Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

The daily bulletins of the surgeons told all that could be known of the beloved President:

“8:30 A. M.—The President slept from half an hour to an hour or more at a time throughout the night. He continues to retain the liquid food administered by the mouth and the stimulating enemata. Nevertheless, his pulse has been more frequent since midnight and he is evidently feebler this morning than yesterday. Pulse, 120; temperature, 98.4; respiration, 22.

“12:30 P. M.—There has been no improvement in the President's condition since the last bulletin was issued. He continues to retain the liquid food administered by the mouth as well as the enemata. At present the pulse is 120; temperature, 99.6; respiration, 22.

6:30 P. M. –The President's symptoms show slight amelioration this afternoon. His pulse is somewhat less frequent and his temperature lower. The liquid food given by the mouth and the enemata continues to be retained. Pulse, 114; temperature, 98.9; respiration, 22.”

The fifty-eighth day.—The reports of the morning were briefer. They were also more encouraging. It was clear that the President, notwithstanding his desperate condition, had held his own for thirty-eight hours, and that there were some unmistakable signs of improvement. It could not be said with truth that the change was great or marked, but there had been some amelioration. The shadow of death was lifted, at least for a day. The people, quick to run to extremes, gave a sigh of relief at the more cheering reports of the morning, and went whither they listed. It was said that the President had had another relapse and was now better again. Even the cautious Secretary of State was impressed with the belief that the President's improvement was more than a temporary rally. In his foreign dispatch he summed up the case thus:

To LOWELL, Minister, London:

“The condition of the President at 10 o'clock continues as favorable as could be expected. Within the past thirty hours his improvement has given great encouragement to the attending surgeons. He swallows an adequate supply of liquid food; the parotid swelling discharges freely, and gives promise of marked improvement. His mind is perfectly clear. He has, perhaps, a little more fever than was anticipated, and his respiration is somewhat above normal. The general feeling is one of hopefulness. Two or three days more of improvement will be needed to inspire confidence.

BLAINE, Secretary.”

The monotonous official reports were telegraphed as usual, in the following messages :

“8:30 A. M.-The amelioration of the President's symptoms announced in last evening's bulletin continued during the night. Since midnight some further improvement has been observed, the pulse diminishing in frequency. The stomach has continued to retain liquid nourishment administered, and last evening he asked for and ate a small quantity of milk toast. Stimulating and nutrient enemata continue to be retained. Pulse, 100; temperature, 98.4; respiration, 17.

“12:30 P. M.--At the morning dressing of the President several yellowish points were observed just below the ear over the swollen parotid, and an incision being made, about a teaspoonful of healthy-looking pus escaped. Pulse, 104; temperature, 99.5 ; respiration, 18.

7:30 P. M.-The improvement in the President's condition, declared yesterday afternoon, is still maintained.' He continues to take willingly the liquid food given by the mouth, and is apparently digesting it. The stimulants and nutrients given by enema are also retained.

At the evening dressing an increased quantity of healthy-looking pus was discharged from the suppurating parotid. But little rise in temperature or pulse has taken place since noon. Pulse, 110; temperature, 99.7; respiration, 20.”

The fifty-ninth day.More than eight weeks had now elapsed since the President was shot. The country had become used to alarms. It had also learned to make allowance for the shortcomings of newspaper reports, born of the heat of an oversanguine imagination. It had learned, too, the more valuable lesson that the Government of the United States is not to be shaken from its pedestal by the bullet of an assassin. Guiteau was a fool. Perhaps the despicable wretch thought the course of events, sweeping on like the planets, could be changed by the crack of a pistol. He might as well have fired

into the air. The ylorious institutions of the Republic will perish when Americans are no longer fit to be free; but until then the assassin's rage and frenzy is the most futile folly of the world. All the officers of the United States may be murdered in a day, but the Nation will stand immovable as adamant. Let the assassin foam and gnash upon the iron bars of the cage of fate! It is only a mac-dog gnawing his chain.

The President, they said, was better. Thoughtful men doubted it. As a matter of fact, the judgment of the country had given him up to die. Sentiment still kept him alive; reason said that the time of the fatal foreclosure was near at hand. It could be said, truthfully, that the local symptoms traceable to the abscess in the President's face had measurably abated. It could also be said that he was still able to receive food enough to sustain life-nothing more. Mr. Blaine's dispatch for the evening was, however, rather hopeful than desponding. It said:

DEPARTMENT OF STATE, August 29, 10:30 P. M. “LOWELL, Minister, London:

“At half-past ten to-night the general condition of the President is favorable. Late in the afternoon his pulse rose to 112 and his temperature to 100, both a little higher than the surgeons expected. Pulse has now fallen to 108, and fever is subsiding. The parotid swelling is steadily improving, and is at last diminishing in size. Apprehensions of serious blood poisoning grow less every hour. BLAINE, Secretary."

These dispatches of the Secretary were generally but the pith of what the surgeons said in their official reports. These, for August 29th, were as follows:

“8:30 A. M.—The President's symptoms this morning are as favorable as yesterday at the same hour. He slept, awakening at intervals, the greater part of the night. At these intervals he took and retained the liquid nourishment administered. His mind continues perfectly clear. Pulse, 100; temperature, 98.5; respiration, 17. 12:30 P. M.-Nothing new has been observed in the condition of the wound. The usual daily rise of temperature has not yet occurred, and the general condition has not materially changed since morning. Pulse, 106; temperature, 98.6; respiration, 18. 6:30 P. M.--The daily rise of the President's temperature began later this afternoon than yesterday, but rose eight-tenths of a degree higher. The frequency of his pulse is now the same as at this hour yesterday. He has taken willingly the liquid food prescribed during the day, and had, besides, during the morning, a small piece of milk toast. At the evening dressing a pretty free discharge of healthy

[graphic][merged small]

pus took place from the parotid swelling, which is perceptibly diminishing in size. The wound manifests no material change. Pulse, 110; temperature, 100.5; respiration, 18.”

The sixtieth day.The President still held out. All the world knows the story, how, day after day, owing to the native robustness and essential soundness of his constitution, he stood out against the death that awaited. As usual there were some who said he was better. Others said he was not. Once for all it may be said that such contradictions regarding the President's condition can easily be accounted for when the surroundings of the White House are considered. Only a few persons knew of their own observation how he appeared from day to day. Visitors were strictly, and necessarily, excluded from the sick-room. From the Tuesday after General Garfield was shot, not more than ten persons in all, excluding the physicians, had seen him, and, of these ten, some only once or twice. Mrs. Garfield and her children, Mr. Blaine, General D. G. Swaim, Colonel A. F. Rockwell, Dr. Boynton, Dr. Susan Edson,-one of the nurses,—the President's private secretary, Mr. J. S. Brown, and Mr. Pruden, completed the list. Mr. Blaine had seen him once, Mr. Pruden once, and Mr. Brown had been in five times, being usually called because the force of persons necessary to lift the President was a little short. Indeed, of all the strange impressions to be got from this novel event, there was none more peculiar than to stand in the private secretary's room in the second story of the White House, and feel that only a few yards away was the sick-room on which the eyes of the world were centered, and yet that not more than three persons besides the physicians, nurses, and family, have passed the door in two months! It can thus be easily seen how correspondents and reporters were generally at sea, particularly when the physicians were reticent or out of sight. Mr. Blaine continued to express all that could be reasonably said of better prospects. His dispatch was as follows: * To LOWELL, Minister, London :

“ The President, if not rapidly advancing, is at least holding his own. His fever is less than last night, and his swollen gland steadily improves. His pulse continues rather high, running this evening from 110 to 114. Perhaps the best indication in the case is, that the President himself feels better, and his mind, being now perfectly clear, he readily compares one day's progress with another.

BLAINE, Secretary."

« ZurückWeiter »