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Friday, December 25, 1891

Friday, December 25, 1891

12:10 A.M. Bucke says, "It is doubtful if he ever sees daylight."

12:15 A.M. McAlister came and went upstairs, reporting him then a trifle worse.

Talcott Williams came in, and reporters of Ledger and Press, whom Harned had telegraphed.

3 A.M. Called, "Warrie," and when Warrie went in, "I wish you would turn me over, Warrie—yes, that way." "You don't care about a drink of water?" "No, I believe not."

3:10 A.M. "Warrie, give me my handkerchief. It is back here." Much coughing.

"This is Christmas morning."

"Oh! is it? Well, a merry Christmas to you, boy."

"I wish I could say the same to you, but it's not a merry Christmas in bed."

"True! True!"

3:15 A.M. Press reporter knocked at door. Says will issue a special up to six.

6:40 A.M. "Warrie."

"Try it again?"

"Yes, try it again."

"Suppose we go for one of the doctors and pass the catheter?"

"No, no, let us try."

"I think we did a little."

"Yes, I think we did."

"You don't want any water?"

"Yes, Warrie." (Drank.)

6:50 A.M. Great spell of coughing—choking even. Warrie asks, "Did you get it up that time?"

"A little, Warrie."

7:10 A.M. Warrie put out light and opened blinds. W. struggles a good deal with the mucus, which thickens. Rattle disappeared from throat—moans incessantly.

7:20 A.M. "Have a drink, Mr. Whitman?"


(The Press struggled hard to get the bulge in on the other papers by keeping open till six—but it did not work.)

7:30 A.M. W. on his back—his head high up on the pillows—pale—mouth open—breath short and fast—great struggling with phlegm. Again Warrie asked, "Water, Mr. Whitman?" And he, "No, Warrie boy. Thank you!"

Observant—said to Warrie, "Open the door!" quick, and then, "Is the window down?" "No." "Then put it down—a little." "Feel like having a drink, Walt?" "No, I believe not. Not anything."

Mrs. Davis went in and said, "Good morning, Mr. Whitman, how is thee." He opened his eyes and said, "Poorly."

While I was home to breakfast, Burroughs to 328.

9:20 A.M. Went up with Bucke, who examined pulse. W. never awoke.

Jessie Whitman came in.

Bucke says at this hour he may live through the day. "Breath very shallow."

10:35 A.M. "Well, Walt," said Bucke, "I was in a while ago, but you did not see me."

"Were you?"

10:40 A.M. Went in to look up etching. Heard W. murmur, "That'll do—I told you that would do."

Longaker tells me:

W. "Pretty well gone, Doctor?"



"What kind of night?"

"Well, dreary, restless."

"The early part a nice sleep."

W. "What shall I probably fall into next, Doctor? A sort of comatose condition, state? You don't hardly think it? This horrible, sharp mentality—these thoughts—keeps its power to the last—determined not to stop. Nothing like resting slumber comes—the opposition to anything like that. I found by drinking coffee or tea or even milk punch it stirred up my brain, so I stopped. Well, it kept me stirred up more or less all the while. I feel pretty easy just this minute." Coughed some little.

Longaker said, "You always felt better when I came."

"Yes, I do, Doctor. I sweat a little?"

"Yes, your skin is moist now. Think you could take a cup of warm milk?"

"Yes, I could, but I don't want it. I would rather have a cup of cold water."

"You are not taking so much?"

"No, but enough. I've skipped the medicine. The drinking of the water always stirs the flame better than anything else."

"It might be well for you to take it during today"—to which no reply.

Warrie to W.: "Doctor says I ain't a good nurse."

"In what respect?"

"In letting you go without the medicine."

"It's my fault altogether."

3:40 P.M. Burroughs went up and into the room. Bucke said to W., "Walt, you are certainly better today than you were yesterday."

"Is it so?"

"Yes, undoubtedly."

Bucke downstairs said, "All the symptoms are better. I don't believe he is to die of this attack." Bucke almost thinking of going home tomorrow night. Burroughs came down and said, "I can certainly see he is better." (I noted that when Burroughs came in, W. advised Warrie to get him a chair.) Burroughs up there 15 or 20 minutes.

Bucke: "Walt, you will be up to see me next summer yet."

W.: "Doctor—no, no, that is a wild shot."

McAlister says at this hour, "I still adhere to my opinion. The rally is only temporary."

7:50 P.M. To W.'s again. I went upstairs, in directly to W., saying, "I have a message from the Colonel, Walt."

"Oh, Horace, boy!" raising and shaking my hand.

"He is concerned about you—wishing to know how you are."

"God bless him!"

How did he feel? Better this evening?

"Oh! Poor! Poor! Dr. Bucke thinks I am better, but I don't think I am."

I reached over and kissed him. I could feel his responding lips. "Bless you, Horace, bless you. God bless you! Good-bye! Good-bye!" He reached up his right hand, which I held warmly an instant—then passed out.

Mrs. Davis tells me, "Whitman said a funny thing today. He saw me flitting about with my black dress on and said to me, 'O Mary! I wish you would not wear that dreary dress.'" I had found her rather gaily dressed. Warrie has had some sleep and been relieved. He does not agree with Bucke's exuberant view. Longaker still says he insists upon his judgment of last Sunday—admits improvements.

George Whitman and Jessie in and sat there a great part of the morning and some part of the afternoon. George went up into W.'s room and burst into a great cry of pain, saying to me, "I want to be with him a while." When I went out I closed the door. He sat down on the box by W.'s side, saying little. Yet Bucke going in later on remarked, "They seemed much affected—both," Bucke saying he thought W. also had been crying. W. had told both Bucke and Burroughs yesterday that for the first time he had been unnerved, George's visit its prompting cause. Jessie said W. had spoken cheerily to her today and kissed her.

W. yesterday gave Burroughs two copies of "Leaves of Grass"—the paper edition.

Evening at Harned's. Donaldson coming in, also Loag.

10:30 P.M. Met McAlister and Longaker at W.'s. "You're not feeling as comfortable as this afternoon?"

"No, Doctor."

As to catheter: "Does that hurt you any?"

"Only a little." No more medicine. "This liquid medicine I've stopped."

The catheter discovered no urine of moment, not more than a little spoonful, yet he had fretted the whole evening about it. Told the doctors, "It burned and stung like the very old devil." Voice struggling.

"Do you feel comfy now?"

"About as usual."

"Do you feel like sleeping?"

"Yes, always."

"Did the nourishment do you much good?"

"Not much."

"Didn't you feel mentally better and more active this afternoon?"

"Yes, but that burning, stinging sense of choking is on me all the time."

Longaker, after a consultation with McAlister, said to me, "He is at lower ebb than at any time I have examined him since he was taken sick. His pulse is now 90." I walked up the street with the doctors. They neither of them shared Bucke's confidence, looking upon it as rather the feeling of lover and friend than the cool judgment of a doctor.

Ingersoll's telegram was this: "How is our friend—is there any hope? R. G. Ingersoll."

And my reply as follows: "Very much worse last night. Has rallied some today. Doubt what to expect. Will telegraph tonight or tomorrow. Some hope still. Will you write? Traubel."

Letter came from Johnston this morning. (Some Bolton and other letters for W. All his unopened.)

Sent telegrams to Brinton, Morris and Frank Williams: "Has rallied some," and to Bolton: "Pioneers," meaning "a little better."

W. suggested to Mrs. Davis and Warrie tonight to put the lights out and go to bed!

Wallace yesterday cabled again: "Love to Walt."

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