Interviews and Reminiscences

About this Item

Title: Visits to Walt Whitman in 1890–1891: In Camden, October 27th to November 2nd

Creator: John Johnston

Date: 1917

Whitman Archive ID: med.00850

Source: Our transcription is based on J. Johnston and J. W. Wallace, Visits to Walt Whitman in 1890–1891 (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1917), 191–217 For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the interviews, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Brett Barney and Said Hail Fallaha

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Tuesday, October 27th.—On calling at Mickle Street, soon after one o'clock, Warry reported that Mr. Whitman had had a bad night and was not well, but after acquainting W. with my arrival, he brought word that I was to go up to see him. I found W. sitting in his usual position, and he greeted me with his customary kindness and cordiality. He said that he was having rather an extra bad day and his head was "in an apple-dumpling condition, but" (smiling) "I am thankful it is no worse." "Have you been to Timber Creek?"

I said "yes," and that I had brought him a little wild mint from the creek as a souvenir. He looked pleased as he took it and, pressing it to his nostrils, said: "How it brings it all before me, and I see it all!" I regretted that the mint was rather shrivelled, but he replied that "it had to fade to bring out its full value."

"And did you see George and Susan Stafford? And how are they? And is George Stafford well? Does he do any work?"

I gave him, in outline, an account of my visit, W. listening with much interest and smiling at times,

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enquiring about Ed. and Harry, and about Eva and the children, and smiling very tenderly as I praised little Susie Browning. I told him, too, of my visit to the creek, of the changes there, and of the beautiful sunset I had seen across the pond. He said: "I have seen a good many beautiful sunsets there."

When I had finished he said: "I am very glad to hear of Staffords, and I am very glad to see you. I am glad to hear definite news of them. It is two or three months since I heard anything definite of them."

He remarked of the weather that it had been bright a little before, but seemed to be getting cloudy and cooler. He had had "a letter from Dr. Johnston yesterday, but no special news in it: all seemed to be moving along as usual." I told him that I had also received a letter from Johnston, and that George Humphreys had been very much pleased with a copy of the centennial edition in two volumes of "Leaves of Grass," etc., which W. had sent him. W. smiled kindly, saying: "Likes it, eh? Has Dr. Johnston, or have you, got a copy of the 1876 edition, with the 'Two Rivulets'? " I told him that Dr. Bucke had given me a copy, but that Johnston had not one; though he could have the use of mine. He said at once: "I will give you one for him: I have a copy I can spare, and it is a good copy."

I remarked that O'Connor's book "Three Tales" was advertised by the publishers, Houghton, Mifflin and Co., of Boston, as to be ready the following day, the 28th, and I enquired if McKay would have it.

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" Yes, I think so, or he will get it for you." "Traubel is well as usual?"

"Yes; he seems to have good health and a wonderful store of nervous energy."

"Yes, he has a good deal of physical stamina and physical uncorruptedness, and these are good things for a young fellow."

"Dr. Bucke and I both fancied he was working too hard; but I am better satisfied now that I have seen more of him. He seems to get through it all right."

"Yes, it seems to be the radiating or giving out of what is in him, or what he can do. Sidney Morse—you know of him?—once told a story of a man he had in his studio at Boston. He was a good help, and looked well after the studio, and Morse liked him very well—but when he was left in charge for a long time he went and got drunk. Sidney gave him a lecture and, as they do sometimes, he got more angry as his diatribes went on. The man took it very quietly and said nothing; but when Sidney got more angry than ever he said : 'Well Morse, I guess it had to be!' Had to be! A wonderful philosophy that!" (Smiling.) I suggested that perhaps the poor fellow felt himself partly a victim, as is the case sometimes, to which W. replied: "Perhaps so."

I told him that I was going on to Philadelphia, and enquired if there was anything I could bring him from there; but after consideration he said there was not. I told him that I had arranged to meet Horace, and that we would call together on Miss Porter. He said: "Well, give my best respects to Miss Porter, and tell her that I am

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here, that I am having an extra bad day, but that I am moving along." (Smiling.) I expressed a hope that he would feel better as the day advanced, to which he replied: "Yes, perhaps I shall," and after saying good-bye I left him.

Later I met Horace Traubel, and we called together on Frank Williams at the Drexel Building, where he was a clerk. We went next to the office of the Poet Lore magazine, to see Miss Porter, who was associated with Miss Clarke in the editorship; after which we returned to Camden.

Wednesday, October 28th.—I called at W.'s about noon. Warry opened the door and reported that W. was unwell. There had been a few visitors to the house, one of whom was then with Mrs. Davis in the parlour; and Dr. Longaker was upstairs with W. I waited till Longaker came down and had a few words with him. He said that W. was fairly well, but he had had too many callers. I asked Warry to let him know that I had called, but to say that I was going on to Philadelphia and would not come upstairs. But Warry brought back word at once that W. wished to see me. He received me with even more than his usual kindness, holding his hand out to its full extent and smiling pleasantly: "Come in for a minute anyway! Take a seat!"

I enquired how he was, and he replied: "Not so well." I said that Dr. Longaker seemed to think he was rather better. He smiled as he said : "Well, I like to be told so, anyway."

He pointed to a small heap of books near his feet and said: "Those are the books I have in-

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scribed for you." There were three parcels: one for Dr. Johnston, containing the two volumes of the 1876 edition; one for Deardens; and one containing six copies of the pocket-book edition of "Leaves of Grass"; all neatly made up and labelled in W.'s handwriting. I told him how pleased the friends Would be and thanked him. "Oh," said he, smiling, "that should go without saying."

He said: "Will you take them now, or shall I send them?" I said I would take them. "But they are rather awkward to carry." I replied that I had a valise with me and would carry them in that.

"The weather seems to be in your favour. It is quite fine again this morning."

"I have been wonderfully favoured all through; in weather and in everything else."

Yes, I am glad that things have gone on so well with you. I was a little apprehensive about your coming—that they might not turn out so favourably. And I thought that you were more frail than you are. You are not robust or formidable in appearance; but I think you are like some of the Southern soldiers in the war. They had more staying power, could go through more, than some of us who were more robust, fatter, or more formidable in appearance."

I told him that I had yielded the previous evening to pressure from Horace, and had decided to postpone sailing till the following Wednesday. W. endorsed my decision cordially, saying: "Do not hurry away now that you are here. And another week will not make much difference. I suppose

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there is nothing imperatively requiring you to go?""No," I replied, "except one or two home affairs that I am a little anxious about.""Well," he said pleasantly, "as they say, 'Christmas comes but once a year.'"

I rose to go, and as I did so he said: "Well, call here again as you come back from Philadelphia, or—if you go on home—come here in the evening."

I came away feeling deeply the cordial, smiling kindness of his whole manner and look and speech. Before leaving the house I sat a little with Mrs. Davis, who gave me a piece of granite from W.'s tomb, which, however, I said I would give to Dr. Johnston. Later she said she would give me an old china cup which had belonged to Mr. Whitman for forty years, and which he used to drink from regularly until two or three years previously.

Speaking of W.'s visitors, she said some people worried him a good deal with questions, and talked too much, till he was tired out. "How is it"—she had heard him ask—"How is it, Mary, that some folks are so considerate, and others are so damned dumm?" (i.e. stupid, German "dumm"). After a visitor had gone she had known him close his eyes as if quite fatigued, and say: "Oh, I feel like a squeezed orange."

I went on to Philadelphia, where I had lunch and did a few errands, including a visit to a shipping agent, and then returned to Camden, where I bought a few roses and other flowers near the corner of Mickle Street and took these to W. He sat in his usual place, with a shawl loosely wrapped round him. The day was exceptionally clear and beautiful, but the window shutters were closed and partly

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shaded. The room (to me) was very warm, and there was a heap of firewood near the stove, as for a day or two previously, doubtless for its aroma.

W. was reading a paper, which he dropped on his lap as I entered; and he received me with his usual kindness. On my enquiry he said he was pretty much the same. I gave him the flowers, telling him where I had got them. He smelled at them a time or two, noting the two or three different kinds of flowers, and said: "How good they are to me I" He took a little tumbler on his right, partly filled it with water from a jug, cut the stems of the flowers with a pair of scissors, placed them in the tumbler and set it on the table in front of him. I told him that the woman from whom I bought the flowers was English and came from Bolton. "Quite a coincidence!"

He asked how I had gone on, and if I had met anyone in particular. I told him where I had been, and that I proposed to sail on the City of Berlin from New York .

"Well, you have dipped into everything, nearly."

"Yes, dipped into them."

"We who have lived here all our lives feel that we have done little more than that. America, as the scientists say of Nature, is a 'becoming,' is a process, something going on. And though we have made good progress in a hundred years or so, we are—as I say of myself—only beginners."

"I don't feel that I have really seen anything of America, and I hardly set out to do so. My object was to see you, and some of the places where 'Leaves of Grass' had their genesis."

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"Well, even to see a little of America is like one's first sight of the sea, or the sky, or the fields: something better than you can get from books, even the best."

There was little more said, and his tone and manner throughout, though kind and courteous always, indicated considerable physical depression and languor, and I did not prolong my stay. I shook hands with him and bade him "good-night"; and as I wished him a better morrow he smiled cheerfully, saying: "No doubt."

I sat with Mrs. Davis and Warry, and eventually stayed to a cup of tea with them. While I was there Horace came, and after he had been upstairs with W. a short time, we walked home together; both impressed by the beauty of the sunset, of a kind which, owing to the dry atmosphere and the perfect clearness of the cloudless sky, is rarely seen in England.

Thursday, October 29th.—I called at Mickle Street in the morning, about 10.30, and learned from Warry that Mr. Whitman was not well and was just finishing breakfast. I did not intend to go upstairs, but Warry reported my call and brought word I was to go up. I found W. sitting in his usual chair, with the remains of his breakfast on the table before him, and as I entered the room he called out: "Good-morning, Wallace!" In answer to my enquiry he said: "Well, I feel rather blue, but I am thankful it's no worse."

The morning was clear with bright sunshine, and I said that I hoped the weather might do him good. Looking through half-closed blinds and

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shutters, he said: "Yes, perhaps it may." But he was obviously very unwell.

"I had a letter from Johnston yesterday, and one from George Humphreys, saying that he had got his book and thanking me; and one from Buxton Forman."

"Perhaps you have not written to those Bolton fellows so copiously as I imagined. I have not written much as I thought you were writing."

I said they complained that I wrote too much!

"Oh! They seem very read-y, and want to have full information about you."

I told him about a letter I had received from Greenhalgh, which I read to him, and said I should like him to inscribe a copy of "Good-Bye" for him, to which he replied: "Yes, certainly. I shall be glad to do so."

Then, after telling him my programme for the day I left him.

My diary contains a few notes at this point, describing W's. appearance and manner during these days of extra weakness and suffering.

His face was still clear-skinned and ruddy, with its usual suggestion of extreme physical cleanliness, as of one who has just had a bath, and of inner purity. He sat upright in his chair, with firm carriage of body, his head slightly drooping, and with his elbows and forearms resting on the arms of his chair. But he evidently suffered from great physical languor and depressed vitality, with some pain as well, which made it a little effort for him to talk, and he breathed rather heavily when not

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speaking. He spoke rather slowly, though perhaps little more so than usual, for it was his habit to choose his words carefully as he went along; sometimes apparently visualizing the mental picture or idea he wished to convey and adding adjective to adjective or sentence to sentence till he had expressed it fully. At times he would half close his eyes and stroke his forehead gently just above the eyebrows or nose, with the tips of his half-spread fingers, when trying to recall something to memory or when weary. His voice was fairly strong and always musical, though slightly muffled with catarrh, and full of a wonderful tenderness, like that of a gentle mother's voice, and with endlessly subtle inflections and modulations. His face often lighted up with a smile, and his kind and gentle courtesy was still the same though shining through such physical media. His eyes were dull and his face, when in repose, was rather sad, but always noble, compassionate and uncomplaining. His personal majesty never left him, and, however unwell he might be, he always seemed to me to sit there like a god upon his throne. But it was the real majesty—unaffected and inherent—of which the majesty of emperors and kings is only a crude and childish counterfeit. And it was accompanied by a perfect simplicity and equality of manner which made the very atmosphere about him seem charged with an influence which compelled a like equality of bearing in those who were with him.

It is worth noting, too, that, despite W.'s bodily prostration and weakness at this period, though I visited him more than once when I myself felt unusually tired in consequence of late hours, etc., I

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always came away after a brief interview with him feeling physically refreshed and renewed.

After leaving Mickle Street I went on to Philadelphia, and on the ferry-boat I had a talk with Ed. Lindell. He had known W. by sight in Washington, and he said that anyone who had seen W. once would know him again. He dressed peculiarly with a wide open collar, and Ed. thought him the finest-looking man he had ever seen. Since W. came to live in Camden he used, at one time, to cross the ferry twice a day, and Ed. kept a chair specially for him.

In the city I met Mrs. Traubel by appointment, and Horace later, and we had lunch together at the Bullitt Building, where Harrison Morris joined us. Afterwards Mrs. Traubel and I went out to Tioga to the house of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Fels, where we found Mrs. Fels at home and Mrs. Gilbert with her. It was a perfect day and Mrs. Fels drove us through Fairmount Park, returning along the Schuykill river to the city. We then joined Fels at his place of business and returned by rail to Tioga, where Horace and Gilbert joined us. After supper we sat round an open fireplace in the Hall with a log fire and spent the evening pleasantly in sociable chat and talk.

Friday, October 30th.—Another clear, fine sunny day, warm in the afternoon. I did not leave the house till one o'clock when I went into the city to do some errands. I had intended to call at Mickle Street on my return, but found that I had not time to do so before calling as arranged for Mrs. Traubel,

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to go with her to Harned's for dinner. Horace joined us there soon after our arrival, but Harned had been detained elsewhere on business. Soon after dinner Horace left to attend a committee meeting of the Ethical Society, and at eight o'clock I went to Mickle Street to make a short call on W. Warry's brother Harry was there—a handsome, pleasant and good-natured young fellow—with whom I had a little talk before going upstairs. I found W. sitting in the corner near his bed reading a book, the title of which I did not see. He said he was about the same, and enquired after my day's doings. When I referred to the glorious weather he repeated the word: "Glorious!"

Presently he said: "Will you have some cider? I had—or Warry had—anticipated your coming and brought some cider." He poured some out of a jug into a glass tumbler which I drank to him. And very good it was. I told him that I regretted not having brought some from Stafford's farm for him.

I told him that I had got my ticket for the City of Berlin, which would sail from New York the following Wednesday. Also that I had got a copy of "Good-Bye My Fancy" for Greenhalgh, which I would bring down next day for him to inscribe. "Oh yes, I will do so with pleasure."

I said that I would send him a copy of Scott's Journal from home. It would interest him as he liked Scott so well.

"Yes," he said, "I do; perhaps owing to circumstances. I got so much pleasure from reading him when a boy." I remarked that Emerson called Scott "the delight of generous boys." "Yes," he replied, "though he is more than that. Perhaps

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not more than Homer. But I liked the Border minstrelsy which he collected as a young fellow even more than his own work."

I said that Horace had arranged for us to drive to Pea Shore (on the bank of the river Delaware) the following afternoon, but that I feared it would be too late in the afternoon for him to come with us.

"Well, yes, I fear it will. But some of my friends think I should push out more than I do."

"You are the best judge of that."

"One has a sort of intuition."

I came away soon after this, W. first asking me if I would have some more cider and pouring some out. I said: "Here's to you—and to our Bolton friends." He nodded and added: "Especially Dr. Johnston."

I returned to Harned's, where we stayed till ten. Harned came in a little before we left, and I had a little interesting talk with him about W. He urged me to dine with them again before leaving Camden and when he was himself at home.

Saturday, October 31st.

(During the remainder of my stay in Camden I had only time to jot down a few detached memoranda of talks with W., and my diary was not entered up till after leaving New York, so that my reports are necessarily very far from complete.)

Another clear day of warm sunshine. At noon took a camera to Mickle Street, intending to take photographs of Mrs. Davis and Warry, and of the two houses in Stevens Street where W. had lived with his brother George. On arrival I told Mrs.

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Davis that I had come to lunch and went with Warry into the yard to look at a box which he had made for me. The trunk I had brought from England had been damaged on the voyage and I needed a larger one for my return, so Warry had offered (with W.'s approval) to make me one from a large box which used to stand, filled with books, in W.'s room. Warry had put a lid on it and a lock, lined the bottom with paper, and put two strong rope handles—sailor fashion—at the ends. He said that Mr. Whitman was quite anxious to see it.

I went upstairs to see W. for a few minutes before lunch. When I told him about the proposed photographs he said that the house 431 in Stevens Street was not of special importance, but he advised me to photograph Warry just as he was, "with that jacket on." He was in pretty much the same condition as on previous days and well wrapped up. He thought it unlikely that he would be able to accompany us on our drive to Pea Shore, but would see later on.

While we were at lunch Mrs. Davis went upstairs on some errand, and brought down a mug of sangaree, which she said Mr. Whitman had sent me, and which I drank to his health.

After lunch I photographed Mrs. Davis and Warry in the yard, and afterwards the two houses 322 and 431 in Stevens Street, Warry accompanying me.

Returning to Mickle Street, we went into the front parlour, and very soon after W. came downstairs, with Warry's help, and entering the parlour sat in his chair in the corner. He wished to see the box, which Warry and I had previously brought

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in, discussed its size and recommended that it should have a stout rope round it both ways. Warry thought it strong enough. "But"—said W.—"they get knocked about a good deal by truck men, railroad men, etc. They have to do it."

He wished that he could come with us to Pea Shore, but it was getting late, and, what was more important, he did not feel equal to it.

When Warry left the room he said: "Warry has the quality which I put before all others, that of good nature. I think it is in the main the meaning of the word that the old Biblical translators translated by the beautiful word 'Charity.' There is a good deal of it in our average common class, more of it I think than in any other. I saw a good deal of it during the war. It is at bottom—in the bone and marrow—a religious quality ; and it is also physiological. The English people have it, I think, more than any other nation. They don't know themselves how much they have it in their literature. We have it too. It is in the breed, I think; in the blood. We have bad qualities too; getting worse every year. But it exists too, the good nature. Warry has it in full." I said I thought Warry was the best man he could have to attend him. "Yes I think he is, in many respects."

Speaking of the weather, I said I thought it must be something like the Indian summer. He said it was, though "rather early for it, but it is very variable and comes some years sooner than others."

He thought it rather too late to go to Pea Shore, and we could hardly go there that night.

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As we were talking the postman came along the street and looked in at the window. I raised the sash next me and took a letter from him, which I handed to W. He fumbled for his glasses, which he found he had left upstairs, and I proposed to call Warry to fetch them. He said: "I am waiting for Warry, as I find it cool here." I called Warry, who came. W. rose, saying: "I will go back, Warry, as I find it cool here." Warry helped him across the room, and as W. was passing out through the door he said to me: "All is going well, I suppose?" I answered in the affirmative, and thanked him for the sangaree he had sent down, which I said I had drunk to his health, and he smiled pleasantly. Arriving at the foot of the stairs, Warry asked: "Shall I go up first, Mr. Whitman?" "Yes, Warry," W. replied, "I guess you had better." Then, clutching the handrail with his left hand and using the stick in his right, he slowly ascended the stairs, step by step.

Horace came immediately after. He had been detained beyond the time intended, and after he had had a few words with W. upstairs, he, Warry and I started at once in a two-horse wagon which Warry had brought round, Warry driving. We drove through the country for about four miles, and arrived at Pea Shore just after the sun had set. The sky was still radiant; light orange on the horizon passing by imperceptible gradations through yellow to the blue zenith, with rosy shafts of light. The broad river reflected the sky on its placid surface, and tiny wavelets gently lapped the beach. Horace and I left the wagon some distance behind and stood for a long time absorbing the beautiful scene. W.

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used to love to drive here, and it was here that he spent an "unspeakable hour" alone, at sunset, on the evening preceding his nearly fatal seizure three and a half years before. Horace had accompanied him a time or two, and described to me W.'s utter absorption in the scene before him, and a little peculiarity of his breathing at such times.

Returning to Camden, we left Horace in York Street, and Warry and I went on to Mickle Street for the box which we brought to Traubel's. Later some friends came in to supper—Mr. and Mrs. Fels, the Gilberts, etc.,—and we spent a quiet sociable evening together.

Sunday, November 1st.—Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert had stayed at Traubel's overnight, and in the morning we went to Philadelphia to a meeting of the Ethical Society, where we heard a good address by Salter. Afterwards Gilbert, Traubel and I had lunch together in the city. I afforded some amusement to the others by ordering a "porterhouse steak," forgetting that it would be big enough for two; Horace, however, shared it with me. We then crossed over to Camden and went to see W. Unfortunately I can only give a few brief and imperfect scraps of W.'s talk, which was intensely interesting. In his appearance there was quite a remarkable change, amounting almost to a transformation, from that with which I had grown familiar. He was of course still weak and lame, but the physical weariness and suffering of so many previous days had left him, and he seemed to have drunk some potent elixir of immortal youth. I had never seen him look so well, and I do not believe that even

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in his physical prime he had ever looked so handsome as he did then. All his inertia and heaviness had gone, and in their place was a smiling radiance of genial fellowship and joyous cheer which was like the sunshine. Never have I seen in any person or in any picture anything at once so divinely human, so genially simple, sweet and brotherly, and so majestic and grand. No picture of W. can ever come anywhere near doing justice to him as he looked that Sunday afternoon, but if it could it would be enough in itself to establish him in the affection and reverence of mankind for all time.

He sat in his usual place, and received us with a smiling welcome. He said that he had just been writing to Dr. Bucke. He enquired about the arrangements I had made for leaving, and referred again to the box and the advisability of securing it with a strong rope round it. I had decided to leave Camden early on Tuesday morning and to spend the remainder of the day in New York and Brooklyn. Horace said he would give me a letter to Ingersoll whom I ought to see. This led W. on to a long and exceedingly eloquent talk about Ingersoll, of which, unfortunately, the few sentences I have preserved give little more than a caricature.

"You should see him in one of his splurges—speaking. He is full of faults, full of mistakes, but he is an example in literature of natural growth—as a tree. as a great plant—not like others who imbibe from books, libraries. There is nothing of this in Ingersoll. He is splendid in his vehement spontaneity; like a geyser pouring out from inner depths."

I said that I had only read his Whitman lecture.

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"That is the outcome of his emotional nature. He knew 'Leaves of Grass,' and he knew me from what others said of me, and he enthuses. You all do!"

"But I think we get it from 'Leaves of Grass' direct."

"An acute writer said that there can be no true appreciation without some enthusiasm. Not mere cuteness nor cold criticism is sufficient."

"Shakespeare is read in this way. People grow up in it from their mother's milk. Give the fellows —the Bible, Bacon, Shakespeare, etc.—the credit of stirring up these depths of feeling."

Horace spoke of Salter's address. W. remarked, with a smile: "Churches and preachers fill a large area, but I don't take much interest in them: never did!"

(Later.) "What a beautiful day it has turned out! How I wish I could go with you!"

He offered to give us a Jersey sangaree if we would wait while he mixed it, which we did. He had some Jersey wine which he used, making the sangaree in a mug with a lid, like a loving-cup. He stirred the sugar up with a long pencil, sipped a little of the sangaree himself and then handed it to me. I drank to his health and passed the cup to Gilbert, who passed it in turn to Horace.

Horace told him about our lunch and said that I wanted a whole porterhouse steak for myself. W. smiled and said, turning to me: "That is the best thing I have heard about you yet!"

Speaking of W.'s health, I said that I should carry back a favourable report on the whole. He said that his catarrhal condition increased: he was

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satisfied that it was catarrhal. Dr. Bucke held the progressive paralysis theory. Longaker held it too. No doubt it was that at bottom. Longaker was cute and he had a great respect for and confidence in his judgment. Horace said that Longaker thought he would live a few years yet if he could be kept from shock or a severe cold. W. thought his heart was all right.

After saying good-bye to W. we went to Harrison Morris's house, where we found Morris and Dr. Longaker waiting for us. We all started immediately for a most enjoyable walk in Fairmount Park, which was very lovely in the bright sunshine, with the autumnal foliage of the trees and the clear bracing air. On our return Morris and Longaker left us, and Gilbert took Traubel and me to his house to supper and for the rest of the evening.

Monday, November 2nd.—I spent the morning in packing my box, etc. The weather was still beautifully fine and clear, and at one o'clock I went into the town with Mrs. Traubel, who was going on to Philadelphia. In Fifth Street we met Warry, who was coming to Traubel's with a rope for my box, and he turned back with us. In Market Street we met Harned, with whom we talked a few minutes. Then Mrs. Traubel left us and Warry and I went to the office of the Camden Post, where I had a short talk with Bonsall, the editor. After that we called at the express office and then went on to Mickle Street to see W.

We learned from Mrs. Davis that Sir Edwin Arnold (who, had just come to Philadelphia and

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who was to be entertained at a Reception by the Penn Club that evening) had been there about an hour earlier with two others and that W. was rather fatigued. I went up to see him, however, for a few minutes. When I knocked at the door he called out "Come," and as I entered he stretched out his hand at full length with his usual smiling welcome. On enquiry he said that he was "pretty much as usual."

"I hear you have had visitors this morning."

"Yes, I have had my bevy: Arnold, Russell Young and Major Pond. They were very genial and I was very glad to see them."

"I hope you are no worse for it."

"Oh, no. Your luck with the weather continues. How very bright it is!"

"I had a letter from Dr. Johnston this morning. They are all well, moving along as usual and expecting to see you. He said he would not write to you as you might have left."

"I have exceeded the time I said."

"Well, it's just as well, I guess."

"I have had a letter from Greenhalgh this morning. I have brought the book I wanted you to inscribe for him, and I will leave it with you."

"Well, I will do it now. Shall I write his name or mine, or both?"

I told him about my visit to Bonsall. He said that Bonsall was an old friend of his. He had lost his wife, a daughter and son and other relatives, and was now alone.

I told him that Warry had proposed to go to

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New York with me. He said that he left it to us. He had nothing to say except that he did not think it necessary.

He asked if I intended to go to Andrew Rome's and I told him my plans for the following day ; which were to call on Ingersoll, then on J. H. Johnston, and afterwards to go to Rome's. He seemed rather tired and I left him, saying that I would come up again before leaving the house.

I went downstairs and had lunch with Mrs. Davis and then we went into the front parlour. She gave me some presents for Dr. Johnston (including a lock of W.'s hair) and for myself, and we had a little talk about W., etc., more especially about the time before W.'s illness in 1888. About four o'clock after W. had had his supper, I Went upstairs for my final interview.

W. seemed very much refreshed and he talked freely, with easy, impressive eloquence. Unfortunately the brief scraps of his talk, very imperfectly reported, which were all that I found opportunities to preserve, though interesting in themselves, give no real idea of the wonderful quality of his conversation.

Referring again to Arnold's visit he said:

"Arnold is more demonstrable, genial, than the typical John Bull. He is very genial, talks a good deal, and is disposed to enjoy everything. In travelling he is ready to like the persons and places he visits, instead of criticizing, finding faults. He quite enthuses about Japan and the people there. He was there about a year and a half, I think. Are you going to the reception at the Penn Club to-night? The swell people in New

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York, the Lotus Club, gave him a reception on Saturday night, and he made a speech there."

It is Election Day to-morrow, and a great day here. They elect Governors for the different States."

I said I should have liked to attend a political meeting while in the States. I thought that Americans were generally better speakers than the English.

"They are, are they? They have readiness, facility, cuteness, a little fun or sense of humour: qualities belonging to the surface mainly. They do not tell most, or last the longest. Amongst English-speaking peoples the English are like the artillery. The Americans have horsemen and infantry, but it is the artillery that tells."

He said that there was much in English character that has never been expressed, even in Shakespeare and Tennyson; perhaps can never be expressed. The unexpressed perhaps the greatest.

He talked of Shakespeare as the poet of great personalities, the lordly port, amour propre, dignity, etc.

"Some folks think that he is primarily the poet of the passions and their unfolding, but in cyclonic, thunder-crashing, air-clearing passion, I rather think Æschylus greater. Our friend, my friend, William O'Connor, used to get mad with me for this, and would not have it at all. He was a great student of Shakespeare, and he used to quote a saying of Bacon's that a proper explication of the passions must be made before philosophy could advance, and he thought that Shakespeare's plays

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supplied this. But, so far as a novice could see, it did not seem so to me."

I was very sorry to break in upon the talk—so poorly indicated here—but my time was up and I rose to go. I said I supposed I might convey his respects to the "College?"

"Oh yes," he replied, "give them my respects and love. I am quite proud to have such a cluster of friends over there."

I said that they had some of the inarticulate qualities he ascribed to the English, but that they had a love for him which was a growing one and which, with some of them, was the deepest of all.

"Yes," he responded, "I feel that."

We shook hands, saying good-bye, and I stooped forward and kissed him, saying: "God bless you." He returned the kiss, saying: "And God bless you!" As I neared the door he called after me: "Give my love to them all—especially to Dr. Johnston and Fred Wild—yes, and to Dixon."

I can't attempt to describe my feelings as I walked back to York Street. About 5.30 Mrs. Traubel and I went together to Harned's, where we found Horace waiting. Harned was at home and we all had dinner together, I occupying again W.'s old position at the table opposite to Lincoln's portrait. It had been arranged that Harned, Traubel and I should attend the reception to Arnold in the evening, at the Penn Club, and that we should call for Professor Brinton in Philadelphia, who was also going. After dinner Horace proposed that before going to Philadelphia we should call on W. I told him that I had already said good-bye to W., but he suggested that I should

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call this my "annex" good-bye (in allusion to the two annexes to "Leaves of Grass").

When we arrived at W.'s Mrs. Davis opened the door, and in the passage I met Warry, who told me that Mr. Whitman did not seem to favour his going to New York with me, and he thought it better not to do so. Horace had told me that W. thought it better that I should go alone and unimpeded, and so we settled it at that. Harned and Horace went upstairs as I was talking to Warry, and as I entered W.'s room I heard Harned tell W. that we had come for my "annex visit." W. was sitting in the corner near the head of the bed reading with his back to the light. Harned sat on the bed near W., Horace sat in W.'s chair near the middle window, and I seated myself at the foot of the bed.

Harned referred to Arnold's visit, and W. spoke of one of Arnold's companions as "a fine healthy looking fellow, a handsome fellow." Harned asked if Arnold understood anything of "Leaves of Grass," to which W. replied: "Yes, I think so." He said Arnold was greatly interested in the Orient. He spoke highly of Japan and Japanese women. He was confirmed in this by Major Pond.

"So you are going to recept him at the Penn Club, are you?"

Harned replied in the affirmative but said that we were going to Brinton's first. Later Harned spoke of some books which Judge Garrison had ordered from W. some time before, paying for them at the same time, but which had not yet been delivered. W. at once said that he would send them with pleasure, but he asked if Garrison would

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not prefer the forthcoming new edition of the Complete Works. Harned, however, thought it best to send the present edition without delay, and W. said: "It will please me to do so."

As we rose to go Harned said that he had bought a complete set of Fenimore Cooper's novels for his boy. W. at once spoke of three of them as being the best: "The Prairie," "Wept of Wish Son Wish," and "The Pilot." "There is nothing finer." He spoke of the heroine of the second story: a girl taken in childhood by Indians and brought up by them till her arrival at maidenhood, when she was restored to her own people. These were Puritans and the effect of their gloomy, Calvinistic beliefs and habits upon her was well described.

We shook hands with W. as we said goodnight. Just as we got outside the room Horace said to me: "Why don't you kiss him good-bye? Go back now." I did so, saying to W.: "Horace asks why I don't kiss you good-bye, and I have come back to do so." He was as tender as a mother, and as our lips met he showed unmistakable emotion. Then, "Good-bye," and I left the room.

Downstairs I said good-byes to Warry and Mrs. Davis, and then, silent and abstracted most of the way, I accompanied Harned and Horace to Philadelphia.

On arrival at Brinton's we sat with him for an hour or more in conversation. During the summer he had travelled extensively in Russia and Finland, and had much to say that was very interesting about the people there. Afterwards he introduced us

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to a guest of his, Captain —, and we all went together to the rooms of the Penn Club. These were filled with men in evening dress: amongst them O'Donovan (the sculptor), Eakins (the artist), Stoddard (editor of Lippincott's Magazine), Harrison Morris, Professors Jastrow and Smythe, and others with whom we talked. We were late in arriving and Arnold left soon afterwards, and in the crowd I hardly noticed or looked for him. Feeling as I did at the time, I was indifferent to celebrities; and, in comparison with the unaffectedly simple and grand personality of Walt Whitman, whom we had so recently left, the men around me seemed only half developed.

After leaving the Club rooms, about ten of us—including Brinton, Jastrow, Smythe, Stoddard, Morris, Harned and Traubel—went to Zeisser's Restaurant. In the conversation there Brinton was themchief speaker and talked well about American problems and about Whitman. Finally we drank farewell toasts and separated; Horace and I reaching home at one o'clock.

Next morning, November 3rd, I left Traubel's early and went to New York. On arrival I went at once to Ingersoll's office but found it closed because of the general holiday on Election Day. I went next to his house where I learned that he was out of town. After a call on J. H. Johnston I crossed over to Brooklyn to visit Rome's, receiving again a very kind and hearty welcome. Late at night I went aboard the City of Berlin, which sailed early the following morning.


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