Commentary

Disciples


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Saturday, February 6, 1892

     8:23 A.M. W. at this hour slept peaceably, but as usual had had a restless night—and cold. The room tropically hot and more and yet he complains, "It is cold—cold," and asks Warrie to tuck the bedclothes about him snugly. His mail very scarce. Wrote many letters in course of day. McKay has not yet had copies of stamped book. W. disappointed with these delays. Once said to me, "I hope to see the book yet."

     6:35 P.M. At W.'s—W. not bright—though not sleeping. A reasonably fair day. Tried a letter for Johnston—has for days been projecting it. Did not finish but wrote a few lines, Mrs. Keller assisting with pen and ink and paper and pasting of advertisement on the sheet. He seemed to bend all energy toward this message and when done sank back on pillow exhausted. Ingram had come at this time and lingered in ante-room, asking to see W. if W. wished and Mrs. Keller going in and mentioning his desire to see W., who was writing, and whose emphatic "No!" must have startled Ingram. He read a mere trifle in the papers. I was in and out the room but had no long talk with him. I mentioned to W. that I had recommended to Miss Porter that they should secure Kennedy's matter now and then, W. saying, "Yes, for every number: he is just their man." We had rallied Mrs. Keller about her bangs and bangles—her fixings—and W. joined us, as we stood about his bedside, with his own banter, "It must be for someone who comes here!" he said, and laughed. Still denies that he feels any strength, and the hiccoughings have indeed been more marked today than any day since their steady occupancy. W. fears them and fears the pain on his side. They continue to apply plasters to this side and these soften his pain. Looked over Poet-Lore volume today a very little. Admired its cover and spoke loving words of the girls who edit it and their respect for him.

     In evening at Harned's, talking with him some about W.'s affairs. I had written for George Whitman and his wife to see

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Harned and George was there today when H. was out. Shall write him to come Tuesday forenoon. Beautiful warm generous words from Mrs. Fairchild, who is ever faithful:
191 Commonwealth Avenue.
Feb. 3d

Dear Mr. Traubel

I am almost glad of my delay in sending you my cheque, since it has given me the opportunity to make it a little larger. I wish, like you, that I would provide Walt now with everything that can yet give him pleasure—it is the hardest form of selfishness to shake off I believe. I am glad a kind Providence has willed it otherwise for us both! and that even you, who yet do so much more than the rest of us, are obliged to share your service.

Your letter touches me to the core. Would that some higher thought than mere personality could be sent from me to yonder sick-chamber. But in times of grief it is still the heart and not the head that speaks: I can only remember what I owe him and can think only of trying still to stammer gratitude which he can hear. In the volume so lately received from him in "A Backward Glance" p. 434, he has spoken words which alone can save American literature from the pit at the end of its present path ( "I say the profoundest service" etc.) if I can read aright the tendency of the time. How they ring with his own truth! A touchstone for a national literature!

Pray excuse a hurried note; my profound love to Walt; my love also to your wife & you

Elisabeth Fairchild


10:38 P.M. Sat with Warrie on his watch for three-quarters of an hour. Twice in that time W. called to be turned. Made no remarks except such as Warrie forced from him by pertinacious questioning. Did he feel any bit stronger? "Not in the least—no sign of it." How was the side? "Not so sore, but sore enough." Asked for some water. Warrie went out and got ice—and after he had taken the water W. asked for some "grog," which he seemed to relish. His voice was weak. He spoke with effort.

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Room was scorching hot from the lusty burning wood in the stove. Yet W. asked, "Isn't it cold in this room?" and counselled Warrie, "Keep the fire up—it is a cold night." Although I wandered about the room and stood in the doorway, he said nothing—in fact, did much of his talking with his eyes shut—and consented to be literally dragged about the bed, buoyancy deadened as a sleeping child's—very often settles into a great hump in the bed. Never lays square on the back, with the body stretched out flat. Even when his head is so, his body is either one side or the other and gathered up. A light is always kept burning—very low, when we are out of the room. I often go in in the dark and listen at the foot of his bed—in this place at different times noting his hard breathing, his nasal difficulties, then, as happens, a very slight reflex moan or murmur. More hiccoughs today than any day since he had them in status. Tonight his hands deathly cold and his head and cheeks flushed and hot. At other times this is reversed. Mrs. Keller watches him intelligently, and from the resources of a long experience. W. dreads the hiccoughings and that pain in what he calls his "back belly." (By the way, doctors and nurses and W. seem only to guess what may cause this soreness—no one makes any absolute statement.)

     Bucke's letter of the 4th yields our dispute as to how to raise money and goes into some detail of ideas as to the crisis we seem to approach:
4 Feb 1892

My dear Horace

I have your two notes of Monday (1 Feb.). I take back what I have said in late letters about raising money. It seems to me that a week or two must end the present miserable suffering and suspense. Let us jog along as quietly as possible until the end and then settle up—after all Walt's estate is perfectly well able to pay these late expenses. But meanwhile what about H[arned] and the Camden men—I thought they were to attend to Mrs. Keller's wages (?). As for what you have paid Mrs. K. of course you must have it back and I will see that you get it but do not pay out any more. Let her wait for the final settlement

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unless H. raises money in Camden and if he does see that you get your $20 the first thing.


We are having quite a little influenza here but not severe—from 1 to 5 days fever then convalescence—it would be a nice go if I should get it just when I am needed in Camden! So far (thank goodness) I keep well and am ready to jump on board the first train after receiving word from you. I find I can leave here 3 A.M. & reach Ph. 10 P.M.

" 12 n " " " 7 A.M.

" 4 P.M." " " 10 A.M.

If I hear from you in good time in morning I should leave at noon—I should prefer that train. I look almost hourly now for a message from you—spare yourself all you can—do not you collapse at the last moment. Say to Walt that I am with him now and always

Love to Anne—so long!

R. M. Bucke


Arthur Stedman sends me a list of the pieces he proposes or wishes to use in the book. Could not refer this to W. this evening—too exhausted. Talked as with great effort: breath short, now and then stray hiccoughs, doubled—for they usually come in pairs or troops—rarely singly. Busy till one A.M. —writing numerous letters—Europe and America.


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