Commentary

Disciples


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Sunday, March 22, 1891

     Happy early Sunday hours there with the Johnstons—all of them cordial and bright. Day stormy. At about eleven I started off alone to Ethical [Society] meeting, seeing the librarian Mangasarian (who spoke on Socrates) and Frank Damroselle—to talk with latter about Philadelphia concerts. Then by Broadway car to Ingersoll's. Welcome there quite different from yesterday's—shown instantly into the parlor—hat and coat taken by girl, and Mrs. Ingersoll and Maud soon appearing, inviting me upstairs—the Colonel being in bed. As I entered the room he called out, "How are you, Traubel, how are you?"—a little

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creature of a dog in the bed and he fondling it. "Here you are, both together," I exclaimed, and he laughed. I sat at side of the bed, Mrs. Ingersoll on foot of bed, Miss Maud coming in and out at times and Mr. Farrell appearing to be introduced. Ingersoll seemed in good color. Had been up—resisted having doctors, but one having been brought, he ordered Ingersoll to bed. The women seemed very solicitous for his condition.

     He talked freely. Spoke tenderly of Barrett, just dead ( "a client, a friend") and of General Joe Johnston—death announced this morning. Knew Johnston, thought him "the best general of the war from the South—certainly better than Lee"—and— "a good fellow, too, everyway." "The war was barbarism at the best—I have always contended it—a civilized resort to a savage method of settlement," etc. Told me a story of Lincoln—of his conjoined tenderness and justice—(told wonderfully). Said, too, "I have read your beautiful article in the Conservator about Chadwick. I think your argument conclusive. I dictated a piece for you the other day, but did not send it off—it seemed to me too bitter." I protested, "I am not afraid." And he then, "Well, perhaps I was mistaken. But that is what I thought at the time," saying after a pause, "I suppose if Jesus Christ had married, raised a family, made his own living, they would have said he was not spiritual! But you have hit off the point exactly—that if love and all the qualities you enumerate are not spiritual qualities, what are they, and what value has spirit?" Then further, "I touch that in the lecture tonight. I think all the gospel that man needs is uttered by Coran in the passage"—quoting about "owing no man anything," etc.—in easy phrase, as he lay flat on the pillow. Mrs. Ingersoll suggested that he have a second pillow put back of him, but he would not hear it.

     A reporter came from the Times and was refused. Ingersoll said he had requested the New York papers not to report the lecture, and they had promised to refrain. "But I shouldn't wonder but some rascally village sheet will get hold of just enough of it to make me out an imbecile." (The New York correspondent of

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the Philadelphia Press really about did this.) Word had come to the house that the whole body of seats in the theatre had been sold. They all asked me much about W.'s condition. Maud came in at one moment. Bob naturally reached out for and took her hand—drew it to his mouth and kissed it. "How is Rosy?" he asked, and smiled. Farrell came in and we shook hands. By and by the bell rang and Bob ordered us all down to lunch. "Get out! All of you!" he said, and then to me, "Then come up after you are done, Traubel, and we'll have a smoke together." But when I had got in the hallway, he called me back. "About last night, Traubel: you must forgive us, but when I am sick, or in bed, of course I am not home to anybody—and I had so given it to the boy at the door. I am so pursued by the newspapers and others that I have no other protection. I was at fault, because I knew you were coming. You see how it is: I should feel honored if a man was to send word down to me that he was engaged. That would mean—he likes to hear the truth. But somehow most people would rather be sent away gently with a lie." And as a sort of good-bye, "Keep up the fight! What you say of tendencies in your article is true gold: it cannot be disproved."

     At dinner, everything was simple—the talk positive, independent, but friendly. They inquired a good deal about W., and I learned much about Ingersoll that I had never known before. For instance, that they did not favor his practicing law—thought his gifts ought to have uninterrupted flow. He differing: preferred to make his living—then to give his tongue to good causes, as he had been doing lately. Spoke of their care for him—that they wanted to preserve him, etc.; and of his great health—of outdoor speaking in campaign days, which Mrs. Ingersoll declared had never done him any good. At table: Mrs. Ingersoll, Maud, Eva, Mr. Brown (Eva's husband), Mr. and Mrs. Farrell—their daughter—then an old lady whose precise relationship I did not catch. I stayed till four o'clock in parlor, delightful talk about everything. Found the women intensely sympathetic—interested in all directions, great ease and candor, utterance full of feeling, especially the Miss Maud, in whose

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eyes (wet with tears) and about whose brave beautiful lips struggled all the tones of human affection. They offered me tickets, which I had to decline, Johnston having some for me. Afterward hastened to Bush (30th St.), and together we went up to Baker's (80th), where we had a fine chat, and I found he was preparing to move out of town. He, too, told me, "The Colonel dictated a piece to me for you, but we did not get it finished." Very affectionate—wife sick—not to be seen. Full of talk of Ingersoll and W.

     Afterward Bush and I went together to Johnston's, where we had tea, Mrs. Bush there but Mrs. Johnston still not showing herself (except for a brief stretch at breakfast, had not seen her). We all started for the theatre together about 7:30, reaching it in due time. Lecture slow—Ingersoll did not appear till 8:20. His address occupied nearly two hours in delivery. He read from sheets (Baker's work), but the concluding passage (about 20 minutes) came free of all notes. Men turned pale, women wept—almost appalling silence except for the music of his voice. Then a yell (full ten minutes) of pent-up feeling and enthusiasm. I never heard a speech like it or beheld auditors so enthralled. Afterward, when I met Ingersoll around in the box occupied by his people, he asked, "Wasn't it a grand audience for such a night?" I put in, "A grand platform, too!" He laughed and said, "Well, a grand audience, anyway!" Kissed all his people. Miss Maud asked, "Were you thinking of your Rosy?" and he patted her on the cheek and smiled, and I introduced Anne to several of them. The Colonel easily caught her name, was cordial. Mrs. Ingersoll asked frankly about the speech, "Wasn't it lovely?" Thence with Bush and wife to a cafe, where we enjoyed a chat and gave him our farewell. The whole day and night tempestuous.


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