Commentary

Disciples


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Tuesday, March 1, 1892

     Stopped at 328 at 8:15 A.M. Happy to learn W. had passed an easier night. Now resting. No mail for either of us, except of a minor sort (for him, one autographic application). Ledger contained this in Jersey news: Walt Whitman's Condition Not so Favorable.—The condition of Walt Whitman was not as favorable yesterday as it had been for several

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weeks, the aged poet suffering considerable during Sunday night and yesterday. He scans the daily papers for a little while each morning, but soon tires of reading and becomes very restless. He does not leave his bed, and his condition is rather puzzling to the physicians.


Dr. McAlister, his attending physician, keeps Dr. Bucke, the poet's friend and biographer, in Canada, posted as to his condition. The old poet was very much pleased yesterday to have read him some pleasing expressions of sympathy and regard from Alfred Tennyson, who is an admirer of his.


I met Albright in Camden Post Office last evening and showed him H.L.T.'s letter and McAlister's last bulletin to Bucke: made the matter up from this and my talk. The item called down on us all the brood of reporters again. Warrie told them W. was as he had been, which satisfied them.

     6:10 P.M. Reached W.'s and found him sleeping—dozing—after one of the worst possible days, which had depleted him of all encouragement and hope. I made no attempt to awaken him. Was in the room for ten minutes and more, at one time going up against the bed and even putting my hand on his head, but he never stirred. Breathing heavily—much cough. Once or twice the hand that lay out on the coverlet moved instinctively. The last pale light of the dying day fell on his pale face. It was a strange, sad moment to me—gazing, gazing, gazing—not daring to linger, not wishing to go. On the chair his arm-resting pillow—a paper on the bed—the fire across the room burning busily and temperature of room high, yet his face and hands cold and chill. A bad storm prevailing out-of-doors—wind, rain, snow, sleet—a characteristic March mixture. Mrs. Keller tried with W. to say his own evil feeling was a result of this—an atmospheric result—but he shook his head, "No, it is not that. It is in the critter—the fault is there." Little interest in papers today. Some letters—of inquiry, from strangers, etc. He does not read at all. Referred McAlister to Mrs. Keller today, not caring to speak himself.

     10:20 P.M. Mrs. Keller and Warrie playing cribbage in little room. W. resting. Passed into the room. He did not wake. Light

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very low. Lay on his left side, his face north. A rising, falling fire in the stove now and then lit up his beard and face—the face so pale and tired.


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