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Thursday, April 25, 1889

Thursday, April 25, 1889

10.20 A.M. W. reading his Press. The day much milder. One window thrown wide open. "I supposed it was dusty. And it looks like rain? We ought to be glad to have it come." There are three windows, all opening north, in his room. The west window is rarely opened—not even curtain thrown up—except in warmest weather. Between this and the center window against the wall is a big round table. It is on this table he eats his meals, facing west, and it is the center window by which he which he sits when not doing anything. The third window (the east) has his big square table nearly against it; and this with a box underneath, and chairs about him, is the repository of his working materials. When working he wheels from his center window, his left side against the square table, his back towards the light. Takes a pad on his knee—always writes that way. The east window he will sometimes raise, and fix the blinds for light, but his main dependence is always on the center window. He never throws the shutters open. The blinds he will put at the down-angle if he wishes to look into the street, and at the horizontal or up, if simply studying the sky, or ruminating. Health he reports "about the same" And then: "No news—except this postal from Nellie." Rather bad reports still from O'Connor—his vomitings and sickness thereto continuing. W. said: "I shall mail the postal to Doctor tonight—this afternoon." And reflecting: "It is a sad report, all around: it shows not only that something is badly out of kilter but that something is absolutely gone—absolutely."

"From unprecedented reasons," he said further along, "the last number of The Critic came Saturday morning." Did not know if he had sent it away or not. Had noted therein this from Gosse: "Even in mere rhapsodies, divested of all real verse form, such as the effusions of Ossian and of Walt Whitman, there is a right way of reading and a wrong." But it had "passed in and out" without impressing him as of any importance. He had prepared me a bundle containing sketch (dummy) of book. "You will go into the press room yourself and see that Brown understands?" The bundle he had endorsed. Is always definite. His sheet of instructions enclosed, wonderfully clear. Corrections only 5, all told. Asked me: "What of Brown? Haven't we two Browns?" When I described Brown, agent for the Photo-Engraving Co., he seemed greatly engaged and amused, whether by his fat or another matter—I do not know.

Evening 7.50 W. reading a volume of Stedman's big work. It proves of absorbing interest to him. But tonight he did not look well and did not feel well. His room almost insufferably hot. The temperature had anyhow grown higher in the afternoon, which, aiding his fire, made his room almost suffocating. I was in and saw Brown this afternoon. He cannot put the book on press till Tuesday next, anyhow. W. somewhat impatient at this, but must, of course, submit. But Brown explains: "I know this is thin paper and that Mr. Whitman is very particular; I have a certain press and a certain man who I wish to put on the job." Brown is sure the printing can all be done up next week. W. remarked: "I know there is no time to be lost. We must not let Oldach delay us this time. If we fail to get the book out by the date set, it will be ruin!"

Billstein printed me a few copies of the McKay three-quarter length, which I gave to W. He examined them quite critically, as he had before, and said: "I like it—like it well. It is a little spotted—I notice that—but in effect, result, is all right—entirely satisfactory." He discussed the illustrations for the book. "I have counted six, irrespective of the Sarony picture." I went over the list—for the instant could make but five. W. thereupon (tallying with fingers): "There are six— I have the list here somewhere. There's the three-quarter length, the one we have just been looking at; the three-quarter steel; the Linton; the butterfly; the seventieth year." Here he hesitated an instant, as I had done—then suddenly: "Oh! the Gutekunst picture! that makes the sixth. I knew I had that number hard and fast. What do you think? Is that enough?" The Sarony loss was one he felt bitterly, because he had absolutely possessed at one time many more than he could now find or had ever used. As to the steel, it was his first idea to have a new printing, but now said: "I have enough here—have counted off 305." I urged proceeding more declaredly. He promised: "I can let you have the photos tomorrow"—those for mounting—"if you want them." I explained: "They will cost more if you only have 300 instead of a thousand. I got my estimate on a thousand." W. then: "Well, I don't know but I'll have a thousand anyway." Might have some mounted even if not for use in the book. Spoke then once more of the Sarony loss. "The 305 and more I certainly had once." Had it been Duckett who used any? "I must not say who—only that they are probably stolen. I have had many things purloined, stolen, from the rooms here—books, pamphlets, papers, clothing, pictures." W. paused and then reflected as if greatly for himself: "I had fully six or seven pairs of gloves—choice gloves given to me—gloves of some value; attractive, too, evidently, to others. I had also half a dozen handkerchiefs, presents, some of them silk; choice, fine, beautiful; they are gone, too. Some of these things were souvenirs, some not. I had a picture—probably so big"—measuring with his arms: "What they called an Italian chromo—a figure piece. It cost 8 or 9 dollars—I paid that for it—it was worth 4 or 5 times that. It too, was spirited away—is gone—utterly gone." And so, summing up: "There the, for instance—you can see where I stand. I know I am a great forgetter, mislayer: I hesitate to explain the missing things this way till all other explanations are exhausted."

I rose and started off. W. said: "You will be down in the morning? My head is in a bad state tonight. I must not worry it with anything at all." Rather pale—and so I left him. Wagner and Taylor have sent in notice of approaching expiration of insurance (May 8th).

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