Commentary

Disciples

contents   |   previous   |   next
 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 525] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
 

 
Thursday, March 10, 1892

     My budget of mail at Post Office this morning took in letters from Stedman, Dr. Johnston, Wallace, Bucke, Creelman. I read them on the way to W.'s—then, arrived, and finding he was awake (the bell just rung for Warrie, who turned him), I went

 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 526] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
 
into the room and had a little talk. He greeted me—his hand feeble, his voice bad. He was right side now and the cough was on, he finding it difficult to speak. "Is it a cold morning?" he asked. I said to him, "I have just been reading a letter from [E.C.] Stedman." And having it open in my hand, I read some passages. He listened—asked me to repeat one sentence—but made no comments. Then I read him Ingersoll's telegram. "Is he in New York now? Yes? Give him my love—yes, again and again." I also told him, "I have an explanation of the Harper's business.""What is that?""The business Arthur wrote us about the other day.""Oh! Well, what is the explanation?""Why, that in their next number they will print your poem and two Alexander portraits.""The poem? The death poem?""Yes.""And the pictures? I hear they are bad, bad—good for art, but bad for truth—good, but no portraits.""That is my impression of the one I saw.""And your opinion I find seconded in all our fellows! Well, we must stand it the best we can!" I also had letters from Johnston and Wallace in my hands. He exclaimed, "Good! Good!" but added nothing to that. "I have heard from Creelman again.""Of the Telegram?""Yes.""What has he to say?""Oh! That the facsimile was probably to have appeared in yesterday's paper.""Is it so? But you haven't seen the paper?""No, will send for some.""Do—if it comes to anything, get a batch."

     I remarked, "The New York papers are more enterprising than ours.""I believe they are: they are keyed higher." And he half-laughed, then nearly choked for the effort. I asked him, "Now what of the night? Was it a good one?""Only fair—only fair—bad enough.""And this morning?""I am deep in the cloud, Horace." I lingered no longer—shook hands with him, got his good-bye and passed out. Despite good night he was evidently in bad shape. I don't like the look of eye and cheek and that frightful cold of the hand. Every word is an effort to him. In the night he got so he did not articulate directions to Warrie, but pointed, as, for instance, when he wished to be turned.

     Bucke's letter of 8th is gloomy.

 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 527] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
 

     6:05 P.M. Again at 328. Longaker had been over. Left me a note:



Dear Traubel;

     Don't you think it would be better for you or Mr. Harned to suggest to Dr. McAlister that there is no necessity for him to continue his visits; unless he should be summoned in emergency, to discontinue. I hardly see how I can and moreover think it not my place so to do. You employ him, not I and so you should discharge him. I am almost certain that otherwise a certain amount of ill feeling will be produced which I think can and should be avoided.


Hastily,


Daniel Longaker

McAlister told Mrs. Davis today that he did not think W. could now last long, and she reported Longaker as more conservative but still admitting the important changes and losses evident. When she went in to close the blinds (I had several times been in quietly before), I went along and W. waking called me—I instantly thereon going up to the bed and shaking hands with him. He said to Mrs. Davis, "Mary, give me some brandy and water." And to me, "Well, Horace." The injection had relieved him—worked effectually—but he was weak—face deadly pale. For two days has not even looked at the papers. Today had Warrie read letter which came from Johnston and Wallace. He related this to me, adding, "I am deadly weak—everything slips away from me—the last sands of strength."

     Big blizzard in the far West. We could hear the winds about the house—the tail of it felt even this far towards the sea. W. inquired, "Is it cold?" And then, "What day is it?" Explaining, "It is hard to keep account, living this life—hardly living at all, indeed." I joined with him, "I hope they will keep the room warm tonight.""I hope so, too." McAlister had spoken of W. today as "very much worse," and Longaker, though more conservative, had admitted marked loss and change. W. remarks of this to me, "I may push it back, little, but that is all," with reference, evidently, to the final scene. When I quoted him Stedman's letter

 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 528] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
 
again, he asked, "They discuss me at the Author's Club? I suppose they find it a knotty puzzle—a sad nut." I said, "I have a peculiar letter from Salter. He questions me about some of your poems, which he thinks licentious.""Oh! What is that word?""Licentious.""Licentious? Indeed? Tell me—what poems?" I quoted titles. He smiled, "Considers them licentious?" And after a pause, "It is curious! Curious!" And I said, "You know the letter goes to Wallace: I shall also send a copy of it to Bucke.""Wallace is the fellow for such questions," he remarked, again feebly smiling. "Let them go to Wallace: he will like to turn them over, in and out, up and down!" and laughing himself strangely into a cough. "Leave him to Wallace," said W., "and let us be about our business!"

     Gave him some account of Bucke's work on "Cosmic Consciousness." W. took the matter smilingly, "It is a great subject—appalling—it will give Doctor a great grapple: I would be afraid of it." He was touched by what I had to say of Creelman's letter and check. "The world is good of heart," he said. "I experience all the kindness of love—all the attentions, care: everybody does me more than my due." Morse lecturing on W., among others, in the West. Said W., "Sidney—gentle, noble Sidney—always a bright day, always bringing cheer." He asked me several questions of current public matters. Then I kissed him good-bye. "Are there letters to write, Walt, or is there anything today, whether in that way or any other?""No, boy, nothing that I know of!""I want you to call on me—that is what I am here for.""I know you, bless you for it: you do without my injunctions."

     Received Bucke's letter of 9th this evening to this effect:


9 March 1892


My dear Horace

     I have this morning your two letters of Sunday. Walt seems to have settled down on a somewhat lower plane and may stay there for a few days. I endorse every word you say in re McA., Lonagker, Mrs. Davis & co. and have written to that effect to L. and enclose with this copy of that letter. We do not want 1/2 doz. persons in authority and the Dr.

 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 529] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
 
in charge whoever he may be (and it is L. in this case) is the right man to give all directions. It is our business to support him in them. Fine spring weather here. Love to Anne.


So long!


R. M. Bucke

I have not L's address but I guess the one used will find him?

March 9th, 1892.


My dear Dr [Longaker]:

     I have just had a letter from Horace in re W. W. I want to say to you that I concurred with Horace most heartily in the engagement of yourself in the first place and since I have known you I have felt still more strongly that the case should be left entirely in your hands—you to arrange for any assistance you might need—and make any changes in the same that might seem to you advisable. It is also my desire that you should give all such directions in Mr Whitman's house as may be for his good from the medical point of view and I promise to give all the authority I have to support you therein.


I am, faithfully yours,


[R. M. Bucke]

Went with it and enclosure at once to Harned, who, however, thinks it advisable to have Longaker settle the matter with McAlister—that so it may be done with the best measure of peace.

     11:20 P.M. Mrs. Davis still on watch—Warrie not yet home. W. fairly easy. The right side still very bad. Once he rang bell while I waited, saying to Mrs. D. on entrance, "Turn," and no more. She says that today he often simply indicated with his hands, evidently being averse to saying a word.

contents   |   previous   |   next

Comments?

Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Ed Folsom & Kenneth M. Price, editors.