Commentary

Disciples


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Wednesday, March 2, 1892

     At W.'s a bit after eight. Letters from Bucke and Arthur Stedman. Bucke's a good prognosis. W. did immediately as he said tumble from his improved position of Thursday. Real improvement gets more and more improbable. W.'s whole night terribly restless—never had a worse one. Dropped into sleep towards seven and now slept, though not soundly. Complains of increased difficulty in getting comfort. If he lays on left side, the pain there is intense—if he lays on right side, he is disposed to choke, the phlegm rising in considerable volume. Pale, worn, unmistakably sick. Century in his mail and a letter from Charlie at Burlington—also letter from Peter Eckler enclosing money. Several autograph [requests], one with a glaring daring red ink inscription to this effect: "Secretary will please not open," and within: "If Secretary opens he will please see that it is brought to the attention of Mr. Whitman." Stedman irate with McKay. Once while here I said to him, "Let's go to McKay together," but he shook his head, "No, I would get into a fight with him—sure to." Though I don't and did not know why he thought he would necessarily fight.

     5:35 P.M. The day still up. In at W.'s. He had slept all day, they told me, with no sign of improvement. No interest in affairs—a total lapse. Complexion bad—no increase of color as the day wore on. I had hardly reached the house when he rang and asked Mrs. Keller to turn him. She said to him, "Horace is here." And as he was replying, "Where? Let him come in," I passed in. "Oh! Horace, welcome!" he said. "You see, we are still here: pretty badly banged up—not good for much or anything—but still here!" I shook hands with him. His hand cold. I remarked it very cold. "Is it so?" he asked. "Is the room cold?" I spoke of the snow and he said, "Yes, I see it yonder," pointing to the caps of the

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houses opposite, with their odd gable lines and the sky back of them. "Do you count it cold today? Is it cold here?" Mrs. Keller had left the room. It did seem to me chill. Going out I told her—she came back with me and worked at the stove, putting in another log and closing the door. I could almost instantly notice the quickened temperature. "I am just done dinner," he said. "Yes, and have eaten enough. Sometimes I think I eat too much—am not cautious enough—though caution is one of my strong points, too." After a pause, "I wish you would write Peter Eckler for me—Peter Eckler, 35 Fulton St.—telling him his missing letter and its enclosure came to hand today—its five dollars—and thank him for it." I told him of a letter of thanks I had written Eckler the other day. "That was right—I hear he is a good friend." Made no further allusion to his mail except, "The Century came in today and I have looked it over. I see Stedman's lectures commence, but I've had no heart to go into this, the first one. Perhaps it will come yet." I repeated to him Arthur's letter. He laughed, "Dave should not have charged him. We'd give 'em a dozen copies, but Dave is very canny." And as to the "peppery" letter, "Dave can do it: it is funny." And he laughed and looked me straight in the face, putting to it in a moment another remark, "I shall be curious to see that little book if I am still here when it comes out, which is doubtful." I left Harper's Weekly with him. "I shall try to look at it tomorrow: it always interests me."

     Clifford gone to work for Lippincott's, Harry Walsh gone West, William Walsh reported to have left the American. "So they go," remarked W., "swept this way and that, up and down, from the pressure of circumstance, eligibility—most of them to come well up somewhere." After a pause, as if to think (closing his eyes), "Yes, they seem to come round very handsomely—most of our fellows—out of the drift of life."

     His letters all laid aside on the chair. Had not called for anything till about three. His examination of papers and letters only slight. Letter from "Charlie" read, with its insinuating beggary, "its damned ever-present all-pervading hypocrisy," as

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he described it. I mentioned Paderewski's portrait in Century. "Yes, I saw it. What about him?" "Stedman says he has divided the town (New York) into two armies, one for and against—practically stormed it." "Well, but what is he doing? What is his work?" And after I had spoken, "Oh! A piano player," and then dropped it. I find he has no enthusiasm over the best piano playing. At my mention of Bucke, "Dear, dear Doctor!" And of Ingersoll, "Dear, dear Ingersoll, too!" Then, "What do you hear from them?" I described the hot election in Ontario, the London town election, saying, "I suppose it all means annexation." W. exclaimed, "Good! good! Let it mean annexation. Annexation must come!" Would he object to my giving copy of his Bolton letter to Kennedy for the Transcript? "No, not at all—it is meant for all the fellows, across the sea and here—there can be no ban: use your judgment—use Kennedy's—let it have its play." Perhaps the facsimiles would be here Saturday. "Good! I hope they may! We can use them."

     The men at the ferry always solicitous about W. I am frequently asked about his condition and affectionate concern is expressed. "Is it so?" asked W. now. "So they remember me? So do I remember them. Through all this siege they have been present—a part of the events of each day. Give them my love—Ed Lindell, Eugene Crosby, others—tell them I am not likely ever to see them again—ever to get down there, in any way, to meet them—but say that, though I never shall see them, neither will I ever forget them. The old ferry has been a part of my life, not to be wiped out but with life itself." I read him several personal letters. He thanked me for the brandy. His bed he said was "a real lift into comfort, or what is near that." As to his general condition, he shook his head, "There's nothing to say to it, Horace, it is what it is—and pretty bad—no day seeming to bring relief: only discouragements left, loss—loss—again loss." I kissed him good-bye—kissed his hands, his lips, his forehead. (How cold he seemed!, and I again remarked it. "I do not feel cold just now," he responded.) Took some of the green books to send to Johnston and Wallace. "All right," he asserted, "send

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them what they order—and God bless them—bless their loyalty, care, devotion!"

     12:20 A.M. Midnight—again at W.'s. Warrie on watch.

     W.: "I'll get you to turn me."

     Warrie: "Over to the left?"

     W.: "Yes."

     Warrie: "Well, any easier tonight?"

     W.: "Easier—not at my worst."

     Warrie: "How does the cough—eased up?"

     W.: "Kind 'o—" (Pause. Warrie works.) "I'd like a cup of cold water, Warrie." (Warrie goes out.)

     Warrie: "Your hands feel warm now instead of cold."

     W.: "Yes."

     Warrie put down the light and left him alone. His voice rather better than in afternoon. Breathing labored, considerable cough, but quieter than last night.


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