Commentary

Disciples


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Saturday, January 16, 1892

     8:21 A.M. To W.'s—and when into his room, found him, eyes open, alive to my presence. Pale and weak but easy—no hiccoughings and the night altogether a relief. Read him Mrs. Fairchild's letter, received last night:
Boston, Jan. 12.

My dear Mr. Traubel,

I begin to believe that I took your warning words about Walt's condition too much in the spirit of an alarmist. The days go by and the beautiful life is still spared to us. And one cannot help hoping that strength may return once more, or at least comparative strength and ease of body and mind.

I cannot express to you how greatly I was moved by the volume which I received yesterday from him through your kind hand. His were the words which first greatly stirred and exalted me; as I look over the familiar pages in their new dress the message becomes more intimate and personal than ever; his soul to my soul. So must it be with all of us who love him, and his voice that can never be silent, will be my inspiration and my trumpet-call to the end of my life.


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Will you tell him this? —and that my thoughts are often with him in love and veneration. I envy those who are near him and who have the pleasure of serving him who has served us so long.

Very cordially yrs

Elisabeth Fairchild


It brought tears to his eyes. He cried out, "It is an inspiration! Inspiration!" And again, "Bless her and give her my love!" Read him, too, Bucke's letter of 14th, amending as I went along.
14 Jan 1892

My dear Horace

I did not write yesterday—very much occupied all forepart of day and took 1/2 doz young folk for sleighride in evening. We went to Dorchester 10 ms. east of Asylum—had tea and a game of cards at a tavern there, home by 10 P.M. We all enjoyed the outing much and I wish Anne and you could have been with us. I have (since last writing) 2 letters 10th, 2—11th and 1—12th (forenoon). Also "Post" and "Record." Thanks again and again for all and for all your labor and devotion to dear old Walt and the sacred cause that he represents.

We had very good sleighing two days ago and it has snowed (quietly) pretty much all the time for the last 48 hours so that we have now any amount of snow. The weather is mild and pleasant.

As for the late news of Walt—he must be very low but I do not see how he is going to die until some other distinct ailment supervenes. He will not die of the lung trouble, nor of simple weakness, nor of the paralysis—looks to me as if he might lie (very much as he is) for a long time—many weeks. This is a damnable outlook for him and for all but all we have to do is to brace up and bear it—one thing I am anxious about—viz., that you shd. spare yourself all that is possible—consider the devil of a mess every thing connected with Whitman would be in if you, say, fell sick now and remained sick for some weeks during which W. would die?

For heavens sake think of this and whatever happens try to get a good sleep every night as that is the main element in keeping up.


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Tell W. from me that he was never greater than he is now and that all points to the conclusion that his place in the future is safe and will be supreme or at least with the supremes.

Love to dear Walt—

to you and to Anne

R. M. Bucke


At reference to paralysis, W. exclaimed, "Yes, it is the paralysis: that is at the bottom of it all!" And more again, "Dear Doctor! Dear—dear!" And at the touch upon my need of sleep, "You get it, don't you? Get it?" I hurrying on so as not to have to answer him and he regarding me fixedly. Another remark, "Here I am, Doctor: helpless—not gaining strength—now a trifle easier, after a fair night. Tell him, Horace, I send my love—I reach out to him: tell him we are still in the clouds but with more promise, chance, of daybreak." After I had finished, he inquired, "What of Tom? Is he better? No? Poor Tom, I hope it is not to be grip: give him my love, too. There seem to be a number of us, Horace, quite a circle!" Before I left he asked me, "Have you the Poet-Lore piece with you? Yes? Then leave it, if you will, and through the day, if I can, just at the right moment, I will have Warrie or Mrs. Keller—probably Mrs. Keller—read the rest for me. Mark the place where you stopped last night. That is right—thanks! I suppose the rest of it is about me—mainly about me? I shall like to hear it all—every word!" And when I said, "Good morning," he advised me, "Have Warrie come in."

     Exit then, and to Philadelphia. (When I had marked the article, he reached forth, "Give it to me, right in my own hands," and smiled.) Wrote to the Photographic Times, returning their proof. Arthur Stedman appeared in Bank. Long talk. Wants permission from W. to make selections from "Leaves of Grass" for a volume in a series projected by Webster and Co.—150 pages. Stedman to make the selections and W. to hold all copyright privileges. Stedman is selecting Whitmania and asked my help in certain particulars. The father pretty well. His lectures

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about to commence—will be here a month—going to New York only Saturdays. Arthur said the book had not yet been delivered to his father. What can have caused this delay? I explained that I had written Chubb last night.

     W. said to Warrie in asking for mutton broth this morning, "I shall live on that mainly for the next four or five days, if I live at all."

     5:50 P.M. To W.'s and at once in his room. He was wide awake and greeted me in the dark. "Well, Horace, come in—come in. You are welcome—welcome." And we shook hands, I warning him, "My hand is cold—you will rue it," and he replying, "It is not cold: I think it warm," as indeed must have seemed the case to his own, which I found to be like ice. "It is refreshing anyway: a breath of fresh free air." How had his day gone? "A little better—a bit improved, I think. I got them to prop me up a little in the bed, and put on my glasses and read a little in the Press and the whole of your Poet-Lore piece. I found I could manage the reading ever so much better than I suspected, my eyes seeming to be of some use yet. And it is, oh! such a relief to have something besides the old routine of being a sick man!" I found he had some anxiety about Tom. "You don't know anything new? I wish you would go there and let me know." I would tonight. "That's right, come down again—I will rest easier for knowing he is coming round."

     Questioned concerning Whittier. Randolph Rogers dead. "I did not know him, but I guess he was a genuine man." And then, "Is there anything I ought to hear?" Informed him that John Russell Young prints the first of two papers on W. in Star today: "Memories." Says W., "Is it so? And what does he say? How much is there to it? Four columns and all about me and more to come! Why, John is outdoing his record! Have you a copy along with you? Could you leave it? Do then—put it under the stamp box over there—I shall want to look over it." He also on my reminder asked to see the Arena and the Illustrated American. "If you come tonight, bring them then." Inquired after the weather. I spoke of a lustrous star in the west. "Venus or

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Jupiter,"
he said. "Venus probably." Night clear and cloudless and cool. "I seem to feel it getting colder." But it was not.

     Stated to him Arthur Stedman's proposition. How much did he want? "About a quarter of the book." "It is too much—I don't think I would care to grant it." "But he wants to accord all the privileges of copyright—all royalties." "Does he?" "Yes, and to assume all responsibility for selections and make it plain it is only a bit of the book." "Does he say all that?" "Every word." "Well, there's another face. But of course we can't do anything without Dave's consent—at least, without knowing his opinion. Will you go and see to that?" And when I assented, "After you have done that much I leave the adjustment of the rest to you, giving my general consent." Asked him if he was inclined to give copies of "As a Strong Bird" to Arthur and Longaker, he readily answering, "Sure, sure—give them and freely, gladly—say so, to both." Suddenly, after a little pause, "But I haven't said anything about the Poet-Lore piece." "No, I was wondering." "No cause for wondering, Horace. I am delighted with it—thoroughly so. It is superb—superb." I was astonished and frankly said so. I had expected no such warmth. "Well, that is what belongs: I am delighted. It is certainly a splendid piece of work—the most splendid, best, you have done: it puts you up close to—yes, perhaps with—the first-raters. I am sensitive to workmanship, and this is to me well upon perfect. I can see why Ingersoll thought you gave Lowell too much credit, but as I said yesterday, that is part of the game. The piece is a little bit artful—no one to see that more quickly, surely, than I do, I think (I flatter myself so, anyway), but it is justified in every line. It has a certain sway, swing, momentum, which carries weight and purpose along with it, which makes me glad—yes, proud. Yes, everything is satisfactory: it sets you way up, and I should not be surprised but it will be widely known—widely read. As I have said, it is powerful simply as a piece of workmanship—not to count its inner elements, even more to its worth, solidity." And then, "I want copies sent round and round if you have them. One to Tennyson, for instance—yes, as from me—and

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can you spare one for Jessie Whitman? Send it in care of Colonel George—at Burlington—and I will tell you some others again."
I was an amazed man at all this, especially as he resumed the subject several times.

     10:45 P.M. To W.'s again (after a look in on Harned, who really is badly sick, stomach and head). He called Warrie, and hearing me moving about asked for me and I went in, he greeting me immediately with a question about Tom: also inquiring if I had the Arena and Illustrated American with me, as I had: leaving them, with the Star, on the big box near the head of the bed. Then good night. I said, "I hope you may sleep." He responding, "I doubt if I sleep much, but I will sleep."


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