to have waked Mr. Whitman up. He was dull enough all day. Miss Jessie came in in the very early evening. She is a bright girl—she, too, cheered him. I have never known him to be more silent than today." Talked

 
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some about a Roden Noel portrait which he produced from a pile of papers on the table. "It is Byronic in the extreme: do we not understand that he is somehow of the Byron stock? It is feminine, too—not weakly so, but feminine. Noel hates to have us reckon up our assets without counting him in: you remember how he kicked? He is a virile sort of fellow, too, if I may get a shy in on him though his letters. I gave you a volume of his poems once but you have never told me how they hit you—or if they hit you all." W. also said, handing me a sheet of paper: "You might put this with the Linton letter I gave you yesterday or day before. I don't know as it's of the least use, but you're so hungry and fussy I feel guilty if I throw the least scrap of paper away without your permission." What he gave me was the draft of one of his own letters.

Camden, Feb. 24 '75.


My dear Linton:

     I want you to have printed very nicely for me 1000 impressions of the cut, my head, to go into the book. Herewith I send the size of sheet. If convenient I should like to see a proof, fac simile, first.

     I am still holding out here—don't get well yet—and don't go under yet.

     Love to you—Write immediately on receiving this.

      Under the note W. had written: "this sized sheet—print dark in color as you think they will stand (I don't like them too weak in color)." W. said: "1875! that was one of my darkest years: I was down, down, down that year: it seemed like a year of surrender. I came out of it—God knows how." Remarked: "You have said nothing of the editorial wish-wash I handed over to you yesterday." I replied: "I haven't come to it yet—I'm getting behind in some things." W. laughed: "I'm in no hurry: anytime or never, it's all one to me"

 
Tuesday, August 28, 1888.

     Two men came in at night-fall—one a Philadelphian, the other a Rev. Andrews, of Belfast, Ireland. W. consented to see

 
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them though when they arrived up stairs not inviting them to be seated or talking with them as if he wished them to stay. He was eating his supper at the time. Andrews complimented him—spoke of objections "among the cloth" in England to L. of G.—assured W. that for his part W's. work was unexceptionable: W. saying concerning it all: "They do not seem to comprehend that we are all God's creatures"—but saying little more, he himself finally terminating the conference by pushing out his fist and bidding them good night. A little later W. had another visitor, a Camden printer, who had named his son "Walt Whitman so and so," as W. said. They talked a little but W. could not stand it. "Too much goes a good ways towards satisfying me," he said to me amusingly, describing the incident. "I feel such a strange lethargy—am utterly fagged out—am on the dizzy edge of things today."

      Had for him a proof of revised frontispiece page. His face lighted up. "That is right now—right at last"—nodding to me: "Horace, you know just what I want and do in such things: do it: do it just as if it was your own to do." Was in too bad shape today to touch the preface. Read some. "But even reading is difficult." He picks his book up, opens it, puts on his glasses, reads a bit, then suddenly lays his book down again on its open face, removes his glasses, drops his head against the back of the chair, and looks out into space. He does this again and again. Yet when I said: "You seem to have a hard time reading," he replied a bit testily: "Who told you that, I'd like to know?" I asked: "But do you?" He nodded: "I will admit something of that kind but not much."

     Bucke is still giving W. advice about the big book. W. remarked: "Maurice lives in a small town and sends me a large advice. If I could sell all the advice I get I might retire from the Leaves of Grass business with a competence." We expect Gilchrist in a few days. W. frequently works his way to the bath room: "But it's a damned painful process: my left leg ain't worth shucks anymore—I simply have to drag it along." W. handed me Dowden's Shakspere—his Mind and Art with the

 
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suggestion that I should read it. It is full of W.'s pencillings and of newspaper clippings pinned in—but few comments. "That is the sort of book that seems to have funded all the particular, essential, information in its own specialty: a world book in the sense of being rounded, completed, self-sufficient. Dowden could challenge all comers in his own line—no one would dare take him up." Then he stopped, adding, however, after my "I like to hear you say that,""I like to say it, too—it is only the truth. It's the finest thing in the world to be able to do justice to some study—do it whole justice—not exactly exhaust it (that is impossible) but to treat it with a sort of final comprehensiveness, dignity. Dowden has done that much in his book. I do not hesitate to say, in his memorable book. You can see from the thumb marks and other marks in the book how I have practically demonstrated my faith."

     We talked a little about the editorial letters he gave me a few days ago. "You have said things now and then about the editors which are not borne out by their letters." He asked: "What things?""You have talked as if they uniformly turned you down. There are quite as many acceptances as refusals in this budget." He answered: "I suppose I have destroyed the most of the letters that came back with my poems. I was more likely to keep the pleasant than the unpleasant letters. I shouldn't wonder if it proved true that you have in that batch of letters and in a few others I have already given you about all the blessings that have ever come to me by way of editorial correspondence. There is some Galaxy stuff still coming to you: I can't just now just put my hand on it." He complained of his head. I got up to go. He protested: "Before you do so, read me a letter or two for example——." I laughed. "You know them all. Why should I worry you with them over again." But he still said: "Read a few: I want to have my memory refreshed." I read five letters before he stopped me. Several times he asked me to reread a sentence.

 
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Fields, Osgood & Company,

Boston, December 14, 1868.


Walt Whitman.
Dear Sir:

     —In order that your poem shall go into the February number of the Atlantic, it is impossible to risk the time it would take to get the proof to Washington and back, So I promise you the proof shall be read, word for word, and point for point, with your copy, which being print, there is no chance for an error.


Yours always,


James T. Fields.


Office of The New York Citizen.

New York, Nov. 18, 1867.

Walt Whitman.


Dear Sir:

     Do you remember that I wrote to you asking you if you could not give us a poem, and if so, on what terms?

     May I call your attention once more to the matter. We should be very glad to have a poem from you, but I don't know how much the proprietors would authorize me to pay.

     When you are in town, if you will call on me, I can show you two ladies—one of them my wife—who appreciate your poetry, as I do.

     It is only of late years that I have understood it; and I am now enthusiastic over it.


Very respectfully yours,


W. L. Alden.
(Associate Editor).


Harper & Brothers' Editorial Rooms

New York, Jan. 3, 1885.


Dear Mr. Whitman,

     I am unable to use After the Supper and Talk to advantage—though it is very happy in the prelusive connection you would give it in your volume.


With thanks, sincerely yours.


H. M. Alden.
Editor Harpers' Magazine.

 
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Editorial Department, The Century Magazine,

Marion, Mass., Aug 9, 1884.


My dear Mr. Whitman,

     I am glad you can do the nursing article. Thanks for the Father Taylor. Should you not include Emerson in the list of his praisers which you give? We will try to find a photograph from life.


Sincerely,


R. W. Gilder.


New York Tribune.

New York, July 10, 1876.


Dear Whitman:

     I was out of town—returning from the West, from the funeral of a near relative—when your note of the 7th came. We shall try to publish the poem on Monday, and if we get it in shall hope to enclose check herewith for the amount. If it doesn't come with this it will be because of my being compelled to go down to Washington as a witness in the Impeachment trial. If by reason of my absence it should be overlooked, pray remind me of it.


Very truly yours,


Whitelaw Reid.

     When I had got this far W. said: "Thank you, Horace: thanks, thanks. That's enough for the present. They do sort o' bear you out in what you say." He laughed lightly. "I am a little surprised myself at the favorable nature of the letters," he continued, "for they do certainly say yes, yes, in rather a friendly fashion—all except the one, and that one is not a slap. I do not feel sore when I am refused, but I hate to be pitched out head first without a chance to open the door for myself and go out. Most of the editors, in spite of this exhibit, were dead agin me—some even violently so: I ought to know what I am talking about for I was the one who felt the toes of their boots. There were exceptions—maybe I should have turned this over to you as a batch of exceptions." As W. stopped I read him another of the letters:

 
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Office of the Atlantic Monthly.

Boston, Oct. 10, 1861.


Mr. Walt Whitman—
Brooklyn, N. Y.
Dear Sir:

     —We beg to inclose to your address, in two envelopes, the three poems with which you have favored us, but which we could not possibly use before their interest,—which is of the present,—would have passed. Thanking you for your attention,


We are, Very truly yours,


Editors of Atlantic Monthly.

     This envelope was addressed in W.'s own hand to "Walt Whitman, Portland Avenue, Brooklyn, N. Y.," and was endorsed: "from Atlantic Monthly declining poems." I asked W.: "What were the poems?" and he answered: "I don't just remember: I do remember that the idea that their interest was of the present struck me as being a bit odd: I always have written with something more than a simply contemporary perspective. But there's no use crying over spilled poems. The ways of editors are like the ways of Providence""and the poets," I put in—"past finding out." W. laughed at my interjection and cried: "Now what the hell have you got against the poets?""Just what you've got against the editors," I answered. "Is that all? I've got nothing against the editors.""I've got nothing against the poets." He had brightened up over our sally: "Then what the devil are we quarrelling about, Horace?" He was serious and silent after this for a moment: "Horace, if nations stopped long enough when they are mad to ask themselves that question we would have no wars: do you hear? we would have no wars!" He spoke with great earnestness. "Horace, most of our quarrels start with little things and grow in volume by what they feed upon." I said: "Watch the little things and the big things will take care of themselves." He exclaimed: "That's what I was about to say. Why didn't you wait till I said it? You're getting in the habit of taking the best things right out of my mouth and saying them as if they were your own.

 
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How am I going to shine if your light gets too big?" I reminded him: "I haven't finished with the editors." He nodded: "I know—don't finish tonight: I've got beyond myself in this talk already: I felt miserable when you arrived—you have stirred me up considerably—brightened me lots—but if I don't stop now I'll have to pay for it to-morrow. Besides, Mr. Musgrove will step in presently and put me to bed with or without my consent, and then——". I said: "I don't believe Musgrove or anybody ever does much with you without your consent." He chuckled a bit: "I don't know—I don't know: though your guess, Horace, ain't half bad either."

 
Wednesday, August 29, 1888.

     Little if any change in W. today. Woke up feeling very bad. By and by remarked: "I seem to see my way out: I guess I'll get through." All day in such a negative condition. "I am like a tree fixed in the ground.""I continue just where I was, but am irritable, irritable." I objected: "I don't believe it's in you to be irritable: I couldn't connect you with irritability." He returned: "Don't be so sure about that—don't let that notion run away with you: you don't know to what depths of devilishness I may not descend if I get going once.""Yes, but you don't get going.""Maybe I don't—maybe I'm slow to get going, but it's not impossible."

     He settled himself comfortably in his chair, put on his glasses (which he had taken off as he laid down the Cosmopolitan he was reading on my entrance) and asked: "Now, what have you got for me? I see you have got something." I handed him proofs. Myrick said today: "I'll try the old man with some new-fangled type-faces." Referring to title page design. W. said: "I have no objections to being tried, especially if I am tried this way and so successfully."` We talked over details concerning the contents pages. W. said: "I never know what I want until I see it before my eyes. My mind's eye don't serve me in the printing business."

 
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      W. still dissenting from Bucke's views concerning the big book. "Doctor is a little too much inclined to special de luxe editions, which I don't care for at all: exclusive editions, editions for the elite, curios, what not. I have thought to get a hundred printed and bound for my own sales to help me out on the expense account. If I could sell a hundred at ten dollars a copy I'd feel like a pampered darling of fortune—it would be a pretty penny for me. Well, well—let us keep the work moving right on—many of the excited things will calm themselves. I always have great faith in ends: we miss a lot as we go along—mix up bad and good and indifferent—but the end is sure—the right end."

      Musgrove entered with a letter. W. took it, glanced at it, turned to me: "It's from the Doctor—from Bucke." Then after disposing of other things and reading the note deliberately: "There's nothing in it, nothing striking, and yet it is atmospherically so wholesome. A bunch of them take a trip together—have a good time, eating, talking, cutting up: then they go home again, all the better for a break out of routine." After a pause he said: "Did I tell you that Mrs. Coates and Mr. Coates were in today? Well, they were. I saw them—was glad to see them: both of them are so good, cordial, sincere—she particularly. It does my old eyes good to look at such a woman. They said they had come upon your intimation that they might see me. They talked about the books—she did—but Mr. Coates said: 'I have arranged for all that with Mr. Traubel—we will not trouble Mr. Whitman now.' I have reserved for them the books they want—the Centennial edition."

     I told W. I was enjoying Dowden's Shakespere. "So? It is fine—fine indeed: Dowden is flesh and blood. His book gives the common sense view of Shakespeare—gives it powerfully, lucidly, musically. I am myself not altogether satisfied with it—I do not follow or endorse his picture, his conclusions: but I esteem the book for what it possesses—for its own inimitable virtues. Dowden is my friend: he quotes me several times—is always cordial: not wholesale, but loyal. How does Dowden

 
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compare with Stedman? He is fuller, ampler, holds more—undoubtedly holds more. Burroughs thinks there is no one like Dowden—thinks he's the greatest of the pack—no one approaching him, no one comparable, no one in sight, not even Rossetti. I am not so sure about Rossetti: I shall never give over Rossetti: he is always capacious, liberal—an inevitably broad-acred sort of a man. Rossetti, too, has always declared for me, stood by me, staunchly assented my right to my own. And did you notice the printing of the book, Horace? The mere printing is a delight—would be a sufficient charm if there was nothing else. It is so honest—so good for bad eyes, or good ones either. American printing is all gloss, glare: the paper is bad, the ink is anemic—pale in the gills: makes me think of the prettiness of drug stores—the polished bottles, the painful glitter."

     I asked: "How about the Book Maker portrait: have you come upon an explanation of it yet?""No, not a sign of one, not a whisper or a hint. But probably I did that"—pointing to the fac-simile autograph—""in one of my 'moods,' though, however done, it was exceptional—not in my usual manner." He added as to the same matter: "I am not surprised that that thing should have got away from me: my memory cuts up strange capers. I wrote to Lockwood thanking him for the copies I received today but said nothing about our mystery—asked no questions. My memory is not what it was—is quite surely shocked or breaking. Indeed, it performs the most astounding antics. To-day I sent copies of the Book Maker to my sisters, to O'Connor, to Bucke and to Kennedy. When I came to Kennedy I couldn't for all I might do remember his name. I could remember Belmont and Massachusetts but it took me five minutes to get the rest. And yet my memory is perfect for old things—clear about things that happened years ago: is a good deal more at home with my old than with my new history—than with affairs I am mixed with (if I mix with any things) nowadays."

     W. had been looking for a book he could not find. "I have

 
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had numbers of books stolen." "Stolen?""Yes stolen: my own books, books sent me: stolen from down stairs, from the back room here—almost under my eyes." He stopped to laugh, and he laughed with extra heartiness. "I spoke of the defects of my memory, but bad as they are they are not fatal—some ways my memory's as good as ever. These book thieves are not all unknown: in many and many a case I could name the thief if there was need for it: but though I don't do so and wouldn't, I keep up a devil of a thinking."

     Someone has sent him Edward J. McPhelim's America critique, in which it is said: "Early in life Whitman met Mr. Beecher, and at the outset of their acquaintanceship asked him: 'How does it make you feel when men swear?' Mr. Beecher replied that it shocked him. That was enough for Whitman. He went back to his rough companions and evidently found nothing uncongenial in their conversation." I laughed and asked W.: "Where did he get that from?" W. tapped his forehead: "Here." Then added: "Some men, authors, think they are born to write articles at all hazards so they write articles—write them for ten, twenty, dollars a page. If they have facts, well and good—if they haven't facts, then so much the worse for the facts. Conway is a brilliant example of that class of men—the most brilliant example. He is always writing, always getting into print: thinks it a duty to write whether there's anything to write about or not. Conway seemed intended for a better fate but some screw got loose in the machinery and the result, though not a dead failure, was not what I call the right sort of success."

     W., in speaking of the Emerson-Carlyle correspondence, says: "It seems open to one charge from the critic. All through the book we find Emerson saying to Carlyle: 'You're a good fellow, quite a great fellow,' and so forth, and so forth: and then Carlyle returns the compliment in kind, 'You're another—another, and so forth, and so forth. It's a little like two masters of fashion trying to outbow each other. That's not all there is to the book but that is there." W. says he is considering

 
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whether not to interdict all strangers. "They wear me down—I find I can't stand it: we'll have to put a warning up over the front door." Asked me if I still had the remaining editorial letters in my pocket? "If you have you might go on reading them to me. They remind me of my triumphs and my defeats. I still insist that I have had more editorial battles on my list lost than won. But read."

Editorial Department The Century Magazine,

New York, July 12, 1884.


Walt Whitman, Esq.,
My dear Sir:

     We are making preparations for a notable series of papers on the Battles of the War to be written by participants—general officers—including Grant, McClellan, Rosecrans, Beauregard, Longstreet, Joe Johnson and others. These we desire to supplement by short pithy papers on different phases of the War. At Mr. Gilder's request I write to ask if you would not write us a short, comprehensive paper on Hospital Nursing in Washington and on the field—something human and vivid. We should like about four thousand words.

      The object of the supplementary papers is to give the life, the spirit, the color, of the War, which may be left out by the generals.

     Of course we should like the paper to cover different ground from what you have before written if possible—at least to cover it in a different way.


Yours sincerely,


R. U. Johnson.

     After reading this I waited for W. to say something, but he was silent, except to exclaim: "Go on—go on: let's hear them all!" So I proceeded.


Harper & Brothers' Editorial Rooms.

New York, Oct. 22, 1884.


Dear Mr. Whitman:

     Please find enclosed Messrs Harper & Brothers' cheque for thirty dollars in payment for your poem

 
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Of That Blithe Throat of Thine. And you have the Messrs Harpers' permission to use the poem in a collection of your poems six months (or later) after our publication.


With thanks, sincerely yours,


H. M. Alden.


Editor of Harpers' Magazine.

     "That thirty dollars," said W., "I remember quite well, because Harry Bonsall was here when it arrived and as I flourished it in the air said to me: 'I'd write bad poems myself Walt if I could get anybody to pay me thirty dollars apiece for 'em.'" The next letter was headed by a red ink question in W's hand: "send something?" It was written on the stationery of the Dublin University Magazine.


London, April 23, 1877.


Walt Whitman, Esq.
Dear Sir:

     —I have been reading aloud your Whispers of Heavenly Death this evening from the copy which you so kindly sent me in March, 1876: and it has led me on to ask if you have any poems still unpublished in the same vein of mystic realism. And if so, could you spare me one or two for the Magazine which I represent? I am sorry that but a trifle could be offered for them, as the Magazine has been neglected of late, and has only recently come into my hands, to be worked up again by labor and patience.

     I trust you are as well as you expect to be and nearly as happy as you hope.


Yours faithfully,


Kenningale Cook.

     "Mystic realism" struck W. He said: "Now and then we get a whole something or other packed tight and sure in a word or two." I said: "That, again, don't look much like being kicked out." And as I read the next: "Nor this either."

 
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Once A Week.

New York, 30 July, 1887.


Dear Sir.

     Will you be so good as to let me know if you would be willing to honor us with a contribution for Once A Week and what your terms would be?


Yours faithfully,


Nugent Robinson,
Editor.

     "Why, he even says 'honor us!' It seems to me these fellows instead of kicking you out went out on the sidewalk and helped you in." W. retorted: "You do well to say 'these fellows:' but what about all the other fellows who did the kicking? Maybe you'd like to hear about them?""I have heard: you have told me: but this bunch of autocrats seem to me to have handled you in a very mild spirit." Now he laughed. "Damn you, you are determined to have it your way! Go on with the letters and don't say so much!" Next I read another Alden letter, remarking as I did so: "Better and more of it.""Better what?" he asked. "Better courtesy, patronage, good will."


Harper & Brothers' Editorial Rooms.

New York, Nov. 30, 1883.


Dear Mr. Whitman,

     Please find enclosed Messrs Harper & Brothers' cheque for fifty dollars in payment for your poem, With Husky-Haughty Lips O Sea!

     With thanks and best wishes for your health and holiday cheer.


Sincerely yours,


Henry M. Alden,
Editor Harpers' Magazine.

     I still jollied W. "When you gave me this collection of letters the other day I thought from what you said that it was a bunch of sticks. Instead of that it is a bunch of roses." He had at first been just a bit nettled by my comments on these letters but this

 
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broke down his dignity. He nodded to me: "It certainly does look bad for my growl, to have all this evidence against it. But it just happens that I have saved the approving letters and thrown the disapproving letters away. If I had saved all my correspondence with editors you would at once see what I meant by my original remark—how that remark was justified by the facts." I desisted from further reading. There were three or four letters left but there didn't seem to be much of him left. I helped him over to the bed. "Haven't I stayed too long?""No—it's not that—I am just as apt to get this way without you here as with you here. Besides, there are things we must do together even if we must fight for our lives in getting 'em done." I kissed him good night and started off. I was already in the hallway when I heard him cry: "Horace! Horace!" I hurried back. "I almost forgot," he exclaimed: "you'll find on the table over there a couple of open letters in purple ink. They are Trowbridge letters. You remember, you asked about his letters. There are more here but the two I have laid out there will give you a pretty good idea of the length and breadth and heat of his adhesion to me in my unfashionable days."

 
Thursday, August 30, 1888.

     Received today at office basket of pears from John Burroughs, taking some over to Camden with me in the evening. When I entered W's. room with the burden on my shoulder he laid down his book and looked at me in astonishment. "What in the world have you got there?" he cried: and when I had explained he added: "Ah! so you brought it over—all the way over and by yourself, too?" I set the basket on the floor in front of him. "How good of John! And will you write to him? Yes do so and give him my love: tell him I sit here simmering, tallying things as they go, but lame, useless, perhaps not to get about again at all." He spoke calmly but freely about his condition. "I am only so-so—I gain no strength, and, I may say, no heart—lose heart, in fact. I doubt if I shall ever get out of this mess—I am more and more doubtful: it seems to me I am here for a

 
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life sentence—here in my prison, as I call it." To Mary Davis he said: "I guess my ship won't sail no more," and to me in conclusion: "It looks as if I'd go on in about this way to the end."

     Every time he gets in such a mood about his condition he urges that we hurry our work. Did so this evening. Instead of saying, "let's take our time—time is plenty," he says, "our time may be very short—who knows how short?" and so: "Push everything along with vigor." I showed him samples of paper. He chose one. "I like it—like its feel, like its look: order that. I will give you a check for it any day you say so. One thing more: see that the frontispiece plate is printed. I do not want anything my fault to interfere with your progress. When I'm in the road throw me out—I empower you to throw me out." Bucke wrote him a cheery letter day before yesterday advising him to move down stairs, live in sight of events, go riding occasionally, and so forth. But W. said: "I know better than any others can what I should do, what I care to do. At present I have no desire for change of any sort." Approved of Myrick's title page. "I generally find that if I start by liking a thing I am eventually satisfied with it and let it go." Had read Contents pages today. Reduced the size of "Walt Whitman" on the title. "It's unusual for me to put it on at all but the publishers insist on it—Dave McKay in particular—saying that it secures readers, arrests attention. It never quite approves itself to my eyes but I yield. You know, Horace, that I am of a pliable disposition. You do know, don't you?" He stopped to laugh at the idea. As to the big book, he is asking himself if it may not need a special title. "If one pops up I'll nail it—use it—but I won't go looking for it.""I had from Australia today," he said, "a little book (there it is—you have your hand on it now)—a peculiar book: a book of poems, labor poems, written by an anarchist or some such fellow.""Have you read it?""No—not at all: I rarely read literature of the sort. This man is affectionate: look at his inscription." This was the inscription:

 
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     "To Walt Whitman,—to the poet of the first generation of Democracy, to the noble pioneer of a true Civilization, to the splendid singer of the heath and freedom of man,—with admiration, affection, reverence."

     "The author's name is Adams—Francis Adams," added W. "and the book is called Songs of the Army of the Night. You ought to take the book along with you, Horace: it's more in your line than mine. They all think I am theirs—theirs alone. My own instinct is to avoid books of that nature: they never attracted me: nowadays, when I am almost like a closed bank account, I find them absolutely impossible. You will like to see this particular book: I looked at it enough to see that it is superior in its class: you may even read it: you are so anxious to keep up with everything that's going on—to see what the fellows, all the odds and ends of the fellows, in the world are about."

     I gave him a little portrait of myself. "I shall like to have it right here where I can put my hands on it—and my eyes." Then he got back into business again. "I shall send to Washington for the copyright. We need two title pages for that. Then we need title pages for your set and Bucke's and my own, and contents for all. I trust all to you—I am always expecting that you will keep tabs on everything going on in our business together whether I speak of it or not. When the plate printer gets his work done take the sheets to Oldach, as you suggest: I have about fully decided to adopt him: I know about him—like his work." Had he gone over the plate proofs thoroughly?" "Not thoroughly, nor do I feel that I shall or ought. It looks bad for you, Horace—as if you'd have to do that part of the job without my assistance." Asked him for an order upon Sherman for the plates of L. of G. to be delivered to Ferguson. "Yes—I'll write you the order: and another thing, Horace"—here he removed his glasses and closed his eyes: "There are still a few slips in Leaves of Grass in spite of all my vigilance and these I shall give you a list of so that they may be looked to in this edition." Wishes me to get him "twenty or more—though not

 
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many more" impressions from the frontispiece plate on "extra good paper:" "I have a number of friends I want to send copies to." Told him I enjoyed the Trowbridge letters very much. "So they struck you forcibly, did they? That's the way they struck me at the time." I asked in mock seriousness: "Why don't you say that Trowbridge, too, kicked you out?" He was amused. "You have a long memory Horace—an uncomfortable memory. Don't it hurt you sometimes?" It was my turn to laugh. "I don't know what about that. It's hurting you just now." Still good natured W. said: "Anyhow, the Trowbridge letters are all right, don't you think? Trowbridge is not a master-force in literature but he has mined a lot in honest ground and brought out some real metal." I read the letters aloud at W.'s request.

Arlington, Mass.

Apr. 3rd, 1875.


My dear friend,

      I think I have all of your books (2 or 3 editions of some) except the last,—specified in my former note,—which alone I had intended to ask for. That might be sent by mail. I write this because on your card you speak of sending me books, and because I really desire only one.

     I still go back occasionally to the old Leaves of Grass and find in them the same unfailing freshness and power which repeated readings in no wise dull to the sense—a test which only master strokes in literature can stand. They seem very great to me. I am thankful for them.


Faithfully yours,


J. T. Trowbridge.


Arlington, Mass.

Dec. 2, 1877.


Dear Friend Whitman,

      By the time you get this I suppose you will have received The Book of Eden which I have ordered for you from the publishing house. I think you will find some things in it that will interest you.

 
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     I have heard nothing from the projected bust of you for a long while. The last time I saw it, nearly a year ago, it had quite lost headway. I hope, however, that Morse will take a new departure and finally succeed.

     I see that somebody has stepped forward to "defend" you (in a mild way) in the Contributors' Club of the last Atlantic. I am astonished that these latter-day critics should have so little to say of the first Leaves of Grass, or venture to speak of them only apologetically. They still stand to me as the most powerful prophetic utterances in modern literature.

     I have now two dear little girls, and we are all pretty well. I trust you are comfortable.


J. T. Trowbridge.

      W. said: "Trowbridge was one of the early comers and long stayers, always loved and welcomed. I have had some friends of a secondary character—friends with ifs and buts to be satisfied before they would swear to an allegiance. Trowbridge came with a few others by a straight road. You notice what he says of the first edition. Do you know, I think almost all the fellows who came first like the first edition above all others. Yet the last edition is as necessary to my scheme as the first edition: no one could be superior to another because all are of equal importance in the fulfillment of the design. Yet I think I know what Trowbridge means, too: I do not consider his position unreasonable: there was an immediateness in the 1855 edition, an incisive directness, that was perhaps not repeated in any section of poems afterwards added to the book: a hot unqualifying temper, an insulting arrogance (to use a few strong words) that would not have been as natural to the periods that followed. We miss that ecstasy of statement in some of the after-work—miss that and get something different, something in some ways undoubtedly better. But what's the use arguing an unarguable question? It either is or isn't and that's the end on't." I called W.'s attention to the fact that I had not read all the editorial letters last night. Should I go on with them? "Still harping on my

 
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daughter! Yes, go on. But, say, Horace, ain't you nearly done with 'em? I had no idea the story had so many chapters when I handed it over to you." I read.

Harper & Brothers' Editorial Rooms.

New York, Sept. 20, 1886.


Dear Mr. Whitman,

     I am unable to avail myself of your War Memoranda, which I herewith return. The Century Magazine has so strongly occupied this field that we do not wish to enter upon it.


With thanks, sincerely yours,


H. M. Alden,
Editor Harpers' Magazine.

     "See," said W., "there's a kick: don't you call that a kick?""If it's a kick it's a sort of kick that don't hurt." He said again: "I suppose I'm thin-skinned too, sometimes: I never get it quite clear in my old head that I am not popular and if editors have any use for me at all it can only be among the minor figures of interest. I do not rank high in market valuations—at the best I am only received on sufferance: I have not yet really got beyond the trial stage."


The North American Review.

New York, Oct. 5, 1886.


My dear Friend:

     The syndicate is dissolved. Mr. Rice furnishes articles for the Star only. The price of your article puts it outside of any possible use for it in that paper, as the highest price is ten dollars per thousand. Just wait a few days, however, and I will read it and see if it will not do for the North American. Your Burns article will be, I expect, in the November number.


Very truly yours,


James Redpath.

     "Redpath? yes, Redpath was always partial to me—even went out of his way to curl my hair. He jumped in several

 
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times and saved me from bankruptcy—steered things my way that might have gone anywhere: interceded for me, with Rice for instance, often, I suspect, at some cost to himself. O'Connor used to say to me: 'I can count your real friends in America, Walt, on my fingers and toes: Burroughs, Redpath—and so he would go on: I noticed he always included Redpath." I read W. another letter.

The Saturday Union.

Lynn, Mass., May 26, 1884.


Mr. Walt Whitman:
Dear Sir.

     I send you with this letter two copies of our paper, both containing notices of your poems. Permit me to thank you warmly for the great inspiration I have received from the reading of Leaves of Grass. In my opinion it makes a new era in American Literature, and is to stand out more and more prominently, as time advances, as the distinctively American book.


Most respectfully,


S. W. Foss.

     I asked W.: "Who is Foss?" He answered: "I don't know—a writer, they tell me: writes prose, poetry: I don't seem to have come to close quarters with his work." Then after a pause: "Now let me see, maybe I wrote him—maybe I do know more than that about him: I have, I think, read a few little poems with his name attached—quaint, semi-humorous poems: or do I still get him mixed with somebody else?" I said: "He makes a big claim for you." "Yes, so he does—but will anybody believe him? When I say such things about myself the world looks on and calls me crazy!" He seemed to be a good bit amused with his own fancy, adding: "Time was when I had to say big things about myself in order to be honest with the world—in order to keep in a good frame of mind until the world caught up. A man has sometimes to whistle very loud to keep a stiff upper lip.""When the cries and the silences are all against him?""Yes—then: the cries and silences: that's just it.""There are a couple of letters left." He looked at his watch—threw up his

 
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hand in protest. "No more editors to-night: another time, any time, to-morrow: no more to-night."

 
Friday, August 31, 1888.

     In at Ferguson's today and Bilstein's. Received second proof of title and contents pages, W. expressing himself at once as completely satisfied with both. W. said: "Did you notice what Bucke said about you in that letter yesterday?""What did he say?""He said: 'H. is first-class.' I say so too. So now, ain't you some proud of yourself?" Gave me another letter from Bucke, dated London 29th. "He has heard from O'Connor. Read what he says of William." Bucke had written: "I had a letter from O'Connor. He seems wonderfully bright and lively considering. His letter was all about you and Donnelly. He sticks to you like a grand fellow as he is." W. repeated the phrase: "Like a grand fellow as he is." "Yes! yes! that and more: like a grandest fellow as he is: words are so weak and William is so strong!" Bucke had also written: "I have been thinking over the Riddle Song and have made up my mind that the answer is 'good cause' or 'old cause' or some other words meaning about the same thing.—?——." W. took the letter from me and put his finger down on Bucke's question mark. "Doctor has guessed—thinks he has guessed right. I wonder? I wonder?" I waited for him to say more. "Do you want me to answer him?" I asked. "Yes answer him: but answer him for yourself—don't answer him for me.""Will you answer the question?""Do I ever answer questions?" He laughed quietly. "Horace, I made the puzzle: it's not my business to solve it. Doctor says he has the right answer—well, that ought to satisfy him—the right answer ought to satisfy him." I saw W. was determined to maintain his silence in the matter and said no more. People have often asked him the meaning of the poem There was a Child went Forth and he has always made the same answer: "What is the meaning? I wonder what? I wonder what?" Once he said to Bonsall: "Harry, maybe it has no meaning."

 
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     W. went down stairs today for the first time—was there half an hour. "The trip down was harder than the trip up," he explained: "Things are much the same though I miss the litter in the parlor." Mrs Davis had told me of this before I saw W. In W's room I said at once: "I hear you have made a trip to Europe today." He did not at first comprehend—simply looked doubtfully at me: then suddenly his whole face lighted up. "To Europe? yes: down stairs: I did go, I made a venture. Don't you think I was a brave man to undertake such a journey?""You must be feeling considerable better.""No—I am not: not at all better. But I wanted something down there and thought I would start off on my own hook and get it. Besides, I ought to move about some, ought to walk, must not get fixed in the chair and bed habit, which will soon turn me into a useless invalid. Mary looked scared—I don't believe she is over it yet." What he was looking for down stairs was Symonds' Greek Literature and a copy of Marcus Aurelius. "I wrote Burroughs a postcard," he remarked: "a few words only." I asked him if he contemplated making his quarters down stairs, as Bucke suggested. "I contemplate nothing: I would be a poor one to contemplate: I drift, drift: there's nothing else left me to do."

     I told W. I had sent McPhelim's America piece off to Bucke. "Ah! good! But what a mess it is! There are a thousand and one gnats, mosquitoes, camp-followers, hanging about the literary army, and each of 'em thinks he must have a fling at Walt Whitman. They know nothing about him—maylike never read or even looked at his book—but that's no matter: that, in fact, seems to be taken as a special qualification for their carpings and crowings. Walt Whitman is rowdy, rough—likes common people; is apt to write about indecent, indelicate, things—is odd, dresses informally: they all tell you that, get hold of that—then are done for." McPhelim seems to have an idea that Charles O'Connor and our William O'Connor are the same person. "I was glad to see a little notice of November Boughs," said W., "in the American Stationer: a little, not a big, notice. Take the paper along—see what you can make of it. I always find something

 
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to interest me in trade papers. A man goes out of town for six months and when he returns half a dozen new inventions have come and revolutionized his profession."

     Still talks of free trade. "Well, I don't promise myself much for this year but I know the baby is born who will strangle this monster. The mass of the people will finally get it rammed into their heads what an infernal humbug the 'American System' is. The man who thinks the free traders do not know what they are about had better keep on thinking—may make a better guess second time: had better take it all out in thinking now: for soon his time will come and there will be no ground left for him to stand on. I have heard it said that reason comes with the forties. I should say as to most men, that reason does not come even then—does not come at all—for I am impressed with the general lack of it."

     What is the place of sickness in character? W. asked himself that question. "They speak of Emerson as being sickly, weak, ailing: all biographies repeat the statement: I guess there is something to it. But, do you know, I never think of Emerson as a sick man. I met him twenty and more times: he was always lithe, active, of good complexion, with a clear eye: gave out no notion of dubious health—was physically jubilant, in a quiet way, as was like him. Indeed, Emerson was almost impatient of sickness—was bright, wonderfully bright, to the very last. Why, I can recall the occasion of our last meeting: it was there at Concord: it was the final visit; he was still possessed of the same imperturbable courage. I was reading the correspondence today—and fine it is, too. All the letters were prepared letters—designed, mulled over, worked out and out. Letters were events in those days. There's something peculiar in my notion about this book. I can read with perfect composure Emerson's soft-soaping of Carlyle, but when Carlyle enters into a sort of responding mood of laudation I am mad—find it artificial. Can you explain that? I can't." I said: "Morse prefers the Carlyle letters.""I do not: I always have liked Emerson's letters—they are not formal, they seem just right to be his."

 
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     After a pause W. added: "I think Burroughs has written some of the best things about Carlyle. And now, while I'm upon that, let me say: the next time you write Burroughs add this to your letter: 'Walt Whitman advises that you gather together all you have ever written about Carlyle—essays, scraps, notes—and print them in a little volume, booklet, so they may be preserved.' Burroughs' espousal of Carlyle is a queer thing, too, taken one way, though I have always upheld his hands in that—always unequivocally endorsed it. It was not strange that I, for instance, should have found friends in England—should have attracted Mrs. Gilchrist, for one: not strange that I should have attracted any one person: but it is significant that that one person should be a woman, in the first place, and then a woman marked for culture, refinement, scholarship. I have a similar feeling of wonder when I remember that Carlyle's most significant living adherent in America should be a man like John: a scholar, concrete—all of him concrete: materialistic (using that word with its broadest amplifications) to a degree. It is curious about Carlyle, too, that his friends here have been our staunchest Americans—in spite of his mean flings, our best democrats—among whom I hope I deserve to be counted."

     W. reminded me of my remark last night that I had a couple of editorial letters still left unread. "Why not read them now," he said, "and be done with 'em?" I replied: "Maybe you would rather not hear them read: they might hurt your feelings." He answered, with a laugh: "I suppose you mean by that that they're both favorable letters?""Exactly." He was grave for a moment. Then he said: "You seem to have been right about that particular collection of letters—they happened to be in the main or wholly of a pleasant nature: but you may believe me when I say I can more than match 'em with others not only politely haughty but often offensively and vituperatively inimical. An editor wrote me: 'How dare you, Walt Whitman,' and so forth: and another said in an effort to be funny: 'Your poem was submitted to the editor of our joke department but he said he could not see the humor of it so with regrets we return it to

 
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you.'" After W. had somewhat gravely quoted his second incident he added: "Though you won't call that insulting, of course." I said: "I confess I am not inclined to take it seriously." W. further said before I read the letters: "There was a New York editor who wrote and assured me that though he could not get interested in my poems he was sure that if I would submit some of my short stories to him we could do some business together.""Had you sent the poems?""No—but he was afraid I would." Now I read the letters.

The North American Review,

New York City, Oct. 20, 1885.


Dear Mr. Whitman:

     Enclosed please find a check for fifty dollars for the article in the November number of the North American Review on Slang in America. This is the very highest rate that is paid for contributions, and exactly double what is paid for nine-tenths of the articles that appear in it. I trust it is satisfactory. When will you have your article on Lincoln ready? Mr. Rice is quite impatient for it. If any question of pay stands in the way won't you please state what you will ask for it, and then I shall have the matter off my mind. I wish you would answer this letter today, as I am about to start on a two weeks' trip to the West.


Yours very truly,


James Redpath.


Magazine of Art,

London, E. C., Nov. 30, 1887.


Walt Whitman, Esq.,
Sir,

     Having added the editorship of this magazine to my duties on the Pall Mall Gazette my thoughts at once turned to you, in the hope that you would let me have a poem for publication in this very widely circulated serial.

     Will you have the kindness to inform me if you have such a poem by you—not too long—and unpublished, of course—and,

 
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preferably, one which would lend itself to illustration? And also on what terms you would let me have such a poem? And, if you haven't this, if you would write one?

     I send a copy of the magazine herewith for you to judge of.

     Awaiting the favor of your reply, and in the hope that your health is in a satisfactory condition,


I am, Sir, Faithfully yours,


M. H. Spielmann,
Editor.

     As I concluded reading I exclaimed: "Well, Walt, this was not a frost—it was an ovation." How heartily he laughed! "So it was—so it was: I must have put my hand on the wrong bundle when I turned those letters over to you for opposition votes. Horace, I hereby apologize to the bundle! Look at Redpath's letter, anyhow: he paid me 'the very highest rate.' Why, that looks almost like popularity, prosperity! You see, however, that I survived all the letters without a fortune. I answered the Spielmann letter by sending the Twenty Years poem which has just appeared. What stuff of bodies and souls history is made of, Horace! What troubles, labors, doubts, as well as what joys, satisfactions, triumphs! No story is complete without the slaps as well as the kisses."

     W. had been reading in a paper about a big free trade meeting in New York addressed by Henry George and William Lloyd Garrison. "I wish you would hunt me up a good report. That man Garrison seems like 'a worth while son to a worth while father,' as you so well said the other day talking of our own Charley Garrison. Sons of the big men are rarely big: it would be curious if William Lloyd Garrison two should get as famous as Garrison one, but I don't expect it. Look at the younger Henry James—I don't see anything above common in him: he has a vogue—but surely his vogue won't last: he don't stand permanently for anything. The elder James must have been quite a man: I know several of his companions: they held him in high esteem. And he had an opinion about me, too."

 
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"Was it a good one?""No—sharp, discouraging. I had a friend up there—a woman friend—who knew him well and often talked with him about authors—sometimes about me. Her great claim for Walt Whitman was that he asserted virility, health, but James used to say to her as to that: 'That's just the trouble: no man can be a great poet who has not known sickness, disease,' and so on. I was always impressed with the idea—it hit me powerful like—impatient as I have always been toward invalidism. James seemed to think a potentially great poet, before he achieves greatness, must encounter opposition, ostracism, illness: must shed the literal blood from his veins in the cause he upholds: and why isn't he right? Do you know any reason, Horace, for saying he is not right?" I said: "Whatever may have been the case when James applied his theory to you you've had all the prescribed experience since." W. smiled and assented. "Time: time: but that alone does not make the great poet: something must go before!" I added: "Well, Walt, I accept James' theory and accept Walt Whitman without hurt to the truth.""Do you say that, Horace? But then you are always saying things!"

     We put the matter aside here by silence, both. W. was the first to speak. "There's Bucke: Bucke thinks there was a weakening of my pulse already in Drum Taps: that Drum Taps showed a distinct drop in power. No matter for that: I feel myself satisfied to let all go as you find it today—the additions, just as they are, down to the very latest utterance of the Leaves. Of my personal ailments, of sickness as an element, I never spoke a word until the first of the poems I call Sands at Seventy were written, and then some expression of invalidism seemed to be called for. It cannot be skipped—it should not be made too much of. I feel that there is a solid basis for what I have done—a root-idea justifying all—from the first leaf of all the Leaves to the last leaf—the very last: as there must also be for anything that is yet to come. There is another point it's just as well to bear in mind—that a man may be sick for sins a dead generation

 
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committed: that admonishes us to be a bit gentle in applying the rod."

     Referring to the American-Canadian fisheries dispute W. said: "I expect it to be a mere matter of wind, hollow as hollow can be on both sides." This led him to speak of Canada. "It is a country of characteristics—the landscape has characteristics, the people have characteristics. Canada has been injured by its colonial adhesion to England. I used to walk about when I was up there with Bucke and talk with the people. Canada should be on its own feet, asserting the life which properly belongs to it. I should say that we on this side of the border are too much inclined to minimize its importance. It is good to get about among other peoples: to not take any one nation too much for granted in its superiorities: to take a little off our prejudices here, and put a little on our admirations there—just so's we may finally establish ourselves on the right family basis among the nations."

     Recurring to Bucke's opinion of Drum Taps: "I can understand Bucke: he has his reasons, good reasons: but still the conviction abides with me that I am in the end right—must be sustained, convinced, as I feel myself to be, by a logic I cannot state but must stand by, insist upon"—he laughed—"world without end." Then he referred to James again. "He may have been right—certainly was in part right. James was himself sickly, I was always well: we were physically antithetical. It is hard for a perfectly well man to thoroughly understand a perfectly sick man, or vice versa."

     He mentioned the visit of the Coateses. "They are so cheery—she particularly: so hopeful both of them—and fine—I have had them in my mind ever since. The mere atmosphere of such an invasion scatters blessings in my path: a sort of rain of blessings. I know I have felt better for their courtesy." He remarked as I got up to leave: "I shall very likely go down stairs again to-morrow but of course not by laying plans to do so (how can I make plans? plans mean work!) but if and when the mood strikes me." I said to him: "Mrs Harned is nearing her confinement.

 
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Her doctor says she is one of the most perfectly organized women physically speaking that she has ever attended—that she is in almost unprecedented condition." W. cried "Good! good! good! Horace, I can't say good often enough! Who could better realize what that means—who better understand, who more thoroughly rejoice in, what you tell me: who more full appreciate its significance—than I do—I, whose gospel, if I have a gospel (God help me!) it exemplifies and celebrates? Tell her this for me—congratulate her for me. There are many kinds of mothers, Horace, but there is only one final kind of mother. Give the new mother my love: tell her I glorify her in my thanksgivings—that Walt Whitman glorifies her: tell her that."
 
Saturday, September 1, 1888.

     W. sat reading when I entered (7.45 evening), sitting by a dim light, awake, reflecting. "Ah!"—his accustomed ejaculation—"and what is the good word to-night?""Your good word?" I returned: "What is that?" He grew serious. "My good word is a bad word: I am not changed for the better: I am still down flat on the ground." I looked doubtfully at him. "Walt—you are getting pessimistic: shake it off! shake it off!" He replied gravely: "You are right: I should make the most of the light as long as there is any left." Next he said: "I had a letter from Kennedy to-day—yes, and letters from others: one from Bucke, one from O'Connor: I have laid them all aside for you to take, along with an old O'Connor letter, which I know you will find some use for. I wrote back to Kennedy, who complains that you do not keep him well enough informed in details regarding my condition. He does not know that you are writing hundreds of letters for me right and left these days—he doesn't know: if he knew he would see how impossible it is for you to write any one letter of great length." He had tied the four letters together with a red string. I asked him: "Why do you feel so blue about yourself to-night?""I don't know—except that I am facing the truth.""What truth?""Horace,

 
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I have about reached the end of my rope—the last strand has almost given out. I realize that I am at last on the verge of dissolution: my vim has departed, my strength is gone, life is getting to be impossible on any desirable terms."

     Williamson writes asking anxiously about W. W. says: "Horace, tell them the truth when they ask you—hold nothing back: don't make better worse but don't put on an air of assurance when you feel none. You might express it this way: Walt Whitman says the first alarming symptoms of his trouble no longer possess him, but says further that though succeeding in his fight to shake off that one phase of his disorder it has been but as though to deposit him on a desert island, with far-stretching seas about and no succor possible." Old Age's Lambent Peaks is in The Century out today. W. said as to the idea of putting it into November Boughs: "I shall think it over to to-morrow: give me a day for it: I'm a slow duffer but that's the way I'm built." Gave him ten dollars from Coates for Centennial edition. Also handed him a sheet of paper sent by Mrs. Coates for him to write a copy of Twilight on. He resisted a little. "I have it here in large plain type—The Century printed it: perhaps she would like that"—but after a few words from me: "Well, I'll do it: she's such a cheery body and you ask it," laying the paper and clipping on the table. Handed over the books to me.

     W. had gone over a lot of our work. Had Contents proof ready and L. of G. and S. D. volumes containing an order on Sherman for the Leaves plates and corrections to be made by Ferguson in both volumes—about twenty in Specimen Days and about twenty-five or more in Leaves of Grass: spelling, bad type, punctuation—none in any way vital. He likes things well done. "I am sensitive to technical slips, errors—am as ready as anyone to have everything shipshape, or as nearly so as I can make them. I abhor slouchy workmen—always admonish them in offices doing my work: Don't put on a slouchy printer." W. is always saying to me such things as these: "Look out that the binders don't get slouchy," "avoid the slouchy mechanic

 
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whatever you do." Yet he is not squeamish: writes, for instance, to the Ferguson shop: To corrector and printer—I know you have not the exact font of type &c: but you must do the best you can with what you have."

     W. paid his respects to Gail Hamilton for her maltreatment of the domestic problem of the Carlyles. "Her presumed exposé is all gammon: I have no patience with it. And besides I feel that I know all about that story, and on good authority, too: from no less a person than Mrs. Gilchrist, who associated with both the Carlyles intimately and was in no sense a woman to be fooled. I attach oh! so great an importance to all she said to me on that subject: facts, pertinent facts, weighty: things she saw, again and again—goings on—enough to turn topsy-turvy the alleged truths of newspaper gossip, the indecent generalizations of scribblers. That Carlyle was high-strung is true, but Mrs. Carlyle, too, had a temper—one, you may be bound, that was not always reined in. Jane Carlyle was the wife of a great man—of one of the greatest men of his time, of any time: a man of ways peculiar to himself, odd fancies, strange whims and humors. That these things were not always fixed in their right relations by a couple both of whom were extremely mettlesome does not surprise me. It is not with the Carlyles alone that there may be said to have been hours, acts, speculations, frictions, upon which the blinds should be dropped. I am confident that after all else—after all the trials, heart-burns, domestic mysteries of the Carlyle history—is dropped, this much will remain to be said for both Jane and Thomas—this much if not more: this much, surely this much, and then silence, silence, upon the whole matter." W. was very much moved by O'Connor's letter. Before I quote what he said I will insert the letter:


Washington, D. C.

August 31, 1888.


My dear Walt:

     I got your letter of the 6th, a postal card of the 4th, divers newspapers, and day before yesterday the handsome magazine with the pen-and-ink portrait—a beautiful piece

 
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of work, but a bad likeness—in fact, a caricature, which I hope as Voltaire said of the Letter to Posterity, is a letter that will never reach its address. He has given you a wad for a mouth and made you squint like one of George Borrows' gypsies. Drat his imperence!

     I have had it on my mind for a month to write but have had a bad time. I thought of you anxiously during the abominable swelter of August, and felt rejoiced when the cool spell came, hoping it would do you good, though I got a cold out of it, by ill luck, which pulled me back considerably.

     Your letter was very comforting. I shall hope to hear good news of you. I sent your messages to Dr. Channing, Grace, and Stedman. No news has reached me about the calendar, but I hope it is all right. Grace is expected here in a few days.

     Who is it writes of you so friendlily in the editorial notes of Lippincott?

     I shall hope for all good things for November Boughs. I wish it were farther along.

     I have been using the spare hours when I have felt less weak and woe-begone, than I usually do, and less weighted down with office work, to scratch off in pencil a defense of Donnelly's book for the N. A. Review, if I can only get it in. It has been a bad task, but a duty, for the reviewers have been outrageous.

     My hope and heart are high for you. If the weather will only let up!

     Good bye. I find that I can't write much, as I hoped to when I began. As the Indian said to Roger Williams when they landed at Seekonk, "What cheer, brother, what cheer!"—meaning all cheer!


Affectionately,


William D. O'Connor.

     Here is what W. said of O'Connor: "William is the last of his race—no one is left but William. I know no other scholar here in America so well based, rock-based, in lines important to the history of literature, to humanity. They are all the rest of them

 
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dabblers, talkers, triflers—he drives home to the heart of things. His knowledge of the literature of the Elizabethan period was marvellous, and is: sure, serious, vital: always penetrating the spinal mysteries, powers—never losing hold on the substance of a thing once understood and grasped. There were a couple of years in O'Connor's life when he had nothing to do—was looking for work (that was before he got into his Washington job): it was then he devoted himself exclusively to this one study—and it was an experience profitable to him beyond words. William often says of himself—did say it when we were together: 'I can read him through to the back coat button!' and he could: no one could confuse his vision. How he touches off the Elizabethan fellows (he always calls that 'the age of Bacon') few can realize who have not known him personally—met him, listened to his talk, heard his voice, looked the man in the face. Burroughs thinks William too strenuous—keyed up monotonously too high—but I do not. To me William is self-justified in the truest sense of the word. He is intense, overwhelming—when he wrote the Good Gray Poet, when he wrote the letter for Bucke's book, he was excited and indignant to a degree: but we must remember what it was that called forth his wrath—the consciousness of a great wrong: an inexcusable offense which demanded a corresponding emphasis of resentment. William's onslaught is terrifying—it always means business.""He never charges the enemy with an apology of his lance.""That is the idea—he is fiercely in earnest: nothing can stand against him: when he comes along God help you if you don't get out of his road. He used to handle my skepticism about Poe without gloves: Edgar Poe: he would not have my qualifications: Poe was great this or that, great so and so, or he was nothing, and Walt Whitman be damned. O'Connor's constitutional melancholy, his Irish bardic nature, put extreme color into his thought and speech. See how he accepts Bacon: bribe or no bribe—with all his sins on his head: the master intellect of the modern human world towering above all the measuring-sticks of the historians and the schools. And there was Rabelais, too: Rabelais was William's
 
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man: in whatever literary reactions or moralistic humors, he includes, stands for, glorifies, Rabelais. He admits all the superficial charges made against such men and then celebrates them—almost celebrates their sins, as though they constituted an exposé of the black pruderies of a humbug social order."
W. added: "I imagine that Ben Tucker has some qualities more or less akin to the militant and shining chivalric qualities in William. I often feel as though I would like to see Tucker and have a long, long, long, confab with him, just for the sake of squaring up some old scores (gratitude on my part, gratitude to him): he is remarkable for outright pluck—grit of the real sort: for loyalty, steadfastness. Some day you will meet Tucker and when you do I want you to say these things to him for me."

     W. has pinned on page 178 in a copy of Specimen Days in which from time to time he marks changes for future editions—under Carlyle from American Points of View —and marked it in red ink, "Phila. Press June 23, '86," the following printed "study item," as he called it when it was mentioned by me:

     "Mr. Larkin, who was for ten years a sort of secretary and intimate associate of Carlyle, says that the open secret of the Scotchman's life was his desire to be a man of affairs rather than a writer. 'Little as some of his critics imagine it,' says Mr. Larkin, 'his heart was sick of perpetually exhorting and admonishing. He longed to be doing something, instead of, as he says, eloquently writing and talking about it: to be a kind of king or leader in the practical activities of life, not a mere prophet, forever and forever prophesying.'"

     W. said: "That's not only interesting as applied to Carlyle but interesting to me because it may be applied to my life and may be used as in some byways an explanation of my addiction to the trades and my apprenticeship to the life of the hospitals during the War. It also exemplifies one of my chief doctrines, which is, that we should never become so absorbed in the ornamental occupations as to lose connection with life. Some men lead

 
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professional lives—some men just live: I prefer to just live. I never want to be thought to be contending that any amount of isolated esthetic achievement can compensate for the loss of the comrade life of the world: the comrade life, the right life of the one in the crowd, which is of all human ideals the most to be desired, the only one to be finally desired, and perpetuated." Mentioning Bucke's letter again W. said: "It's full of advice—good advice, I admit, but advice—about the big book."

London, Ontario, 30 Aug. 1888.

     I feel quite anxious about the "complete" works and would like much to hear from you how you will deal with that book. I think:

     1 The book should be first-class in all respects.

     2 Price should be ten dollars.

     3 It should (every copy of it) be autograph.

     4 Should contain a number of pictures.

     5 Should be sold entirely by yourself.

     6 A full advertisement of it should go in "N. B."

     If you would tell Horace to write me your decision on each of these points you would relieve my mind very much.

     There is nothing new or special here. All jogging on in the old way.


Your friend,


R. M. Bucke.

     "You see," said W. "Maurice simply repeats the advice we have been giving ourselves.""You seem to hate advice, no matter who it comes from or when it is given.""I think I do: I have been trained to resentment though thirty years of experience with advisers. Horace, I have had my life through to keep up a constant warfare with advice." Finally W. said: "You might write Maurice and say to him that we have come to conclusions on most of the points he presents and that he will be surprised to find when the book comes out in how much we agree.""That sounds darn formal," I said. "I know it

 
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would please Doctor to have me reply in a way that would sound more like concession but I don't feel to do it, Horace—I don't feel to do it." W. said about Kennedy's letter: "The little querulous complaint of you—you mustn't notice that—let it go. What he says of Scott has my entire approval: Scott is my man, too: I go to him sometimes with a real relish. Scott does not stale for me."

Belmont, Mass.

August 30, 1888.


Dear Walt Whitman:

     I long, and have lang syne and every day longed—to know some details of your days now. For some reason Mr. Traubel has never seen fit to tell me anything about your daily doings—whether you sit up or whether you are prone on your back. It is cruel to keep a fellow ignorant. Can't you tell me in a line or two yourself? Thank you for the magazine—Book Maker—with its picture of you. Herbert Gilchrist has sent me a proof of what seems to me the best of the two photogravures of Mrs. Gilchrist. I prize it highly. Any news from the three?—Bucke, O'C. or J.B.?

     I am reading with tremendous interest and absorption (by bits as I get time) Scott's best novels again, and looking up all the hard Scotch words in Jamieson's Dictionary. They have made my summer glorious. My love of that man is something strong as fate. Indeed I believe the ties of blood draw me to him and to Scotland—my "forbears" being Scotch-Irish (on one side). I am now reveling in the Antiquary which I opine to be the healthiest and most humorous of all, perhaps.


Yours affectionately as ever,


W. S. Kennedy.

     W. said: "That querulous note—it is always present in Kennedy: it breaks in upon his best harmonies. Don't you feel it? You would be surprised to find it in Bucke, John, William: you get to expect it as a matter of course in Kennedy. I once felt that he would weed it out of his composition, or that it

 
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would weed itself out, but it seems to be keeping fast hold—-will probably never let go its grip. It's a damned shame—it may prevent his real talents from ever fully asserting themselves." When I got up to go W. objected: "Why do you hurry?" and to my answer: "I've bothered you long enough," he protested: "You bother me? you couldn't: you never victimize me—you wake me up. I am far more alert this minute, am feeling better, than I have been at any time during the day." We said nothing about "the old O'Conner letter," which I put in my pocket and took away with me. It was long. The sheets were pinned together. It was 9.45 when I left.

 
Sunday, September 2, 1888.

     2 P. M. Last night W. told me he had not felt up to going over the plate proofs. I went home and worked until two o'clock on them. We have promised them to Ferguson Monday. Worked again until eleven this morning. Now submit them to W. He sat reading the Century as I entered. "So it's Horace again?" Looked rather well. How was he? "Not a bit nifty—not a bit nifty," he replied. Nifty? what was nifty? "Did you never hear that colloquialism—nifty?—n-i-f-t-y—sassy, on edge?" Continued: "I have sat about here, have read some, have dozed more—that is the history of the day." No down-stairs today? "No nothing," he said: "not an adventure—not a single sensational event!" We examined the proofs together. Very particular in certain details. "That's what we're here for, you with me. We won't fuss but we'll be exact.""Does this all worry you?""Oh no! it rather brightens me up." I did not find him anxious about spellings. "I regret my ignorance of German: German is the one foreign language I am sorry I did not go into when I was young." He objected to some changes I suggested. "They are not wrong—they are only my whims, oddities: as such I must let them pass." When we reached page thirty-seven I tried again to have him see the errors in An Evening Lull. The last line he conceded to be

 
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wrong. "Did I write it that way? It seems impossible." Fixed it. Did not touch the other line. He is more conscientious in his reading of the verse than of the prose. "That puts us in good shape," he said after we had finished our job together. "I see you look sharply at such matters and it is good to do so." Here he laughed gently: "I wrote to Doctor today: took your advice—addressed him in a rather concessional spirit. I have not finally decided the question of price—whether to make the little book a dollar or more or the big one five or six or ten dollars. I never start out bent upon doing anything by a particular method but let events grow their own way. Bucke takes the book more seriously than we do—is almost agonizing about it: writes me it must be so and so— must be—or we will all be ruined, or such like rot. That must is damned disagreeable no matter who says it! But I don't doubt Bucke's items—they are about correct. Bucke sometimes gives out the show of being precipitate but that does not fairly represent him: he is on the contrary rather Socratic, rather inclined to calm, to accept things as they are while they are, stoically, in fact optimistically."

     He suddenly took another turn. "Here is Mrs Coates' piece—I did it for you"—handing it to me from the table—very handsomely copied. While we talked my eye lighted on a pamphlet lying loose among other papers at his feet—Richard II: home-bound in brown wrapping paper. "What is that?" I asked—he looking first at me and then down towards the floor—"This?" picking up the pamphlet. "What a flood of memories it lets loose. It is my old play-book, used many and many times in my itinerant theatre days: Richard: Shakespeare's Richard: are of the best of the plays, I always say—one of the best—in it's vehemence, power, even in it's grace. I took the sheets from a book—a big book—from a book too big to carry—and bound them so for practical use. The book itself should be here somewhere"—commencing to root in a couple of piles of books at his feet—"Ah! here it is"—handing it over to me. The gap was found and the abstracted sheets were put back in their place. "Home again!" he exclaimed, as he closed the

 
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book, "home again, after all these years of wandering." The volume was printed in Germany in English text and was called English Classics—Shakespeare, Milton, and others, making up the collection. W. said: "A whole hogshead of precious fluid—the juices of all savors, climes, poured into the one cask—distilled at last into a bottle an inch long—the size of the joint of your thumb! That is Richard—this same Richard. How often I spouted this—these first pages—on the Broadway stagecoaches, in the awful din of the street. In that seething mass—that noise, chaos, bedlam—what is one voice more or less: one single voice added, thrown in, joyously mingled in the amazing chorus?" He continued to finger the book, talking of its Germanicisms: "I found several in the preface: see—I have marked them:" alluding also to "its wonderfully legible print—a joy to my bad eyes."

     I picked up an old piece of manuscript written on the reverse of a blue billhead of the City of Williamsburgh. Had it ever been used? "Maybe—maybe not.""Have you much unused manuscript about here?""Not a great deal though I have made a good bit of manuscript that never got directly into print. Think how many things go to produce the weather—east, west, north, south: things unaccounted for, at least to the eye. Out of such process of selection Leaves of Grass assumed the shape you know." This is what was on the sheet:

     "The idea that in the nature of things, through all affairs and deeds, national or individual, good and bad, each has its own inherent law of punishment or reward, which is part of the deed or affair itself, identical with it, and with its results, goes with that deed, that affair, then and afterwards.

     "The idea that the Woman of America is to become the perfect equal of the man.

     "The idea of the good old cause, Liberty—that it is to be honored here, whatever day, whatever question, it presents itself in—that the relation of master and slave [W. had written on here at a later date: "this was written in 1855"] is to go the

 
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same road out of These States that the relation of kings, lords and commons, has gone."

     W. mentioned Gilchrist. "I expect him, I may say hourly. What mystifies me is, what calls him over? He comes in the British Prince to Philadelphia. One point occurs to me—he must have made some money—have had some success with his work. Herbert is pretty poor, like most of the fellows, but not extremely so. He came before on the fifty guineas or so paid him by the publishers over there for the Life of his Mother."

     Evening at 8. W. sat reading the Emerson-Carlyle correspondence. "Where have you been this afternoon?""To the Zoo""You don't say!""I do say." He smiled. "Well, its good news—I thought everything in Philadelphia worth while was shut up and barred for Sunday. Sunday—Sunday: we make it the dullest day in the week when it might be made the cheeriest. Will the people ever come to base ball, plays, concerts, yacht races, on Sundays? That would seem like clear weather after a rain. Why do you suppose people are so narrow-minded in their interpretation of the Sunday? If we read about Luther we find that he was not gloomy, not sad-devout, not sickly-religious: but a man full of blood who didn't hesitate to outrage ascetic customs or play games if he felt like it on Sunday. The Catholic regards Sunday with a more nearly sane eye. It does seem as though the Puritan was responsible for our Sunday: the Puritan had his virtues but I for one owe him a grudge or two which I don't hesitate to talk about loud enough to be heard."

     W. advised me: "Read Burns—don't skip Burns: Burns will do things for you no one else can do. Hunter always dilates on Burns. Hunter is a sly old dog, after all, and cute, too. I will ask him a question. He will say: 'I don't know anything about that.' Then he will go to work and prove to you that he knows all about it." I laughed. W. asked: "Now, what is there amusing in what I say?"Nothing—except that Kennedy in a letter to me applied the same expression to you—sly old dog."

 
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W. replied at once: "But it don't fit me: that's not me: I am more outright—especially outright with my ignorance: I don't seem to have enough finesse to throw the least observant person off the track. Hunter has a little flirtiness in his composition—likes to play out his learning diplomatically. Horace, he is a very engaging character to me.""His coquetteries have won you?""Perhaps it's that—I don't know: it may be said that way! When I first met Hunter I thought he was of little consequence as a scholar, but he led me on and on, by little and little, until I found myself of my present admiring mind about him."

     He further said: "You find me cautious—that I do not throw myself at people, events?" "You are willing to take time enough to get the right time.""That's a mighty good way to say it: yes, time enough: I never fire my gun before I cock it—I never cock it until I know just exactly the game I am after.""That is, you have discovered that you're no good in a quick charge but a sure thing in a long siege." W. looked at me fixedly: "That's damned clever, Horace: but look out—you mustn't get yourself in the habit of saying clever things—it's a dangerous practice—lands many a man many a time in a lie. Still, it happens that this clever thing is also true, so I forgive you. Yes, I have made the best of my sluggish pulse by trying to keep it sure, strong. Every man has to learn his own best method: my method is to go slow, extra slow. All great work is cautious work—is done with an eye on all the horizons of the spirit: in the absence of such gravity we become dabblers—the big things don't get said, don't get done." I did not stay longer, though he asked me to. "It does me good to have you here," he said. I don't always think it does. As I left he reached forward and again took up the book he was reading as I entered.

 
Monday, September 3, 1888.

     8 P.M. W. reading when I entered but was at once solicitous for "news." He gave me money for the frontispiece presswork. Cheerier than for a week. Had discovered other errors in N. B. I opened up the subject of an Evening Lull again, almost insisting

 
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that he change "restless" on second line to "unrest." He said: "I never knew you to be so infernally stubborn before. Let me look at the proof again." I handed it to him. He put on his glasses and looked at the sheet intently. Then his whole face lighted up. "Why yes, Horace—you're right—Myrick's right. How do you suppose I came to pass it again and again? You remember I wrote it on one of my off days.""Now this is an on day and you correct it.""Yes, an on day." He laughed. Took up a pencil. "See—here goes then"—marking the correction. I said: "Bucke wrote me advising against the change. He said the psychologists would find it interesting when they came to write of you in the future.""The psychologists? The devil! They'd never think of it except as a typographical error or an oversight. You mean that it would be significant as showing my condition the day I wrote it? The idea shows that—I do not need to carry the evidence out into the spelling. Bucke," he added, laughing, "is a stickler for verbal inspiration: he raises a hell of a row if I change a comma if it once got in though it may first of all have got in in error."

     I saw Browning's card on the chair—the N. Y. Herald's Browning. "Has he been here?""Yes; he was over today. He said he understood I had written a long piece about Elias Hicks (I wonder how he found it out?) and the Herald wanted a column or two advanced to them.""Will you agree to do it?""Yes: why not? I shall do it—send it on direct to Chambers rather than through Browning. It worked in my noddle that Browning wanted it as a part of his Philadelphia correspondence, which don't quite recommended itself to me. I will make a selection of matter with great care and put my price on it: they may then print it or not as they choose. It's strange how these newspaper men get on the scent of everything—nothing escapes them: they go everywhere, they never fail. I thought we were keeping it all so mum and yet the cat is out of the bag." I said: "The Press mentioned the piece: that explains Browning's source of knowledge.""Ah! yes: I had forgotten that. It's just as well: we had no particular motive to keep the book

 
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in hiding.""I hope the Herald will print intact what I send. Unless a fellow's a damned big gun—like Tennyson, for instance—they treat him pretty shabbily.""Have editors ever revised you?""I should say so—as much as any man alive. They all think they know better."

     I told him of an experience I had with an editor recently. He wanted to entirely recast a paper I had sent him. "But you didn't allow it?""No—not at all: I had him send it back.""I thought so—that's right. Never knuckle down—always insist upon your way, even if it is the wrong way, as the right way. There's one point, a glorious point, I get from the Emerson-Carlyle correspondence: 'Are we going to give in in our old age?' Not in such words, exactly, but signifying that. 'Are we going to give in in our old age?' It is the fore-dream of my own questions: I put that question to myself every day. Emerson's old age was very wonderful, Horace—I told Frank Sanborn I thought it highly beautiful: that in all essentials the forgetful Emerson was still what the remembering Emerson had been: the bearing, the expression, the eye, the hand, the smile, still the same. Something was gone—some quality—but the atmosphere of his noble personality never failed him." I said: "It was just today that I wrote Bucke something of the same tenor about you: that the stern poise that dignified and irradiated your character is still the first thing in all you say, think or do." I shall never forget W.'s look. He said: "Ah! Horace! That is a noble thought: it is worthy of you and more than worthy of me. And if it be true? It would make all the suffering of these days more than easy. It was a month or so ago that you said something of the same purport to me and I have never lost sight of it for an instant since in the temptations incident to such invalidism as mine. I conclude that these last poems which some of the fellows howl so about are justified by the same fact—are found in this way to be integral to the scheme of the book—could not remain unwritten or be dismissed without violating its integrity."

     Referring to the poetry in the magazines, W. said: "I read

 
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it nowadays. Most of it, mostly for amusement: I expect no other benefit from it. Now and then I am surprised with a bit of verse by a man or woman who seems to have something to say. Scott is my chief pleasure nowadays—the novels: I read them every day, some: read them because they are not so frivolous as to be useless and vulgar, and not so weighty as to set my brains into a snarl.". "How about the Emerson-Carlyle correspondence? Under what head do you put that?""I don't think that heavy—and heavy or not it is wonderfully interesting—it has attracted and absorbed me." After a pause: "And now, by the way, do you see that Whittier is out again about Burns, in a rather long letter, characteristic but weak? He sees nothing beyond the commonplaces of the orthodox scholars. He plasters it on very thick. You know about the McPherson woman who gave the twenty-five thousand dollar statue to Albany? I think Whittier is a wonderful, noble old man, but it always mystified me how he could select Burns, of all men, for his special laudations. Burns was a great 'chiel' but utterly forlorn on the very points which Whittier seems to select for praise. Lust, whiskey, such things, played heavy cards in his game of life. I have no exceptions to take: if anyone tells me he holds Burns in high love and regard I say I do, too—as high as any: for he was a whole-hearted, not a half-hearted, man, after all the rest is said. Whittier has made so conspicuously much of certain virtues for which Burns did not shine that we are entitled to remark the incongruity. Burns was Whittier's first poet—that may account for some of the mystery when nothing else will. None of them understand Burns, however—none of them: his enemies slander him beyond recognition—his friends praise him beyond recognition."

     I said to W.: "No one likes the Book Maker head.""Why should they? It might just as well be Jim Blaine as me." Asked me: "Have you the second of Froude's big books on Carlyle? I never read it. The first I got hold of when it first appeared: the second was brought out six months later, never came my way. My impression of it was favorable—not the common one

 
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at all. I did not feel as though it had style, brilliancy, and there stopped. It seemed to me to be a real success in stating the facts of Carlyle's personality—in presenting an individual of flesh and blood. Burroughs was here while I was full of the matter and we agreed—unanimously agreed, the two of us—that Froude had not failed; had in fact achieved a notable success. I think I must try to read the second volume: it may undeceive me!"

     W. had found someone saying again in print somewhere that he had no humor. "O'Connor has his own way of taking that charge up—says Walt Whitman don't start out to be humorous: humor is no implied part of his scheme: though if it was he would show up for humor as supremely as he had for other qualities: and besides, there's a humor deeper than a laugh which Walt Whitman has—this cannot be questioned: and even the laugh humor is there, as all his personal friends know—no man being more eligible to enter into its spirit. That is the way O'Connor puts it. It is a strong defense: William says of it himself: 'Walt, it puts them all to flight!' The humor in the Shakespearean comedies is very broad, obvious, often brutal, coarse: but in some of the tragedies—take Lear for instance—you will find another kind of humor, a humor more remote (subtle, illusive, not present)—the sort of humor William declares he finds in the Leaves and in me."

     W. showed me an English serial publication called Parodies (part 58: Vol. 5) put out by Reeves & Taylor, London—this number devoted to American writers and devoting six double-columned pages to W. "It is a novel affair of its kind: it is conceived in no inimical spirit: gives biographical data and even literal selections from the works of writers parodied. Some of the parodies are well done, too—very well done. I haven't looked them over critically but they seem to me almost uniformly above the average. I am aware that Leaves of Grass lends itself readily to parody—invites parody—given the right man to do the deed."

     W. said: "Your father was in today again, Horace. He told me some things about himself—that he comes of Jewish stock,

 
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that he quarreled with his parents about religion when he was a mere boy: left home, weathered out life for himself: came to America with nothing but his brains and faith (he had plenty of both): and so on, Horace: so on. It all sounded right: I never thought he was any other kind of a man than just that kind: in our crowd he is initiate—he requires no extra introductions. I would like you and your father to meet Karl Knortz. We should all meet: perhaps it can be arranged yet. It is one of the things I design still to do. My own curiosity to see him is great. Don't you see how impossible it is for me to die just yet, with all these new plans for things little and big pushing out their heads everyday?"

     W. gave me an old Tucker letter. "I want you to know how staunch his adhesion to me has been. We talked about him the other day: I said nothing quite warm enough then—I shall say nothing now to increase the quantity of my adjectives applied to him—but I want you to know the facts, and such facts are strong enough without words added to embellish them. This letter is a fact—at the time it was a fighting fact—better in peace to me than a file of soldiers in war to an army. Do you mind reading the letter aloud to me? No? Well, go on."


Boston, May 25, 1882.


Mr. Walt Whitman:
Dear Sir,

     I am a stranger to you but have long been an admirer of your writings. Perhaps you have heard of me as at one time editor of the Radical Review, which published J. B. Marvin's admirable essay entitled Walt Whitman. The action of the Massachusetts authorities and the cowardice of the Osgoods prompt me to write to you. I am ashamed of the whole business. What do you propose to do? Some steps should be at once taken for the republication of your book, from the same plates, in the same locality where it has been struck down. Is there no one that will undertake it? With able counsel to conduct the case I do not believe a jury could be found in Massachusetts to send the publisher of Leaves of Grass to prison. At any rate the

 
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question ought to be tested. If I had the means, I would gladly, with your permission, put your book on the market advertised as the suppressed edition, and invite the authorities to dispute my right to do so. What I will do is this, if nothing better can be done. If you will find parties to furnish the means for republication from your plates, advertising the book, and defending it in court, I will become the responsible publisher, and go to prison if necessary. In case the verdict should be against me and I should be fined, I should decline to pay the fine. It seems to me highly important that the people of America should know exactly how far they can safely indulge in the expression of their opinions. What do you say? If you desire to know anything about me before replying to so important a question, you may inquire of S. H. Morse Quincy, Mass., the sculptor, whom you know, and who has long been one of my intimate friends. He does not know of my design in this matter, but he will tell you that I am thoroughly reliable, and no notoriety-hunter or anything of that kind.


Yours indignantly,


Benj. R. Tucker

     When I had read it through W. exclaimed: "Good! Good! Bully for Tucker! just as if he was hearing it for the first time. Then he said: "Ain't that like the challenge of an old knight going out against all comers in behalf of his faith? Like it and better! You didn't know the letter existed, did you? It's none the less a feather in Tucker's cap that it was not necessary for me to acquiesce in his proposition. This is not the letter of a literary man but of a man: a man simply possessed of the first impulse to help make fair play possible in the world. I do not mean by this to belittle Tucker's acquirements, which I am told are most uncommon. Morse says his knowledge is encyclopedic: says he is one of the best, the very best, of translators from the French: and more, much more. Morse spent one of his half days here with me last year just speaking about Tucker—he giving me an idea in the rough of how Tucker had come in conflict with the

 
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authorities by reason of his advanced anarchistic ideas. When I recall the cowardly advice I have in the main received from the literary class concerning the expurgation of Leaves of Grass Tucker's immediate rally to its support, his persistent advocacy in thick and thin, excites me to supreme admiration." As I left to go W. gave me two letters tied in red string of which he said: "I think they were the start of my correspondence with Forman, which has been kept up, though not in any great volume, ever since."

 
Tuesday, September 4th, 1888.

     8 p.m. W. writing a note to his sister when I entered. "The folks went to see Eddy today so I'm writing about that." But was ready enough to drop the letter for the present. What have you got? tell me that." I handed him an envelope containing copies of frontispiece. He opened it—regarded the picture long and carefully. "It is very good: it grows better and better: a little more ink now gives it a little more life: life, life—we want life. I am glad you brought a few: I can enclose them with my letters." I said: "The presswork is first-rate—it has brought out all there is in the cut: if there's anything missing now blame the cut." He smiled: "I'll blame nothing: we'll draw out of the cut what there's in us. I used to know an old German—oh it was a long time ago—and Jeff could tell you of it, too—who had about the wheeziest, damnablest, out-of-tune piano that ever was. Yet the instant the old man sat down and commenced to play everybody would listen—I, too, and Jeff—all the talkers would listen—and we could never get enough of it, never get satiated—would listen for hours. He would draw out of it, out of himself, all there was in it, all there was in him."

     W. said of his health: "It was greatly improved Sunday and yesterday but I am not so well today. Somedays I get all fagged out, feeling bad enough to give in once for all." Gave me this message for Morse: "Yes, write to Sidney: I send him my love: say to him that I still flourish (if that word can be

 
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used in connection with me): that the books are in a fair way to be out soon: that we are both working like beavers (one of us a sick beaver): and that we are waiting to hear from him. Tell Sidney we are fussy—that it is his turn to write!">/q> Gilchrist has not yet arrived though there is mail here for him.

     Musgrove entered with a letter for W., who looked at the postmark and said: "It's from Atlantic City: who do we know there? Oh! Mrs. Williams. You know Frank: it's his wife." He started in at once and had read most of the letter aloud to me when he came upon the request that it should be shown to no one. "But it's done! the mischief's done! Yet I wonder why she made the suggestions." After putting the letter back in the envelope he said: "The worst of sickness is its bad humor, its peevishness, its crossness, its irritability." I looked skeptical. "But it's all there, I can assure you, Horace. I'm not all sweetness, by any means: far otherwise: you'll find in me, if you look far enough, a whole hodge-podge of bad impulses—things maybe not seen, but there, active enough, devilish enough, God knows, all the same." Paused. I said nothing. Then he went on: "I once read a story of Socrates—I can't tell where any more: I was young at the time—it was in New York: a story, if I'm not mistaken, from Bacon, or credited to him. Hardly that: it sounds too fishy: but the point is the same. At that time there were traveling phrenologists—they came into the villages, or big business centers, plying their trade. As the story goes it was such a man in old Greece who happened into the Socratian circle—into one of the groups of young fellows who hung about Socrates—who proceeded to annoy and jeer at him—taunt him: what could he do? what were his powers? pshaw! and so forth. But he was not to be downed. They were challenged to produce a subject—accepted the challenge—blindfolded him—brought Socrates in. The phrenologist went to work: here was indeed a pretty subject—a pretty subject indeed. Over the bumps went the wary hand: here was a very glutton, a rascal fond of wine—could drink swinishly: and a lecherous scamp too: you who had nice daughters, have a care!—and so on. The

 
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young men were hilarious—took off the bandage—released the phrenologist. 'Do you know who it is you have been saying all these beautiful things about? This is the great, the wise, Socrates, loftiest of mortals.' And they badgered the poor devil so bad he was like to give up. All the time Socrates stood there, with a smile on his face, finally protesting from his place aside. He raised his hand, this way"—indicating—"'Not so fast now, not so fast now: don't be so sure: don't be so sure you know and he don't. Listen to me. I know better than all of you know the real facts. No one knows what is hidden away in me as I do: I tell you all this man says is true, every word of it—and more, too, if he had chosen to go farther. You must not suppose that because I suppress the evidences of it that it does not exist—that there are not in me, too, as much as in anyone, wild growths of poison flowers, mad passions of villainy, to be fought and thrown in the defence of virtue.'"

     W. told this story with great gusto. "I wish I could remember where it came from: I would like to see, read, it again. It may have been in an old magazine, though that is not likely, for magazine editors would have construed it to be licentious and not consent to give it currency. I say to my friends: Don't be so sure of my innocence: all the bad is there with all the good, only needing to be exposed—all in hiding. There's always a heap in such stories, but this, likely enough, this Socratian story, is fiction, as most of them are."

     I picked up a paper-bound book lying on the table—a copy of the 1867 edition of Leaves of Grass. "There was a history and a grief attached to that edition," said W.: "It was got up by a friend of mine, a young fellow, printed from type, in New York. One day I received the intelligence (I was then in Washington) that the place had been seized for debt. I received a portion of the books remaining—the most of them were lost, scattered God knows where, God knows how. But this," he said, picking up another book, "this is the best of the editions, the '72 edition—printed by Green." I read aloud from the title page imprint, "Washington.""No," objected W., "dated

 
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Washington but Green was in New York. I have a few of those copies left—one for you if you want it, if you have none."

     We talked of anthologies. "I am usually left out. Bryant, I think, ignored me in early editions, but some later editor seems to have included me. Dana quoted me copiously in his book—was my genial friend.""Why did Emerson ignore you in Parnassus?""I do not know. I have ceased not only inquiring but caring. I am satisfied to wait—satisfied to have things take their own time. I have never had, nor have, any wish to make a big flare-up: a big flare-up is soon out. I am aware that my work, if it has any stuff in it—any substance that can endure—needs time, to make its way, and if it has not is as well dropped now as later." We talked some about the O'Connor letter which he gave me on Sunday. "It is brilliant," said W.—"like a bright star in a clear sky. William is a man who never needs a prod—is always afire: in fence he is a ways ready—his weapons are always on edge. I doubt if America has so far produced another man his equal in the things for which his temperament may be said to stand."


Providence, R. I.

April 1, 1883.


Dear Walt:

     I got your note of the 29th and in the afternoon of the same day (March 30) the package of books came. It was very kind in you to send them. As Dr. Channing's family are ardent friends of you and your book, and have no recent issues, I turned over to them one copy of the poems and the copy of Specimen Days—you know I have both myself (Specimen Days, I regret to say, I have never found time to read, but shall, from the copy you sent me, when I return to Washington, as I shall have more leisure this spring and summer than I had in the dreadful months of labor when the book came.) The other copy of the poems, I shall reserve for some one who shall prove to be worthy: and I hope this disposition of your kind gift will please you.

     The Channing family are staunch adherents, and the girls

 
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(Mary and Grace—Mary was recently married and is living in Cambridge—) both gave their cousin, Col. Higginson, (whom I have gone for so savagely in the Introductory) a round talking-to on your account, apropos of his article in The Woman's Journal. But Higginson is incorrigible. I imagine, however, that the rhinoceros spear I have planted in and turned by steam in his hide (in the Introductory) will startle his supercilious composure, especially what I say about his Port Royal experience, and I guess he will be mad as a wet hen. All right: people that live in porcelain towers or crystal palaces, shouldn't throw stones at the "lower horders," such as we are,—we whose armorial legend is: "'eave 'arf a brick at 'im!"

     It was very kind to send Karl Elze's book, which I have read (you know I am a very rapid reader) and will return to you by express. I knew him already by his life of Byron, which I own, and the best thing in which is his perfectly exterminating analysis of Mrs. Stowe's (or rather Lady Bryon's) ridiculous slander. Otherwise in this Byron book, as in the book on Shakespeare, he is a perfect Bismarck philistine, with a head of wood just larded with brains. The lack of political freedom, inducing proclivity to aristocratic ideas, and utter lack of sympathy with democratic or republican thought, makes all the Germans, even the great ones (and Elze is not great), perfectly worthless whenever they approach topics connected with the questions of liberty and humanity: and Shakespeare cannot be successfully approached in criticism except in connection with the mighty human movement which made the life of his age—"the world-bettering age," as one of the great Elizabethan men calls it. Hence this supper of sawdust, such as Carl Elze, and others like him, sets for us. A dull fellow, moreover, which only partly accounts for his slurring notice of Hugo's magnificent book on Shakespeare—Bismarckism being accountable for the rest of it. However, what paralyzes all Shakespearean criticism, Elze's as well as the rest, is the obstinate consideration of the work with that Stratford chucklehead and his chucklehead biography. If we had no notion whatever of the author, we

 
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should fare better in understanding the work than we do with William Shakespeare on our brains as an incubus. To know a man is to know his book. To be dead sure in advance that Barnum wrote Hamlet and the Tempest, is to be dead sure of knowing little or nothing of those works forever.

     I have heard nothing yet about the Heywood trial. You and McKay did perfectly right in keeping aloof and not contributing to the defense. Your connection could not help him and might hurt you. "Against stupidity the gods themselves are powerless," says Euripides, and Heywood is certainly a champion jackass. I am sorry for him, but his bed is his own making, and he should have known what Comstock could do to him if he advertised war on the ovaries. I only hope we shall escape the consequences of his folly.

     I suppose the correction has been made, but I noticed in Bucke's Latin motto the error of the diphthong œ (in the fourth line) in the word præclarius. It should be æ not œ. Munro spells it praeclarius without using the diphthong character at all, which is sensible. It is a glorious epigraph.

     I have just been down to the Post Office, and got your letter of yesterday, but not the revise, which will not come until tomorrow morning. I am rejoiced at what you say of my contribution, but feel dreadfully at the prospect your letter opens of my paragraphing being changed. I could bear with equanimity anything but that—especially the breaking up of my running account of the great books into paragraphs. That I never can like. The effect will be horrible. Besides, you told me I was to have my way.

     I will write you again after I get the revise. I expect to leave here tomorrow evening and arrive in Washington on Tuesday afternoon: so unless you hear to the contrary, address me at the Office of the Life Saving Service, as usual.

     I leave heavy-hearted, for Jeannie is very feeble, and I fear the worst. Yet I must go on to Washington even if I have to return again. I can only hope that she will revive as the days go on (illness has its ebbs and flows,) and be able to

 
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journey home. At present she is too ill and weak to leave her bed.

     I shall probably return you the revise from Washington, though I may be able to look over it before I leave, if I get it tomorrow morning. Thanks to Protestantism, Sunday knocks post-office usages endways. The post-office can only be open for an hour on God's day, so that I get your letter but not the proof, there not being time for the officials to over-haul postal matter of the second or third or fourth class until Monday!


Goodbye.


Faithfully


W. D. O'Connor.

     It was the simplest human touch in this letter that hit W. hardest—the reference to Jeannie. "Jeannie's death was the tragedy of their history—and a tragedy in my history, too. Too much must not be said of that or the like of that—it gets down in you where words do not go. Of all the dear, dear friends of those days, Nellie, William, were dearest, dearest." He looked at me: his eyes were full of tears. He turned away. Then he added: "But let's not let go, Horace: we know how to take death, to see death, right, don't we? Let's not let go." W. rarely gives way externally to his extreme emotions.

     W. took his broken-backed check book and wrote me out a check for the paper bill—$240.10. When I got up to go I said: "This is the first temptation you have offered me to skip." He laughed and I started off. I got out into the hallway when he called me back. "I was about to say, if you skipped with the check it wouldn't be the check I'd regret but you—the loss of you. I am daily praying that nothing may happen to you until these books are out—yes, until I am all out, too, Horace. I am damned selfish—I want you to live, live, if only for me.""I want to live—if only for you!" Then I asked him a question: "Do you think a right strong young fellow can think death even?—even if aware that it may come any time?" He reflected: "No—I don't believe he can: more than that, I don't believe he

 
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ought: thinking life is the condition of being alive. It is always my point—don't submit to provocations, irritabilities, black fancies of the superficial day: go your way unmoved—on and on to what you are required to do: the rest will take care of itself

     The Parodies, which we talked about yesterday or day before, starts off with W. W. by a brief biographical statement, which is highly favorable—speaking of his "vigor"—of the "mock modesty" that refuses to include "many of his finest thoughts on the mysteries of nature" in English editions. "Whitman is emphatically a poet for men not for 'Select Academies for the Daughters of Gentlemen only' and whilst much that he has written is glorious poetry to those who will, and can, imbibe its spirit freely, to those who cannot so absorb it the Parodies will appear nearly as poetical as the originals." Speaks furthermore of Leaves of Grass as "a marvellous book:" then proceeds to quote in whole or in part Song of Myself, Miracles, A Thanksgiving Day, interspersing remarks—"this is not poetry of the tinkling rhyme"—referring to Tennyson's friendship for W. and Swinburne's before he "took to renouncing all the opinions of his youth"—and quoting the Emerson letter: following all with a dozen parodies from English and American sources. Covers six pages and more.

 
Wednesday, September 5th, 1888.

     8 p. m. W. talking to Mrs. Davis when I entered. She sat on the sofa, her arms folded. W., with his hands resting on the arms of his chair and his eyes raised over his glasses, was telling her a story. The light was only half turned up. His voice was very clear and melodious. Without stopping his talk he extended his right hand and took my own, which he pressed warmly and beckoned me to a seat. After W. finished with Mrs. Davis she took the evening papers and left. As usual, having to answer my question, he spoke first of his health. "Sunday and Monday things looked pretty bright—yesterday much less that way—today only so-so.""How about your weather inside?""Oh!

 
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that's placid enough—I don't let anything disturb that." Told him I had written to both Kennedy and O'Connor saying that last week's depression was mainly gone. "That was just the thing to say. And that reminds me—I have two letters saved here for you from Dr. Bucke and another from Kennedy: Kennedy's curiously brief. I had still another letter today—it was from Mary Costelloe—from somewhere off in Wales—that I sent to Doctor—Doctor Bucke.""I took Kennedy into our secret.""What secret was that?""Your trip down stairs on Friday." W. laughed very happily. It was a great feat, wasn't it?—an exploit: almost heroic!" Then he added: "You're sure you haven't given it away to any reporter? They would come over to interview me—insist on knowing my sensations! The reporters are mad for sensations. If you have a belly-ache, they want to know your sensations. Of course, you have sensations—decided sensations—with a belly-ache, but what's the use making them cheap by advertising the symptoms in a newspaper?" He was a bit amused by this note:

Cambridge, Aug. 29th, 1888.


My dear Friend,

     I send you this comprehensive brevity to tell you how glad I am that you are regaining your old self, and are again able to be at work.


Cordially yours,


Charlotte Fiske Bates.

     "The feeling of the note is quite loving and correct, but that 'comprehensive brevity' would surely trouble Polonious as a vile phrase.""We never say things so well when we try to say things as when we let them say themselves.""That's what I would have said if you had given me time, Horace." He spoke of the "good health" of Bucke's notes. "They invariably get in under me and give me a boost." This is Kennedy's "curiously brief" note:


Dear Walt W.

     I enclose letter from St. Louis—I have begun to copy over (clean) some of the 70 pp of the Whitman MS. (my

 
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book). Glad to hear of your new books. Am still reading proof. I don't see much prospect of my book on you seeing the light soon. But—. Regards to Traubel.


W. S. Kennedy.

     W. said: "Bucke makes an allusion to Kennedy's book in one of those letters." I looked it up. This: "I wonder how it is we (at least, I) hear nothing these times of Kennedy and his Walt Whitman? I fear publishers are not smiling upon him. Fifty years from now they would be glad enough to get it." Another passage in one of the Bucke letters hit W. hard: I am thinking of you a great deal in this lovely September weather, wondering how it is with you, dreaming of that September eight years ago when you were here." W. said: "I am dreaming of it, too, Maurice—God bless you!" Said he had not "yet felt disposed to take up the Hicks matter for The Herald." No work today on the book. Read from time to time in the old English poets. "To-day, however, I have been reading Virgil and Marcus Aurelius." I had a few dollars change (discount) on the paper bill. Offered it to him. He said: "No—you keep it—give it to the boys—the printers, any of the others. It has always been my practice to give a few dollars here and there on occasion among the men—among the people I fall in with as I do with Ferguson's. Aside from the emotional phases—enough of themselves—there is the policy of it: though that is sordid and is not needed to make up the case. People are always extra helpful—are always doing things no money can pay for: I like to have them see I see it."

     Gilchrist turned up today. "He didn't stay long—only a few minutes." Bucke wrote: "Be sure you make it clear Walt is in a bad way and must not be visited too much." W. said: "It is done already—I took care to have them make that clear to him down stairs. Herbert is rather inclined to be long-winded, so I realize the importance of having him understand—cautioned. He has come over, I think, to stay a year or so—will settle—get a room or two rooms in the city and put up a cot there and mainly

 
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live in that place—meanwhile painting, studying. After he gets his studio set up you must go to see him. You ought to be very good friends."

     W. said: "I have about finally decided that the little book must be one dollar and a quarter. In regard to the big book I am still at sea." I spent some time at Ferguson's looking over page proofs. November Boughs goes to press to-morrow. W. said: "My eye affects a soft wine color—dark, pure—for the little book." Several visitors. Would not see them. I asked W.: "Do you keep your receipts all together?" He laughed. "I keep nothing together: did you ever know me to keep things together? I keep body and soul together—that's about all." Said that though he had promised me a copy of the 1872 edition he "doubted now whether there was more than one copy about the house—the one there—" pointing to the table. "And yet one may turn up: I am always finding things I thought lost, or things I imagined given away long ago, or things I thought I never possessed." Talked a little about the Forman letters he gave me Monday. "There was a gap of four years between the letters," said W., "and a lot happened in those four years. They were in some ways the four worst years of my life: I was down in the dumps from seventy-three about on to seventy-seven—then I got a bit more spruce again. But read the letters: I'd rather refresh my memory a bit with 'em."


36, Marlborough Hill,

St. John's Wood,

London N. W., 21 Feb. 72.


Walt Whitman, Esq.
Dear Sir,

     I send herewith, by book post, a short poem called The Great Peace-Maker, which I have just edited for private distribution.

     As a constant reader and great admirer of your poetry, I have had the idea that the practical element in this poem, and also its fervent aspiration after the good of mankind, may commend

 
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themselves to you,—while a poem more like the rest of our contemporary verse might not.

     I have been a long time trying to persuade one or another of our publishers to print a complete English edition of your works—verbatim, without any retrenchments; and I have gone so far as to offer my poor services in justifying as far as criticism can justify poetry, those portions which they take exception to, or fear to print. Supposing I ultimately succeeded, would a verbatim reprint of the latest edition, with an introductory essay, have your approval?


Believe me to be dear sir faithfully yours,


H. Buxton Forman.

     "Don't that sound refreshing—verbatim, without any retrenchments? That's no by-your-leave spirit. In a day and month and year of weakness I yielded to the idea that the English reader could not stand a full dose of Walt Whitman. It was an evil decision growing out of the best intentions. 'Verbatim, without any retrenchments.' The book belongs so or does not belong at all. Any edition American or English which for any reason whatever is abridged is abhorrent and inexcusable: none the less abhorrent because I am the one to acquiesce in the mutilation of my own book. Worst of all, any cut made in a book which has been subjected to the peculiar criticism visited upon the Leaves is a confession and I do not see why I should be making confessions." On the envelope of Forman's second letter W. had written: "H. Buxton Forman, Jan. '76. sent paper and circ. Apr 4. (Sent W. J. Press art, May 24, '76)."


London, N. W.

26 January, 1876.


Walt Whitman Esq.
My dear Sir,

     Some years ago when I had occasion to address you, you were so good as to say you should be happy to hear from me again: and as my admiration of your works and interest in whatever concerns you have rather strengthened than

 
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weakened, I feel sure you will not mind my asking you one or two questions.

     As a faithful student of your books, I have made it my business to obtain every edition I could, and all portraits and notable accounts and criticisms. But there is one edition in particular which I have never been able to see even,—that mentioned by Rossetti as having been issued in 1856 in 16 mo. The American agent to whom my last application for this was forwarded says: "I don't think there is an 1856 edition. There is one earlier or later in great demand, and at a high price, something like twenty-five or thirty dollars: but I can't find that. There was a copy auctioned the other night at something like the above."

     Can you tell me whether there is or is not an edition between that one set up by yourself in 1855 and that of Thayer and Eldridge dated 1860-1861? If there is, can you give me any particulars that will help me towards buying it? Also, what is the edition that fetches twenty-five dollars to thirty dollars? Not that of 1855; for I hear that can be had for three or four.

     When at my friend Mr. W. B. Scott's a few weeks ago, I saw a proof of a fine portrait of you enlarged by Linton: may I ask what it is from, and where it is published?

     I live in hopes of publishing some day a good English edition of your works; and my enquiries about editions are not mere bibliomania. I find they vary considerably; and my experience is that the careful collation of various versions of a poet's work is often a key as well as an incitement to the right understanding of his spirit and intent.

     I am at present engaged on an edition of Shelley which will be handsomest in form, and the most extensive in matter (I hope), yet published; and that takes up most of my time.


With best wishes believe me to be, dear sir, faithfully yours,


H. Buxton Forman.


 
Thursday, September 6th, 1888.

     7.45 p. m. W. had been reading Old Mortality. "Scott again?""O yes, only to kill time." Laid aside his book and

 
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talked. Was he well? "Yes—pretty well—but not quite so cocky as Sunday and Monday." Gilchrist was over. Spoke of Gilchrist's life of his mother: "You should read it—read my copy: Karl Knortz has it now, but we can get it back. You will not find the book to equal your great expectations, if you have any—will perhaps be disappointed. It is true much of the book is made up of things written by Mrs. Gilchrist—but writing was not the best of her. The best of her was her talk—to hear her perfectly say these things which she has only imperfectly written. I shall never forget—never forget: she is over there now, where you are—eyeing me, overflowing with utterance. She was marvellous above other women in traits in which women are marvelous as a rule—immediate perception, emotion, deep inevitable insight. She had such superb judgment—it welled up from a reservoir of riches, spontaneously, unpremeditatedly. Women are ahead of us in that anyhow—way ahead of us. It was because she was that kind of a woman that I always trusted Mrs. Gilchrist's picture of Carlyle—of the Carlyles. She was not a blind dreamer—a chaser of fancies: she was concrete—spiritually concrete, I might say: not in the sordid sense of it but the big, the high. She was practical enough to know just how to ask that dangerous question, will it pay? and to answer it with high meanings. I know nothing more miserable, sickening, than Will it pay? as it is usually asked. This is not a tonight's opinion: it is premeditated—what I have come to by careful thought: I want you to regard it as much. For me it is conclusive."

     I brought W. Froude's Carlyle in London and a copy of this week's Unity containing a poem by Sidney Morse. Along with other things I had pages 16 to 32 November Boughs—first printed sheet. W. was as eager as a child as he examined it. "Good!" "Fine!" "Done at last!" "Hurrah!" "Hunkie-dory!" Many exclamations. I asked: "Where are your doubts now?""Gone, gone, gone utterly." He was silent. Then: "I count on nothing physical till I see it—not even a promise of marriage till the marriage." And yet he confessed:

 
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"This defied augury, it came out so fine: it's the best presswork I have ever had on any one of my books. Think of the agonies that have led up to it, Horace!" Afterwards he added: "Tell them that when they are all done with the work I'll come over, or send someone over to represent me, and we'll all take a drink together." Felicitated himself upon the arrangement of one of his pages. "My printer's eyes are never deceived." Turning over a few pages. "Yonnondio: you notice that name? They printed it in The Critic first, and the Critic fellows objected to it that my use of the word was not correct, not justified. You remember, see"—pointing—"I make it mean lament and so forth: they say, no, that is not it: Yonnondio signifies governor—was an Indian name given to the French governors sent over to this continent in colonial times. No doubt there's considerable to warrant their argument, but"—putting his forefinger down on the poem and looking at me waggishly—"I had already committed myself to my own meaning—written the poem: so here is stands, for right or wrong." I asked him where he got hold of his own construction of the word. He replied: "From an old man—a wise, reticent old man—much learned in Injun tongues, lore—in Injun habits and the history of them so far as known. You never have asked Brinton? I wish you would—for me: he would know—something, at least. The debate is like many others—inconclusive. I never knew a controversy of this character—each side ready to swear to its accuracy, full of the arrogance of learning, equipped with book knowledge—to end in anything like a settlement: the problem was always as wide open at the end as at the start."

     Afterwards pointing to the Grant poem he closed the sheet and said: "It was in Harper's Weekly: a young fellow there, who was friendly to me, sent for it. Grant was dying at the time—or thought to be. After I had sent off the poem Grant revived, so, while it was held, I wrote and dispatched the afterpiece, which was finally printed along with the original lines. Now"—indicating the poem—"it is back to its first shape again: Grant is dead. It was the last thing the Harpers took from me.

 
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This [With Husky Haughty Lips O Sea!] was the last piece proper in the Magazine: the Grant piece went in solely through the friendship of that young man. I have the feeling that the Harpers wish no more of me." W. adds Old Age's Lambent Peaks to go in on the last page preceding After the Supper and Talk. Was he going to include the Sheridan piece? "No—I am not particular about that. The old age poem belongs in the book—is in a sense almost necessary: might be last of all, indeed, following After the Supper and Talk—but somewhere, close to the end: it must go in." I told W. Harrison Morris in telephoning today asked: "What does the poem mean?""You didn't tell him, did you? I never tell. It's my secret until the next fellow catches on by himself—then it's his secret, too. What does it mean? How should I know? Tell him to tell me?"

     W. picked up the Pall Mall pamphlet containing a reproduction of Gilchrist's Whitman. "You have seen it? It's pretty doubtful to me—pretty doubtful: Herbert has gone way off to make me rather than staying close by: I am only to be done right close by. Mrs. Coates spoke when she was here of some superb picture. She certainly did not mean this—she could not have called this superb.""Why not? After Bonsall's verdict on Frank Fowler's portrait we might expect anything." W. laughed. "But that was a good piece of work, Horace—well done—splendidly done.""Yes, but it was not you." He nodded. "That's right, too: it was a bad go as a portrait, wasn't it?" W. said he was "still wondering" what had "brought Herbert over to America.""Herbert must have had a windfall somehow—sold a picture, maybe: maybe borrowed a thousand pounds or so from his brother. Did I ever tell you about Percy Gilchrist? He's another son—invented some steel process—has made a million dollars or more by it, God help 'im! A million dollars is a lot of baggage to get in a man's way, ain't it? A million dollars would spoil me for life. Herbert and Talcott Williams seem to entertain quite a shine for each other. I remember Herbert once said to me: 'I can easily see how a man in England might want to come here but I don't see how a man

 
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once on this side would want to go back.' Herbert is a fellow you should know, Horace, though I am not sure you would quite gee together. Herbert is English to the jumping off place: he is aggressively national. Talcott is not an American by birth—Syrian, I think: born, however, of English or American parents."

     Intended to write Morse today but had not done so. A letter came from Bucke while I was there. I gave the printers at Ferguson's today a box of cigars as from Walt, who was greatly pleased. "It was right, it was good, and, as the old lady would say, I am glad you had the wit to do it." W. gave me a Swinton letter with the suggestion that I should "notice the jubilant tone of John's mood," adding: "Swinton sometimes seems to get in the dumps awful—is down in the mouth about the tardiness of the people to respond to the appeal of the economic radicals. The people will come along in their own time—yes, and take their time, too." This is what Swinton wrote:


John Swinton's Paper,

New York, Feb. 13, 1885.


My dear Walt—

     The last honor that decorates the brow of genius is now yours, and it is that I herewith introduce you to a live New Zealander—a professor from New Zealand—Prof. Brown of Canterbury College, New Zealand. He's an old admirer of the bard of Paumanok (fish-shaped) and is anxious to meet you; and so I give him this note to you. I know you will be glad to meet him. I shake your hand.


John Swinton.

     "That's the way John makes fun and is dead in earnest at the same time," said W.: "New Zealand is pretty far around: some day we will girdle the globe." W. mentioned Weir Mitchell: "He is my friend—has proved it in divers ways: is not quite as easy-going as our crowd—has a social position to maintain: yet I don't know but he's about as near right in most things as most people. I can't say that he's a world-author—he don't hit me for that size—but he's a world-doctor for sure—leastwise

 
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everybody says so and I join in." W. sent Musgrove out for some envelopes. When they were brought W. said: "No—they won't do—they don't satisfy me for shape: I like a shapely envelope. What are you laughing about, Horace? Oh, you think I'm fussy? No—I'm only esthetic!" He laughed. "Someways I do, someways I don't care, for things: they hit my eye or they don't: I can't always say why I like or don't like but I am quite firm in my preferences." He has not yet completely arranged the Hicks for the Herald.

     I had a long note from Morse today. The minute W. heard me say so he was impatient to have it read. He stopped me again and again with comments. When Morse spoke of being "immersed" in his novel, Jefferson Brown, W. said: "Stop right where you are and tell me about it. Morse never read it or any part of it to me: is it like Mrs. Ward's book?" Morse mentioned "the more Bohemian" of his friends and said: "I feel certain of them." W. asked: "Does he mean us?" He was much interested in Morse's purpose to make a big Emerson bust for Edward Emerson. "His Emerson can't be beat—it's a final triumph.""I rather prefer the big head of Emerson left here by Morse," says W.:"it has great merit." No copies were ever taken. It is here still. Vila Blake said to Morse: "The small head is human, the large divine.""That is striking" said W.: "Tell me about Blake—who he is." W. then talked in a general way about Morse: "I had the idea of getting a piece of ground and having him put up a rig here—a den in which he could have his own way: plenty of floor room—tall ceilings, sky-lights, air: getting everything in character with Sidney's big, generous ideas of work. I was ready to put two or three hundred dollars into it for him. Every literary fellow, artist—every man who has a big job of work to do—should have his own den—a coop entirely his own—with a cot in it, if need be, and a stove: a studio with a human side to it." Morse once had such a studio at Quincy. I spoke of it. W. said: "That all sounds good: that's the same idea. Morse has grown wonderfully the last two years—thrown off a coat or two—developed, evoluted (that's the word: evoluted!)

 
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—will go on to the end getting a little higher up all the time. I don't know but Chicago is just the place for him: if he can get a top-floor room somewhere and a landlord who won't worry him too much about the rent. Will you write Morse? Yes? Well—give him my love—tell him I have all sorts of faith in his success. Tell him that we miss him here—that his presence was a benediction: that we have never had any doubt about our love for him."

     W. gave me a copy of a Washington (1871) portrait made by Ulke. I said of it "It has a William Morris lay-out." He replied: "Do you say so? It would please O'Connor to hear you say that. Some of them say my face there has a rogue in it. O'Connor called it my sea-captain face. Some newspaper got a hold of a copy of the photograph and said it bore out the notion that Walt Whitman was a sensualist. I offered one to a woman in Washington. She said she'd rather have a picture that had more love in it. It's a little rough and tumble, possibly but it's not a face I could hate. Could you? Honest Injun, Horace: could you hate it?"

 
Friday, September 7, 1888.

     Saw Oldach today about binding November Boughs. Will give me an estimate to-morrow. Gave Myrick copy for duplicate plates—content and pagings. Plates of Specimen Days and Leaves of Grass not yet secured from Sherman. November Boughs will be finished by Monday night. Called on W. about eight, evening. Corning and Harned had just gone. Corning has bought W.'s horse and carriage. W. had previously tendered them to Bucke for what Bucke calls "an imaginary debt", Bucke declining. W. said to Corning: "I first offered it to somebody to whom I owed two hundred dollars." Said to me concerning it: "It marks a new epoch in my life: another stage on the down-hill road.""I shouldn't think with your idea of death that you would speak of it as a down road.""Sure enough—the word was false: up road: up—up: another stage on the up-hill road: that certainly seems more like me and I want to be like myself."

 
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     W. sat this evening with his big blue bath-robe on—head thrown rather back: gray hat on: dark red tie, carelessly half-undone: leaning side-wise towards the light: Life in London (Carlyle) in his hand. Said he had just taken the book up this evening and grown instantly interested. "I think the book is going to be one of the events." Harned had not been in for nearly a week. W. had welcomed him as "the prodigal." Speaking of Thurman's sudden sickness in N. Y. last evening when about to speak: "He should go home: he would lose nothing by it and the world would gain. We have passed beyond Thurman: he was left behind by a past dispensation." I told W. Bucke was afraid I was pushing him too strenuously with the book. "Maurice, don't you believe it! Not at all—not at all. It's the best thing for me—it's the only thing that has kept me alive. The work has not weakened, it has strengthened, me: it has steadied my nerves—been a star ahead: sustained me when everything else would have failed." Then he added: "As the sailors say when they are pretty sure of the harbor—we're going to fetch it! We've got past all, or nearly all, the dangers, headlands: our time is coming now: the voyage is near done." Asked me: "Isn't Corning inclined to taffy—soft-soap—something like that? He has been here a number of times: Talks volubly, cheerfully (I like his optimism): seems inclined to pile it on pretty thick. That tendency to overpraise—is it usual with him? Yes? I was afraid so: I had that impression myself. What do you attribute it to? I like nearly everything in Corning but this: it is so laboriously sugary: it spoils the taste in its excess.""It's the minister in him—the hireling minister who has to oblige everybody in his parish.""You talk like a Quaker but I guess you are right: what is first a studied habit may afterwards become second nature. The case is saved if we say Corning is as he is because he must be."

     I read W. an Independent editorial. When I came to the close of the third sentence he laughed heartily at the thrust. Before I had gone far he interrupted me to say: "That's Stoddard—Stoddard, I guess: and it's well written, too—he writes

 
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well: it bears the marks of his hand. You see, I still pass for a cipher in certain circles." When he found his poem quoted in full he added: "That's fair: give the devil—the Independent—his due: let's thank God for this one touch of grace. The enemy seem to be still about—there are plenty of enemies left—we must still stand to our arms. Horace, read the rest of the piece—let me hear it all: tell me the worst."xxx
 
"Poetical Fads.

     "One of our magazines announces that it will publish at an early date an article entitled, Has America Produced a Poet? the author being a well-known English critic. While we hope for an affirmative answer to the question, we trust that this Englishman will not, like so many of his countrymen, name Walt Whitman as the poet. It is curious the veneration in which this man's works are held in England, and the reflected glory they obtain in this country on that account. There may be something interesting and venerable in Whitman's personality as there is, undoubtedly, something pathetic in his poverty; but we have always failed to comprehend the interest in his poetry—we call it such by courtesy—that Lord Tennyson and others have frequently manifested. During the winter we commented on one or two of Whitman's effusions that appeared in the Herald. Now another appears in The Century for September—Old Age's Lambent Peaks—that is, indeed, less shocking, but no less involved and unrhythmical. Here it is:

"'The touch of flame—the illuminating fire—the loftiest look
         at last,
O'er city, passion, sea—o'er prairie, mountain, wood—the
         earth itself;
The airy, different, changing hues of all, in falling twilight,
Objects and groups, bearings, faces, reminiscences;
The calmer sight—the golden setting, clear and broad;
So much i' the atmosphere, the points of view, the situations
         whence we scan,
Bro't out by them alone—so much (perhaps the best) unreck'd
         before;
The lights indeed from them—old age's lambent peaks.'
 
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     "Nothing can be said for these lines except that they are original in their construction and obscurity. They will be read and extolled by a dozen or two Whitmaniacs; but that is all.

     "The effort to make a man's poetry great by creating a clique and a claque to sound his praises is bound to be unsuccessful, whether the deity be Browning or Shelly in England and in Boston or Whitman in New York. Writing of this very subject, Mr. J. T. Palgrave, the editor of that incomparable collection of English lyrics known as The Golden Treasury, and at present Professor of Poetry in Oxford University, said, in a recent letter to the editor of The Independent: 'We are deluged in this country just now with criticisms on the poets, and I often regard it as a proof of their essential vitality that they survive the praises of cliques and societies.' As a corollary of this statement, we may say that if a poet's works are worthy they will be recognized and live without any co-operative enthusiasm.

     "Editors have a certain duty to the public in their section of poems for publication. There is no doubt that one of the chief causes of the disrepute into which poetry has fallen is the woeful inferiority of the stuff and twaddle published in our periodicals under the name of poetry. Better do as The Atlantic did a few months ago and as it does again for September—omit poetry altogether, if poetry can not be found. Editors must be heartless, must be cruel to contributors, in order to be kind to readers."

     "That's me," said W.: "Is there any reason being further deceived in me? That's a good sample indictment: it takes me up in several items and convicts me without qualification. It sounds wonderful like Dick Stoddard—good enough to be his, bad enough to be his." W. said: "A Symonds letter is a red day for my calendar. This is one of them—an old letter." He reached it forward to me. "Symonds is as tall as a mountain peak—and gentle: always gentle. He hasn't got William's guts: he lacks that first brutality of utterance which goes with the initiators and inspirers: but for pure grace and suavity of phrase, for a certain element of literary as distinguished

 
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from oratorical eloquence, he is unexcelled. Symonds is a craftsman of the first water—pure as crystal—fine, fine, fine—dangerously near the superfine in his weaker moments. I am always strangely moved by a letter from Symonds: it makes the day, it makes many days, sacred."

Clifton Hill House,

Bristol, Oct 7, 1871.


My dear Sir.

     When a man has ventured to dedicate his worth to another without authority or permission, I think he is bound to make confession of the liberty he has taken. This must be my excuse for sending you the crude poem in which you may perchance detect some echo, faint and feeble, of your Calamus. As I have put pen to paper I cannot refrain from saying that since the time when I first took up Leaves of Grass in a friend's room at Trinity College Cambridge six years ago till now, your poems have been my constant companions. I have read them in Italy by the shores of the Mediterranean, under pine trees or in caverns washed by the sea—and in Switzerland among the Alpine pastures and besides the glaciers. At home I have found in them pure air and health—the free breath of the world—when often cramped by illness and the cares of life. What one man can do by communicating to those he loves the treasure he has found, I have done among my friends.

     I say this in order that I may, as simply as may be, tell you how much I owe to you. He who makes the words of a man his spiritual food for years is greatly that man's debtor.

     As for the poem I send you—it is of course implicit already in your Calamus, especially in Scented Herbage of my Breast. I have but set to an old tune the new divine song: for you know that on this side of the Atlantic at least people most readily listen to the old tunes. I fear greatly I have marred the purity and beauty of your thought by my bad singing.

     I am an Englishman, married with three children, and am aged thirty.

     Answer to this I scarcely expect, as I certainly do not deserve

 
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it. The poem I send is due for reasons already set forth. It is a printer's proof at present and no more.


I am your grateful and attached


John Addington Symonds.

     W. said: "That was one of the first, if not the very first, of the Symonds letters. It starts off with the good will which he has never abated of to these very last days. It makes a fellow walk pretty straight when a man like that takes him so dead in earnest. Symonds has always seemed to me a forthright man—unhesitating, without cant: not slushing over, not freezing up. He has written me many letters: they are all of the same character—warm (not too warm), a bit inquisitive, ingratiating." Another letter W. called my attention to was in an envelope endorsed in his own hand: "friendly note from Ward, the sculptor (will send an order and money after May 1)."


140 East 38th Street,

New York, April 23, 1876.


My dear Mr. Whitman:

     Your note was received and I am only waiting until the 1st of May when I shall be more "flush" to send you an order for five copies of your complete works.

     I am glad that you are publishing your works in this complete form and feel sure that you will be well repaid in every way for the effort.

     I hope to do more than this in the way of getting subscribers.


Very Sincerely Yours


J. Q. A. Ward.

     I said to W.: "After all a large proportion of the vital people got on your side. The enemies did not understand you, but the people with blood by and bye got a notion that you were some shucks." He was "satisfied to have it said that way," adding: "I have quite well realized that I gradually secured a considerable body of approbation: things never got easy with me, by they did get less cruel." W. gave me an army pass

 
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made out to W. to put among my papers. He had endorsed it: "Pass Burnside's Army Jan '63." It read this way:

Provost Marshall General's Office,

No 330 Army of the Potomac,

Falmouth Station, Dec 27th, 1862.




     The Bearer Walter Whitman has permission to pass from Falmouth Station to Aqua Creek Landing by rail for the purpose of business. This pass will expire this the 29th day of December (twenty-ninth).


By command of M. R. Patrick, Provost Marshall General.
F.C. Miller
Major and Provost Marshall.

     W. in mighty good feather this evening. Said he had just found an Oscar Wilde letter but "would not give it to" me "just yet." Wanted "to read it again.""Wilde," he said, "may have been some of him fraud at that time but was not all fraud. My letter from him seems wholly sincere. He has extraordinary brilliancy of genius with perhaps rather too little root in eternal soils. Wilde gives up to much to the extrinsic decorative values in art." Also said: "I am laying aside one thing and another for you from day to day. You will do what you will with them—you will throw them away if that seems best to do—you will use them some way—this way—this way or that (perhaps publish them): I do not wish to tie you up at all—to say what you must or may not do: I prefer to leave you free to dispose of anything I may pass over into your hands as you see fit: put it into the fire, put it anywhere: I feel safe in your hands." Before I left he handed me four letters done up in a string. They proved to be one each from Conway, Hotten, William Michael Rossetti and Trowbridge. "You will find that Conway commits himself to Leaves of Grass powerful like in his letter. Hotten writes as a publisher—almost apologizes for himself." Rossetti's envelope was endorsed by W.: "first installment from W M Rossetti free will ordering." I did not stop further to talk about the letters.

 
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Saturday, September 8th, 1888.

     8 p.m. W. reading Life in London, going through it with for him wonderful avidity, but was very willing to put it down and hear what I had to say. "My health has only been so-so, neither much good nor much bad." I had been in to see both the binder and the printer today—brought over specimen book of colors for cover of November Boughs—samples of cloth: also saw Brown and got from him the sheet containing the Hicks head. W. in high humor. "Things are progressing: progress is what I am after—I want to get along—get the work done: then I will be ready to take in sail for the last harbor." I got from Myrick proofs of Annex page, with changed pagings for duplicate plates. The instant W. looked at the former he exclaimed: "That will do: I can say so because I trust first impressions and this first impression is a good one." Chose a dark wine linen for the cover of the book. Regarded the Hicks picture intently. "I can see defects; this forehead, for instance, is not quite as it should be; but my general notion of the portrait is a good one: as I often say, I congratulate myself that it's not so damned bad as it might be." As so often before he commented upon "the superiority of English presswork." Has decided for good on a dollar and a quarter for November Boughs. "Do you think the world will stand it?" Oldach asked me today if W. was of German stock. W. said of that: Not German: no: Dutch: a good lot of the Dutch is in me: I owe some of my characteristics indubitably to the Dutch. My mother was a Van Velsor: I favor her: 'favor' they call it up on Long Island—a curious word so used, yet a word of great suggestiveness. Often people would say—men, women, children, would say—'You are a Whitman: I know you.' When I asked how they knew they would up with a finger at me: 'By your features, your gait, your voice: they are your mother's.' I think all that was, is, true: I could see it in myself."

     I quoted three references to W. made in The Critic this week. The Critic speaks of Old Age's Lambent Peaks as in W.'s "best

 
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manner": it quotes James Ward Davidson's book, The Poetry of the Future, and says that "poetry will, while discarding measured verse and terminal rhyme, retain the rhythmical foot": it says of C. Sadakichi Hartmann that he some years ago attempted t"to launch a Walt Whitman Society on an unprepared world." W. had nothing much to say on the first two points, but was quick to take up the last. "A world unprepared! Yes, indeed! But I was the fellow who put his foot down on that little plan—who forbade the launching of the enterprise. So Baxter and the fellows there squelched Hartmann. It had always been my contention that I should avoid proselytism—avoid all gospel work that looked like force—do nothing to compel attention: trust all to freedom, growth: then what came would belong to us. For ten years and more there was a suspicion lurking within me—dim, undefined, for a long time, but finally grown clear, convincing—that our whole Whitman business was ticklish, uncertain—hung in the balance, with perhaps only a hair needed to shift the fine measure either way. In all I have written, said, I have exercised the greatest care, lest I go too far, or say too much, or write things damaging to our cause: indeed, I might almost put it, nervous, almost nervous, lest I forget the metes and bounds of our worth: trembling, nervous, nearly, if I could be that (as thank God I never could be!). But since November Boughs has been under way I have had a revulsion of feeling—have gained a sense of security—become convinced that things are all right, the current strong our way, the end beyond a doubt. Though this experience has gone largely, if not wholly, unconfessed, it was being lived through by me in all those years. You can easily imagine, then, how a Walt Whitman Club, a concerted movement, an attempt to beat down the opposition, should be everhow repugnant to me. But Hartmann is more than the organizer of a Whitman club. I wish you could meet him: his views on things Occidental, as they say, are rare, novel—should be heard. They come from one who has his roots in the other side of the planet—was raised under surprising differences of perspective. Take his ideas of Holland, France, Germany,
 
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England (he has been in all those countries) and you will find them very often just the things we need to have told us. Hartmann has written astonishingly good studies. His observations on America are bright—surprisingly searching—some of them."

     I talked to W. of my Japanese friend Tatui Baba. Baba says his first strong impression received in America is of the fearful gap between its rich and poor. "Ah!" exclaimed W.: "Did he say that? Then I am convinced that he put his finger on the sore spot at once. I always come back to the same idea myself; there is the itch—the trouble: there is no mistake: the fact of the matter is the situation is growing worse and worse. And yet," he continues, "we must not forget that the disease is one which may be cured: the cure of it is in our own hands. It is seen at its damnedest in the big cities—New York, Philadelphia, Chicago: but it is bad no matter where. America has got to clean house some day!" I asked him: "Will she do it with a broom or a gun?" He reflected for a minute. "That depends: I am not prepared to say the gun is impossible. I don't like to think about the gun—it is not a pleasant prospect to dream about—but history sometimes has a way of jumping difficulties in a somewhat violent style. I say, if, if, if, it is not the one thing, then it must be, must be, the other. I like the broom best myself."

     Oldach says of the cover on the Epictetus: "It is buckram." W. said; "I don't believe it but I am outvoted. But then it's Honest John Davis over again." I looked puzzled. "Don't you know the story? It was one of Wendell Phillips'—one of his best." I still looked blank. "Well—I don't remember its details. Honest John Davis was a senator (many years ago) and Phillips hated him like the devil. 'Honest John Davis' was a nickname—deserved, I believe: he was so cold, austere, stern, strict, clean, hard. Davis was somewhere—it was night: heard an old darky woman call out 'Hot cakes!'—bought one. But the cake was not hot. John turned back. 'See here, my woman, this ain't hot!''Law sakes, honey—dey says dey is!' So he was outvoted—Honest John Davis: Honest Walt Whitman. Phillips

 
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told the story beautifully; indeed, I think the best part of Phillips was in the asides, the digressions; they were always fresh, free, powerful."

     By some turn in the talk W. got on the subject of the quadroons and octoroons in the South. Did he believe in amalgamation? "I know many who already have it done—critics, reviewers, historians—done, proved: proves as they prove most things, which is not to prove them at all. I don't believe in it—it is not possible. The nigger, like the Injun, will be eliminated: it is the law of races, history, what-not: always so far inexorable—always to be. Someone proves that a superior grade of rats comes and then all the minor rats are cleared out." I said: "That sounds like Darwin.""Does it? It sounds like me, too." W. then proceeded: "I have been in New Orleans—known, seen, all its peculiar phases of life. Of course my report would be forty years old or so. The octoroon was not a whore, a prostitute, as we call a certain class of women here—and yet was, too: a hard class to comprehend: women with splendid bodies—no bustles, no corsets, no enormities of any sort: large, luminous, rich eyes: face a rich olive: habits indolent, yet not lazy as we define laziness North: fascinating, magnetic, sexual, ignorant, illiterate: always more than pretty—'pretty' is too weak a word to apply to them. Do you tell me that amalgamation is likely? I do not see it. The American white and the Southern black will mix but not ally. I have considered the problem from all sides. It is wonderful the readiness with which French and Negro, or Spanish and Negro, will marry—interlock—and the results are always good. It is the same with the Injun and Nigger—they too will ask no questions: they, too, achieve equally fine reproductivities. New Orleans, in my day, was divided into three municipalities, arrondissements. In one of these were the French and here were those great women—a full acceptance of them. Now, the Southern white does not encourage such intermixtures: there are psychological, physiological, reasons for it—back of all psychologies, physiologies, some deeper fact. They are a study, too—the poor whites South: lank, sallow coughing, spitting,

 
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with no bellies (and bellies seem a sine qua non): hang on and on into the sixties and seventies: seem to defy all auguries, theories, which attempt to set them aside or limit their future. For all that is said to discountenance them they maintain their independence, stand aloof, are not familiar, run affairs, govern, domineer."

     Gave me a letter from Bucke. "Keep it—there's nothing particular in it—but I know you like to keep the run of these things." I asked W. a question or two about Conway's old letter. First he had me read the letter aloud.


14 Millborne Grove, Brompton,

London, England, Feb. 1, '68.


My dear friend,

     I have but a moment in which to write to you, if I save the mail. My object is to ask you, in behalf of Hotten, whether it is consistent with your will that the selection from your works made by Rossetti shall be sold in the American market. Hotten has written to me that if so he will give you one shilling on each copy sold in America. He hopes the prefatory essay may attract purchasers there. I have read it and it is excellent. The volume will be out next week; it is very neatly done, and quite as large as your last edition (American). Hotten writes that when expenses are paid, you will have a percentage of each copy sold here. I have assumed to be your financial agent here. I hope you will answer about the sale in America by return mail. Rossetti is much pleased with your letter to him. If you see O'Connor please thank him for sending me The Ghost and The Carpenter—which we (wife and I) think extremely interesting and dramatic. You will see in the February Fortnightly I have (in reviewing Swinburne's Blake) had something more to say of your work—which is to me the more I read it (as I do daily) the Genesis of an American Bible.


Faithfully yours


M. D. Conway.

P. S. I will watch for reviews when your book appears, and send you any that are valuable.
 
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     The letter was addressed to W. in care of the Attorney General's office. W. said: "Conway closed with a striking thought." I asked: "Has he stuck to it?""Sometimes I suspect not: I don't mean that he has gone back on me (he has not): I mean that he don't look upon me with quite the fullest favor of his earlier enthusiasm. Conway has done me good turns which I would be an ingrate not to acknowledge. Conway, you will notice, does not call the Leaves a new Bible but the Genesis of a new Bible. That's more like sense than to make monopolistic claims.""No matter what has come more is yet to come.""That's what I would have said, Horace, if you'd given me time. I don't intend it for cant when I say in my book that my best lesson is the lesson by which I am myself destroyed." The letter from Hotten connects with the Conway letter here and there.


London, 5 February, 1868.


Dear Sir,

     I have taken the liberty to send you by this post a copy of Mr. Swinburne's new book upon William Blake, poet and artist—a great but neglected genius who was counted as a madman by his contemporaries here sixty years ago. As Mr. Swinburne makes mention of yourself in this, his most recent published composition, it is but right that you should see what is said. But irrespective of that I feel assured—from what Mr. M. D. Conway tells me—that the book will interest you.

     Mr. Conway will have told you of our intention to publish an English edition of your "poems"—or rather a "Selection" from them—edited by Mr. W. M. Rossetti, one of our most able critics and himself a poet. In about a week I shall send you a copy by post. It makes a handy volume of about 440 pages, and will I think be a favorite here. Mr. Rossetti's introduction is most admirable and gives great satisfaction to your admirers and his friends.

     Now, we want the privilege of selling copies of the "selection" in the United States—if you will allow us: and I have told Mr. Conway that I would give you, or your agent, a royalty of one

 
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shilling (or twenty-five cents gold) upon every copy sold in your country.

     I imagine the sale of this "selection" in your country would serve as whet, or stimulant, to readers to secure copies of the complete works. I really don't think it would materially interfere with the sale of the latter.

     On this English edition I will ask your acceptance of a share of our profits—after the original outlay in paper, printing, and binding, has been returned to the publisher.

     I was greatly gratified this afternoon in having almost the first copy of Mr. Robert Buchanan's new volume of essays placed in my hands. I was gratified because in the middle of the book his admirable paper upon your poems—the article which recently appeared in the Broadway—is given.

     I think in conclusion that I ought to apologize for sending this familiarly written letter to you, as I am but a trader—a bookseller—and have only an acquaintance with your books of some years' standing to offer as an excuse. True, the first copies imported into this country were at the order of the undersigned; but that, it is feared, will not in any way palliate the liberty now taken.


Yours very obediently:


John Camden Hotten.

     W. said: "Hotten didn't know that I in the main like traders, workers, anyone, better than authors. The author class is a priest class with esoteric doctrines: I do not easily mix with it—I refuse to condone it. This is a part of the so much that went towards producing my English editions: the story is not to be all told offhand—the cat has a very, very long tail." W. said: "I am still holding Wilde back—you shall have it to-morrow." W. also said this evening: "Some day I will tell you the real story of my life: then you will open your eyes." I looked at him, supposing he was smiling. He was dead serious. "What do you mean?""I can't commence now—some day I will explain."

 
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Sunday, September, 9th, 1888.

     Not one of W.'s best days. Very close, rainy, debilitating. I went down at seven. He lay on the bed, but knew me, dark as it was. "I know your step no matter how lightly you tread." Stayed on the bed for full half an hour. Talked very readily and easily. He wanted to get up at once but I objected. He did finally do so and go to his chair. He closed the blinds of the shutter. Adjusted the arm of the gaspipe and turned the key. Could not find a match. Fumbled about, upset the clothes-basket in which he throws his waste papers. He never said a word. Black enough to blind an owl. I then broke in and got the gas lighted. W. said: "I can generally pilot myself about here, but the devil gets into things (or me) now and then."

     W. rarely reads his poems to anybody. To-night read An Evening Lull to me. His voice was strong and sweet. He never recites a poem (his own). I never had him do it for me. Occasionally he will cite a line or two. "I don't know my poems that way: any one of you fellows probably could repeat more lines from the Leaves than I could." Again: "I never commit poems to memory—they would be in my way." He further remarked: "I don't revise my revisions too much—polish: I don't hold it to be principally important to develope special technical flavors. Studying for recitation is mainly technical—tends to reaction: encourages formalism. I keep as far away from the mere machinery of composition as I can."

     W. gave me the Wilde letter. I thought he might say more about it. He said little: only this: "It seems all straight and honest to me. I have been told a thousand times what Wilde is but I do not see why Wilde is not what he is and I am not what I am with both of us friends according each other a mutual respect. There is no parade in this note: it wears the simplest clothes—has no sunflower in its button hole—has in fact a cast of virgin simplicity, sincerity. Read it for yourself: see if the letter does not bear me out." He said nothing while I read. He had endorsed the envelope in blue pencil: "from Oscar

 
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Wilde early in '82." The postmark was Chicago, March 1. The letter was written in New York.

1267 Broadway, New York.


My Dear Dear Walt—

     Swinburne has just written to me to say as follows.

     "I am sincerely interested and gratified by your account of Walt Whitman and the assurance of his kindly and friendly feeling towards me: and I thank you, no less sincerely, for your kindness in sending me word of it. As sincerely can I say, what I shall be freshly obliged to you if you will assure him of in my name, that I have by no manner of means relaxed my admiration of his noblest works—such parts, above all, of his writings, as treat of the noblest subjects, material and spiritual, with which poetry can deal—I have always thought it, and I believe it will be hereafter generally thought his highest and surely most enviable distinction that he never speaks so well as when he speaks of great matters—Liberty, for instance, and Death.

     "This of course does not imply that I do, or rather it implies that I do not agree with all his theories, or admire all his work in anything like equal measure—a form of admiration which I should by no means desire for myself and am as little prepared to bestow on another—considering it a form of scarcely indirect insult."

     There! You see how you remain in our hearts—and how simply and grandly Swinburne speaks of you, knowing you to be simple and grand yourself.

     Will you in return send me for Swinburne a copy of your Essay on Poetry—the pamphlet—with your name and his on it—it would please him so much. Before I leave America I must see you again—there is no one in this wide great world of America whom I love and honor so much.


With warm affection, and honorable admiration,


Oscar Wilde.

     When I looked up after reading the letter W. asked: "Am I not right? Does he strike a false note? It all rings sound and true

 
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to me there. Everybody's been so in the habit of looking at Wilde cross-eyed, sort of, that they have charged the defect of their vision up against Wilde as a weakness in his character." I told W. Harned liked Old Age's Lambent peaks "a whole lot." He replied "So do I, if I may be allowed to say it: to me it is an essential poem—it needed to be made." Said he "had a letter from Rhys.""He is off in Wales somewhere or was—having a good time, flitting about, seeing his own people, new things, fresh incidents. But he says nothing about our fellows—about the fellows we are interested in over there." Again: "I have another letter, too—from Rolleston: you know him?—he is the Epictetus man. He says he has in hand now a batch of the German proofs for the German edition of Leaves of Grass. You remember, the edition is not to be complete, to include all: is simply to be made up of translations of a few of the poems—Knortz, Karl Knortz, rendering a number and Rolleston doing the rest. What will the book come to, do you think? It excites my curiosity. I want your father to see the proofs if they are sent me—want his opinion." Rolleston asked for Knortz's present address. W. says of Rolleston: "We have never met but he has made me from time to time notable tenders of affection." Said of Rhys: "He has many solid, estimable qualities: lacks brilliancy but possesses substance: should come to something (I can't say what) in the finish." Then suddenly he laughed. "All the foreign mail comes the same day. I did not tell you I got a copy of the Star—London Star: it contains a notice of me drawn out by Herbert's picture in the Grosvenor Gallery." Here he paused and laughed again most merrily. "And it is very funny: the fellow who writes the notice (a very good notice it is, too: among the best)—Clarke—William I take it—says the picture is much like and all that except that Walt Whitman has no Italian curls in his beard: 'Italian curls' he calls them. How cute! How direct!

     Harned tells me Gilchrist on his call last week criticised the Eakins portrait "generally if not sharply." W. asked me:

 
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"Do you know exactly what he said of it?" adding without waiting for my answer: "But it's of no importance: of no importance at all what he thinks of it"—then saying rather apologetically: "I should not say that—should not say of no importance: it has an importance—an importance its own: has the sort of value which goes with the usual, the commonplace—as telling what technique purely, the schools, traditions, would say of such a piece of work." My father had said he was not entirely satisfied with the flesh of the portrait—it lacked in purity. W. replied: "It is good to hear that and it is in effect true I have no doubt. My own impression summed up is, that the painting is a genuine piece of work—a quite extraordinary piece of work: may one day be considered (as somebody has said here to me) even a great production. I can very easily see why the average run of critics should make faces at it—some of 'em hideous faces—why it is inevitable, necessary, for them to do so, considering their philosophies of style: but Eakins is not the man to be choked off by a few unripe or over-ripe dissenters." He said after another pause: "I am much mystified anyhow by Herbert's visit at this time. No doubt he has a big egg to crack and will crack it—but what it is, what it will all amount to—there I'm stuck."

     Has sent the Hicks piece off to the Herald. Asked for my Holmes life of Emerson. "I have never read it but I should.""Morse says it's a better life of Holmes than of Emerson.""Good! That's more than likely—far more: and that's a thing that might just as pertinently be said of Herbert's picture: if it don't give me it gives Herbert. Often enough an artist floats out into his picture to the utter destruction of his subject." The Star quotes a post card recently received in England from W., who guessed it belonged to Rhys. W. read some proofs of Annex pages today. I went back a day or two to remind W. of the Rossetti letter. He said: "Read it to me: let me hear it again: I get a heap from letters, things, as I sit here, you reading, I just listening. It's getting to be a delicious lazy habit with me: you are spoiling me." I read.

 
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London, 5 Jan., 1886.


Dear Whitman,

     I received your note of 30 November, and have been intending to write for some little while past.

     You and I have both suffered a loss in the death of that admirable woman Mrs. Gilchrist—a strong, warm nature, full of sympathetic sense and frank cordiality. I look round the circle of my acquaintance for her equal. Much might be said on such a topic: but often a little is as good as much.

     The subscription has continued going on, in much the same course as previously, as you will see from the enclosed list. In the Athanaeum (and I believe Academy) of 2 January a paragraph was put in, to serve as a reminder to any well-wishers: perhaps it may be expected that a few will respond, and that we may then regard our little movement as wound up. I shall always esteem it a privilege to have borne my small share in testifying the respect and gratitude to you which are due to you (I might say) from all open-minded men and women in the world—and from the shut-minded too, for the matter of that.

     My wife and children are away at Ventnor (Isle of Wight), as the London winter threatened to be too much for my wife's delicate chest. I expect to join them within the next few days, staying away some three weeks or so. As I may be a little hurried these last remaining days, it is possible that I may not just now pay in the £23. 16. 6 shown in the enclosed list—assuming as I do that this point would not be regarded as material. However, the utmost likely delay would not be long.

     I have seen three or four times Mr. Charles Aldrich of Webster City, Iowa: he told us of his interview with you shortly before he crossed the Atlantic. We liked him, and would gladly have seen more of him: but this apparently will not be, for he must now be just about to sail back from Liverpool to New York.


Yours always truly,


W. M. Rossetti.

     W. said: "Rossetti is the kind of friend who never forgets the market basket: he does not bombard the needy with affectionate

 
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regrets—he feeds 'em. This is to say nothing, either, of the spiritual quality of his succor." He said: "Charles Aldrich is my good friend: he has ideas, faiths, which lead him affectionately my way. Rossetti mentions Mrs. Gilchrist. Well, he had a right to—almost as much right as I had: a sort of brother's right: she was his friend, she was more than my friend. I feel like Hamlet when he said forty thousand brothers could not feel what he felt for Ophelia. After all, Horace, we were a family—a happy family: the few of us who got together, going with love the same way—we were a happy family. The crowd was on the other side but we were on our side—we: a few of us, just a few: and despite our paucity of numbers we made ourselves tell for the good cause. These letters get me talking, don't you see?" I thought this a good time to read the Trowbridge letter to him. He did not object—in fact settled himself comfortably in the chair to hear it.

Somerville, Mass.

Jan. 6th, 1865.


My dear Friend.

     I have been thinking much of you lately and wondering where you were (for I heard some time since that you had left Washington), when the New York Times came, with your long and interesting communication. I do not yet, from reading that, understand very well where you are, and I send this at a venture. If this reaches you, please let me know your address, and I will try to send you something to help along your good work. I sent you, some time last summer, by private hands, a copy of Great Expectations and two dollars in money, but could never learn that they reached you: did they? How are you now?

     A great change has taken place in my life since I saw you. My dearest friend has left me leaving in her place a little boy, now eleven months old. A superb little fellow (although I say it); and in him I have great comfort.

     I went three times to find Dr. Le Baron Russell, with your note in my hand, but failing each time, I gave him up.

 
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     I am now trying to withdraw from the arena of popular literature: only the necessity of coining a livelihood has kept me in it so long. I feel that, if I live frugally and sincerely, and do not use up my mental energies in rapid writing, I may be able to do something excellent. I am about getting out a volume of poems—or, as you would say, prettinesses.


Sincerely your friend


J. T. Trowbridge.

     W. asked as I concluded: "Is that all? It's good enough to be more. Trowbridge has had his knock-downs—bad ones—but he has always managed to get back on his feet again—to recover his mettle. He'll never set the world afire with his stories and poems—especially the poems (he puts the word 'prettiness' in my mouth, talking about them, you noticed) but he has a quite inimitable talent which I am led to believe within its own range and as subserving its own purpose amounts to a mastership. Trowbridge has a human side of which I am very fond. He took a real interest in my hospital work—contributed to it with more than words—with more than literary compliments. In these later years I have sometimes suspected Trowbridge is not quite so well satisfied with me. He says nothing to make me feel that way—except perhaps his saying nothing at all."

 
Monday, September 10th, 1888.

     8 p.m. W. talked brightly this evening though he said he was not feeling bright. "I was in terrible shape when I first woke up this morning but I afterwards gathered myself together." Harned was in during part of our talk. W. said: "Come often, Tom: come whenever you can: I miss you." Discussed binding for November Boughs. I opened the package I had brought containing one of the two folded sets of the book I had got from Ferguson today. W.'s eyes were large with desire. "What's that? What have you there?" he asked, reaching both hands out as if to take the sheets. When I

 
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exhibited my prize he exclaimed: "Handsome! it completely satisfies me: that is the book—the real, living, undoubted book!" at the same time turning it over and over fondly and in a spirit of undisguised exhilaration. "Horace—the deed is done! My blood, your blood, went to the making of this book! Some men go to the North Pole to do things—some go to wars—some trade and swindle: we just stayed where we were and made a book!"

     Afterwards, when Harned entered, and asked W., "What's the thing in your hand, Walt?" W. passed it over, saying: "It's the book, Tom: November Boughs: the whole book: our newest baby. Look at it: look at that—that title-page: haven't we made a ten-strike?" adding after a pause: "I believe it at least: as I say, I never count upon material success until I have it right in my hands—am paid in cash for it (the money paid down is usually a pretty convincing argument.) So now the ship is in at last and the cargo delivered and my last doubt is gone. Horace will tell you, Tom, how many times—hundreds of times—we thought the whole caboodle was going to wreck: how often and often it looked as if we could never get the wheel of the ship manageable again." I said: "That's your best printing so far." He replied: "So I should say myself, except, perhaps, for the '55 edition. Oh! if the big book only comes to as much. I am doubtful: the paper is not first-class for the purpose."

     He alluded to the sale of the horse and buggy. "Well—I've sold the nag. Did you know it?—both know it? Corning bought it. I first offered it to Bucke who refused it." Bucke had asked me whether W. was vexed at his refusal. W. laughed: "Oh no! tell him no. He wrote me frankly—I saw the weight of his argument. He was indeed very affectionate—offered to take the animal, the mare, and keep her till she died, if I had any sentiment about it. I have for long now seen how useless it is to attempt to keep it. Here I had a chance to make a sale—made it. Corning was in earnest to buy, I was in earnest to sell—so we struck a bargain."

     W. still harping on Gilchrist. "Why did he come over? He has not told me: some big art scheme, perhaps: perhaps no

 
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scheme at all—simply an Irish ambassador business over again—the secret is that there is no secret: the scheme is that there is no scheme. There's something mysterious about it, I admit. He came in yesterday, made some inquiries down stairs, and went off again without seeing me. There's something back of it all: it's hardly like him to hurry in and out in that way. When he was in America last year he would come over here and stay and stay, sometimes three or four hours, and would want to talk all the time. I joked with Mary about it: perhaps he's over to get married—or perhaps for worse reasons even than that!" He laughed. Turned to Harned. "Tom, what did Herbert say about Eakins' picture?" Harned replied: "He didn't say much: he did say, however, that the picture falsified you—was a dangerous picture to make current." W. rejoined: "I can hear Herbert say that: I do not wonder: it seems the most natural thing in the world for him to say. If he had had another opinion of Eakins' picture he would have painted a different Walt Whitman picture himself. The two pictures sort of bark at each other, they are so unlike." Harned asked: "How do you account for it? Has jealousy anything to do with it?""Jealousy? Something, maybe, but not much. Not jealousy—not wholly or even chiefly jealousy. The fact is, Herbert is in the London swim—likes the swell crowd—endorsing its codes, sharing its worships, sailing by its beacons. He belongs with the Royal Academy nabobs: the Sir Frederick Leighton kind of reigning monarchs (that's him, ain't it?)—adept (ah! a miraculously skilled man) in technique, style, tradition: a great man according to existing rules—really of some importance, as all of them are. Herbert is in with that class—is imbued with its interests, crotchets, idiocrities—not one of them, of the whole London crowd, caring for origins, sources, inspirations, direct. It seems to me that explains Herbert's case. How could they appreciate Eakins, who breaks utterly away from the old, the outworn, the merely traditionary? Then we must remember that Eakins' picture is severe—keeps close to nature—slurs nothing—faces the worst as well as the best.
 
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In short they don't know, don't understand: they haven't the taste for it. Give a man who is fond of poor whiskey, rum: give him the fine