Commentary

Disciples

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Sunday, March 20, 1892

     W. really has passed a horrible night—his time between turnings diminished and his sense of soreness on the left side increased. Nor is the cough relieved. The bulk of mucus is no way reduced. I was in at 10:10. Warrie was engaged giving him an injection (rarely has an unstimulated passage anymore). I did not attempt to show him my letters. Is quite apt to call for the Sunday paper but has not so far today expressed any desire.

 
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Longaker over early, at 8:55. No one upstairs on his arrival and he quietly suggested that someone always keep by W. "within instant call." Sorry I missed him. But he had left word in favor of the water-bed, which I shall get. W. is getting harder to turn, and when he lies left. Had a little champagne this morning—his own wish. When I told him yesterday about the champagne, he asked, "Then I may draw on it again?""Yes, whenever you wish." And replying, "Then I shall not hesitate when I feel so."

     We are all rather alarmed about Mrs. O'Connor. She sends no word whatever. W. asks, "What harm can have come to Nellie?" And again, "John Burroughs and Nellie—Nellie first, yes—are the only ones alive today to link me to the past." Takes all the nursing with great patience—yet now and then seems provoked, as when, for instance, he rang the bell seven times the other night, Warrie getting all the way in and up to the bed before he stopped. As to Arthur Stedman's hunt for "Passage to India," "Tell him to stop it at once. I have copies—some few: you will find them here somewhere.""In the other room.""I am pretty sure—yes, they must be."

     Four Bolton letters here today—one from Greenhalgh (9th), one from Wallace (7th) and two from Johnston, dated 5th and 9th. Noble expressions of love for W. and for me, and a help for me in these hard-pressed, concerned days, which so charge life with mystic fire.


The Bank of Bolton Ltd.

Bolton, Lancashire, England

9 Mar 1892


My dear Traubel

     I ought to have sent you a line long ago. It is impossible to say why I have not done so—pardon my procrastination, which, with regard to my private correspondence, I am afraid is one of my sins. Forgive! Be assured my heartfelt thanks have gone out to you many times. Your generous kindness in sending me a present with Wallace (I have read the book with profit & it delighted me), your daily messages as to the sufferings of our master Walt—& other tokens of your love have

 
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gone down to my heart & touched me with the spell of your great love. May I speak my thanks to you? That I could write as I feel! I can't & there's the rub! "Thank you" are my only words, but I feel more.

     From your latest messages I believe that the Friend and Hero of our College—whose name I always utter & think of with reverent love—is much the same. His great suffering still continues. How heartrending to think of it. And yet "it is all right" he would say. Many are the lessons learnt from his teachings. I wish I could live the life—the higher life—they imply. But his love! I cannot say more now—will write again before long, if you will allow me to trouble your busy hours. I am here at my desk in the bank—it is now 5.30—and I must shortly be off. Here at my work I am delighted. I like my work—I am partly on the Ledgers & partly at the Counters. Walt has taught me "the glory of my daily life and trade." In all the departments of my life Walt entered with his loving personality & I am never alone.

     May I ask you to send me the latest edition of L. of G. The price 8/6 I enclose per post office order. If this does not cover expenses kindly let me know the amount of the same & I will remit the difference.

     With the prayer that God's blessing will be with our Friend—as I know it is and will be—& that his sufferings may be turned into joy. My best love to him & sympathy & love to you


Ever yours


R. K. Greenhalgh


54 Manchester Road,

Bolton, England

Mar 9th 1892


My Dear Traubel

     I scarcely know what to say in answer to your letter of Feb 24th—so full of tender and tearful thoughts concerning our dear and fondly-loved old comrade, which I prize and treasure in my heart stirred to its depths by your inexpressibly sweet and affectionate words.

     And your letter of Feb 25th announcing the first sign of a rally since Dec was cheering indeed. May it be confirmed by the next letter! How glad we shall all be if this is so! And what a load of anxiety and care it will remove from your vastly overburdened shoulders!

     I enclose a copy of a letter I recd this morning. I intend giving our Clarke permission to quote from my Notes but my feeling in regard to

 
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the letter is that it was intended to be kept among friends only and not for the public press. I presume this is your feeling. Many thanks for the Ingersoll controversy wh is very interesting.

     RKG is here and wishes me to say that as it is now (8pm) too late for a postal order, he will send it by next mail.

     I am to deliver a Lecture on Whitman—or rather read a paper though a long one—before the Bolton Literary Society on Friday next (Mar 11).

     I am busy, busy, busy, so pardon more this time.

     My love to Walt & all the fellows not forgetting your good wife, who I trust is better.

     With ditto to yourself


Yours always


Johnston

Copy of letter from Wm. Clarke to Dr. Johnston.

Norton Chambers

Gt. Ormond St.

W.C.


My dear Sir,

     I hope you will pardon the temerity of one who does not enjoy the pleasure of your personal acquaintance in thus writing to you. But we have a common acquaintance with Mr. Ernest Rhys who mentioned you to me a common acquaintance in Walt Whitman. I am writing a little book on Whitman for Sonnenschein's Dilettante series. I wish to know whether if I want to do so you will permit me to quote from your notes of Visit to Whitman. Rhys has sent me a copy of these notes. I have also another favour to ask. Rhys has also sent me Whitman's last autograph letter to be distributed among his friends in this country. May I reproduce this in the Daily Chronicle, a journal for which I am leader-writer, note-writer and reviewer.

     This letter is what journalists call "good copy," and if we get it into our journal it will prove a very interesting item.

     I envy your extended opportunites of seeing Whitman. I only saw him once when I was in Boston in the autumn of 1881 and then only for a few minutes. He was engaged in bringing out the edition of

 
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"Leaves of Grass" and got all the compositors in to supper with him at a small hotel in Bullfinch St.


Yours very truly


William Clarke

This enclosed letter from Clarke will attract W. as a reminiscence.

     Longaker's views as to his difficulty with McAlister are sane and calm and sweet. He has nothing but good to say, yet that sort of good which speaks the truth. I urged a fuller explanation tomorrow, when they meet again. What L. tells me makes it look rather worse for McAlister than I could have believed.

     Met Longaker at lecture, thence a walk and talk (I dining with him at home).

     "What is your idea of Walt's condition—as you saw it this morning, for instance?"

     "His condition is bad enough but he may last so for weeks and weeks."

     "Except for the unusual?"

     "Yes, except for the unusual. If anything out of the common turns up, he'll go under."

     "Do you expect such a shock—a break?"

     "I won't predict. I haven't a word to say as to duration."

     "How far does his mental repose help him? Isn't it a tremendous factor?"

     "Almost everything: it is wonderful."

     "His heart?"

     "Is in bad shape. Every time he is turned it is much disturbed."

     "And a rally?"

     "There can be no real rally—that is out of the question. I can almost daily catch new signs of emaciation."

     "Then you think Bucke is right?"

     "Substantially."

     "How about his explanation of the pain at the ankle?"

     "I could not pass on that now. It is probable. I will look into it more closely."

 
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     "You expect warning of the end? For instance, sufficient warning to enable me to get Bucke here and perhaps advise the English fellows of its approach?"

     "That is the worst puzzle of all. If he goes down gradually, you will have warning. But he may end any day. We must prepare for a sign—yet prepare also for any sudden calamity."

     10:20 P.M. Mrs. Davis on watch. The bulletins show that the turnings are increased. The water-bed is more and more necessary—will look it up tomorrow. Mrs. D. looked consternated when I told her what Longaker had said as to W.'s likely length of life, "continuing for weeks and weeks yet." The left side evidently growing worse. I watch with joy the reduction of the brandy. Heretofore it has so helped him, and always when he has stopped it he has gone down. (Or has he stopped it because he has gone down? Either horn is bad enough.) No visitors at all today. W. has had no talk whatever with anybody. Looks bad. I went in as Mrs. Davis turned him once. He never opened his eyes—only submitted. His hand cold and head warm. We simply greeted—nothing more his side or mine. Has been in exhausted condition all day from injection, which was effectual.

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