Commentary

Disciples


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Friday, March 18, 1892

     W. not asleep on my round (8:15) but not in shape to say much. I did no more than shake hands with him. Letter in morning's mail from Webster to him. What was in it?

     In morning's mail this happy word from Stedman:
137 West 78th Street,
New York City
Thursday, Mar. 17th, '92

Dear Mr. Traubel,

Thanks for your card. I write a line to say that Arthur last night showed his selections and arrangement for the popular edition which he is editing, & I was greatly struck by his success. If I mistake not, the little book will go everywhere, & do very much to make Whitman's work familiar to the general readers. Its effect is striking. It is already extensively advertised, and is receiving track orders, as "Selections from, etc.," & Walt's message came too late for changing the title.

Sincerely yrs,

E. C. Stedman


And Johnston (N. Y. ) writing yesterday, raises a question which I must refer to W.:
J. H. Johnston & Co.
17 Union Square, New York
March 17th, 1892.

Dear Traubel:

I received your postal yesterday which makes it very plain to me that the end is not far off. If it would do any good I would go over, but I cannot see that there would be any satisfaction in it. This morning Miss Conway, daughter of Moncure D. Conway who is writing the life of Thomas Paine, came in and asked me if I thought it would be possible

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to get Walt Whitman to sign his name to two or more volumes of his poetry, to be used at the Actor's Fund Fair, a great event which is to come off here next month. I said I knew Walt could not possibly sign his name, but I would find out if there were any volumes now on sale or if you had any in charge which we could get.


Kindly let me know, and oblige,

Very sincerely yours,

J. H. Johnston


Longaker makes an inquiry of me:
652 North Eighth Street
Philadelphia

My dear Traubel,

I write in reference to my talk with Dr. McAlister to-day. He makes Mr. Harned say things which conflict with what I understood was unanimous between yourself, Dr. Bucke and Harned and which I told the doctor was unanimous. This puts me as well as the rest of you in a false position and I think you and Mr. Harned ought to see the doctor together to correct any wrong impressions that he may have gotten. The water bed would cost about $20.00 as near as I can guess. It is not immediately needed. Walt certainly seems a little brighter to-day.

I enclose my notes.

I think the attendants are quite faithful and competent to do all that more skilled nursing could do.

If you can come up some evening about six and take supper with us we'll be glad to see you. Latch string always out for you!

Cordially,

Daniel Longaker


I forward copy to T.B.H. at once. Hope no friction may come of this little misunderstanding. Longaker enclosed notes for two days for me to send to Bucke. I quote: March 16, 1892 - 12:30 P.M. W. seems a little brighter. He complains of some pain in left hip which on inspection is reddened, especially over trochanter, also along the entire outside of the leg. These are the

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only pains he has. He is emaciating. Had a fair night. During my visit was turned on right side but could not lie long; cough soon annoyed him. P. 84—R. 22. Ordered frequent bathing of the side and the use of the cushion. Urine not measured. Ordered them to do this again. On the whole he has not lost anything in the previous 24 hours.


March 17, 1892 - 12 noon. W. is a little brighter today. Has just done a little writing and is now lying on right side with some frequent cough and muco-purulent expectoration before noted. Ate a larger breakfast than the last few preceding days. His left side looks slightly better and there is not much likelihood of a bed sore. Using rubber cushion. Resp. 23—Pulse 92—regular, small, only moderately compressible and without intermissions. Urine in last 24 hours about 10 ozs. Altogether looking a little better without however any material improvement. His answers to questions, too, were more prompt.


Looked up McKay again but again he was out. Frank Williams very sick with some heart trouble. Collections for fund coming in very generously.

     5:45 P.M. At W.'s—Warrie and Mrs. Davis both present. They do well with W.—now all the responsibility is on them. They were glad to have me read the encouraging words from Longaker's letters. Readily found W. had spent a darker day again, interesting himself in nothing—neither asking for mail nor paper—and speaking only when addressed. Longaker over about noon. McAlister not here. L. always very reserved. I find the folks ever get but little from him of any sort, though they always try it. This probably does not enhance him in their favor. People like confidences. After I had been there a few minutes Mrs. Davis went into W.'s room and I followed. He saw me and called my name. Then the handshakings and greetings and his invariable monosyllable, "News?" Read him Stedman's letter, in which he was much interested. "That looks hopeful," he said, "and yet it remains a problem, what that little book will come to—whether it will help or hinder." I suggested, "I wrote to Arthur, strictly as you told me to. I expect an answer today. But I doubt if we are in time." "It is likely not: it is right, too, either way—whether they do or do

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not."
Then I asked, "Did Webster send you a check for my fund?" "No, no check—it was only a letter." Did he forget? I knew it was a check. Mrs. Davis had read the letter to him and he himself had looked at the check. Still, I accepted his statement. "Oh! All right then! I sent them a fund bill the other day and thought this might have been an answer. I will have to send them another bill." This seemed to move him to remembrance. "I don't know—maybe there was a check: I will give it to you sometime." Still I hesitated, "I need the money: it is a part of the amount that goes towards paying Warrie"—at which finally he murmured, "You will find the envelope on the table there, right back of you." As I did, and further found, on opening, that there was a check, and that my bill was sent back along with the check. It looked to me as if he was loth to give it up.

     Now told him I had again missed McKay. "I am sorry," he said. "I am anxious to have his ideas about the paper." And further to press it he remarked, "It is not anything to crack skulls over—it is really in Dave's hands anyhow—only a fellow has his notions (whims? ) anyhow." To Johnston's letter, which I stood there in the near dark and read him, he suggested, "No, I don't want to sign now—I am all lamed up—but you might find some signed books." "The pocket edition?," he instantly responding, "Yes, write and suggest that. It is as good as any."

     Told W. Morris was to speak at Unity Church this evening. "What about?" I told him. He made no remark. Read from the passage from Bucke's letter which relates something of his talk with a Methodist preacher on conversion. W. laughed at the idea of "conversion" as a bastard form of cosmic consciousness and then said, "The Doctor has a steep climb for that thing," but added nothing, though I waited. Inquired of him if Harned had yet said anything about the Reinhalters? "No, not a word." "Would you like to know?" "Very much. Were they all over? Did he see them all? I guess Tom cleaned it all out without any heavings of dirt." He made a personal request to me to "keep writing

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all the fellows,"
but when I asked specially for a message for Bucke, he answered, "I have none."

     In reply to my question how he felt he said, "Like fifty thousand devils"—his manner making me laugh and my laugh exciting him to laughter and with the laughter coming a cough and choke (constant rattling of the mucus in the throat). I kissed him goodnight, and he called a "good night" after me. Just as I was passing out of the room the factory whistles started up their hubbub. I heard W. remark, "It is six," and the minute after he rang the bell and asked to be turned right, coughing at once. I sat in the little room and wrote two letters—one for Symonds, one for Bolton. At 6:12 he rang again to be set back on his left side. He asked for brandy and Mrs. Davis brought it, he describing it as "warm and good." At 6:40 I was still there. He rang and on Mrs. Davis' entrance asked, "Has Horace gone?" and on her negative, "Tell him I would like to see him." I hurried in, the Bolton letter in my hand. "I wish you would write to Arthur tonight and say to him, I shall be satisfied either way." Was that all? "Yes, but I am disposed not to press the matter or make them feel I intended to force it." I lifted the letter in my hand, "This is for Bolton." "Ah! Good!" "Have you any word?" "None—none." W. looks pale and certainly is not as easy as yesterday this hour.

     8:25 P.M. Mrs. Davis on watch. Bad prospects for the night, as W. was very restless and wearied to begin with. Telegram had come from Stedman for me since my trip in earlier evening, to this effect: "All right, selected poems will stand alone. There is no 'life' only 'editors note.' Whitman's own account will appear in autobiographia. Arthur Stedman."

     Saw Harned later in evening. McAlister has a feeling Longaker is "trying to freeze him out" says H., which is of course a mistake. W. has recommenced on the brandy. It did him much good before and may again. Longaker advised to let him rest as much as possible on the right side, that so he could get rid of the mucus. But W. protests, "I can't: it would break me up."


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