Commentary

Disciples


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Wednesday, March 23, 1892

     Not much time at 328 but enough to see W. and to learn he had spent one of his usual restless nights. Looked quite ill—worse than in general. In room, but not to speak to him (8:22). Has no desire to eat. Takes ice water. Brandy again almost abandoned. About midnight Warrie had come to straighten out the bedclothes under him and he seemed disturbed. "I feel as if every bone in my body was being shaken up." At 2:45, before Warrie had him completely fixed in the turn right he asked to be turned back again. At 3:45 when turned to the right he groaned. "I will not stop here long. Come in soon and turn me." So he kept Warrie on the run all night. This sorrowful unrest leaves its trace on him.


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     To Philadelphia. At McKay's they gave me a letter from Miss Ashley (Bath). I will send her some portraits. McKay away in Boston and New York. (Telling W. this yesterday he responded, "I hope Dave has a good trip.")

     5:40 P.M. Mrs. Davis gave W. something in the way of a meal—the first today. She had asked if he would have something and he said, "Yes." Once he asked not to be bothered about it. He took toast and canned peaches and had his face and hands washed and hair and whiskers combed. Has spent a bad day—a day as bad as any he has known.

     Longaker had been here about 12:20 today. W. said to him, "The last 15 hours have been the worst in my experience." Rejected the idea of breakfast. Nothing to eat the whole day till a few minutes ago. Mrs. Davis now giving him his dinner. Very sleepy—lifeless—most of the day. Once Mrs. Davis went in and he awoke and looked at her as if for the instant startled. And once he said to her when she turned him, that was "going from one misery to another." (To me his expression was, "I turn from left to right, from one misery to another, day and night, helplessly, without succor.") Longaker left word with Warrie, who told him we proposed moving W. on the water-bed tonight. "Don't do it unless he is a good deal better than he now is." (And I discovered soon enough after seeing him that he was not enough better.) Hearing him cough while L. was here Warrie remarked, "Doctor, that sounds like December." "Yes." "How is Mr. Whitman, Doctor?" "Well, I don't know. About the same." "Weaker?" "A little." "A good deal weaker?" "Yes, but then he changes two or three times a day."

     Once today Mrs. Davis forgot to return W. the urinal when she shifted him. He called out, "Urinal, Mary," and she laughingly returned, "You've got so many attachments I'm sure to forget some." He laughed heartily himself at this—twice repeating his laughter.

     When Mrs. Davis came out of the room with the tray I went in. He was laying, his head flat on the pillow—his big collar up along the side of his head. "Ah, Horace—Horace—Horace!"

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And we clasped hands. "News?" I asked in return, "What of you?" "Bad—bad—bad—bad: I don't know if I ever felt so bad. This last day has been the worst in my history—and it's been a hard history, some parts of it." Read him Baxter's postal. "Good good Baxter! And is he on the Herald still, Horace?" Also told him about Miss Ashley's letter. "Use your own ideas, Horace. You send her a couple of pictures—you will find plenty of 'em about here." I asked him what I was to do about the leather book Arthur Stedman wished. Warrie reported none left. He said, "I don't know—it is hard lines." And again, "There ought to be one or two over there." So I tried my own hand in the box in the corner and really found half a dozen. His face lighted up, "Good! Good! Let Arthur have one. He is a good boy."

     Had not asked for mail or papers. "What have the papers on hand?" "A bit of dispute between Harrison and Salisbury on the Behring's Sea question." "Oh! Damn Behring's Sea! And Harrison? He's a fussy, pugnacious pigmy. I guess the worst we've ever had to swallow." Had he seen Harper's? "No, I had no chance today. It has been all misery today—no relief at all." And when again I spoke of the portraits as "bad," "I have no doubt. Tell me about them. Which portraits are they?" Acquainted him with Agnew's death. "The great Agnew! A great surgeon, doing a good deal in America that line. And the death of Parker—that was curious and sad, too." Freeman, too, dead, and W. called him, "Good old man, who honored all his work." He asked, "Anything from Bucke?" At which, having letters from Bucke with me, I read him a paragraph here and there which I knew would interest him. As to Bucke's coming down, "We will be glad enough to see him if we are here—but if?"—and his voice lapsed. As to W.'s opposition to the book of selections, "No, no, no, no, Doctor, there you are wrong. We quite understand, appreciate, the purpose of it—and we acquiesce gladly." And further, when I quoted that he had selected the "Walt Whitman Junior" title to damn the book at once he exclaimed, "Again—no, no. Doctor probably does not understand

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our situation."
And then he laughed quietly, "To damn the book! I to damn it? That is very funny."
21 March 1982

My dear Horace

I neglected to say yesterday that I have a copy of typewritten "C[osmic] C[onsciousness]" letter so that should you refer to paragraphs I can see to what and save you details.

I see that in the "List of Writers & Authorities" Century Dictionary—W. W.'s name is given but I have never found a reference to him or his writings in the Dictionary itself. If you come across a quotation from him in the D. let me know.

This morning I have your two letters of 18th & 1 of 19th and Longaker's notes of 16th & 17th. It looks now as if W. might go on indefinitely and yet it will probably not be many days before he is worse than ever. I have this morning the "Inter-Ocean" of 13th inst. with 5 columns of criticism of "L. of G." Also I have your "Telegram"—many thanks.

Now as for my attitude towards Arthur Stedman and his book?

I take W.'s view precisely—I do not like these collections—these castrated Ls. of G. To me they are utterly senseless—I would never issue one on any terms. At the same time I do not say but it may be well that they are issued. Let those do it that like. I am not the measure of the country—because a thing seems senseless and puerile to me I would not stop it—to those who like it I would say "go ahead," "good luck to you," "Au revoir—I am going this other way."

But "L. of G. Junior" that would damn the book before it was born—and W. would just as soon do that very thing.

Good luck to you!

Love to Anne

R. M. Bucke


When I left he seemed badly gone, but said quietly, "Keep a sharp look out over our affairs." And as to the little book (Stedman's), "I am almost anxious to see it—it seems to bring us good news every way. But for good luck—we'll wait." Did he wish for anything? "No, nothing. I have everything—nothing is

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wanting. You are all and everywhere kind and loving. No man could have more than that. Bless you always."

     6:10 P.M. When I left the room, he called for Mrs. Davis, who turned him again, now right—he coughing at once. 6:12 he went back. Both times called. Did not seem to wish even the exertion of pulling the bell. Made no remarks to Mrs. D.

     11:35 P.M. Returning from Philadelphia stopped at 328. All unchanged there. W. however as restless as ever, being turned and turned. Often now he calls—seems even disinclined to make the effort to pull the bell-rope. Wrote half a dozen short notes while there—one of them to Bucke, enclosing to him several pages of Mrs. Davis' notes. W. called several times. No remarks while being turned. No water or brandy. Seems drowsy yet not to enjoy deep sleep. Continues the deathly whiteness. Ingersoll said to W. once, "I don't like death—it is so white—so still!" This often floats back to me, enriched by Ingersoll's voice.

     Bucke's letter of 22nd in tonight. McAlister has sent no notes to B. of his last week's regular visits, nor to me, though I wrote twice for them.


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