Commentary

Disciples


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Friday, April 26, 1889

     10.45 A.M. W. sitting by open window. Evidently better today. Said: "The rain helps me along with much else." Had "nothing further from Washington—in fact, nothing further at all, except a letter for an autograph" and "one of these yesterday, too." Had made up the butterfly picture for me to take, putting on outside of package "photos to be mounted directions inside" (no punctuation) and below "from Walt Whitman 328 Mickle Street Camden N. J." "What is the name of the party?" he asked me: and when I shook my head, not remembering, he said: "I left a place open there to insert it, but it can't be put there if you don't know it." The "directions inside," written in pencil, and pinned to a piece of cardboard and a specimen page of November Boughs was as follows (I observe its punctuation or lack of it):

Attached to

This is the size of the leaf and the page—cut your paper to the size of the leaf—mount the photo on abt the same thickness &c this card—of course the photo has not to exceed the printed page size—if necessary trim it to keep in for that purpose (it may be required a little)—

Of course I shall expect you to make a good handsome little job of it

W W

     He had divided the 305 in six packages of 50 and one of 5—each of them carefully tied up and endorsed (changed simply as to quantity) in effect on the brown sheet which enclosed them all:

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305 copies
(three hundred and five)
Phillips & Taylors
Butterfly Photo
sitting 2/3d length with hat
outdoor rustic



As will be noted he is not punctilious on the score of commas & in these little messages, but is always singularly clear and explicit. When he gives me a package, I always examine it minutely, and thoroughly master what he wants done, myself, before delivery. But, as he puts it, "for safety's sake, to give assurance to assurance," he addresses packages, often, and minutely describes contents and purposes, as if they were to be simply delivered—sent by boy, mail or express— "without a spoken word."

     This noon I received from Bucke a postal which read:
Asylum, London—Ont— 24 Ap. 89—

Have just written W. urging that he go to Johns Hopkins Hospital to live. See the letter. Let me know how he takes the proposal & what you think of it. Best accounts from fund. The meter bus. looks bigger and bigger.

Your friend

R. M. Bucke—


     When I entered W.'s room, I found him looking over the Stedman work again. "It is a measureless mine." I did not wait long before questioning if he had received a letter from Bucke today. Did not till later mention my own message. He answered: "Yes—and quite a long letter, too. What do you think he urges me to do?" I did not answer—he paused slightly. "He proposes that I go into the Johns Hopkins Hospital—urges it strongly." Here he reached forward and got a letter from the chair in front of him. "I don't know but you'd better take the letter itself." And then he resumed: "In last Sunday's Tribune which Tom brought in to me was an

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account of the new hospital to be opened at Johns Hopkins in a couple of weeks. It was that which stimulated, excited, his letter. He advises that I migrate there. They say it is to be one of the finest, if not the very finest, institution of the sort in the world."
We talked over the place and the advisable course somewhat, but in a general, non-personal way that struck me as peculiar in both of us. "For the present," W. then said, "I have nothing to think, say about it: if to be considered, considered: if not, not." He questioned me a little about the University hospital appointments, size etc. "Wondered" if O'Connor would be better served and more content somewhere "so surveilled." "Doctor returned me the slip, with reference to my future use of it—it is there in the note." The portions of B's letter relating to this read as follows:

      "I have the Tribune you sent me containing an account of the Johns Hopkins Hospital. Walt, if I were in your fix I would think seriously of going there for the next six months of a year (or even longer; but that would depend) as a private patient. They might do you good (they will have the best skill going) and if they did not you would be more comfortable there than anywhere else perhaps in the world. If you would think well of this I would go to Baltimore—make all the arrangements and then take you from Camden to the Hospital. There is no palace in Europe so comfortable for a sick or half sick man as this hospital would be. Think this over seriously (it is worth it) show this letter to Horace and talk it over with him (but H. does not half realize as I do the boom such a change would be to you)." Then in a "P.S.": "I enclose the cutting that you may look over it again if you feel to. The more I think of it the more I think you decidedly ought to go." And still again, in an "N.B." "I do not suppose the expense would be much more than the present subsidy but if it is we can easily get more money." W. "for the present anyway" had "no inclination to make changes." But would not flout any advice: "only weigh it."


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     I took the photos through the fearful rain to the Arch Street concern. W. asked: "Did they understand my note?" Asking additionally: "And what is the name of the party—what sort of a fellow do you deal with?" I laughed and joked with him about his hunger for details, and he laughed, too. "I don't know whether too much or not, but I like to know my men—who they are, what they do. You will bring me a card next time?" And again: "Is this the party you went to inquire about the photographic album for me?" No. "Ah! anyway, this fellow keeps coming don't he?" And after my affirmative: "If I could get a book to suit me, into which I could put the pictures to suit me, I would be happy. I wonder if it could be done?—a book about this size?"—measuring about a foot square. "Not necessarily larger—or larger at all." He had a great mess of pictures around and had often thought to collect them. Thought I could very well order of Billstein the pictures we needed. "The three-quarter length you brought me last night I want 300 or so of, in the small size, then enough to make up 400 in the size he used for the loose copies." He "wondered" about "the 70th year" plate—if he had it or Dave, I saying, the latter, though a little uncertain whether or not returned, now it had been so long. But W.: "I am sure it is on the table there."

     Spoke of his condition as "nothing to brag of" though "in no way worse" than yesterday. When Ed came in for mail, he found several letters and packages. To know if E. gets all, W. invariably enumerates what is there, and E. after him, however distant W. may be from the pile at the moment. W. had read the London World paragraph in the last Critic paying tribute to Whittier, saying of America "she has given us a goodly number of poets whose words the world will not willingly let die," and naming Bryant, Longfellow, Lowell, Holmes, and Whittier but never W. W. But W. would make no comment.

     I went in out of the tempestuous rain this afternoon with Kemper and searched the Mercantile Library Shelves till I

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found the Appleton Biographical Dictionary of which W. had inquired some time ago: reading therein the Whitman piece and copying such passages as appeared to me would key the thing to him. He was amused as I had been at some of its biographical errors. "You will leave this with me?" he asked. Did not read while I stayed. As to Hunter's authorship of it: "I suppose that is uncertain?" We talked of the picture: a sitting, hatless, picture, chin resting on hand. W. said: "I know it—it was this, wasn't it?"—putting himself into a position that strikingly carried out the picture. "How was it done?—was it artistically of any value?—strongly, easily done?" On the chair near by a Sarony picture—new to me: W. hatted, sitting among accounting bills: I thought fine. He said of it: "I think that is the only copy I have: in looking for other things I found that." In looking about at the Mercantile I had hit upon Lloyd C. Saunders' "Celebrities of the Century" (Cassell, 1887), in which H. Buxton Forman had an exquisite little statement to make of W. W. and his literary position. W. had "forgotten" whether he had seen it or not. The book itself was new to him, he thought. "Probably Dr. Bucke called my attention to it at the time. You know Forman and Doctor were long ago great friends there in England? Forman is very sturdy, too—very willing to avow himself for me." I remarked the "richness" of the notice, and W.: "That is him—he comes naturally by it." He well knew "the shape and extent" of H. B. F.'s friendship, even if this had gone unseen. "I would not attempt to copy any of it" he advised— "it would be a job;—it is not worth while."


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