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Tuesday, March 24, 1891

Tuesday, March 24, 1891

5:30 P.M. Met Longaker in the boat on way to Camden. Had one of his handsome little boys with him. This is Longaker's third trip. Did not think W. in "alarming" condition, though seeing "serious symptoms." Questioned me closely of matters I had observed, especially those relating to W.'s mental condition and vigor. Longaker could see a "gradual decline," but thought otherwise the trouble was bladder and digestive merely. He has already heard from Bucke and will write him. Reaching W.'s, he left the boy downstairs, I preceding him up. W.'s welcome to him very cordial—their talk of the frankest character. W. had kept memoranda of the several days since Longaker's previous coming. Uses catheter himself—admits its benefits: "Yes, I slept well last night—was only up, probably, twice. Must have slept four or five hours all told." Was that much? "I consider that a good night's sleep. I never have been a great sleeper." Referring to rubbings, Longaker commended, urging that they should be made constant, every day. W. saying, "I interrupted them for a week or ten days there, when I felt weak and bad. But yesterday resumed them, and shall continue." Longaker urged that even in periods of fatigue and pain, light magnetic rubbings could be continued. W. said, "My young man here is good—none could be better. I have flesh brushes here, but of his own intentions he prefers the hand." How did he find mental exertion? "More or less wearying, of course. But I must do something to while away the time—write, read. That is one of the indulgences I cannot forfeit. This confinement would be intolerable without it."

When Longaker first came, W. offered to pay him—Longaker refusing. W. then offering him a book, Longaker then saying he had one. Longaker tells him he will make a change in his medicine—the pills. Listened to the beat of his heart, tried pulse. Afterward saying to me, "I see no particular change. He is mainly as he was." W. explained as to his memoranda, "I could not trust myself to tell you these. I am, especially of late years, such a forgetful critter."

Longaker went downstairs, and W. and I had more or less talk together then for 10 or 15 minutes. Said of Truth, "How nobly they put the poem together there! I think it the prettiest page I have ever been given—certainly have set these in true artistic measure. Did I tell you? Yesterday I sent them a prose piece about old actors. Charged them $16 for it, saying I wished it in next week—the issue of next week. No, no, they may not want it, of course—that is one of my risks. I want it to be printed at once, so I can put it in the book. You will like it, I think. It has a touch—a light easy touch—which I know you like." Would send the old copy of Truth to Bucke, who had written to ask for it. What did he think of Stoddart's interview? He smiled, "Quite fresh, young, wasn't it? Yet not wholly bad, either. Certainly intended well, which is something. A general impression would not be false, would be rather faithful. But the words he puts into my mouth, the so-called actual phrase, touch—oh! they are very funny. They are far away from the fact. But anyway, it may on the whole do good. At any rate, we will hope it so." He asked me how the Truth poem ("Old Chants") had "read and filtered."

Had been writing some new matter. I saw Cohen today about envelopes. Very pleased to do them—W. with samples Cohen sent over by me. Gave me a letter from Bucke: 22 March 1891 Your good long letter of 19th came to hand yesterday afternoon—I had been at a meter meeting—all the principal stockholders present—got home about 6 P.M. and found it on my desk—I am much pleased that you have had a doctor and I look for considerable results in increased comfort—I hope you will stick to the doctor and let him stick to you! When you have plate-proofs of the "Goodbye" poems I hope you will send me a copy? Horace sent me a proof of "Death's Valley" and intimated that it might (or not) go in the vol. I cannot understand you leaving it out—to my mind it is an admirable piece—most valuable. One expression in it—naming death "God's eternal beautiful right hand" viz. contains more poetry than many a vol. of so-called poems. Oh yes, I have the Round Table "Walt Whitman" by John Robertson 1884—have had it for years. All quiet and all well here—warm outside snow going away rapidly—roads muddy. The meter gets on slowly but gets on & I have hopes will do well but there is a lot of work to do yet before we make the first million out of it. Nothing new here—Mrs. B. and self think of going East for a short holiday April or May but nothing settled yet. I have a long MS. piece by J. W. Wallace on W. W.—it is scrappy but good. So long! With love RM Bucke W. asked, "What can we do about it? We cannot honorably print it." Also gave me—"I want it back tomorrow to send to Doctor to read"—letter from Wallace (13th and 14th) enclosing copy of a long letter from Symonds of the 7th. W. said, "It is a letter for you to see, for us to weigh, to put in our pipes and smoke."

Returned me proof of "Old Man's Rejoinder," left with him yesterday. James (at Ferguson's) has lost the two preface pages. Will have to reset and cast. Delay again.

I have letter from Bucke, dated 22nd, containing strong meat.

W. said, "That 'Old Chants' piece is the one Scribner's refused." I said, "It has come to its own: Truth has espoused it!" W. laughed, "Well, it is published: that much we are sure of."

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