Commentary

Disciples


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Wednesday, October 1, 1890

     Morris and I met Baker at Horticultural Hall at about five o'clock. Found he was to stay in Philadelphia till Friday morning—in the meantime to look about, see what would seem the best obtainable hall, come to some agreement with us, and then telegraph Ingersoll. We discussed prices, subject of address, etc.

     Baker is a small, wiry man—looks Western—with a light beard, a strong chin and forehead, rather a weak voice; in manner very courteous and deferential—but frank and happy, it would seem, by temperament. He said Ingersoll would "bring over a memorable" oration—that he "loved" the old man and desired to reach the best possible for him. Baker would not listen to a cheap house. Seventy-five cents or a dollar was in his

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mind and was adhered to. We went into the hall accordingly and blocked it out. They had an idea of the Grand Opera House uptown as a good place. Baker will see it tomorrow, before decisive action is taken.

     Asked why Ingersoll did not lecture nowadays, Baker gave several reasons, finally saying with a laugh that when Ingersoll himself was asked about it, he would say he was "waiting for God to catch up." Baker said again, "No one knows that great boy as I do: I have been with him, travelled with him these ten years, slept with him, ate with him, lived with him, worked with him—the great generous-souled boy! None are greater, and he is too good for them—that's the truth, if it must be told," etc.

     We are to see Baker again tomorrow after he has made his inquiries. We discussed ads, etc. He wished to know what W. thought of a hall and I said, "He will not take part in that phase of the work—he stands aside." Wonderful his affection for Ingersoll and wonderful Ingersoll's affection for W., as reported by Baker. Baker thinks Ingersoll's long absence from the city and greater fame will if anything tend to increase the lines of the audience.

     7:20 P.M. Went in to see W. for 15 minutes or so. He was full of inquiry after he learned Baker had appeared. His first question was, "And how did Baker impress you?"—being as he said—after I had responded— "much struck with the favorableness of the report." In the Ingersoll witticism he took great humor: "That is awful fine—subtle—a true sample." And as to Baker's testimony to Ingersoll— "That is a marvel of testimony indeed: full of significance—full of direct flavor." He commended my statement to Baker that W. took no part in the details. Wished me to ask Baker, "How the Colonel stands withColonel: does he like to beColoneled or would he prefer to have that dropped? Every man has his whims or his desires or idiosyncrasy with regard to that, and I like to know it. I like, for instance, 'Walt Whitman' in full—not 'Whitman,' not 'Mr. Whitman'—and as you say I am most generally alluded to as

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'Walt Whitman,' probably from the long insistence of my friends who print this and speak me always as I most desire. I am not a little curious to know how this appears to the Colonel."

     I suggested W.'s sending Ingersoll copies of the complete works, Bucke's "Life" and Burroughs' "The Poet and the Pen" and he assented. "Yes, I have thought of that myself. You might ask Baker if Ingersoll has them. I will gladly send them off at once."

     Declared he was very willing now to leave matters in our hands. "I see all is going well." Ingersoll has told Baker that whatever Baker and the several of us here agreed upon he would defer to.


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