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Thursday, December 17, 1891

Thursday, December 17, 1891

6:10 P.M. First thing I heard at W.'s was from Warrie, who admitted me. "Mr. Whitman had a chill today—this afternoon." "A real chill—or chilliness?" "A real chill—it lasted two hours." This rather alarmed me. I went upstairs. W. on bed—extended hand instantly. "Ah! Horace! Well, how do you do?" I responding, "How do you do?" He then, "Very bad, Horace, very bad. I had a bad chill for two hours this afternoon. Warrie and Mary have been with me nearly all day, piling me full of blankets—doing all they could. Now I feel more towards myself again, but very feeble—very feeble!" His whole talk full, however, of cheer and brightness. "It was a severe chill—an incipient rigor, I call it. These things are always very serious for me." Should I not look up Longaker? "Perhaps it would be best. Could you do it?" "I will do it!" "Well, I guess you know. And if you get anywhere near the Associated Press, Horace, tell them: Walt Whitman had a severe chill this afternoon—that it lasted two hours and passed off leaving him in a very draggled, enfeebled condition—that it was what I call incipient rigor. But say, I am here tonight, in my bed, cheerful if not comfortable, with hope up again, though with entire recognition of the gravity of my condition." Had he seen Press note this morning?: "Walt Whitman, the 'Good Gray Poet,' yesterday longed to jot down on paper a few lines of verse in honor of Mr. Whittier's birthday today, but the hand that was to have penned the cheery poetry of congratulation, refused to do its work...." "Yes, and found as often before that one has to go to others and to a distance to find out about his intentions and his good deeds." Then back to message, "I would not urge you to go out of your way. But if we don't give 'em something, they'll do much worse. Say, too, if you see any of the press people, that the book is done, that it will be out early in '92, that I am about finished with all deliberate tasks." Then again, "These struggles seem to increase with us. I own up to it, that I am more and more mystified as to the future." Moreover, "Mary and Warrie were very kind to me. They watched and brought me round." As to the report of a poem for Whittier, he laughed, "A reporter was here at the door. Mary saw him. He built up his little tale from a little she told him. Of course," laughingly, "we wish Whittier well, but we can hardly do more as circumstances now are." Asked me about temperature, also if Drexel Institute proceedings were all well passed off. I spoke of Depew's oration as "stuff" and he said, "I supposed it would be."

Tenderly said, "Morris must suffer about his mother. Give him—give her—my love, sympathy. Poor woman, too—she particularly: my heart goes out to her." Reminded me, "My copy of Poet-Lore came today. Shall I send it to Bucke?" I tried to find it but could not. W. then, "It is still in its wrapper somewhere. I had no disposition even to open it today."

Warrie came in several times. W. asked him to prepare some hot water. I started off, to go first to Harned's, then home for supper, then to Longaker's. Harned not home, but got the Ingersoll letter from Gussie. Anne just back from the Drexel dedication (has a poor opinion of Depew). A few minutes for tea, then rapidly to Philadelphia and to Longaker's. He gone to theatre. Left a note on slate for him. Downtown again—talk with city editor Press, then with Albright of the Ledger—giving W.'s message to both. To Camden again, back towards W.'s house. Mrs. Davis at door (brisk north-west wind), her apron wrapped about her head. "Mr. Whitman rested well this evening," she said. Then good night! (This about 10:10.) Home and to work till 12:30 on profit-sharing notes for Unity Church tomorrow evening.

See by Bucke's letter of 14th he is determined to keep up hope.

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