Commentary

Disciples


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Tuesday, February 23, 1892

     My forenoon's call at 8:20. W. not asleep, so I looked in room. Says he is pleased with the bell, though he suspected its potency yesterday and asked to be given his cane again, which he took but did not use. I asked him about his bed and he admitted, "It works well: it is a go." Asked me, "You write Bucke often? Dear Doctor!" Inquired after Anne, too. Then to Philadelphia. I seem to get more and more demand for correspondence. All manner and sorts of letters of inquiry, most of them needing to be answered.

     6:30 P.M. W. awake. Mrs. Davis on guard. Warrie and Mrs. Keller down to supper. I went straight in and W. knew me and called out my name—I then going direct to the bed and shaking hands with him, he disengaging his hand from the cover (hand cold and perspiring). Talked 10 to 15 minutes together. He was in a dreadfully weak condition—coughing a good deal and speaking with broken voice—but he answered and asked questions readily. I excused my interruption. "It is all right, Horace, I was not asleep: I am always glad to see you." I lamented his unquiet days, and he responded, "So do I, so do I—today has been about as bad as any day could be, very bad—miserable, miserable." He was stopped by a fit of coughing, after which, "It is a succession of bad days now—hopeless, hopeless days." Then he shifted the talk himself. "Tell me the news: who do you hear from—who do you meet—what do they say?" My specification of Bucke's constant letters caused him to exclaim ardently, "Dear, dear—ever dear—Doctor!" Had he any special message to send Doctor? "I don't seem to have—everything is

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dull and dead with me now."
Suddenly he said, "I have a cable from Wallace today, who says the facsimile will be sent next mail—so we ought to have them tomorrow." I asked after the message and he directed me where to find it on the table near his head. "Turn up the light," he counselled me, and after I had turned it high, "Turn it brighter: it won't hurt me." I very easily hit upon telegram, which read: "Facsimile next mail. Love as always." It disappointed W. to have me say this meant "would be sent" next mail, not arrive probably for ten days. (He is quickly discouraged when he sets his heart on such things, as he often does, as if of such uncertain tenure he feared the useless lapse of days.) "You acknowledge it anyway, Horace," he said. I told him I would go at once and write Johnston. "What message?" I asked. "Nothing, beyond what I have told you. You will tell him all needful things, facts, about my condition. I feel slipping away—slipping away." Inquired, "What news in the papers today?" explaining he had felt so bad in the forenoon he had done nothing at all. "Not till about four was I at all relieved." I quoted this from Record: The successor to Ibsen as the idol of the hyper-cultured classes promises to be Maurice Maeterlinck, a young Belgian poet of the realistic school tempered by Walt Whitmanism. They are trying to exploit him as "the Belgian Shakespeare." An English version of one of his short plays, "L'Intruse," recently performed at the Haymarket Theatre in London, met with a rather cold reception; but his admirers blame this on the translator and the adapter.


"That is very curious—very interesting. That ought to go among Bucke's notes. Did you send him a paper? Good! No, I had not seen it." I had found the following very near the other: In his lecture on Shakespeare at Indianapolis, Colonel Ingersoll said: "The sublimest line in the English language is, 'Love is not love that alters when it alteration finds.'" New York World.



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This too struck W. "The Colonel is out in a good campaign," he remarked. "Such a busy man, doing so much—doing it all magnificently (with a vitality over and through all)—is a phenomenon any age." I was to write a note. "Let it be brief—welcoming the Colonel back." (I did send a postal, hurriedly scrawled at the Post Office.) He shook his head positively at the notion of recovery. "That is not to be, Horace boy—the back road is all closed to us, and forward, there is nothing but loss, loss, loss and absolute wreck at last."

     10:15 P.M. Again at W.'s. He slept. Mrs. Davis and Mrs. Keller on guard. W. rung his bell positively. He wished some "brandy." While he took it, while he was being turned, he talked briefly with Mrs. Keller. She remarked his ease, and the part the new bed had performed to effect it. "Yes, it seems to work well," he answered, but was not disposed to say more. He cautioned, too, after asking, "How is the weather out?" "Watch the fire—watch the fire!" She had shifted the rubber under him. "It is a pity about the side, that it should pain so," she said. "Yes, but it's not the only pity, Mrs. Keller."


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