Commentary

Disciples


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Sunday, March 6, 1892

     10:12 A.M. A short look in at 328 and some little talk with W., who had spent a bad night (Warrie called it "a hell of a night!") and now was propped up on bed by an extra pillow, looking over the morning papers. His color very odd and bad—a mixture of blue and white, without any trace of pink—the blue especially evident about the eyes and mouth. His hand was cold—his eye dull—his head rather moist. Wore his glasses. A ready, dashing fire in the stove—the light from the north strong—the day itself perfect—the sky nearly cloudless—a strong wind from north-west, tempered and pleasant. W. seems to have realized something of the phenomenal joyousness of outward nature. "How is it, Horace, out of doors? I enviges you your liberty, that you can go and come—that you can lead your life—drive it with your own reins. But I have had all that—no man more of it—and am satisfied, but reminiscence, old memories, will occur." How had he passed the night? "Passably, passably. All I can say is—here I am." Worse off for his sleep? "Not worse off, I guess, yet not better, either." Told him my facsimiles had not arrived yet. "That is too bad, and yours the most important of all!" As to Johnston's refusal to let the papers have it, "I would say, let 'em have copies, to do with what they please." Perhaps Stead would print it? "Well, he is our good friend. Why not?" I did not have further talk with him. He cried as I left, "So you will go on a tramp today? Safety! Safety!"

     Met Longaker. Favorable to scheme by which Mrs. Davis would become nurse, pairing with Warrie. "I don't see what a

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skilled nurse can do just now."
As to W.'s condition, "He is undoubtedly on the down road again: I detected impairment in the few days between my two last visits." He was inclined to agree with Bucke that W. had seen his last rally. As to duration he still cautiously says, "No man can tell it—no one can say how long he will last." Longaker I think a litte hurt by McAlister's assumptions in the case. "I am more and more interested in Whitman—interested in him as a physician, interested in him as a man: he more and more attracts me." I told L. frankly the case was his, and McA.'s only so far as L. chose to confer it: that it was Bucke's wish and mine that there should be no mistake on that point. This pleased L., who said, "Henceforth I must make it a point to get over oftener and more regularly." Everything properly belonged in his hands—nurses, doctors, etc.

     Received today Johnston's letter of 27th, listing the facsimiles already sent out. Mine still not here.
Manchester Road,
Bolton, England
Feb 27. 92

My dear Horace

Again have we to acknowledge the receipt of a bundle of good letters from you by last mail, for all of which we send you our warmest heartfelt thanks.

Yes indeed "the days that Walt remains to us are very precious" indeed, as you say & we can well understand that "he is indubitably wearing out" though the process may take some time yet—wh. means more to you than to anyone else & more than anyone has any idea of.

I can quite understand his not liking the flowers because of what they hint to him, though apart from that he would gladly welcome them & their gracious messages.

I am glad to know that my poor letters are welcome to you & "refresh" you. I always feel that they are a poor equivalent for your tender & affectionate words which you pour out upon us in such unstinted abundance & I can assure you that your letters are treasured very fondly. Someday we purpose getting them copied in the order of their

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dates so as to form a diary of Walt's illness from yr. point of view & we will send you a copy.


I shall be glad to see the Photog. Times portrait.

Many thanks to you for the loving words from Walt & many thanks to him too for them! God bless him! The dear good old Soul! Exhaling love like a dew to his last breath.

I have had a busy time during the last 3 days getting off the facsimiles. I send you a list of friends to whom they have been sent.

We shall be glad to see the new Webster Whitman when it is out.

We had a good College meeting here last night—present Wallace, Dixon, Hutton, Greenhalgh, Humphreys, Sharrock & self—when Wallace read to us extracts from Walt's letters to Pete Doyle and greatly did we all enjoy the evening.

Sorry to hear of Mrs. Traubel's continued sufferings. Surely there will be relief for her by this time. Give her my love & sympathy, poor dear girl!

With love to you both & a sweet good night & God bless you.

Yours always,

J. Johnston


     Copy of Letter from Walter T. Hawkins to

     J. Johnston M.D. Bolton

     
Chipping Norton
29 Feb. 1892.

Dear Johnston,

Your favor came duly to hand, and I cannot express to you how gratified I was to receive even a fac-simile of the delightfully characteristic, but intensely pathetic letter from dear old Walt.

I shall treasure it as one of the choicest souvenirs I possess. It is my intention to mount and frame it, and have it on the most conspicious wall of my house where it will constantly serve to remind me of one who has been a source of loving pleasure to me since first I read the "Leaves of Grass" and became imbued with his marvellous personality.

I can truthfully say that his "So long" at the end of the volume was, to me, one of the most mournful and tearful farewells it has ever been my lot to experience.


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It seemed as if the very essence and spirit of the poet had been transmitted to me by mere contact with his work.

No other man ever impressed me so, and with all reverence I say it, that there is but one other and that the Perfect One whose luminous personality pervades the literary essence of him to such an extent.

If it be not a sin to envy our fellows of good, I envy you your personal contact with the great soul-speaking spirit of America—Walt Whitman.

Believe me old schoolfellow and dear friend I am sincere in my feelings and I thank you "from my heart of hearts" for this shadow of the great personality who projected it.

With best wishes, I am,

Ever sincerely yours

W. Hawkins


Bucke's message of 4th is severely serious. No rally? Appearances are against us. W.'s pulse today still at 80 and steady.

     Evening—9:20 P.M. W. in bad shape—very restless—asking to be turned often: voice husky and weak, though his pull on the bell is vigorous and unmistakable. Harned in this morning with Hodgins, Unitarian minister, now supplying the Camden pulpit. W. saw them but said little, apart from certain questions he had to ask Tom. Tom spoke of Hodgins as a friend of Bucke, W. calling Bucke "my best friend." Read papers, but had dropped way down, depressed, before noon, and had remained so throughout the entire day, and was so now as I saw him. We had no talk, and when I said, "It is best not, you are weak and tired," he assented. "I suppose it is best not, unless you have something very urgent." Asked after the night—then after, a vague expression of love.


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