Commentary

Disciples


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Monday, March 7, 1892

     W.'s whole night restless and wearisome—keeping Warrie on constant watch and call and keeping W. awake and making him discouraged. Facsimiles here at last and in same mail letter of 25th from Wallace. I keep writing night and day—sometimes

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at W.'s suggestion, sometimes at request of others. And yet many letters have to go unanswered.
Anderton, nr. Chorley
Lancashire, England
25. Feb 1892

My dear Traubel,

Your letters of the 12th & 15th inst. are before me as I write. I wrote copies of the former last night & have sent them to George Humphreys & Fred Wild. You may be sure that they will prize Walt's kind message at its value, & that I treasure his loving-kindness to myself as a sacred possession.

I will send the letters on to B. Forman as before.

I had a post card from Carpenter this morning—kind & friendly.

I have just addressed a number of envelopes to friends in Phila.—& will enclose a list of them. But I haven't got the addresses of your brother-in-law (Morris?—stein) Clifford & Law, & I wish that you would send facsimiles of W.'s letter to them, with the regards of Johnston & self & the friends here. Also to Mr. & Mrs. Bush & to Williamson New York. Will write to Staffords myself & enclose facsimiles.

I cannot write much tonight, though it is my last chance for this mail. Tomorrow night I shall stay in Bolton to a "College" meeting, & on Saturday aftn. I have a business engagement.

It seems very likely that Walt will continue for a long time in pretty much his present condition. However much we may wish it were different, our wisdom is to accept the actual facts (after all has been done to improve them) as being for the best. Perhaps their fitness & value may in time reveal themselves to us. But it is very hard to think of Walt & to realize his condition all the time.

It is a long, heavy, terrible strain for you, my dear friend. Ease the load as much as you legitimately can. Do not write letters at the cost of your energy & endurance. And believe always that our sympathy & love & best wishes go out to you continually.

If a newspaper report of Ingersoll's Lincoln lecture ever appears you might send me one?

I got a copy today of the Jan'y Arena, which I had ordered & have read the article on W. W. How absurd it seems that the question should still have to be raised whether W. is an "ugly duckling" or a possible swan! And that an American writing in eulogy should rank

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him with Thoreau below Emerson! But it matters little to Walt himself now, & the future is secure.


"They say! What say they? Let them say!" runs the haughty motto of a Scotch College. And it seems to me to matter little more what is said of Walt. The tide has turned & is rolling shoreward. It is no longer necessary to fight (much) for the favourable opinions of others. The far more difficult task is ours of exemplifying Walt's influence & teaching in our lives, & so furnishing living object lessons infinitely more important & effective than literary criticism or eloquence, though the best.

But I must stop. I am very reluctant to do so. I wish I could do more to cheer & support you. But I cannot overstep my limitations & circumstances. It is as foolish as vain to seek to do so. What are our limitations but beneficent guiding hands to our best road?

I hope that Anne is better. I trust that you both realize that I give you from my heart what you have so nobly won, & steadfastly retained—a brother's love always.

With heartfelt best wishes,

Wallace

P. S. Saturday 27 Feb

Had tea at Dixon's last night, then W.D. & I went to Johnston's. Hutton, Sharrock, Greenhalgh & Humphreys there. Read them W.'s letters to Pete Doyle. Took train @10.30 to Harwich, whence a three-mile walk home.

I intended to address one of the facsimilies to Mr. Long, but Johnston has the latter & I shan't have a chance of getting one from him today. So long! Love to you all.

J.W.W.


This night lung trouble renews with more and more force. I almost fear relapse into the bronchial period again. The difficulty is constant—prevails and asserts itself any time he is placed right. I stood and watched him as he slept, and his face, turned to the light, was blue and pale—the hand out on the coverlet sapped of its fat and its color—the breathing short and labored. Without a rally I do not look for him to live long: this percent of loss, kept up, will easily and surely sap him to the death.


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     6:40 P.M. W. just turned to the right as I came in. I did not approach him immediately—lingered rather in next room and talked with Mrs. Keller. But he had not been in position ten minutes before the bell rang sharply again. Mrs. Keller went in. "You wish to go over again, Mr. Whitman?" "Yes, it is a short lift on this side." He coughed violently. Mrs. K. proceeded to turn him, I watching, and when she was done I approached the bed. "Ah! Horace!" and we clasped hands. "Sit down," he said, "take a chair." I pulled a chair right up to the bed and held his hand while we talked. I really found him in a wretched condition. "I have spent a hard day. Oh! I am tempest-tossed—bound to go down—bound to yield, to give up the struggle, at last!" Was there much downright suffering, or was it discomfort? "Pain! Pain! Pain! And there is no defense. I am given every care—every care. The day has been miserable. I am weaker (yes, markedly weaker). But what is the news? Tell me the news." "I have received the package of facsimiles at last." "Good! Good! And you think it a fine piece of work?" "Yes." "So do I: it is top nick. It is curious workmanship to me." Suddenly he seemed to get faint, closing his eyes and paling. "Is there anything particular, Horace?" But he gained some color instantly again and resumed the talk, which it looked as if we would have to cut off. I inquired, "Did you see the explanatory slip sent out with the facsimiles?" "Yes, and liked it: you evidently said all that was necessary and stopped."EXTRACT FROM LETTER.

Horace L. Traubel to Dr. Johnston, Bolton, England.

Camden, N. J., February 8th, 1892.

"W. asked me this ev'g to give you this counsel.— 'If entirely convenient, fac-simile the letter of February 6th, and send it copiously to European and American friends and friends anywhere,'—letting us have copies here as well. It was a great struggle to get this letter written and he wishes it to go out as his general salutation of friends to whom his strength will not permit him specially to write. It was framed with that end in view. I give you his own words as he laboredly uttered them."



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Should these go out to the papers now? "Yes, if you think well of it: I see no reason against."

     Mrs. Keller to go in the morning. They all hesitated to tell him. I jumped into the breach, "Mrs. Keller leaves tomorrow." "Leaves tomorrow—leaves tomorrow?" "Yes, Tuesday." "Horrible! Horrible! Horrible!" "It is a confinement case—she is called—she must go." "Horrible! Horrible! I suppose she must!" And he murmured after a pause, "Changes go hard with me." "So I see! And I am sorry we must make the change. But we have arranged for Mrs. Davis to pair off with Warrie and to get someone in the kitchen to do that work for her, so that you will be provided for." "With Mary—yes: yes, I see." "And Warrie feels he must get some night sleep hereafter—he will arrange the hours with respect to that." But W. did not take kindly to that thought, moaning "umph!" at first—evidently a thought of how hard his nights go, how much he needs to be changed, and how more readily Warrie can shift and attend to him. He was moved to know of the change, but it had to be announced. Warrie wishes his watch from 11 P.M. to 11 A.M., which really covers W.'s worst hours.

     All this time I had W.'s hand, which was cold. He remarked at one moment, "I have had as bad a day as ever was prepared. I have gone down and down—as if resistlessly, hopelessly, inexorably, pressed. Oh! Horace, it is the feeling of death." Uttered calmly and sweetly, with no tone of complaint. The voice very weak, however. When I felt my time was up, I left the one side of the bed and walked about to the other, taking his hand and leaning over and kissing him—kissing both lips and forehead. I felt his hold tighter. I whispered him, "Dear Walt, you do not realize what you have been to us!" And he whispered me back, "Nor you what you have been to me!" My eyes filled with tears. I kissed his hands—his eyes opened an instant—looked me ineffable love. I hurried off—wiped the tears away—turned down the light—passed into the other room.


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     On way home stopped at Post Office. Wrote cards to Ingersoll, Burroughs, Kennedy, Gilchrist, J. H. Johnston and several others.

     10:55 P.M. To W.'s, finding Mrs. Keller and Warrie playing cribbage in back room. Joined them in game of euchre after a bit. Meanwhile W.'s ringings were incessant—first to be turned one way, then another, then for water, etc., etc. Once Warrie said, "It is hard sailing, this right side, Mr. Whitman." "It is indeed, Warrie," he replied, "it hardly goes at all." Two involuntary movements of bowels in early evening and another just before I left, at 12:30. His discomfort lively, and cough sometimes violent—phlegm plenty. But he never chose to say a word—never save when urged thereto by question. He told Warrie at one moment, "Turn quickly, it won't hurt me." Warrie spoke of the weather, but he took no notice. On a second or third call Warrie remarked, "The right side is very bad tonight," and he responded, "I am bad all over, Warrie, it is all bad." And again, "I am very weak."


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