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Tuesday, January 12, 1892

Tuesday, January 12, 1892

I have acknowledgments of books from Williamson, Gilder, Miss Porter, Karl Knortz: 540 East 55th St., New York Dear Sir, Many thanks for a copy of L. of G. I am very glad that W. has not forgotten me. I shall bring out a new selection from L. of G. in German within a month or so. A copy of it will be sent to you. Yours truly, Karl Knortz (W. interested in my accounts of them all—particularly in Knortz's announcement of new translations.)

Morse's letter of 16th December still unanswered. But once when I spoke to W. of it he remarked, "Sidney is faithful and loving to the last."

A glimpse in at W.'s as usual in transit (after 8 A.M.). He looked haggard and pale, but slept peacefully, without hiccoughs. Once in Philadelphia wrote Bucke and sent off a special to Ingersoll.

5:55 P.M. Reached W.'s—and shortly went into the room and had some 20 minutes' talk with him. Although he seems to have spent an easier day than yesterday, he did not now appear stronger or more restful. He hailed me with his, "Well, Horace," and when I had come nearer invited me to "sit down on the bed," which I did. How was his own case today? "I do not see any change—perhaps a suspicion if easier, but no more." We drifted into talk of literary topics, mostly by his own numerous questions. "How is Dave moving with the book?" I told him of the death of McKay's father. "O dear dear—I did not know he was dead. Poor Dave!" Had he known General Meigs, just dead? "No, but of him a good deal: was an eminent engineer, one time, down at the capital." Asked, "What of our book, Horace, the green book?" And to my explanation, "Oh! It is slow—slow!" Then suddenly, "Was it A. Q. Keasbey who wrote the piece in Frank Leslie's? He is a bright fellow—full of stuff." Again reminded me, "Do not forget Sarrazin's book. I suppose about half of them are gone now—fully half. There were three bundles." Asked again, "How is Anne? How is the dear girl?"

He was "not sure or not even suspecting" that he would "pull through this ordeal," and if he did "in a sense," he asked, "what would it amount to?" Reported him Ingersoll's letter. He listened and was "glad to hear so good a word again." Who gave him "such cheer as this man"? Was I to respond? "Yes! Yes! Respond with my love—memories—admiration." And he curiously, "You hear from Bucke every day? Dear Doctor! Always give him my choice good prayers." When I imparted the substance of Gilder's letter, he inquired, "Has it any significance? How does it seem to you?"

He had asked Mrs. Davis to prop him up by sitting back on his pillow (a way of giving him brief respite). She now came in to inquire if he was ready and he replied, "Wait five minutes more, Mary." Then to me again, "Is there any news out in the world for me to hear? Anything, abroad? Of Tennyson? Anything of any of our fellows?" He considered "the '92 book" his "final offering," his "last word." "The future of the book will have a curious history, no doubt: you will see it—a part of it—I will be gone—a good deal is still left in your hands to do." Did he feel any sign of spring—any breath of fresh life? He confessed, "No, I seem slipping away, if anything—a sense of insecureness." Inquired, "You tell me of Ingersoll and what of the man who was shot?" He had forgotten the name. "Baker?" "Yes, Baker." And learning he was well remarked, "Blessings for him, too: tell him we remember him here." I asked as I left, "What message for Bolton?" And he responded, "Tell them, I am low—very—very: that I still have one chance in four or five—but only one, if that: tell them I am well seen-to—that I am encircled by sweet attentions: tell them I send my best affection and regard—my best: tell them"—and here he broke off of sheer feebleness, and I cried, "That is enough—don't try more: they will know it all from that"—and he murmured almost in a whisper, "Right!" I went into the next room and instantly threw this into written words and mailed the letter to Wallace.

Again at W.'s at 8:45. The ice cream had not helped hiccoughings, which now were returned in thorough vigor. Seemed very restless—called Warrie six times within half an hour for some service or other. At 9:05 a ring at the bell, which Mrs. Davis answered—confronted then by a messenger boy who brought a box of flowers with the following inscription: "To Walt Whitman, Camden, N. J. with Edwin Arnold's love. Hotel Lafayette, Philadelphia. Please let special messenger bring Sir Edwin Arnold news how Mr. Walt Whitman is tonight."

I sat down at once and answered as follows: "In reply to Sir Edwin's question, it may be said that Walt Whitman continues tonight in a condition of unrest and weakness, which his physicians and friends look upon and define as critical."

The flowers were put away for tomorrow.

The fourth time at W.'s at 12:40, returning from Contemporary Club. Only an instant upstairs. W. extremely restless. Had called Warrie as many as 17 times in a certain 25 minutes. Hiccoughs continued. Voice weak—seems to become a greater effort to speak.

Mrs. Keller's notes:

Not a very good night. Hiccough much of the time. Took small quantity of milk punch during the night. 8 a.m. Quiet and sleeping. No hiccough. 9 Position changed. Still quiet. 9:30 Said, "I have had some good, comfortable sleep. Some good rest." 10 Ate mutton broth with rice in it. Had requested it the night before. Ate a piece of bread and butter. Said both were good. 10:20 Had a large bowel movement. 11 Had bed changed, was bathed and rubbed. Stood it well. Still no hiccough. Miss Jessie called a minute. 11:20 Dr. McAlister came. Mr. W. talked to him. Said he had felt his disabled condition keenly, especially for the last three years. That he had been "staving everything off." Said, "I have kept up with a pretty good will. I told you doctors, when I was down so very bad, to let me go—to let me die. I felt you would not listen to me. I know all your medical professors forbid it, and you would not think of it for a minute. And here I am, one chance to four I may pull through it, and have it all to go through again. It looks more so today than for the last fortnight. I know and feel you are all making a strong pull for me. I can see that." Dr. McAlister said, "It is only our duty." Mr. W. spoke kindly of the nurses and Mary Davis. Said all were "oh so good." That his ideal for a nurse was a man. They—Dr. McAlister and Mr. W.—had some conversations on nurses, nursing and the care of the sick. Mr. W. is grateful for attentions that the sick must have. 12 p.m. Turned to left side. Wished to be left quietly and alone for a while. 1 Wishing nothing but water. 
2 No hiccough—a little cough. Has not slept much today. 
2:30 Some roses were given to him yesterday by Mr. Dutch. They were shown him in the evening. Today after his bath one was given him to hold in his hand. Said, "O how beautiful." Has just had his eyes bathed again. Asked, "Where are the other roses?" Was answered, "In the other room. Shall I get them?" "No. I think they cause a huskiness in my throat, a peculiar huskiness." Wished the rose in his hand taken away. 3 Was changed from left to right side. Would not take anything. Said he would have more broth at half-past four or five. 4 Quiet. 4:30 Ate broth and rice, meat small quantity. Dr. Longaker came. Told doctor his condition correctly. 5:30 Was turned over. Took milk punch, small quantity. 6 Hiccough on again. Dr. McAlister told him he had received a letter from a lady saying hiccoughs could be cured by eating ice cream. 6:30 Ate ice cream, feeding himself. No hiccough. 7:25 Hiccough again.

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