Commentary

Disciples


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Thursday, December 18, 1890

     Wrote to hurry up J. K. Mitchell today. In the meantime a letter from him seems to have crossed mine. He gives diagnosis.

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After going into the matter technically, Mitchell says: "If he continues to urinate too frequently he must have his water drawn, twice daily—which his attendant is not capable of doing"—and closes: "Will you kindly send this letter to Dr. Bucke? I hope it will relieve his mind of W.'s being in danger from kidney trouble." I wrote Bucke enclosing this. Had meanwhile today received the following from Bucke himself:


16 Dec. 1890

My dear Horace

I have your (ev'g) note of 13th and have a note from W. of 12th & 13th and a card of 14th. Here is part of the note of 13th but do not say to any one that I reported it to you: "bad day—neglected here badly—cold—probably chill'd (badly) from sitting here in cold room—am feeling sick & cross & unattended to here & probably feel ugly enough."

How do you interpret this? is it simply a spirit of irritation? or is W. being neglected by those in the house who ought to look after him? My brother leaves me this afternoon—have just been having a fine game of backgammon with him—all well and quiet here—splendid sleighing.

Aff'tely

RM Bucke


     This was grievous, if true—but, I think Bucke's guess probably the correct one. So wrote him. I constantly question W. as to his comfort. He always answers affirmatively. I tell him Warren is there for his sake and his only—and if failing in attention it is his fault, not another's. And he admits it. Room is usually warm to excess. Still, I must watch, the more truly to see if there is any default whatever.

     7:20 P.M. Rather sad short glimpse of W. Warren admitted me, said W. had spent a bad day. Warren accounted for it mainly by the fact that another one of the Vermont letters was here. But when I saw and talked with W. I felt sure that this was not the explanation. Room seemed very cosy—fire sending

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out a strong beat—and W. said he was "very comfrtable for heat," etc. But as I asked him about health he explained, "I have spent a horrible day—full of discomfort—sticky—sluggish—baddish more ways than I can tell: one of my worst." This led me to talk to him frankly about Warren (without mention of what Bucke had written me). He responded, "They give me every attention: I understand it, boy. And Mary is here, too: I consider myself fortunate in her, surely. And Warrie is faithful. No—I have no doubt all is well with me—well as condition, age, everything, will allow. And I always finally come back to that." Asked me about the night—I describing the half-moon. "So you saw the full indistinct round of the moon? There is a line in an old poem—in one of the border ballads—a grand line—'For last night I saw the old mooon in the new moon's arms'—something that way. There was disaster in the wind, portent, what-not. And in describing it the fellow says, for I saw, etc. It was always grand—grand."

     I gave him substance of what Mitchell had written me. He questioned specifically. Did not seem as averse as I supposed. Shall wait to hear from Bucke.

     We spoke of youth and age—enthusiasm and wisdom—which caused him at one point to say, "I hold to that for America: she is in the position between to do and not to do—she must be individualistic, yet not individualistic—strange as that may seem—paradoxical as it appears. Oh! she needs to go on with caution—wise forethought—to be strong, decisive—yet calm—circumspect. It is a key-position: but key to what?"

     W. coughed several times while I sat with him—after the violence of which his mind seemed for a few minutes confused.

     Somewhat impatient about the portraits.


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