Commentary

Disciples


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Sunday, December 27, 1891

     8 A.M. Pulse 76—respiration 28. Warrie said to W., "I think you're better this morning," but he made no reply.

     Bucke in shortly. Much elevated by W.'s changed condition. Talks of going home tonight. McAlister and Longaker soon came, and then the fresh examination and conference. W. undoubtedly improved. Bucke intemperately jubilant. Longaker would not admit more than "a little rally," but is inclined to allow that W. is now in such shape as might continue for some days, even weeks. "If I were called in now as I was last Sunday, I should be apt to give a much less dismal judgment."

     W. says to Warrie, "Bring me a bit of toast—a bit as big as three or four fingers—and half an egg; for the egg, not forgetting the salt." Sent downstairs for Miss Jessie and spoke to her

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cheeringly—and even volunteered remarks to Bucke. Warrie asked him, "Do you feel much better, Mr. Whitman?" And he answered, "I don't know that I do, Warrie. I guess not." His hiccoughings quite frequent and positive.

     To Philadelphia in the day. Heard Chubb speak on Ibsen, afterwards dining with him at Fels'. Has a proposition to write life of Whitman for "Great Writer" series. Mourned that he could not see W. Looks well—is in good hope. To Camden later on, reaching 328 with Anne about 4:35, Bucke awaiting me. Frank Williams had been over (we met him round the corner from W.'s) and Bucke and he had conferred about the funeral. Bucke reports condition of W. continued good. "He talked with me some—even volunteered some talk. He is a good bit better—a good bit. I shall probably go home tomorrow if nothing in the meantime turns up." Bucke broached the idea of a second nurse to W., who at first resisted then yielded. Bucke said at one juncture, "You may go on two or three weeks this way, Walt," to which he replied, "I could wish for anything but that." And he afterwards said to Warrie, "It's the worst news they could have told me."

     We arranged at Harned's for the care and pay of the new nurse. Would it be made a Camden fund? Harned will raise it. Frank Williams to make a search. Bucke, instead of going tonight, will hold over till tomorrow. Is concerned about W.'s hiccoughs, says, "They are a seriously bad sign."

     Mrs. Davis tells us a good story. A little box came for W. She was present. As he untied the string, he lifts up the box and says to her quizzically, "What do you guess is in this, Mary?" "In the shape of the box I should say some pills, Mr. Whitman." He laughingly responded, "No, wedding cake: but it amounts to the same thing."

     At nine o'clock McAlister: pulse 78—respiration 24. He told McAlister he did not enjoy the toast and egg this morning. Said too, "Bucke was here about an hour ago," which indeed was sharply accurate.


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     7:45 P.M. Bucke upstairs. "How are you feeling this evening?"

      "Middling. I raise a good deal of phlegm. Hiccoughs trouble me a good deal."

     Bucke tried pulse: 80—respiration 28. Suddenly W. said, "Warrie, you get a couple of the complete—so to call it—copies of 'Leaves of Grass.' I meant to send by mail, but never did." (Said with memory of Bucke's intention to go home tomorrow.)

     Bucke reports irregularity in heart action: every sixth beat falling in with seventh. Things otherwise favorable for a good night—perhaps many good nights.

     Mrs. Davis to W. about 7:30. It was dark in the room. He knew her and said, "Well, Mary?"

      "How goes it, Mr. Whitman?"

      "I'm having a tough pull, Mary."

      "I hope you'll pull through all right."

      "It will be all right either way."

      "I'm going now."

      "It's just as well."

      "But I'm just in the next room, close at hand, if you want me for anything."

      "All right, Mary. Dear girl."


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