Commentary

Disciples


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Wednesday, January 6, 1892

     A glimpse of W. in the forenoon (8:20). He was sleeping in some peace. Lay on his back. Color rather good. Hiccoughs prevailing but not severe as at other times. I did not approach or disturb him. Then to Philadelphia. Frank Williams has been sick since Saturday but expects to be down to business again tomorrow. Morris in inquiringly—and towards noon Brinton, who seemed depressed, and who informed me that his mother was hopelessly ill and he saw her irretrievably sinking day by day.

     After Bank hours to McKay's and some talk with him about W.'s affairs and his own. He gave me quite a specific account of the sickness and death of his father. Then offered to make a settlement with me of all due from him to W.—which I declined to take, advising that he let that rest for a week or two till we knew more thoroughly the issue of W.'s sickness. He showed me bound copies of the new "Leaves of Grass." Is having stamps made for the new green cover. Then to Camden.

     Reached W.'s at 5:30. After a few preliminary words with Mrs. Keller immediately in W.'s room and to his bed. Mrs. Keller lighted a candle and stood it on a box near the door. Gas not yet lighted. W. heard me approach. Without opening his eyes said, "How are you, Doctor?"

     H.L.T.: "It is not the doctor!"

     W.: (The hand instantly drawn forth from bed clothing. ) "Oh! Horace! I am glad to see you. Sit down on the bed." (Which I did—having first kissed him—then for the rest of the time of my stay held his hand in my own and felt its frequent warm pressure.)

     H.L.T.: "You seem to be resting more or less today."

     W.: "A little—perhaps—some sleep: not to brag of."

     H.L.T.: "We must be grateful."

     W.: "Yes, even for that, I know. Tell me the news, Horace."

     H.L.T.: "I am getting letters every day."

     W.: "Yes, I suppose."


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     H.L.T.: "Doctor writes me that you are never for a minute out of his mind."

     W.: "Dear, dear Doctor."

     H.L.T.: "And Ingersoll—"

     W. (interrupting): "Dear, dear Ingersoll, too!"

     H.L.T.: "And Brinton came along today, anxious for you, and Mrs. Fairchild has written me a noble letter."

     W.: "I love them all—dearly, dearly."

     H.L.T.: "And I saw Dave McKay today."

     W.: "Dave? What of him?"

     H.L.T.: "He showed me a bound copy of the complete 'Leaves of Grass.'"

     W.: "Of the green book?"

     H.L.T.: "No, that is not out yet. That will come in a couple of weeks."

     W.: "Why so long?"

     H.L.T.: "The stamps are yet to make."

     W.: "I thought they were made! But that's not a great matter—to make the stamp: a day or two."

     H.L.T.: "Dave has had a good deal of trouble at home. For more than a week he was away from business."

     W.: "Has it all blown over? Is it all right now?"

     H.L.T.: "Yes, it has all blown over: it is all right now."

     W.: "Good! Good for Dave!"

     (Alas!)

     H.L.T.: "I sent away the three books we spoke about the other night."

     W.: "Oh! To Chambers, to Stedman, to—to—"

     H.L.T.: "Morris."

     W.: "Yes, Morris."

     H.L.T.: "Now I want to speak about the others."

     W.: "Tell me—have you opened any of the mail?"

     H.L.T.: "Some of it—letters that seemed to need answering."

     W.: "That was quite right: I am glad. Do you know if the books got to Bolton? I sent two copies—one for Johnston, one for Wallace—just before I was taken sick."


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     H.L.T.: "I haven't heard anything about it from them."

     W.: "I think you'd better open the mail."

     H.L.T.: "One of the letters was from Forman—and in it he confirms what you heard before you were sick. Balestier is really dead—aged 26."

     W.: "Only 26! Sorrow! Sorrow!"

     H.L.T.: "And Forman thinks his death may deter you from wishing him to go on with the negotiations."

     W.: "Let him go on."

     H.L.T.: "I wrote him the other day to wait. Shall I now write to him to continue?"

     W.: "Yes, that is my wish."

     H.L.T.: "Then I should open the mail?"

     W.: "Yes, boy—if you will. I am in your hands."

     H.L.T.: "And shall I send the rest of the books?"

     W.: "Yes, send them. Symonds first of all, particularly—the good Symonds!"

     H.L.T.: "And Dowden and Mrs. Fairchild—"

     W. (interrupting): "You know as well as I do—all, all. You will find plenty of books over there in the corner. A few have been taken out, but enough are left."

     H.L.T.: "Chubb was here the other day. He wishes a copy of Burroughs' book."

     W.: "Let him have it—yes, have it—send it, along with my regards: you will find a bundle of the books somewhere in the next room."

     H.L.T.: "I should have told you of a note from Mrs. O'Connor, too."

     W.: "Nellie? Yes, I might have known. Dear, dear Nellie—dear William!"

     H.L.T.: "You seem to enjoy something like peace just now."

     W.: "Little of peace, Horace—little of joy."

     H.L.T.: "Anyway, Walt, I am here. If there's anything you want done."

     W.: "Oh, boy—it is all right as it is! All are kind to me—everything seems done."


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     H.L.T.: "But I don't refer to attendance, or things of that sort."

     W.: "I know." (I felt his grasp tighten.) "I understood, Horace—and whether I would or not—I know I must. And if things cross my mind any time, I will say something to somebody here, so they are not forgotten. I know—I know: our affairs here belong, after me, to you." (He seemed about to pursue the matter—yet was so feeble the words only struggled forth. I interrupted him.)

     H.L.T.: "No more now, Walt. We can take this up tomorrow." (Again the pressure of his hand increased.)

     W.: "Perhaps it is best—best—"

     I leaned over and kissed him—and I felt his lips reach for mine. "God bless you, boy—God bless your blessings!" And then I kissed his hand and he said again, "Tomorrow, then—tomorrow—"

     All this talk on his part was feeble past description. The words, always connected, seemed only to beat a way out. His eyes were shut most of the time, though now and then they partly opened as if to catch my face as well as voice. His own voice strong and clear in moments—then almost panting—he lay half on his left side—his head straight on the pilloW. Many times he threw his left arm about, as if for rest, shifting it this way, then that. When I withdrew I took the light with me.

     While I talked with Mrs. Keller in the next room, W. called her (he keeps good reckoning who is on watch) and asked to be moved. Mrs. Davis passed in to help and he noticed her, "Oh! Mary it is you!"—but said nothing further during the shifting, afterwards falling into a doze quite promptly. Once in the late afternoon he had asked, hearing Mrs. Keller in the room, "Who is that?" And when she gave an answer, "Oh! I thought it was Horace Traubel!"

     Longaker not over today—McAlister came twice. But W. took no notice of him. He has given the two doctors copies of the etching (day before yesterday), but admitted he was "too weak to sign them." Would perhaps be able to do that some other

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time. Certainly added weakness, but he seems better able to sleep.

     After supper, down again from 7:30 to 7:50—still sleeping. And when back at 11:30 he continued in his doze, with some hiccoughing and choking. Warrie said he had passed a restless evening, calling frequently to have his leg rubbed. Complains of base of spine—of a great pain there. A minute after I had left his room after the talk a letter came from Johnston, answering the question he had asked. The books safely arrived. A couple of letters from Wallace, too—one to Warrie, one to me.

     Mrs. Keller's notes: 9 A.M. Has had a quiet sleep for some time. Breathing lightly. Respiration 20.

9:30 Had position changed. Said, "In one hour I will have something—an oyster—rare as Mary cooks them. I shan't be ready for it under one hour." No hiccough this time on changing about. Took only a little water. Said, "I feel very comfortable just now." Pulse 66—respiration 20.

10 Sleeping on right side without hiccough. Very quiet.

11 Dr. came—did not awaken patient.

11:30 Woke up. Was turned to left side. Said left hip and leg were painful. Hiccough on turning.

11:45 Had face sponged and hands washed. Said he would have oysters and toast.

12:15 P.M. Ate the soft portion of two large oysters and a small quantity of toast. Said it was good. Would drink only a little water. Hiccough commenced but did not last long. None at this time.

1 Sleeping very quietly. No hiccough.

2 Had position changed. Hiccough for a few minutes after.

2:20 Sleeping quietly.

3 Sleeping. Little hiccough.

4 Had position changed—back rubbed. Hiccough. Will take only water. Complains of pains in hips, knees and ankles.

5 Dr. McAlister came. Did not talk.

5:30 Mr. Traubel came. Talked to him.

6 Had position changed.

7 Has taken cold water frequently, small quantity at a time.


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8 Sleeping some, but more wakeful than before today.

9 Changed position to left side. Took two tablespoons of punch.


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