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Saturday, February 13, 1892

Saturday, February 13, 1892

8:25 A.M. At W.'s, finding him in sleep looking better than last night, and with almost calm even in his features. Yet asked to be turned while I was there, and they told me he had been turned less than half an hour before and less than half an hour before that. His mail like my own—scarce. I had no letter concerning W.'s affairs except from Bucke (dated 11th): 11 Feb 1892 My dear Horace I have yours of 8th ev'g & 9th mn'g. I enclose copy of H[allam] T[ennyson]'s letter & of W.'s note scrawled on the back of it. I feel sure that W. is dying (tho' slowly) and look day by day for telegram to go down. Of course he may linger for weeks—his constitution is a remarkable one and then I do not know his exact physical condition—but all the same I feel sure that the end is very near. I feel for you—you are over-taxed—have too much work and worry, I am in daily fear that you will break down. I earnestly wish it were all over—the strain is becoming (in many ways) too much for us. Love to you R. M. Bucke Bucke includes Hallam's letter as follows: Farringford, Freshwater, Isle of Wight. Jan 26/92 Dear Mr Walt Whitman My father thanks you cordially for your New Edition of "Leaves of Grass" he is not allowed by his doctor to write more than is absolutely necessary. We are very sorry to hear that you have been unwell but hope that as the spring advances your health will improve. With our greetings for the New Year. Yours faithfully, Hallam Tennyson. And then W.'s in the margin of Hallam's: Monday, Feb 8 P.M. 92 Geo Stafford the father is dead, buried tomorrow. I keep on much the same probably growing weaker—bowel movement an hour ago. Bad steady pain in left side—what I call under belly—Dr McA here daily—God bless you all. Walt Whitman Took dinner with Arthur Stedman to discuss plans and particulars of contract. And when we parted he offered to draw up contract in afternoon, I to meet him at his father's reception at Art Club in evening and consummate bargain. Webster wishes to begin to advertise at once. Arthur holds it against Bucke that at time of printing of his father's essay on Walt Whitman, Bucke wrote him and others a sort of duplicated letter by way of criticism. This new to me. Not serious. They evidently have sour feelings in the matter. Shall learn what I can of it from W. and Bucke. I contended that we should reserve copyright to provide against their grant of sub-rights. Memorandised all items proposed and held to by me, and submitted them to McKay later in afternoon, he approving. Stedman (E.C.) could not go to Camden because of illness and necessity of turning up for this evening. Morris disappointed, having himself been ready to go.

6:15 P.M. W. not asleep, so I went into the room and was duly greeted by him. "Is Stedman with you?" he immediately asked, and was evidently disappointed to find I was alone. He had been telling them today he expected S. I explained why S. did not come over and W. was satisfied. Described to him my talk with Arthur and its result. Read him the memorandum I had referred to McKay and asked him some questions, but he still said to me, "You keep the reins—drive on—you will end up all right." Dave advised that we take out the copyright. W. asked, "What do you think of that?" and was impelled again to say, "Anyway, you make what arrangements you may—the best: I will be satisfied." Arthur had made it plain to me that Mark Twain was Webster & Co.—with a brave second in Hall. Webster had married a niece of Clemens and early in business career had died of brain fever, or something akin. This was all interesting to W., and he questioned me till I told him all. Our talk pretty brief though I was there with him for some time—he holding my hand, I his. He had copies of the Photographic Times, containing portrait and article. The autograph comes up handsomely. We are both satisfied with it.

Arthur Stedman tells me of a circular letter, or something of the sort, circulated by Bucke in criticism of Stedman's essay at the time it was written. "They seem to hold that against Bucke," I told W., who said, "I do not remember the thing at all: ask Doctor about it—see what he has to say—and tell me what he says. I guess it was nothing serious, and now is rather Arthur's pick than Ned's." And when I said, "Criticism should always find open doors, and the critic may be criticized," W. assented. "That is profoundly true—profoundly. And when you hear from Doctor you will no doubt see that the offense was innocent enough."

I was to go to reception tonight. Stedman's wife on, too. W. wished "to be remembered to both." Remarks, when I ask how his day had been, "Bad! Bad! Bad! I am slowly slipping away—wearing out." Had he no feeling of revivification? "No, not a breath: constant unvaried depression—a steady, subtle, slow decline—I see, face it, fairly, without disguise." He had "read little," he said and found "the papers very uninteresting." And of course had not written a word. Asked me, "What of the Telegram? Is anything yet turned up?" And urged me, "See that we get papers," adding however, "I seem to lose desire to see these things."

Clifford and Mrs. Von Utassy over the other day. "I saw them only a minute." Spoke of Ingersoll as "many ways the preciousest morsel of personality of us all." When I telegraphed again I was to send his love. He still complained of pain in side, but it was "not so urgent," the applications "sufficiently subduing its edge." Talked pathetically with me about taking care of myself. "You are our next necessary self—that to all of us," he said, and I would "do well" for myself, as for them, by "heeding Dr. Bucke's good advice," which was based on science and sense (holding my hands meanwhile, and I felt the pressure of his own). Upon my rising to leave, he finally suggested, "Make your contract with Arthur just as if it was for yourself—I could not make my own ideas clearer by telling you more." Exit, then home. Could not start for reception till 9:30.

10:30 P.M. Reached Art Club (Philadelphia). Found Arthur Stedman anxiously on stairway, wondering if I would disappoint him after all. After greetings to father and mother, and some talk with Cope, Mrs. White and others, Arthur and I adjourned to the sitting room of the Club and at a desk there perfected our arrangements, drawing up duplicate contracts, one for each, and both signing each, with Morris for witness. These contracts will be superseded by a formal contract based on them and drawn up in New York by Hall. I really have no doubt of the good faith of Hall—the Stedmans of course faithful.

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