Commentary

Disciples


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Saturday, October 11, 1890

     7:45 P.M. W. in his parlor. Expressed pleasure in trip out of doors. Was he better? "Yes, I think I am, but this thing causes me a good deal of discomfort." I said, "So you wrote Ingersoll?"

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And he, "Yes, as you know." I told him Baker referred to it in letter I received today. W. asked, "What did he say?" Here is Baker's letter, which I read to W.:


New York, Oct. 10th 1890

My dear Traubel:

Still excessively busy. I enclose draft for Ad. Modify if if you think best—but it is substantially what ought to be said. Put Ingersoll in biggest, boldest letter that a line measure will receive. Liberty & Literature might be in smaller type than I have indicated. Put this ad. in the Dailies that publish a Sunday Edition—also in two or three of the widest read distinctively Sunday papers—as the Mercury, Transcript, Despatch etc—if those papers are still published. I think that we might omit the ad. in Monday's and Tuesday's dailies excepting the Afternoon Bulletin and Telegraph and perhaps Star and Item. You judge of that. Wednesday's dailies ought to repeat the Ad. Thursday, omit again. Then put all the pressure we can on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. But we can judge better whether it is necessary to put on full steam so long before the date. Of that, the course of the advanced sale must guide us a little—or rather a good deal. We can uselessly spend a good deal on adv'g. We want to be cautious on that point. I don't know the prices of adv'g in the Philada. papers—but I know it counts up like smoke, even with the utmost caution and economy. We want to pull the biggest possible receipts for W.W. I will be over Wednesday or Thursday and we can then put in our best and final licks. I may stay with you a couple of days.

As to feeling of preference or precedence in prominence, or any other feeling, desire, or purpose, don't imagine it exists, or a dream of it! We here are heart and soul with you—to do, be, have and keep the whole occasion in W. W.'s honor and behalf. All the Colonel wants is his name and reputation so as to redound to W. W.'s honor and profit.

As to stage complimentaries: Do as you think best. We, at our end, don't want and won't take, a single ticket. If Ingersoll's friends want to run over, they will all pay their way. If W. W.'s friends want to come, you decide whether they should be complimented or

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not. His real friends, we think, would be willing to plank their dollar down. But you know best to what extent to carry free list. Don't give away an unnecessary dollar is my best judgement and advice on this.


I think it well however for you to reserve half a dozen of the best seats for Col. I.'s family, on the floor. For these he insists on paying the full price. You will please mark off and retain such seats.

You seem to have a pull on some of the New York papers. Would they publish a little squib of information to their readers, that such of Whitman & Ingersoll's friends in New York who wish to attend can secure advance seats on application by mail or telegraph to Campbell, 1119 Chestnut, Philada? If they would, it would be a help. I doubt if enough would go from New York to pay for an advertisement—but an announcement costing nothing would be a good thing to secure.

Now, a business point, Mr. R.H. Griffin, of our office here, wants to go over with some friends. He wants six tickets. He insists on paying $2.00 apiece for them. Now won't you see Campbell, first chance, and pick out six of the best seats, and send the tickets to me? Then make a little account—we do not want to send the cash ($12.00). I will be responsible for the money. Please do this.

Also, send me three more good tickets for a different part of the Hall, and charge $1.00 apiece for them. These are for three of our young office clerks. I will collect the money from them—and account to you.

So much for so much. The Camden Post did come, after I had written you—addressed in WW's own hand. W. wrote a lovely letter to the Colonel recd. today. The Col. is overflowing on the subject. He will pay a grand tribute to W. W. on the 21st you may be sure.

My time is up. Thanks for the clippings. All looks lovely. My best to Mr. Morris. You say nothing about cash advance to pay expenses. Don't you want any? Don't hesitate to say. The Colonel will meet you, cheerfully, gladly. Name the amount.

Yours always

Baker.


     W. said, "All that seems to show that the Colonel intends to make a 'go' of it. Who knows?" Then: "But I wrote no letter—

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it was a mere squib—came into my mind to write the other day—and I wrote—after the Quaker fashion—not to disobey the daemon. Indeed, I sent another item today. Perhaps from eight to a dozen lines—and for the same reason."
I asked if he had sent Sarrazin piece to Ingersoll? "No, but I will send it if you say so. I wish I had the whole thing in some shape I could send in that way. A week or two ago I read the piece from beginning to end again. I am convinced that Morris has given us quite a good rendering—had done it essential justice. I feel this as I feel the accuracy—the power of some portraits. I may have never seen the original, yet there's a quality in the printing which convinces me it is of the first order." He said of the Baker letter, when I read it to him, "It is imperial—it is great. There is no mistaking all that dignity—generosity." Further: "Do you know, Horace, I am in serious doubt about the stage: my idea was, to sit in one of the front seats. Then at some point, rise, let them see—perhaps say a few words." This "say a few words" attracted me. Baker had put in draft "Walt Whitman will be present and say a few words." Not having time to refer this to W. before leaving it with printers for tomorrow's paper, I had cut off closing clause, leaving it "Walt Whitman will be present." W. said, "You did quite right—but I am willing to say a few words—indeed think a few words might be fittingly said." He laughed at idea of going on stage. "I have no wish for conspicuousness: it puts some qualms into my dish—but I leave it with you and Baker to settle as you choose. No amount of argument could of course remove my feeling. It is like a distaste for sugar—it cannot be argued into a man. And if he is set against sugar it is by all odds wise not to use it." Yet he could "see the other reasons, too" and would "bow to them." He felt sure Ingersoll "would do us all justice—himself most of all." I said, "And in his own way—not as others would have him." W. putting in, "Yes, of course—that's understood. Like the elements, like the forces

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of nature, no rule can account for them. Genius and the forces of nature are one—they balk explanations—but we know what they are and glory in their existence—the highways they throw open."

     I had a copy of show-bill, which I spread out on the floor. He examined with care, making humorous comments on its "immensity"—yet appearing in every way to enjoy it. Asked me to send this copy to Bucke.

     W. had note from Stoddart of Lippincott's—asking in a footnote where tickets could be obtained. "He says he wants to hear Ingersoll." Thought if I had a complimentary to spare "Stoddard might be a good man to have it."

     At the point where Baker said Ingersoll would pay for seats for his family W. exclaimed, "No, no, you must not let him do it!"

     Clifford has furnished me with noble protest anent Academy. W. "glad to hear of it." Goes in next number. Calls it "Self-Bilking Bigotry." Sharply to the point.

     Letter from Bucke throwing some doubt upon his getting here. Read to W.


10 Oct. 1890

My dear Horace

I entirely forgot my quarterly payment which I now enclose.

I am over my eyes in work and my right arm is very helpless and painfull—it keeps me from getting good rest at night so that I am not in the best of trim by day. This would not much signify if there was not so much to do. Annual report not more than half written, lectures to students should begin tomorrow but impossible—good deal of work in connection with meter co., meeting of stockholders on 17th, week today, the ordinary asylum work rather more than usual, etc. etc.—Altogether it looks very much as if I should not get to Phila. to the address—I shall be greatly disappointed if I do not—we shall see—if my arm gets better within the next few days I shall make a desperate attempt to get there.


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I hope you will come here after the address in any case (?). I will write again in a few days.

Faithfully yours

RM Bucke


     W. said, "I don't know—I should say Bucke had better look out—if he feels that way he had better take the obvious resource and stay at home. Bucke is just at the point of danger: he has a superb body, life, vitality, hope—then he has many tasks, labors, interests—and they draw him tight. The risk is, that he may break. It is a critical time. At the best his coming would be an irritation. But after all it remains with him—that 'desperate effort' will finally carry the day—or decide the issue, anyway." Harry Fritzinger came in. W. spoke with him affectionately, calling his attention to the poster on the floor.

     These posters are all out now—300 of them. Morris and I went to Inquirer, Press, and Times for advertisement tomorrow. W. interested, too, in all that, questioning as to the minutest detail, etc.


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