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X

To Mrs. G. W. Hale

DETROIT,

20 February 1894.

DEAR MOTHER

My lectures here are over. I have made some very good friends here, amongst them Mr. Palmer,1 President of the late World's Fair. I am thoroughly disgusted with this Slayton2 business and am trying hard to break loose. I have lost at least $5,000 by joining this man. Hope you are all well. Mrs. Bagley and her daughters are very kind to me. I hope to do some private lecturing here and then go to Ada and then back to Chicago. It is snowing here this morning. They are very nice people here, and the different clubs took a good deal of interest in me.

It is rather wearisome, these constant receptions and dinners; and their horrible dinners — a hundred dinners concentrated into one — and when in a man's club, why, smoking on between the courses and then beginning afresh. I thought the Chinese alone make a dinner run through half a day with intervals of smoking!!

However, they are very gentlemanly men and, strange to say, an Episcopal clergyman3 and a Jewish rabbi4 take great interest in me and eulogize me. Now the man who got up the lectures here got at least a thousand dollars. So in every place. And this is Slayton's duty to do for me. Instead, he, the liar, had told me often that he has agents everywhere and would advertise and do all that for me. And this is what he is doing. His will be done. I am going home. Seeing the liking the American people have for me, I could have, by this time, got a pretty large sum. But Jimmy Mills5 and Slayton were sent by the Lord to stand in the way. His ways are inscrutable.

However, this is a secret. President Palmer has gone to Chicago to try to get me loose from this liar of a Slayton. Pray that he may succeed. Several judges here have seen my contract, and they say it is a shameful fraud and can be broken any moment; but I am a monk — no self-defence. Therefore, I had better throw up the whole thing and go to India.

My love to Harriets, Mary, Isabelle, Mother Temple, Mr. Matthews, Father Pope and you all.6


Yours obediently,
VIVEKANANDA.


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Chronology→

  1. ^Mr. Thomas W. Palmer of Detroit was a rich businessman and statesman. In 1883 he was elected to the United States Senate and later became Minister to Spain (Minister Plenipotentiary or Ambassador). He was chosen President of the World's Fair Commission when the World's Columbian Exposition was organized at Chicago, in the 1890s. In all probability, it was the Parliament of Religions that he first came to know and admire Swami Vivekananda.
  2. ^The Slayton Lyceum Lecture Bureau of Chicago. On the cover of this letter someone, perhaps Mrs. Hale, had written: "Feb. 22 President Palmer breaks the Slayton contract".
  3. ^Reverend Reed Stuart of the Unitarian Church, who was an admirer of the Swami.
  4. ^Rabbi Grossman of the Temple Beth El. On Sunday, February 18, 1894, Rabbi Grossman spoke in his temple on "What Swami Vivekananda Has Taught Us". The Rabbi became Swami Vivekananda's devoted friend, and the Swami, during his visit to Detroit in 1896, lectured at the Rabbi's temple.
  5. ^Jimmy, or Irving, Mills might have been either an individual lecture agent or an agent of the Slayton Lyceum Lecture Bureau.
  6. ^"" Here, "Harriets" refers to Harriet McKindley and Harriet Hale; Harriet and Isabelle McKindley were the daughters of Mrs. Hale's sister. Harriet and Mary Hale were her own daughters. Swami Vivekananda used to address Mr. Hale's sister (Mrs. James Matthews) as "Mother Temple", Mr. G. W. Hale as "Father Pope" and Mrs. G. W. Hale as "Mother Church".