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Sunday, October 5, 1890

Sunday, October 5, 1890

9:50 A.M. In to see W., who had just got up, and washed himself while I stayed. He did not look very well, though not complaining. Talked brightly with me about our affairs. Glad, he said, to hear that I had written this morning to Bucke, Johnston and Kennedy.

Press came out this morning under big headlines with more than a quarter of a column, on the first page, giving the substance of what I had left with their "staff officer" yesterday, with less mixture of error than I could have believed possible. Also Times, smaller; the Press headed thus:


Walt Whitman's Testimonial Benefit Cannot be held in the Academy.


Directors will not allow the famous atheist to lecture on "Art and Morality." What

President Baker says.

Colonel Robert G. Ingersoll has ascertained that he will not be allowed to address a Philadelphia audience in Philadelphia's principal hall, even when he speaks for the benefit of an aged poet, and his subject is not the "Mistakes of Moses," but "Art and Morality."

The lecture is designed to be a testimonial benefit to Walt Whitman, with the above title and the poet's works as text. But when application was made to the authorities of the Academy of Music, Secretary Bonnaffon, after communicating with Alfred G. Baker, president of the company, refused to let the Academy for this use, on the ground that Colonel Ingersoll could not be allowed to speak there.

After learning that he could not secure the Academy, I. N. Baker, Colonel Ingersoll's secretary, applied for the Union League Club Annex, which Colonel Wiedersheim declined to place at his disposal, when, finally, Horticultural Hall was engaged and the lecture arranged for October 21. Mr. Baker was at one time editor of the Sunday School Times, at Philadelphia.

Alfred G. Baker said last night to a Press reporter that in the course of the last few years Colonel Ingersoll's agents had made a number of applications similar to this and that they had all been declined. He added that it had been a principle of the Academy company, throughout his presidency, that no person should use their property for the purpose of advocating infidelity and atheism.

On inquiry at the Union League Club it was learned that the hall in the annex was not commonly let to other than club members, and that the refusal referred to might have been on that ground. Captain Williams, assistant secretary, said that he had not heard anything about such an application.

Several years ago Walt Whitman wanted to deliver a lecture on Elias Hicks, and tried to secure Association Hall, Fifteenth and Chestnut Streets, but the Association refused to allow the author of "Leaves of Grass" to use their hall.

W. had not Times, but took up Press. "Why, it is a great send-off," he said, "it must prove to help us a good deal," and so read it through. "I suppose it will be understood by this that Association Hall was not refused me but refused for a lecture on Hicks? For once I was there, with my Lincoln lecture." And further: "I suppose you ought to send a paper to Ingersoll, though he takes no particular interest in that part of the thing himself." And as to the Record man—"It is unaccountable—for certainly that was a good item, worth having, which no thorough-going newspaper man could afford to despise."

Spoke of the weather: "It ought to shame a fellow to get up so late on a day like this, when every invitation is out of doors, when the very air halos the worst of us! By and by, I shall have to prove that I appreciate all it offers."

Gave me following letter to read, as showing the spirit of the North American Review people:

October 3, 1890 The North American Review 3 East Fourteenth Street, New York Dear Sir:

Can you write a brief article for the North American Review on Recent Aspects of American Literature as you have observed them? It need not be more than 4000 words in length—about ten pages of the Review—and in return for it we should be glad to place at your disposal the sum of two hundred dollars. Or possibly there is some other subject on which you would be more willing to write. In that case we trust you will allow us an opportunity to consider it.

I am, dear Sir,

Faithfully Yours, William H. Rideing.  
 Assistant Editor, the Review.

"Yes, I think I shall try my hand at it." Then asked me to get him some envelopes to take in a sheet that size laying flat.

Spoke of picture in Camelot "Leaves of Grass" as "wretched past precedent—horrible."

Gilchrist has not yet turned up, nor Percy with him. The latter's picture with others in yesterday's Press. W. commented upon their excellence—then of Percy Gilchrist: "He has some of the family signs—I recognized them at once."

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