Commentary

Disciples


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Saturday, January 9, 1892

     Saw W. as usual in the forenoon, between eight and nine. He slept peaceably and looked well—his color fine and pure—no hiccoughs. Wrote Bucke and others, and postals to those to whom books had been sent.

     7 P.M. Again to W.'s. He was in good turn. Both doctors had been over. There are vague, slight signs of rally. More appetite if no more strength—and that may lead to strength. Only went in to see—not to speak to—W., and he did not arouse. Mrs. Keller paying some attention to the bed. Then home—quite a mail there—from Burroughs, Garland, Miss Porter and Miss Clarke.

     9:10 P.M. To W.'s alone—and promptly in his room. He had asked Warrie in the evening, "Has Horace been here yet?" "Yes, but said he would be back again." "When he comes send him right in." Affectionate greetings. He lay on his right side. I sat on the bed and held his hand. He was bright enough to talk a good deal—yet laboredly. Had he not more strength? "I don't know—I am very weak. But I have taken more nourishment." The hiccoughs were mainly gone? "No, that is a mistake: I have had quite enough." Then asked me, "What is this Warrie tells me about the Inquirer?" "They have a piece about the tomb." "About the row?" "No, descriptive." "Was it good?" "More good than usual, certainly." "Who do you suppose did it?" "Upton Jefferys." "He's as good as the best."


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     Brinton had written to say his mother was improved. W. exclaimed, "Happy Brinton!" I told him of the death of Emile de Levelage, at which he said, "A great man!" And of the madness of Guy de Maupassant, "That is tragic: we live in a day of tragedy!" Was quiet for a few minutes, then advised me, "I wish you would send the Poet-Lore slips to Tennyson—yes, write Tennyson—say I asked that they be sent." I inquired, "A book should go to Kennedy?" "Yes, Kennedy, at once—we have neglected him too long. And send Poet-Lore to him, too." And was "happy" to know I "had thought to send a copy of the '92 'Leaves of Grass' " to Tennyson. How about Scudder, of Atlantic? "No, hardly him—I would not send one to him." I presented the joint message from Miss Porter and Miss Clarke. "It is very good of them: say, I respond to it—give them my love." And then, "I much wonder that they printed your piece. It is a good sign—for them." Bucke safely returned from Toronto. W.: "Tell him I am relieved." He thinks B. "reckless" and is "always glad when he is safely back from a journey." Asked me to send Stead copy of "Leaves of Grass." Described portrait and article in Frank Leslie's. Who was Keasbey? W. replied, "He was a lawyer—I know something of him. Is the article favorable?" And to my "yes" he inquired, "What line does he write on?" And after my reply and my saying that "they all seem to be coming round," he faintly laughed (and choked) and exclaimed, "Johnny comes marching home!" A little spell of hiccoughing waned, at which he remarked, "I suffer more from this than anything else: it shakes, shatters, me." I delivered Burroughs' message:
West Park, New York
Jany 8. 92

Dear Horace

I thank you much for your letter, I know your labors have been many, too many I fear. But it never does any good to caution any man who has a genius for work. When one overdraws his account in the bank he can make it good again, but when he overdraws his account in nature's bank he forever impairs the bank, so beware. I am looking

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every day for the fatal telegram. How slowly he sinks, like a great orb into the sea. I do not know as I shall come to the funeral. Give him my heart's love, if he still speaks and knows.


Sincerely your friend

John Burroughs


And he cried with great feeling, "Noble John! My love goes out to him!" And Garland's tender inquiry: "Please convey again my greetings to our poet & let me know how he is feeling as often as you can find time. Fraternally, Hamlin Garland." He answered with, "Bless him, too!" and a remark, "How good everybody seems, is!"

     Rather "disgusted," he said, to learn that Leslie's had used "the foxy Sarony picture." At some reference to Bolton, "They are loyal—loyal: they have no fears. It would be our shame if we returned them less love than they give!" He dwelt again upon "the almost sacred—yes, quite sacred" feeling and consideration which everybody showed him. Advised me, "Get the books out—let them go." I had written postals to all to whom books were sent. "That is right: that is my habit." As to his "improvement," he asks the doctors, "Is it enough to swear by?" Asked me, regarding Howells' change to the Cosmopolitan, "Is he editor?" Also, "When will Ned Stedman be here in Philadelphia? His lecture must be about to begin?" The talk was throughout significant for what it showed of his mental clearness and interest—the latter now again apparently aroused. When I got up, leaned over and kissed him, he murmured, "Dear boy!" and called out to me, "Don't forget Kennedy's book—we have forgotten him too long."

     Mrs. Keller's notes: Had a night like the two or three last. Hiccough at intervals. Slept most of the time.

8 a.m. Quiet—slight hiccoughs.

9:30 Had position changed from right to left side. Took water.

11 Awake. Ate one small cake beef scrapped and broiled—1 oz.—a little toast. Drank cup coffee. Much more wide awake today. Drs. came.

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Mr. Whitman told what nourishment he had taken. Said he had passed a fair night, that he felt comfortable. Dr. McAlister said, "You are a little better, I think." Answered, "Enough to swear by?"


11:30 Still but not asleep. Only hiccoughing a little at times.

12 p.m. Changed his position. Drank milk punch—2 ozs. milk, whiskey zi., rum zi.

1 Still; had his position changed.

2 Still quiet. Occasionally waking and asking for something.

3 Quiet and sleeping. No hiccough.

4 Awake. Had his position changed. Took two teaspoons of Proterial. Dr. McAlister brought a sample bottle, hoping he might take some. A friend sent him some oysters. When Mrs. Davis told him, said he would have some in one half hour. Ate three raw—wished them so with lemon juice.

5 Quiet.


Bucke's fears for W. are warm and sad:
7 Jan. 1892

My dear Horace

Since writing last I have your two notes of 4th and that of 5th A.M. I feel deeply indebted to you for writing so often & sticking to it so faithfully. How this terrible fight of W.'s is to end or when I cannot imagine. It looks now as if he had got into a position in which there is nothing to end him so that he cannot die and no possibility of anything like recovery—so that to me it appears as if he might go on as at present (a fearful outlook!) indefinitely. I want you to keep sending me Dr. McA's notes and please have L. send me the notes of the early part of the attack. If he cannot make them complete let him do the best he can.

R. M. Bucke



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