Commentary

Disciples


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Monday, September 29, 1890

     Went to see Burroughs a few minutes this morning at Harned's. Would go off about nine. Gave him letter from Bucke to read—letter just here, reading in this way:


26 Sept. '90

My dear Horace

I have yours of 24th. When I wrote in favor of N.Y. I did not contemplate that Walt would be present at the Lecture even if given in Phila. But if he will be so much the better and in that case certainly we ought to stick to Phila.

If I were running this thing I would get the biggest theatre or hall that could be had in Phila. and I would see that it was announced (in one shape or another) in all the papers that such and such halls etc. had been refused for the purpose of an address by Col. Ingersoll upon Walt Whitman and Freedom—I would see whether the American people (even in Phila.) were such slaves to theological superstition as this action of the "Academy" and "Union League" would lead one to suppose. "Whitman & Freedom" is a fine text and I guess the Col.

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will make a memorable address upon it. In the meantime I would make it the text for some advertisements calculated to rouse up Philadelphians if they have any manhood left in them.


Johnston says: "Thank God Walt & Traubel and Harned are in Camden!!" (i.e not in Phila.) and I say AMEN!

Yes, my intention is to be present and I shall be unless something "unforseen and unprovided for" occurs, meanwhile, to prevent.

We have not got to manufacturing the meter yet. Hope to start in about two weeks.

Your friend

RM Bucke


     He said, "It is very interesting; a good letter." Asked me too, "You continue your notes? Yes? Well, don't neglect them!" Saying reflectively, "I can see no reason why Walt should not live to be 80."

     Burroughs would probably go to see Kennedy in Boston. No word from Ingersoll by morning's mail, so I telegraphed him: we ought to have date—will Mr. Baker come on?

     7:20 P.M. With W. about 15 minutes. He had been out: sat now at parlor window. I remarked the heat of the room. A big fire in a big stove in a small room. Yet he seemed unconscious of it. At my remark W. asked to have the door opened. "I know the fire can start up into a great heat—am inclined in fact to let it do so."

     What news? W.'s usual question. I told him of the letter from Bucke. As we sat in the dark he could not read, but had me repeat its substance to him. "Well, if he comes we'll give him a royal welcome!" As to Philadelphia as the proper place, "I can now see it myself; I quite resign in its favor."

     He asked me if I thought Burroughs had gone home. "He told me he would stop on the way to see Herbert, but there may have remained some doubt of it. I think John looks wonderfully well: so much escaped from that burden of a year or two ago. And he has changed, too. His hair has become markedly grey ever since he was here last—it adds something, or

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rather puts another crown on him."
He knew Burroughs held the Star Route business against Ingersoll, but said for himself, "Oh! I don't put the least importance in that: it is much as if we should say to a surgeon, we object that he cures this man or that of disease—this man or that happens to be a criminal and ought to die—whereas to the surgeon, the point is, his utmost skill, his work, patience, his vision, science—then triumph! It is much so in this case of the law, of lawyers in general. Then besides we have to remember that the first-class fellows always bring unruly elements with them: are not of the curbed and bitten average. That is to say, they violate our rules, deviate from accustomed lines. Of course there are rules and rules: over-reaching all ordinary provisions, conditions, are supreme rules not realized, not seen by the average scansion. I am sure I not only feel grateful for Ingersoll's magnificent generosity, but proud of his cooperation: it seems to me a great plume, something that cannot be too much studied, credited." As to whether Ingersoll had no real understanding of "Leaves of Grass," W. remarked, "I think Oscar Wilde hit upon a splendid thought, or expressed it, while in America: that no first-class fellow wishes to be flattered, aureoled, set upon a throne—but craves to be understood, to be appreciated for his immediate active present power. I felt of the speech at Reiser's that Ingersoll grasped the situation, that he drove straight home to meanings, intentions—perhaps not to all (who ever does take in the whole of anything?), but to the large measure of essential things."

     Garland sends me copy of his new play "Under the Wheel"; W. says he has had no copy.


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