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Monday, January 11, 1892

Monday, January 11, 1892

Bad, cloudy, dampish cold day. Letters from Sarrazin and Johnston (26th-30th-2nd) and Wallace (Dec. 26th and Jan. 2nd) and Bucke (8th). A great comfort to me. 8 Jan. 1892 My dear Horace I have yours of midnight 5th & forenoon 6th. Your letters at present possess for me an almost terrible interest. I had a note from Harned today giving me substance of the "codicil" and telling me also that Mrs. Keller said last Sunday that W. would hardly live to next Sunday (i.e. tomorrow) but I guess she will be out same as the doctors were. Splendid sleighing here now. I get out (as usual) every afternoon between 4.15 & 6 for a drive and enjoy it. I am through my visit to Toronto (as you know) and am now much freer than I was when I first came home to go away. I would gladly now go to Camden at any time if I was sure W. would not live more than 3 or 4 days at the outside. But I could not go on the chance of his dying—it would never do. Were I a free man I should go now and stay with him until the end if it were a year. Beautiful clear crisp breezy air these times—does me lots of good and I need it with this constant anxiety prowling around my path like a wild beast preparing to spring. Love to you & Anne R. M. Bucke To W.'s between eight and nine. He slept—had passed a fairly good night—neither very fine nor positively bad. To Bonsall's, where I left him copy of "Leaves of Grass." (W. had said, "Don't forget Harry—take him one.")

5:20 P.M. To 328 on my way home. Happened in a little earlier than normal—and when W. shortly called Mrs. Keller in to give him some water, I followed and stood in the middle of the room. He drank slowly—without eagerness—and even that small effort excited some hiccoughing. Shortly he perceived me, and as Mrs. Keller took the mug back he called, "It is you, Horace? Come up here and sit down." And when I neared the bed, his hand was already in the act of being extended. It was on his part a feeble but a loving grasp—while I found the hand very cold, as if it had been exposed to the cold open air. "How are you, boy? What have you been doing since the last?" I reminded him, "It is now two days since we talked together last." He, "Yes, I know: this is Monday, the 11th." (Voice very feeble—distinctly worse, weaker, tonight. But it will pass off?) How was his own condition? "I am here—that is about all. Weak—weak—weak." But no hiccoughs? "Not so much—often—but plenty." After a pause, "Have you letters?" I went over my mail categorically. "What does Sarrazin say? He is still sick? Poor fellow! Give him my sympathy. And, Horace, send him a book—a copy of the '92 edition—we must not fail in that." I likewise mentioned Symonds' return to Wallace for the repetition of my messages. "Noble fellow! We love him much. I wonder if he has his copy of the book?" I recalled that it had been sent only three days ago. W. then, "That is true—I forgot." All his talking seemed done with great effort. He asked me, "Did you not say there was a message from Winter? What did he say?" I repeated the substance. "That was the point of it, eh?" Then was silent. "But, Walt, I know from Morris that Stoddard does not relent—that he still thinks you a fraud." "I am afraid there is a venomous strain in Stoddard." Requested me to send books to Rolleston and Schmidt. "How is Anne?" he asked, and to my, "Well," exclaimed, "Dear girl!" I adding, "She was here last night." "So I believe." I told him the story of yesterday's meeting and the applause at the mention of his name. He was very emphatic in designation of the value of this story. "It is significant—sweet, singular, welcome—oh! very welcome!—nothing more welcome, more triumphant! They applauded? And it was quite spontaneous, you think? Welcome—welcome!" Told him Ingram had been sick and he cried, "Poor man!" Had he any letters he wished written? Pondered an instant—then, "No, I think not: not now. O yes, Horace—when the time comes you may do it—I must rely upon you. You will think me a great botheration." "Well, I am here to be 'bothered'!" He half smiled and remarked, "I understand it all—respond to it all." If I wrote to Ingersoll and Bucke, I was to send his love. "It is all I can do for them now. But I bless them—bless—bless."

Mrs. Keller busied herself with the fire: the wood crackled in the stove. A lighted candle was placed near the door, and as from time to time my head shifted it exposed his full face on the pillow (I was between him and the door). He was pale and his eyes heavy—only opened now and then. Finally I got up for the good-bye. He reached forth his hand again, "You must, I suppose: good night, boy! Good night!" And as I leaned over and kissed him, first on the lips, then on the forehead, he murmured, "Always a blessing, boy. These are long, long days—but they might be longer." His ever-present gratitude for what he calls the "the superb good care." I left the room. Some stranger had brought some roses for him. They were on the mantlepiece. I urged Mrs. Keller to show them to W. Just then he called, "Mrs. Keller," and she rapidly went in and up to his bed, he wishing to be shifted again. Warrie also now there, ready to go on duty again, W. saying, "Well, Warrie—once more!" Then told him how and where to turn him. Could not assist—was turned as if limp and lifeless. Warrie lifted him higher on the pillow. Several times he said, "Thanks! Thanks! That is good—right!" He got to his left side and they bolstered him front and back with pillows and sheets. Then Mrs. K. produced the roses and handed them to Warrie who was on that side of the bed—a moment's explanation—W. saying, "The beautiful roses! The generous giver! Beautiful—beautiful—beautiful!" and seemed to drink in their fragrance. Shortly, however, having to turn even from them in feeble surrender and to say, "I would like to take them in my hand—hold them." Now? "No, morning will do—in the morning." Warrie sat down by the bed and asked him how the day had been. His feeble answer was very short, "Long—weary—sad." Then we left him alone—the lights being put down and the door mainly closed. Mrs. K. said to me, "Your talk is the only one that he has had today. He seems wholly disinclined." We all noticed the added feebleness—the increased inabilities. Will tomorrow brighten the prospect? I had opened his day's mail before seeing W. Several letters each from Johnston and Wallace which needed no answers, and letter and proof from Photographic Times, whose publishers propose an article on W. (proof enclosed for correction) and a portrait (Gutekunst's phototype). (I alluded to this in talking with W. who, after asking about it in special detail, remarked, "I must leave it in your hands. Give them all the good advice you think necessary." They wished an autograph to go under the portrait, but a new autograph is now impossible. Says W., "I guess I'd better not try to write one now.")

Spent the evening in Philadelphia—part of it with Longaker—who is very dubious about any long continuance of W.'s condition, but is cautiously conservative in his statements.

It was midnight by the time I got back to W.'s. Warrie admitted me. Into and out of W.'s room freely. Wrote Bucke. W.'s hiccoughs marked and weakening. Just before I left he said to Warrie, "Tell Mary that if in the morning I feel like eating anything, she should have ready some mutton broth and rice—the kind she used to make; having it ready by or before ten."

Received considerable mail this evening at Post Office—in it letter from Bucke (9th), and letter from Ingersoll, same date: 400 Fifth Avenue. Jany 9—92 Dear Traubel— I just retd. from Toledo. I hope that the dear man is better—hope that he can recover enough at least to enjoy many years of pleasant life. How is he? Keep me posted. I am coming over if possible to see him just for a few minutes. At the same time I am afraid that it would make us both unhappy. You need not be surprised to receive a dispatch warning you of my approach. I have been reading Whitman for several days and I am astonished more and more at his greatness of soul, his amplitude, his vastness. Give him my love again & again. Yours always R. G. Ingersoll Will write latter in morning, special. His letters always drive a way to the heart. Hoped to have a chance to deliver this, but would not disturb him to do so.

Mrs. Keller's notes:

Had a night much like others. Had a bowel movement. Took more food yesterday than in any previous 24 hours. Drank over one pint of milk, ate nearly a slice (large) of bread and butter and a cake of beef (1 1/2 ozs.). 8 a.m. Sleeping quietly, without hiccough. 9 Still asleep, also no hiccoughing. 10 Was turned to left side. Back rubbed. Wished to be left quiet. No hiccoughs at this time. 11 Dr. McAlister came. Told the doctor he had signed his picture. Was hungry—asked for his nourishment as soon as possible. This is the first time he has seemed in any haste to eat. He said yesterday when asked if he was going to have some champagne, "Not now. Wait until the spirit moves." Said at ten o'clock this morning, when turned to his left side, "I will have an egg, some bread and butter, and champagne for my dinner." 11:30 Ate the egg, one half slice bread and butter. Drank small glass of champagne. Seems weak. Not inclined to be spoken to or moved. 12 p.m. No hiccough at all today. Resting quietly. Had position changed. Complained some of pain in right leg. 1:45 p.m. Not wishing to be disturbed. Took one tablespoon full of Proterial. Requested to be left quiet for a while. 2 Still quiet and partly asleep. 3 Had position changed from left to right side. Said, "I am feeling badly, very badly, just now." Drank water a number of times today. 4 Took a drink of ice water and juice of one orange. Hiccough commenced after turning over. Only continued two or three minutes. 5 Quiet. 
6:30 Mr. Traubel came in. Mr. W. talked with him a while. 7 Still quiet. Hiccough seems more persistent. 9 Was turned over. Hiccoughing quite hard. Not inclined to talk or eat. 12 a.m. Asked for "milk punch middling strong of rum."

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