And in all their looks and words.
Calamus, like the bundle labelled Leaves of Grass, closes on the note of personal presence.
I trust it has already been sufficiently suggested that Whitman’s mysticism is not to be confused with much that hitherto has passed under that name. Mysticism it is, for it is the expression of mystical experience; but it is clearly not the mysticism which is completed in a circle of devotion, religious exercises, meditation and ecstasy. It is the mysticism which recreates the world in a new image. Professor Royce, in his most interesting lectures on “The World and the Individual,” has described it, or something very similar to it, under the title of Idealism; and his careful and suggestive elaboration of his theme is the best indirect commentary upon what I have called the mysticism of Whitman with which I am acquainted. It includes an admirable exposition of the meaning of the Soul or Self.
Your whole world, he declares, is your whole Self—Whitman would perhaps have said, it is the mirror which reveals yourself. The Infinite Universe, whereof yours is but a part, is the Self of God. We live, but are not lost in Him, for we are as it were His members. There are two aspects of the human self: the temporal, in which it appears as a mere momentary consciousness, and the eternal, which reveals it as an indestructible purpose, the essence of reality. For reality, the professor argues, is the visible expression of purpose or meaning.
To proceed to the social aspect of this teaching: the individual, when he becomes conscious of his world—his Self—becomes conscious, too, that his world is only one aspect of the Universe, that there are a myriad others, and that the Universal Life consists of a Fellowship of such Selves as his. Thus, God is the Many-in-One; in Him the Many are one Self and complete. And the Many do not only seek completion in the Divine Unity; they also seek fellowship with one another. The Divine life, which is the basis of Human[Pg 167] life, is thus a life of Fellowship—as the Apostle says, it is Love. It is not merely a trinity, it is a City of Friends; or rather of Lovers, as Edward Carpenter suggested in his recent essays.
Now I am convinced that this thought underlies Calamus; not, indeed, as a metaphysical theory, but as one of those overwhelming realisations of the ultimate significance of things which I have described inadequately as Whitman’s symbolism. Seeking to plumb the depths of passion, he found God. Sex became for him, in its essence, the potency of that Life wherein we are One. And comradeship, a passion as intense as that of sex, he beheld as the same relation between spiritual or ?therial bodies. He was aware that the noblest of passions is the most liable to base misunderstandings. But in it alone the soul finds full freedom. Sex passion finds its proper expression in physical rites, it is the passion of the life in Time; on the contrary, the passion of comrades is of eternity and only finds expression in Death. This appears to have been Whitman’s conviction.
Yet another bundle follows Calamus; a packet of more or less personal letters or messages called Messenger Leaves. In subsequent editions they were sorted out into other sections. They are not all new; but among those that now appear for the first time are the daring and noble lines to Jesus.
My spirit to yours, dear brother,
Do not mind because many, sounding your name, do not understand you,
I do not sound your name, but I understand you, (there are others also;)
I specify you with joy, O my comrade, to salute you, and to salute those who are with you, before and since—and those to come also,
That we all labour together, transmitting the same charge and succession;
We few, equals, indifferent of lands, indifferent of times,
We, enclosers of all continents, all castes—allowers of all theologies,
Compassionaters, perceivers, rapport of men,
We walk silent among disputes and assertions, but reject not the disputers, nor anything that is asserted, …
Till we saturate time and eras, that the men and women of races, ages to come, may prove brethren and lovers, as we are.
Scattered through the generations—so we may read his thought—are those who have come into the cosmic consciousness or larger life, who have passed beyond the reach of time and of mere argument, and who therefore understand one another as others cannot understand them. The love and communion which exists between such Great Companions, is a pledge and earnest of the Society of the Future, when all men shall be one, even as these are one.
The thought may shock those to whom it comes suddenly, if they see in Whitman the “mere man” of their own narrow conception of humanity. But in judging him we must remember that he openly claims for himself and for other men all the Divine attributes which Christians are in
the habit of ascribing to their Lord. Whitman believed that Jesus identified himself with Humanity; and that all who enter, as he entered, into the cosmic life share in the fellowship of God, even as did he.
More fully than many Christians, Whitman recognised Jesus as literally his elder brother; he joined with him in the words “Our Father,” feeling them to be true. And as one reads the gospel narratives one ventures to believe that the Master who called the disciples his friends, would himself have been eager to welcome the assertion of such a relationship.
Another letter is to one about to die; it is filled not with melancholy but with congratulation. The body that dies is but an excrement, the Self is eternal and goes on into ever fuller sunlight.
Another, which has aroused perhaps more misunderstanding than
anything which Whitman wrote, is addressed to a prostitute. It hardly seems to call for[Pg 169] explanation; for it is like the simple offering of the hand of friendship to an outcast; the assertion that for her, too, Whitman’s living eternal comradeship is real and close, accompanied by the injunction that she be worthy of such friendship.
He writes to rich givers in the Franciscan spirit; for he that is willing to give all, is able to accept.
To a pupil he suggests that personality is the tool of all good work and usefulness. To be magnetic is to be great. Come then and first become yourself.
But it is impossible even to refer in passing to all the separate poems, each one with its living suggestion. Some of the briefest are not the least pregnant.
The book closes with poems of departure. A dread falls upon him; perhaps after all he may not linger, to go to and fro through the lands he loves, awakening comrades; presently his voice also will cease. But here and now at least his soul has appeared and been realised; and that in itself should be enough.
Then he says his farewell. His words have been for his own era; and in every age, the race must find anew its own poets for its own words. But till America shall have absorbed his message, he must stand, and his influence, his spirit, must endure. After all, he does but seek, with passionate longing, one worthier than himself, who yet shall take his place. For him, he has prepared.
Now is he come to die. Without comprehending or questioning, he has obeyed his mystical commission; he has sown the Divine seed with which he was entrusted; he has given the message with which he was burdened, to women and to young men; now he passes on into the state for which all experience and service has been preparing him. He ceases to sing. His work is accomplished. Now disembodied and free, he can respond to all that love him, and enter upon the intenser Reality of the Unknown.
Dear friend, whoever you are, here, take this kiss,
I give it especially to you—Do not forget me,
I feel like one who has done his work—I progress on,
The unknown sphere, more real than I dreamed, more direct, darts awakening rays about me—So long!
Remember my words—I love you—I depart from materials,
I am as one 佛山桑拿交流群 disembodied, triumphant, dead.
CHAPTER XI AMERICA AT WAR
The new edition of Leaves of Grass pleased the critics as little as its predecessors, but had a wider circulation. Some four or five thousand copies had been sold before the house of Thayer and Eldridge went down in the financial crash which followed on the outbreak of the war. Emerson came in again for some share of the critical assault, though his name was in no way connected with the new issue. Of Whitman himself a London journalist declared that he was the most silly, the most blasphemous, and the most disgusting writer that he had ever perused.
But if it found fresh enemies, the new edition found also new friends; and notably in England, whither a few adventurous copies of the earlier versions had already penetrated. Both Emerson and Thoreau had sent them 佛山夜生活约炮 to their English friends—among whom was Carlyle—but apparently with scant acknowledgment. Ruskin’s correspondent, Mr. Thomas Dixon of Sunderland, had purchased a few examples of the first edition at Dutch auction; and some of these he forwarded to Mr. William Bell Scott, who again handed on one of them to Mr. W. M. Rossetti; an act which, as the story will show, proved to be of great importance to Walt Whitman. It was the book of 1860, however, which first aroused the younger generation of English[Pg 172]men, among whom was the late Mr. Addington Symonds. “Within the space of a few years,” says he, “we were all reading and discussing Walt.”
The book appeared under the shadow of impending war. With the Presidential election of 1860, America came to the edge of the abyss; and the return of Abraham Lincoln was promptly 佛山桑拿论坛888 followed by the organisation of secession. Whitman was still in Boston when, early in the spring, Lincoln first made his appearance in New York, W. C. Bryant introducing him to a great meeting at the Cooper Institute.
The famous speech which he then delivered lived long in its hearers’ memory; but even the personal impression which he made, remarkable as it was, hardly prepared New York to learn in the following May that it was Abraham Lincoln, and not W. H. Seward, the nominal leader of the Republican party, who had received the Presidential nomination at the great Chicago Convention.
Had the Democratic party been able to hold together, Lincoln could not have carried the election; but it was now split, and further weakened by the appearance of a Constitutional union Party. The most dangerous of the opposing candidates 佛山桑拿浴特殊服务 seemed to be Lincoln’s old antagonist and subsequent loyal supporter, Judge Douglas, who represented his well-worn policy of local option, or “squatter sovereignty”. Breckinridge of Kentucky openly advocated the extension of slave territory; while Bell, the unionist, kept his own counsel.
Early in the summer of that great struggle, Whitman returned to New York. In June he was among the immense crowd of interested spectators who filled Broadway from side to side, on the arrival of the first Japanese embassy to America; and he was of the thousands who welcomed the succession of distinguished visitors who came, that ominous summer, to the capital[Pg 173] of the West. There was the Great Eastern, that leviathan of the modern world, whose advent was so long and so eagerly anticipated; there was Garibaldi, fresh from the fields 佛山桑拿全套一条龙服务 whereon Italy had become a kingdom—not indeed the sister republic of Mazzini’s ardent dream, who should have given the new law of Liberty to Europe, but at least something more than a memory and a geographical term.
Another, in whom Whitman felt an even warmer interest, was “Baron Renfrew,” otherwise the Prince of Wales. The fair royal stripling of those days attracted the stalwart Democrat, who like old George Fox, could recognise a man under a crown as readily as a man in rags. Whitman’s eyes were keen to read personality; perhaps we should rather say that the sense by which personality is distinguished was highly developed in him. And he to whom the attributes of rank were non-existent, fell in love with this young man whose warm heart was to make him perhaps the best beloved of monarchs, as he afterwards fell in love with many a private soldier carried in wounded from the field. Albert Edward was one of those strangers in whom Whitman recognised a born comrade; and this fact at once raises his democratic sentiment out of the region of class feeling.
He was a witness, too, of the advent of other visitors even more brilliant, and burdened even more to the popular fancy, and perhaps to his own, with significance. He saw the extraordinary display of the heavens—the huge meteor, luminous almost as the moon, which fell in Long Island Sound, and the unannounced comet flaring in the north.
The autumn was loud with the electoral struggle. The presence of three opposing candidates was not enough to assure Lincoln’s success. The general expectation seems to have leaned towards an electoral tie, none of the candidates polling a majority of the votes; and this would have resulted, as on the similar occasion[Pg 174] of 1824, in the choice between them being left to the House of Representatives. Upon the result of such choice the slave party was willing to stake its hopes of success; anticipating that even though he were the popular candidate, Congress would not select Lincoln, but would put him aside, as it had passed by Jackson in its previous opportunity.
But to the consternation of the South, the “black Republican” rail-splitter polled a clear majority over all three antagonists combined. A majority, that is to say, of electoral votes, for the American President is not chosen directly by the people, but by the people’s delegates. Each State elects its quota of Presidential electors, chosen not in proportion to the strength of parties in the State, but all of them representing the dominant party. Thus it may happen that a candidate, like Judge Douglas, who polls a large minority of the total popular vote, will receive a mere handful of electoral suffrages, having failed to carry more than one or two States. Lincoln was chosen by 180 votes to 123; and though Douglas’s popular poll was two-thirds of Lincoln’s, and nearly as large as that of the two other candidates combined, his electoral support was only one-tenth of the voices against Lincoln. The Republican vote in the country fell short of the combined opposition poll by a million out of a total of less than five million votes. From the popular point of view, Lincoln was, therefore, in the difficult position of a minority President.
The result of the November elections was scarcely made public before a committee of Southern Congressmen issued a manifesto, proclaiming the immediate need for a separate Confederacy of slave-holding States, if the institution upon which their prosperity depended was to be saved from the machinations of Northern politicians. They audaciously identified both Lincoln and the Republican party with the policy of Abolition; whereas the choice of Lincoln instead of Seward, the[Pg 175] Abolitionist, might in itself have been accepted as sufficient evidence that the North, while determined to preserve the union, was resolute against interference with the internal policy of the South.
The Manifesto was followed, on the 20th of December, by the secession of South Carolina, ever since Calhoun’s day the leader of revolt against Federal power. Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida and Louisiana promptly joined her.