Commentary

Disciples


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Friday, May 8, 1891

     7:55 P.M. W. in his room, drowsing—seeming to do nothing—a paper knife in his hand—light full up. Welcomed me, however, brightly. "Glad to see you again—you cheer me—it has been a bad day—very bad—from dawn out. I do not know, Horace, I do not know!" Yet he had "spent an hour or so downstairs" early evening—and it had done him good, he thought. Warren at the time of his going down working in back yard—Mrs. Davis then offering to help. W. said, "It will do as well." But after he had got down said again, "I do not think you will do quite as well, Mary—I do not feel I can lean on you as I can on Warrie." Weakness growing—he knocks oftener for Warrie—sometimes

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even to merely assist him from chair to bed or bed to chair (knocks on the floor with his cane). And the other day when Warrie assisted to dress him, he remarked himself, "I seem to be wasting away." It is in such a strain he has recently often spoken to me. Yet he is "not hopeless." I gave him letter I had from Ingersoll today, as here subjoined:
Law Office, Robert G. Ingersoll,
45 Wall Street
New York, May 7th 1891.

My dear Traubel:

I regret to say that it is impossible for me to be with you on the 31st of May, as I start for the West on Sunday, and may not be back till the middle of June. If by any streak of luck I come back in time, I shall certainly be with you on the occasion you speak of.

Give my love to Whitman. I think of him all the time as of one sitting on the shore, looking hopefully out on the sea, while the sun goes down.

Yours always,

R. G. Ingersoll. B[aker].


He seemed to read several times—then exclaimed, "The great fellow! He's poet and poet! Thank you, Robert! Thank you, Robert!" And further, "And now, if he could come, notwithstanding! He would be conquest indeed!"

     I brought him duplicates of contents pages. "I like them—they suit me." Told him result of my quest of McKay, who is of course willing to take the book, will arrange imprint, and agreed with me as to principles of margin in printing. W. thereupon, "I am thoroughly satisfied. The fact is, Horace, it is a great triumph for me as it is. Simply to have kept afloat long enough to bring this book where it is."

     Seems to get anxious about Longaker. "See him, if you can. And see O'Donovan, too. I want to know what he has been doing all this time." Another national bank in Philadelphia has gone under. "What's the matter with these fellows?" he asked. "They seem all going to tatters. It is a bad spectacle." Remarked again, "This has been a wonderful day—not a visitor—not one."


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     W. promised to "do what" he "could" to read cast pages by Sunday P.M. "But do you," said he, "give them a careful reading. You have a set: use them. I have great confidence in your eye. And I think little—between us all—will get through, or perhaps nothing."


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