Commentary

Disciples


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Thursday, September 18, 1890

     7:25 P. M. I talked with W. for half an hour in his parlor, where he sat with window closed and hat on, to spare himself the chill change of the evening.

     Morris today returned me Stedman book. W. said of it, "It is not perfect. I am glad to see he did not forget to include Ingersoll, but there's Aaron Burr, for instance: not a word about him or from him—whether by deliberation or forgetfulness I am curious to know." Adding, "Burr certainly wrote—wrote much. And some things he wrote, connected with our early political history, ought to have been sampled." Referred in this connection to Agnes Repplier, also I believe, not mentioned: "I have word that she is or has been with the Smiths in London. She is no doubt a smart woman, capable of bright sparkles and toss, but as for anything more, I don't know: I see nothing."

     Discussed the Ingersoll address again. As to the "fear" W. said, "I never had the notion of it, not even to ask myself the question—it is the kind of question I never anyhow put to myself." I read him Johnston's letter, received today as follows:


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Sept. 17, 1890

Dear Mr. Traubel,

I just saw Gilder—and he weakens on Ingersoll! G. says it is because he didn't like the Star Route business, but I think he's afraid Jesus will hurt the Century magazine circulation if his name and Ingersoll's should be printed on the same paper. Why there's more of the spirit of Christ in one day of Ingersoll's life than there is in a year of a shilly-shallying weakling who is afraid that the truth can be harnessed, hindered or repressed.

Sincerely yours,

J. H. Johnston


      "I am not surprised. I could have told Johnston in the first place not to go to Gilder. That is a very witty, cute letter, characteristic of Johnston." And then to me about Ingersoll again: "I authorize you, Horace, if the occasion seems made for it, to set me right with Ingersoll, or about him. I don't want it to go forth that my feelings towards him are one whit less than they are. Ingersoll is an orb: and if there are perturbations, they are a part of the orb-life. His genius, vitality, are great facts for us to consider, consider and consider again, for he is one of few men whom our time cannot pass. I am not afraid to be identified with him, to have it said for me that I am proud of the association—glad that we can know and meet, live in contemporaneous decades, know life side by side." Someone had said to me once, "Walt Whitman and Ingersoll have nothing whatever in common." W. shaking his head over it, to say, "Oh! that is a great mistake, a great mistake—we have about everything in common." And further: "If Ingersoll comes, it will make the fur fly. Not that I hanker to see fur fly, but that I face the truth. Such a man, a man so strong, so virile, so himself, so poised, sublimed in his own individuality—of necessity is an agitation: to many a dread, fear, horror." And he counselled me, "I would not have you invite a quarrel, in any way commence discussions, but in case such things need

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to be said, things like I have just said, you will feel authorized to speak for me. There's no use deliberately to stroke the fur the wrong way."

     Read W. at this point letter just from Ingersoll as follows:


New York, Sept. 17th 1890.

My dear friend,

My idea was, when you wrote me about the Club, that I might deliver some lecture in Philadelphia—maybe under the auspices of that Club,—for the benefit of Whitman. Of course, I have no particular interest in any Club—but I do feel great interest in our old friend, and think that a lecture, properly managed, would be of great assistance to him. Personally, I would like to plant at least one flower in his path.

If not thought best to do this under the auspices of the Club, why, I could do it independently, on my own hook. Probably that is the better way. I think we would have no trouble in filling the house, on some good subject.

Give my best regards to Mr. Whitman.

Your friend,

Very truly,

R. G. Ingersoll


     He heard with a great interest—exclaimed— "The good Colonel!" several times. Told me if I wrote to send his love. "I had a letter from Bucke today in which he says he has just heard from Johnston about the Ingersoll matter. Johnston asked if Bucke would serve on the committee. Bucke said he would, of course. From the way Bucke wrote me I got an idea Johnston solicited this of Ingersoll and that Ingersoll consented. I want you to see the letter. It is upstairs."

     Matters will be pushed without delay as to the night. W. said, "I like your outline well, so far as appears. I should prefer to have it in New York, but if I must be present perhaps your choice is best."


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