Commentary

Disciples


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Wednesday, May 20, 1891

     7:30 P.M. With W. for full half an hour, though I was on my way to Philadelphia and intended to stay only a few minutes. He was on his bed. "I was just about to get up—go to my chair"—doing so now (the cane always on the bed beside him). "Well, what is new? What do you bring me?" I had a copy of Darwin. Gazed at the portrait long. "What a grand head! Do you suppose the crag-like eyebrow was there? Yes? Oh! The great Darwin! None greater our time! Big—big—big! I for one am grateful to have lived as one of his contemporaries."

     How has the day passed? "Not as bad as some other days—but bad—bad! But I am still here—which you can take for what it is worth." I had been in and discussed W.'s proposition with McKay, who kicked and whose several suggestions, memorandized, I stated and left with Walt. W. asked "a day to turn it over" in his mind. Was "inclined to trust such a thing mainly to Dave." I protested on several points. "I think the easiest way out is for me to take the $255 and quit." But I did not think that should be hastily done. My idea was— "make yourself whole and have the plates as profit." To this he assented. I shall go to Ferguson today to get bill. Can then calculate. McKay objects to binding the two volumes together, especially at so low a price—and W. insists that two dollars is too much. McKay also protests that it is not a fair deal for W. to cross his $1.25 edition with a cheaper, etc. W.: "That is so, too—and I shall not do it." As to frontispiece, Billstein thinks, do not use thicker paper than

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proof, which is fine. But W. says, "I am still in favor of the thick—after paying all deference to the opinion of a man I know knows more. But it is not a law of Medes and Persians. I leave it in your hands, to take what direction you choose."

     I am making arrangements for dinner. Brinton has moved to country again—thus writes me quizzically:
Media, Pa.
May 20

How about the W. W. dinner on the 31st? Count me in.

Yrs.

D. G. B.


And Baker writes me thus about the chances of the Colonel's coming:
Law Office, Robert G. Ingersoll,
45 Wall Street, New York
May 19th 1891

My very dear Traubel:

Proof sheet of "Spirituality" received. It seems—doubtless is—all right. Send half a dozen "Conservators" when out.

The Col. is due to-day in Butte. I hear from him every few days. All is going well. I am almost sure, however that he can't be back by the 31st. Still, he may. If he don't, I hope he will telegraph or write a suitable word for the occasion. You must write him, at once, to do this, by all means, if he can't be on in person. Perhaps you have done so.

Now I can't tell, so far ahead, whether I can be there. I doubt it. I think not—much as the pleasure wd. be to me.

I am more tied here, when the Colonel is away than when he is here.

Hurriedly but heartily, as always,

Yours & yours

Baker.

Had a pleasant & hope profitable interview with Doctor Harned, in his electric business yesterday. He thinks everything of you. B.

I have written West, as suggested. W. still says, "I will be with you—you can count on me—for a stretch. Make your own

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arrangements—but keep it small!"
And again, "I should almost feel to ask the Colonel to come! I wonder if ever there lived a vitaller personality—one more current with power, life?" I would write, saying this in substance. Did he object? "No, on the contrary I should advise it." Asked me about the pronunciation of Butte "You know what it means? A lift of hill—mountain—rock—a knob. At least, so I understand it. Don't you?" The doctor was over today. W. thought Longaker "worth while, if only for his cheer." Other visitors, too, "among them Melville Phillips. He came to ask for a poem for 'Once a Week.'" Would he give it? "We shall see—if I can, yes—but I have felt bad enough not to promise anything. I suppose I may do it. Phillips brought with him an artist—Simon—a Hungarian, as I understood. I was in no condition to help him—give him what he wants—today. But promised him a good half hour sometime." The Swintons not over yet. C. H. Greene, Rochester, Mich., sends W. a curious manuscript piece called "Ingersoll's Synopsis of 'Leaves of Grass' Verified." We at once saw that it was vastly superior to most things of that sort sent here. But characteristically, W. had not read it all.

     W. is very particular about having "the women folks" at dinner and "the Ingersoll wife—daughters—if they will."

     Yesterday or day before he had said, "How am I? Well here I am." I put in, "And to be for a long time yet." But he shook his head, "No, not for long—I have not a long look forward."


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