Skip to main content

Monday, February 15, 1892

Monday, February 15, 1892

At W.'s for a while in forenoon, as always, and then to Philadelphia. Many things through the day—letters to be written, inquiries of callers answered, telegrams sent, etc. Showed McKay contract, and he agreed that it was as good (with two amendments to come in the final paper) as could be hoped for. Reeder in to see me—has a sick child—the little girl, Ruth. Bucke's letter of 12th reaches me today [enclosing a letter from Wilson MacDonald, a sculptor, asking to be allowed to make a cast of Whitman's head after his death, for a proposed memorial statue]: 12 Feb 1892 My dear Horace By this forenoon mail came your letters of Tuesday ev'g. & Wed. mn'g. Also Ingersoll's address at U. Club dinner which last I have this moment read and much enjoyed. (Have given it to Beemer to read will return it tomorrow). By same mail comes enclosed letter from W. MacDonald which I have answered as you will see (answer enclosed), and if there is in the judgement of H. & yourself more to be said please let me know it. It is a great relief to me to know that the expenditure matter is for the present settled—and I am free to say that I think it is settled as it should be. W.'s relations (except Eddie) have no claim upon him (and certainly none upon us) and there will be plenty and to spare for Eddie. I hope you will let me know Longaker's opinion on the point of cancer of the descending colon—the more I think of all the circumstances of the case (the long continued pain & tenderness in that region, the gradual sinking, the disturbance of function of the lower bowel etc.) the more I lean to that view. I much doubt now if any of those books will be autographed. I know if any are done I can depend on you to get mine thro' along with H.'s and your own. Walt should write the date along with the name if possible it would add immensely to the value to us of the autograph & book. You will of course get back your $20 now? Am I right in inferring from yours that tho' Col. I[ngersoll] goes West he will return for funeral if death takes place while he is away? I hope so. We must have the Col. He is a grand fellow. I think more of him every day. Love to Anne. R. M. Bucke I wrote Longaker instantly on the medical question raised and wrote Bucke negatively as to MacDonald—that we had best hold off, not complicating circular with unknown persons or their schemes, and suggesting that we have the cast made, pay for it, and hold it. Creelman again telegraphs me:

Money coming in unsolicited tribute of pure affection sent simply to buy flowers be sure to put some fresh blossoms at bedside every day no matter how few to remind old man of public love even if rest of fund is used for something else please wire if this all right and name of favorite flower. James Creelman. 
I had urged him—do not appeal for money for W. W. on ground of his need, because he has all he needs or is able to supply his own needs. No chance tonight to refer to W. I was at 328 at 6:20, and twice went into his room, but he was both times asleep, or appeared to be. (I think was asleep, for the hard automatic breathing—though he has a way, too, in his dozes, of simply keeping quiet, even when we are about the room, as if unaware of our presence.) But I would not disturb him. Wrote several letters while there. Should have seen Harned on the MacDonald matter, but he had been called to Philadelphia by an unexpected telegram.

Happened in at W.'s again a few minutes after ten. Warrie and Mrs. Keller playing cribbage in the little room. Once I went into W.'s room but he was still asleep. He had passed just such a day throughout, saying never a word to anybody on any subject except when being turned. Twice this evening turned but no other sign of life from him. Room suffocatingly hot. Longaker surprised me while there, and we had some talk anent speculation raised by Bucke, which L. did not accept. L. explains the pain by flatulency—yet admitted that, too, was a guess. Rather late for him to come over. Before departure went into room. Warren turned up light. W. moved and Warrie said, "Here is Dr. Longaker," who then stepped forward and took W.'s hand, W. saying, "I am too sleepy to talk, Doctor. Warrie, you tell Doctor just how I have been—all about me," and closed his eyes and said never a word, L. only replying, "I shall not worry you, Mr. Whitman, nor talk to you"—quietly going about his purpose—[illeg.] in spite of W.'s brusqueness. (W. does not quite appreciate the devotion of Longaker.) I made no attempt to speak with W. myself. After Longaker had satisfied himself we left together, I walking to ferry with him. He said of W., "I do not see much ground for hope." Nor of despair? "Of immediate despair, no." Yet he said, "The old man's flesh has gone off greatly. He is surely losing ground—not holding his own. It is a question of time." But of how much time neither he nor any other might predict. Did not telegraph Creelman. L. remarked that he would come over again in a day or two and make a thorough examination of W.'s side and then report for Bucke.

Back to top