Commentary

Disciples


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Tuesday, October 7, 1890

     7:10 P.M. An easy talk with W., who took matters calmly though pleasedly. I noted a bundle of Posts in basket. Had sent a number away—among others, to Ingersoll and Johnston. Listened to all I had to recite him. I left paragraph with Post this morning. It appears with W.'s own. "Ingersoll, Walt Whitman, the Academy of Music." Bonsall also quotes an energetic passage and more from the New York Star. Yesterday's Telegraph, under "Baker on Atheism," publishes a considerable interview with the Academy officer. This the Times takes in substance for a four-inch note this morning. Times and Press both review editorially—the latter apologetically enough—the former, though not all satisfactory, yet with a manly note. Both very good for advertisements, whatever else they may fail in. So far have nowhere seen anything like a solid, sound, generous protest.

     The following telegram from Baker today: "You are doing splendidly make it lecture not address subject Liberty and Literature put title on posters get posters out immedy let Colonel know when you want money. I write tonight."

     Letter also from Johnston, as follows:


Oct. 6th 1890

Dear Mr. Traubel,

I was glad to receive your letter this morning. I spent last evening at Ingersoll's, and I think you had better write a special line inviting him to bring his wife and daughters and son in law over. Mrs. I. told him last night that she wanted to go. They must of course have their expenses all paid. As to how many I can bring, that is hard to say. I will try & get some reporters to interview me tomorrow and get some notices in the papers here.


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Sam Levvy [?] sent me a clipping today from one of your papers.

Do you know I think the Millennium is settling down on Phil.!

If you & I cannot get in by doing anything specially religious, let's take up a collection!

I will soon see how many are coming over.

Hastily yrs,

J H Johnston


     As to stage at Horticultural Hall, W. said, "I had wished to take a front seat below," but assented readily as to stage. "I am ready to be part of the show: well you know."

     Read him letter I had from Law. He laughed exceedingly at last paragraph:


2020 Broadway, Camden, N.J.
Octr. 6, 1890.

Dear Sir:

What about the Ingersoll Whitman testimonial lecture in Horticultural Hall? It seems almost too good news to be true. Ever since I came to this country I have been on the outlook for a chance to hear the gallant Colonel, and this is the first opportunity that has offered. What is to be the night? 21st., as stated by the "Press" of yesterday? or the 26th., as given by the "Record" to-day? Of course on an ordinary occasion it would be time enough to think of tickets when the entertainment is advertised, but this is no commonplace event, and a big run on seats may be predicted. Who has tickets for sale—you? Will you kindly secure two for us at a dollar each, and advise me about the chance of getting more, as I might be able to sell a few for you.

Thanks for your kindness in sending the "Conservator" regularly. I'll settle for that when I see you next.

How did you like "La Teste"? Some genius there, I think, tho' clouded by want of taste.

According to the "Times" this morning your friend the Poet is lately much improved in health; but by what occult art is he enabled to hold correspondence with Matthew Arnold in Japan?


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Herewith I send you a Scot.-American monthly which you need not return.

Very truly,

James D. Law


      "Very true, Matthew. What right have we to be corresponding anyhow?" And then, "I saw the letter today: Jim sends me a note—with it a clipping from the Tribune, which copied the letter. The forgery is not a bad one—quite plausible, in fact. Yet it is forged, forged—shows forgery from top to toe." He then had had no letter at all? "You know as much as I do about that." Expressed "enjoyment and gratitude" that it had "turned out no worse," and counselled me, "Wherever you go, contradict the letter. Tell the truth about it: say you know it is a double-dyed perpetration." And so he went on. "And shall I say this in print?" "No, I would not go into print. It has been a principle with me so far, not to make public explanations—to get into any sort of personal controversy." Expressed great pleasure with Ingersoll's title: "That seems a great headline."

     W. suggested that I put advertisement in the Post; thought Camden "might have a contingent," etc.

     McKay in high good humor over Ingersoll matter: "Certainly expect to be there." His father had said to me in his wise slow way, "And they call this a land of freedom!" W. said, "Free? Are we not free? What have they to do for us now? Us fellows are free: it is the others who are not. I would not admit it in that way. We are a free people in spite of all—our fellows are free anyhow—whatever may come with the others. Ain't we saying, doing, cutting up all the capers we choose? Ain't we non-respectable—healthfully under public ban?" And then, "Yes, the morals—the religious! They would not let Jesus Christ himself speak in their Academy. To them he would be tramp, intruder, perhaps with stained and ragged clothes. Oh! it is an old story fitting a new instance!"


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     Would have me take Lippincott's. "I have just been reading Clark Russell's story there—'A Marriage at Sea.' It is not powerful—but is good—a cheerful piece to take up when you do not wish to be drawn into tiresome, laborious thinking." "A good thing not to be exercised about," he called it again.

     Got him half a dozen big envelopes, which he said were just what he wanted.


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