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Thursday, February 25, 1892

Thursday, February 25, 1892

8:18 A.M. In my usual round found W. had passed a pretty good night. Was not asleep and I went in, shook hands with him, and wished him my good morning, as he wished me his. He had called for something to drink. Was drowsy—evidently in for his morning's sleep. I did not linger. In next room stopped to read my mail, which I had just received at Post Office, and contained letters from Ingersoll, Carpenter, Johnston and Chubb: 400 Fifth Avenue Feby 23. 92 Dear Traubel, A thousand thanks for your good telegrams. Just ret'd and hasten to send a message of love and hope to the Poet—And he is the Poet. I read your article on Whitman & Lowell. I not only agree with you, as the Irishman said, but I agree more than you do. Lowell lacks amplitude. He is quite a brook but Whitman is a Mississippi that runs through all lands. Give my love to the brave heroic man who has made America his "comrade." Again, thanks for your goodness Yours always R. G. Ingersoll Holmesfield, nr. Sheffield 17 Feb 92 My dear good Traubel Your letters of 2nd & 3rd rec'd—also 92 Ed'n all right with y'r inscription, thanks! Then all y'r letters to Bolton reach me and I send them on to Symonds. What a time it is for you—this great life wh. has encircled you from boyhood onwards now passing away—withdrawing itself inch by inch befor y'r eyes! What mingled feelings of suffering, depression and triumph. Yes it will merge itself all into victory at last. He suffers from the very extreme vitality of his physical nature, wh. will not let him go—wh. contests the ground inch by inch. Having seen more of life he sees more of death than most people—but the spirit remains the same thro' it all. I picture you sitting hand in hand with him by his bedside and often seem to look in & see you—it is good that he has you to talk quietly to now & then—& one person is enough. All the physical ruin & slow death wh. you have to face day by day must bring a heavy strain on faith & hope—but it will reveal the true & unchanging Self all the more surely at last. When this reaches you the end will surely be very near if not already come—how good too when it comes! I have no message but gladness for him. Do not overstrain y'rself dear Traubel with all the calls upon y'r powers. It is all good & well & will work itself out so as time goes on. With love to you Ed. Carpenter 6:05 P.M. Mrs. Davis admitted me. I went upstairs alone. Nobody in the back room. I found there Mrs. Keller's notes of the day, which were rather encouraging. Went immediately into the front room. W. was awake and called my name. "Horace? Is it you?" and I hastened to the bed and we shook hands. I at once remarked, "They tell me you are better today—that you show signs of improvement." He quietly negatived me, "That shows how little they know—how very little—I see, feel, no change—no change whatever." Were there not signs of strength? "No, none at all." Yet the nurses tell me he does help them markedly when they move him and that last night he even threw one leg over another, in a way not possible since Christmas. But he is doleful about it all, "The lifts are only temporary, only lifts for another fall: they never really give me anything." I then chanced to say, "We should be glad for the smallest sign." But he did not appear to view it so. "If we wish us well, Horace, we should wish this all done with. Do you suppose I see anything alluring ahead of me? Anything I crave for, desire?" Anyway, was it not the part of faith and courage to make cheer over the inevitable? This remark seemed to light him up. "Whatever turns up, or fails to turn up, Horace, we will do that!" And after a pause, which seemed to say on his part and on mine, "enough of disease and death," he inquired of me, "What news, Horace? Beyond all else, I crave news." I laughed, "Don't you find plenty of it in the papers? You read them." He laughed mildly, "Yes, plenty (of a sort), but hardly the sort we would travel for or waste much time to get." The room was very dark. On first entrance I had hardly noticed there was a light. I now crossed the room to the dim jet and turned it into a glare. "I have a letter from Ingersoll," I said. "Shall I read it?" And he instantly responded, "Yes, do—read it—sit right here on the bed," which I did, and read—he, in order to hear more surely, putting his hand up to his ear. "The good Ingersoll!" he exclaimed. "How sweet all that is! How like him, too, to say it and stop—to be free and spontaneous to the last! And he is back, safely home—that is the best news of all." Told him of the fight between the Colonel and the New York ministers in the Telegram. He was interested—had I a paper? No, but could bring it in the morning. "Do bring it, then—I will try to look through it. Tell the Colonel to whack away: it is a damned narrow crowd. They have no future."

He had heard from Johnston (N.Y.) today. "I have the Paine picture, too—came at last. It is fine, fine—you will like it, it is your kind. Oh! A wonderful face, anyhow, and a wonderful man. Poor Paine! His reputation has been rifled these ninety years now!" I saw the picture on the box, stood against the wall—and went over and picked it up. "It is a great treat, Horace, to have that—to see it, only. John is good to send it on." It was endorsed in Johnston's name and to W. "You must have one, Horace. Tell him so: it is possession to own it. I don't know anything lately which has so refreshed me." In Scribner's (March) Lowell's posthumous poem on Grant. I proposed leaving the magazine with W., who instantly responded, "Yes, leave it. I may read the poem. I am sure to look at the pictures, though I am not in a condition to promise anything an hour ahead." Read him Bucke's letter descriptive of the Stedman critique. He was very attentive. When I was done, "It seems as if I should remember that if I ever really knew it, but I haven't the first notion—not the first." Likewise told him of Carpenter's letter, but did not, as I could not, read it to him. He only asked, "What did he say?" and I gave him a general idea of the letter. Inquired of me, "Have the facsimiles arrived?" and to my answer that they probably would not be here for a week yet, he cried, "Oh! What a pity!" with even pathetic intonation. "Well, they will come," I put in, but he strangely shook his head, "Come—but will they be too late?" Rather an odd turn at this time, when he was passing his best day since Christmas. I did not stay much beyond this—yet he held my hand, on "good-bye," in such a way, I took my disengaged left hand and stroked his forehead—five minutes or so—he seeming to enjoy the sensation and murmuring once or twice, "It is a sweet touch! Dear boy!" Then I kissed him and left. They told me Mrs. George Whitman had been over again. Mrs. Keller proposes to leave the middle of March—she long ago engaged for another case at that time. We are studying how to supply her place, whether if W. continues in his present condition we need so expensive an associate.

Learned that Reinhalter at last appears again at Harned's proposing settlement. They had some stiff talk and R. on going away engaged to meet Harned tomorrow morning for some more conclusive action. They evidently have been waiting for W. to die, but as he is in no hurry about that, and they are under financial pressures, they are forced to initiate some proceedings looking towards settlement. Circumstances play in our hands.

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