Commentary

Disciples


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Friday, January 31, 1890

     Did not see W.—was detained too long at the Bank. But received a letter from Bucke broaching the hospital matter again, aroused thereto by a sentence in one of W.'s recent letters.


PRIVATE [London, Ont.,] 29 Jan [18]90

My dear Horace

You know that for a long time I have thought (and I believe you have thought the same) that Walt Whitman should have more comfortable surroundings and to this end I have from time to time urged him to live in some good hospital where he would be regularly seen by good Drs and waited on and provided for suitably. I could never get from W. any consent to this scheme and for a long time I have ceased to urge it—have not mentioned it for months—I was surprised therefore when I got the other day a letter (written 22d. inst.) containing the following passage: "If I had a good hospital well conducted—some good nurse—to retreat to for good I sometimes think it would be best for me—I shall probably get worse & may linger along yet some time—of course I know that death has struck me and it is only a matter of time—but may be quite a time yet." Upon receipt of this letter I wrote to W. saying how glad I was that he had taken that notion and how much better off in many ways he would be in a good hospital. At the same time I wrote to Osler of Johns Hopkins asking him whether W. could be received there as a pay patient—what the rate would be &c. I have just received Osler's answer this afternoon saying that there wd. be no difficulty about W.'s reception and that the pay for every thing would be about $25. a week. This letter of Osler's I have sent to W. Osler is to write me again more in detail at once—this letter also no doubt I shall send to W. I should be sorry to have W. out of daily reach of you & Harned but in all other respects the difference between his present life and life at Johs Hopkins would be like the difference between a laborer's life and that of Vanderbilt—the difference would be far more than that because at Johns Hopkins he would get (besides all other good provisions & attendance) the constant, daily, services of the best physicians in America—in the world. perhaps,

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and this would be of immense importance to him in his present state—I have little doubt that at Johns Hopkins his life would be made greatly more bearable—even comfortable. You see of course why I write to you—I want you (as I know you can) to forget yourself—your own feelings—and help me to move W. to this step. Should it be once settled that W. will go I propose to at once visit Johns Hopkins, see just what accommodation he would have—arrange all details and come on to Camden to take W. on to Baltimore—and I should hope that you and perhaps others would go too. About the payment of $25. a week or even more—surely there could be no difficulty (?) W. would perhaps like to pay some part of the rate himself (?) or if not surely you could run the subsidy up to this amount—I would willingly make my $3. a month $5. others would no doubt do the same or new names could be got? the payment of twice the amount ought not to be any difficulty. Should I go to B. to look into the sort of provision they would make for W. at J. H. perhaps you or Harned would meet me there and look into the matter along with me so that you would be quite satisfied with the step before it was made (?)


Have a talk with Walt on this subject (get him to open it if possible) and tell me how he feels about it and very fully what you and Harned think of it.

Willy Gurd has been here all January but has been sick ("La Grippe") all the time. At one time (3 weeks ago) I feared he would die. He is now slowly recovering—the gas meter is made—we may establish a Co. to manufacture here under the Canadian patents to prove the thing practically—we have done nothing yet as Gurd got sick almost immediatley after his arrival here and is so still—I have good faith in both the gas and water meter

Your friend

R M Bucke



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