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Thursday, February 4, 1892

Thursday, February 4, 1892

8:12 A.M. A moment's glimpse at W. Stood in room, regarding him. He slept peaceably, lying on his back, his face half-turned away from the window, the light only falling on the left cheek and forehead and the straggling beard. The throat is much gone—has lost the strength and set which made it worthy and able companion of that massive head. Hands out on the cover, holding easily the cane (the wand of his need, the call to watchful ears). Found he had no mail except one paper and a postal from the Society of Old Brooklynites. My own mail included letters from Bucke and Kennedy.

At McKay's later in day found our Washingtonian preferred complete set of the Century Edition and will call in a week for it. He is after the autograph. Busy writing many letters.

6:10 P.M. At W.'s and immediately in to see him. Warm in his greeting. Told him of the Washingtonian. "That is good—good," he said. "Better eight dollars than four," I laughed out, he joining. "I have plenty more of them in a box in the other room." "But not autographed and arranged?" "Not touched—all in the rough." "Well, wouldn't it be one of the first things, when you get up, to pack and finish them?" "When I get up? I will never get up!" He said this very deliberately and looked at me, as if to ask if I had brighter hopes. I only said, "It would be more for Eddy's purse." And he, "It would—yes, it would—but I always postponed the job, and now it is too late." How had he passed the day? "Dozing—dozing—with some real sleep." And had he eaten? "Plenty—enough for a well man." And strength—what of that? "Not a trace of it—not a promise." I rallied him, "You know I used to laugh when you would speak of 'a hint of a suspicion' of a thing—as if that was a breath, a promise, from great distances. Haven't you now a hint of a suspicion of health?" He shook his head, laughed mildly, and responded, "Not even that, Horace, nothing but what you see—nothing but utter giving-out-ness—failure. I feel almost as if emptied of the last fill of life." Very positive, evidently, that he faces death. The others tell me he has shown this in his manner if not by words. Sleeps—sleeps—sleeps. Disposed to be left alone. Not kind to interruptions. Volunteers nothing. He tells me, "We had Harry's baby here again today. Dear little thing! And what a story it tells! With its older Walt about to disappear and its new Walt entering, with all its history yet unwritten, yes, unlived."

Now told me, "I have neither read nor written a word today—not a word. The spirit has played me against it." Yet asked, "What news with you? Sit here on the bed—tell me the news," he taking my hand and I sitting there, detailing such things from the papers as I thought might interest him. He listened intently but said nothing beyond questioning several times to make a fact clearer to himself. After this I mentioned the letter from Kennedy, W. thereupon, "When you write to Sloane next, ask him about Baxter—whether he is on the Herald still, whether he is well—finding out for me. I consider Baxter one of my best friends." I mentioned Baxter's more frequent contributions to magazines. "I did not know he was on that list!" Then with a quaint, humorous turn of intonation, "Anyway, I have considered him one of our best friends." When I told him I had sent for the Herald spoken of by Kennedy, he said, "That was right—and you will let me see it?" As to Review of Reviews, I had a copy with me and went into next room for it, reading W. the two-inch article it contained and showing him the portrait and the reprint of the postal. W. remarked, "Stead himself must have written that—it sounds like him. I am a little at wonder why the American reprint takes up this picture: it appeared in the English edition long ago. I like the picture pretty well."

11:10 P.M. In again for a few minutes. W. slept. Coughs some.

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