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Tuesday, December 8, 1891

Tuesday, December 8, 1891

6:05 P.M. W. on bed. A dim light in the room. Drop-light had arrived (not delivered yesterday). W. greatly pleased with it. "It appears to work well: certainly the light seems just what I want—nor more, nor less. The man came, put it up himself, seemed to try it a good deal before he was satisfied." I had been in Shaw's and found that the storm yesterday had prevented delivery. (A hard storm, for some hours, in the afternoon.) I took W. several copies of "Leaves of Grass" in grey. He expressed a wish to send a copy to Ingersoll. I would be back later in evening, perhaps to get it: certainly, ought to write to the Colonel to say to him that W. sends it from a full heart, without apology or supplication. W. remarked, "The Colonel ought to have that and much more—no one can express what he means for, to, me." What of Dave? I had sent to Bolton 12 copies O'Connor's book. W. called that "wholesale" and "wondered" what would become of all the books in Bolton. "Fall in loyal hands, for one thing, I suppose," he said. Adding, "I have written a letter to Dave" (I afterwards mailed it). "It seems to me now is a good time to experiment with the change of binding. 'Leaves of Grass' has become a big book—yet not too big, either." Had I discovered any trace of gas from the new light? And what of the heat of the room? "I seem to be getting numbed on all fine points of temperature—of the body." Harned not in. Yet W. anxious. "We would all like to get that ugly affair out of the way," he thought. I did not linger.

8:05 P.M. To W.'s again. Had discovered in Illustrated American, December, a reproduction of portrait of W. used in one of the weekly issues a year or more ago. Fills a page. Text very kindly to W. but doleful.

W. on bed on my entrance. Extended his hand. "Here again? I thought you were over to the Club." I was on the way now. Read him Illustrated American. "That," he said, "must have been written by William Walsh—perhaps Harry. I guess William, however. It is distinctly a generous notice—is warm, prompt. The papers certainly are having a run of bad news about me." I left paper with him. He wishes a couple more. Not yet resumed rubbings. "I am fuddled and oppressed: these days are, some ways, the worst I have ever known. O this confinement! It is horrible! Yet I know that it is impossible to get out." I had written Ingersoll I would send the book. W.: "I will get it ready for you tomorrow." And to me, "You take a copy, too, Horace, for yourself." "Without your autograph?" "O no! Leave it—I will inscribe it." Reeder has given me a piece of parchment, hoping to have W. write upon it the first stanza of "Song of the Broad Axe." (Reeder proposes framing it in the wall of his house, under glass, at Broad Axe.) W. seemed restless on the bed, throwing his arms about, shifting his position, etc. Finally he got up—sat on the edge of the bed—fully five minutes—talking with me meanwhile. Then reached for his cane, got up, would not accept any aid, threw open the door and glided out to the steps in the hall, where he sat down. "My God!" he exclaimed. "I feel as if to burst!" I shook hands with him. "Is there anything you want?" "Not a thing." "You will not take cold?" "I will only stay a minute, Horace. Good night! God bless you, boy! Am I in the way? Can't you get by?" And as I left, "I shall call Warrie when I want to go back."

I hurried downstairs—told Mrs. Davis—who tried vainly by shaking and calling to wake Warrie, who was asleep on the sofa in the parlor. We heard W. struggle to his feet. Mrs. Davis gave Warrie up and rushed to the head of the stairs herself, helping W. back to his room and chair. She shortly down again and to say to me, "He wants a cup of tea. He seems tired—to need refreshment."

To Philadelphia and Club. "Literary Symposia" up: Professor Parkhurst, Miss Repplier, Owen Wister, Frank Williams and Lincoln Eyre. Miss R. confessed at one point her dislike for poetry that read like prose. Eyre took this up with other points, saying words in applause of Walt Whitman—he really being the only one to hit near the heart of the question by an appeal for the human. But the good lost in fustian and singular bombast. I noticed Misses Clarke and Porter applaud, and they afterwards spoke to me about it.

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