Commentary

Disciples


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Monday, January 25, 1892

     8:15 A.M. Only at 328 for a brief few minutes. W.'s night had been restless and fatiguing throughout, but now he slept. His mail there—a lone letter and a paper. (The mail has much decreased.)

     To Philadelphia—and busy all day. Wrote 15 or 20 letters between times at the Bank.

     4:20 P.M. McKay's. Talked with him anent stamping. Likes idea of "1892" distinct, but resists "Walt Whitman's" at top—preferring an autograph "Walt Whitman" lower down. Can't change books already done. I advised him to go to Camden and see W. a minute or so about it all. Will make the trip tomorrow if possible. To Reisser's for a pint of the 1825 brandy.


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     6:00 P.M. Met Longaker on boat and we went to W.'s together, finding the nurses together busily engaged changing W. and the bed. Longaker had a little chat with him. While talking he called for something to drink. They gave it to him. Longaker came across the room and sat on a chair near mine. "He is frightfully emaciated," he said. "He is undoubtedly losing ground." W. called and Longaker went over to him. W. spied my figure but could not distinguish who it was. "Who is that?" he asked, and when I spoke up he exclaimed, "Oh, Horace! Welcome! My eyesight is not much good at such a distance!" Longaker then questioned him about his condition. W. admitted, "I am weak—very weak, low. No, not gaining, if anything getting weaker—weaker. Yes, I eat a good deal—eat enough, but nothing seems to work out into strength." Talked about his stomach, with which there is immediate trouble, asking L., "How about lemonade—is it good for me?" "Under ordinary circumstances, it would be, as it is a laxative, but just now it would be bad." W. then, "Well, we must avoid it then." Then further, "I get along well, considering all things: everybody is kind to me—and McAlister, he is faithful—comes in and watches me like a dog—every twitch, turn. But best of all is the careful nursing, Doctor." Thoroughly frank—seeming to miss no sign, good or bad, in his condition. "I try to do a little writing and reading: my worst affliction is to have to lie still so much of my time—to be so weak and useless. They lift me up a little and I make a show of doing something." Appeared to be amused himself at this defeat. Asked L., "And how are you all, Doctor?" L. felt his pulse and reported, "It is quite well, doing very well: regular." But W. inquired, "It must be weak—very weak?" L. however only saying, "But it does well, certainly has a surprising regularity." Asking further about food, looked at W.'s tongue—pretty closely attacking the question of his condition. Then off into the next room to talk with Mrs. Keller. I left alone with W., who called me to his bed. He had noticed L.'s quiet manner and I explained to him that L. 's wife's grandmother had died in his house a day or so before. W. cried, "Poor Longaker! Poor Longaker!" Gave him Brinton's love.

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"Dear dear Doctor Brinton!" and requested me, "Let him have a good word from me, Horace." Told him about Dave and he was satisfied. "Let him come over: I can give him a few minutes." And then, "I have been thinking myself those books already done can hardly be fixed to look right anymore."

     He spoke of the threatened war with Chile. "I am opposed to it—opposed to it. It is a cowardly proceeding, all through—a big fellow with a little one—a chip for political capital—but it is Harrisonism—Harrisonism gone mad, and Harrison will live to rue it. There will be a reaction and he will be swept away and lost in its stream. All of us know about these sailors' rows: they are plenty enough, and no cause to go to war upon. What a fussy fighting show we make—this great country, America—with the Harrisonites and Harrisonism riding it: a little, snarling, pecking administration, with a big tuft of pretended dignity." Very vigorously spoken. Then inquired further, "Why not arbitrate all this? Who would not who knows America? In such hands all our glory will go to rags."

     Again asked for New England Magazine piece—I had forgotten this morning. "We ought to know foe and friend." But this man was not foe. "Well, call them what we may—we ought to know all that can be said against us as well as for us." He was in warm mood—held my hand all the time we talked. Spoke again of Young's article and wished "it sent out pretty generally to the boys." He asked me, "Did you see the Post?" "Yes, but did not see the advertisement." "That's right, it was meant for Tuesday: I so told Harry." He told Longaker about sleep, "It is not heavy—not marked—not continuous. I am inclined to be restless." His good-bye to me was fervent. He grasped my hand ardently. Does he sometimes think it may be the last? I am always in the presence of the feeling that he does.

     Longaker up to tea with me. Careful and conservative as he always is, he now admitted, "He certainly is not holding his own—he is losing ground—his days are numbered."

     10:20 P.M. To W.'s again. He had started into a restless night—frequently calling Warrie. Hands and feet fearfully cold.

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Complains of chilliness. Night cold—but wood fire aglow, enough to sweat me, even as I sat in next room. Yet W. calls Warrie and says, "Warrie, isn't there a crack open in one of the windows? Take a close look—examine each one of them." Warrie doing so—finding nothing—exact fit everywhere. "See they are all shut, Warrie—shut tight." I left shortly after.

     Letter from Wallace, and Johnston:
54 Manchester Road
Bolton, England
Jan 16. 92

My Dear Friends,

Your good letters with the heart-of-love messages & their sadly interesting details about our dear old Hero on his deathbed are all duly received, read, and sent upon their round among the friends in Bolton & then to Carpenter & Symonds—the latter you will be sorry to learn, is now laid up in Switzerland with an attack of Bronchitis—in his last letter to me he says— "What a warm hearted fellow Traubel is!"

Poor dear old Walt! What a truly pitiable condition he must be in! Death would be infinitely preferable to that state of helpless inactivity on the very brink of the grave & the kindest wish we can express for him is that his sufferings may soon be ended by the coming of the "Strong deliveress, Death". And yet the thought that we shall no longer have him with us is at present torturing—but afterward will doubtless come the sweet sense of his assured presence in our daily lives & duties, cheering, sustaining & aiding in ways unknown to us at present.

Did I tell you that the big bust—the Sidney Morse Head—had arrived? It is within a few feet of me as I write & seems to pervade the room with the presence of the Master himself. It is a splendid piece of work, tho the sculptor seems to have scarcely done justice to the forehead.

Our best thanks for all the letters & for the papers.

We have ceased writing to Walt seeing that he opens no letters. But you must give him the warmest & undiminished love & sympathy of myself & of each & every one of the friends here.

With the same to Mrs. T. & yourself, I remain

Yours ever

Johnston


Bucke writes with a lively anxiety.


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