Commentary

Disciples


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Thursday, October 16, 1890

     Received the following letter and enclosure from Johnston in this morning's mail:


New York, Oct 15 1890

Dear Mr. Traubel:

In reply to the enclosed. I have written Ingersoll that I will meet him at the 12:20 train—due in Phil at 2:47—Think I had better buy their tickets and you settle with me. What say you,

Hastily yrs.

JHJ



New York, Oct. 15th 1890.
J. H. Johnston, Esq
17 Union Square, City.

My dear friend:

I think I will have to go to Philada. before 4 P.M. on Tuesday next. Ought to start, I think, about 1 P.M. You see it is three hours, about, over and I would like a little time between arriving and the lecture.

Hope you can go with me

Your friend

R. G. Ingersoll.



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     To Philadelphia and the printers'—arranged finally for papers. At dinner at Reisser's, with Morris and Frank Williams. Discussed Tuesday. Frank willing to have Ingersoll and wife at his home. But concluding Ingersoll would hardly care for that (though we would offer it to him) would arrange to be his hosts at the Lafayette and to give him dinner at Hotel. Made out list of those we thought would like to participate—probably 10 or 12 in all.

     5:10 P.M. Down to 328. W. eating his dinner. Said, "I have been out this afternoon. Took time by the forelock. Went out before it rained. I stopped up at Tom's—had a talk with him. It is all politics—all politics. I found him encircled by a lot of fellows. I confess it was a pain to me, that Tom had anything at all to do with the dirty business—for dirty it is, say what you choose." Showed him Johnston's letter, which he said, "That's your province, not mine." Is very particular about stenographer. I was "first thing" to talk with Baker about that tonight. "We missed the other speech: must not miss this."

     We had debated at dinner: would Ingersoll treat religious questions? Is it possible to discuss Whitman and leave that out? I thought not. Now W. said to me, "You were right. But I do not expect Ingersoll to branch off especially against dogmas. I do not look forward to it. I shall go over expecting to say 'amen' to all he says. They make a mistake: he has power, genius, vitality, virility—is more than they know or will allow." Ingersoll spoke against the church? "So do I. I am sure I am vagabond enough in the eyes of churchmen. I do not see that Ingersoll is any more radical than I am: I am vagabond enough in the eyes of all true churchmen—to preachers. For instance, to that Catholic priest who threw the book aside and exclaimed, 'Damn him!'" And further, "They are afraid he will speak Tom-Paine-ism? Well, that is so. It would be no such great offense now as once. The world's grip on Paine is loosened. The disrespect is vanishing—slowly, but going!" He advised me, "Go to anybody on the Press—go to the City Editor—

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anybody—not to Williams particularly. The staff has been very friendly. I do not know if Williams would be favorably disposed to this."

     Expressed his liking for our dinner talk. The arrangement seemed to him "very amiable and true."

     As to Stedman's note—to which he referred again— "I should say to Stedman, don't be too sure about that! Perhaps there's no such beloved individual in Philadelphia."

     Said he wished many copies of the Conservator. "We are fortunate to have the means to get at the public in our way."

     Forman's letter to W. is intensely interesting:


46, Marlborough Hill,
St. John's Wood, N.W., London
24 Sept. 1890

Dear Walt Whitman,

Accept my thanks for your "rejoinder" and the newspaper that reached me in the same wrapper bearing your handwriting strongly in evidence on the outside. These occasional packets with which you indulge me give me great pleasure. The hint that you are there, exercising the old vigorous unmistakable pen-craft, and throwing a thought across the sea to this little house, always sends me out-of-doors feeling better affected than usual towards the dingy humanity and depressing conditions associated with London business life; and as I pass Gilchrist's "good gray" portrait of you sitting in the sun, where it hangs in the passage to be passed 20 times a day, you are vivified for the moment with an extra vitality. Is this nonsense? I think not.

Yours ever

H. Buxton Forman


     This is the first day of my vacation.

     I referred to yesterday's paragraph in Post as "skimpy." W. said, "I was going to say something of that myself. That it was 'I dare not wait upon I would.' I am not sure that Harry could have written that."


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     Had Poet-Lore. Spoke of reading my piece, also editorial note on "The Kreutzer Sonata" in which he was mentioned.

     At seven or shortly after, met Baker and Morris at Green's. Talked over matters in detail. Baker in good humor. Judged from our reports that seats were selling well, but not enthusiastically. Must therefore now "put all steam on." Discussed ways and means. Said the Colonel had three-quarters of his address written. It might occupy one and three-quarters to two hours. He would not write all. Would write out extracts, heads, fill in important passages. The rest would come. B. felt we would have "a grand tribute." Ingersoll very busy. But if asked how he does so much, takes no credit. "It is a matter of temperament," he says. Baker full of enthusiasm about the Colonel. Book had not reached B. before he left home. Morris left us at 8:15 or so. B. and I sat a long while after talking philosophy, Ingersoll and Whitman, life, immortality, etc. B. very noble and modest in all. Told us the Colonel would not accept our hospitality. "He never will—always pays his own expenses." Doing all this in a more than kindly way. Baker smoked his cigars and I listened to his interesting recounter of experiences. The message he brought over was tender and deep. He said W. was new to him, "but the Colonel has known him and loved him for a long while." B. spoke of the Colonel's generosity—of his determined independence under all circumstances. B. thought Ingersoll would be a power if he first set out for exhorting W., presenting his ideas. Did not think Ingersoll the same optimist to be found in W., etc.


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