Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Robert G. Ingersoll to Walt Whitman, 29 May 1890

Date: May 29, 1890

Whitman Archive ID: loc.02345

Source: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Editorial note: The annotation, "see Notes May 29, '90," is in the hand of Horace Traubel.

Contributors to digital file: Andrew David King, Cristin Noonan, Breanna Himschoot, and Stephanie Blalock



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Form No. 1.
THE WESTERN UNION TELEGRAPH COMPANY.
This company TRANSMITS and DELIVERS messages only on conditions limiting its liability, which have been assented to by the sender of the following message.
Errors can be guaraded against only by repeating a message back to the sending station for comparison, and the company will not hold itself liable for errors or delays in transmission or delivery of Unrepeated Messages, beyond the amount of tolls paid thereon, nor in any case where the claim is not presented in writing within sixty days after sending the message.
This is an UNREPEATED MESSAGE, and is delivered by request of the sender, under the conditions named above. THOS. T. ECKERT, General Manager. NORVIN GREEN, President.
NUMBER
27
SENT BY MC
REC'D BY [R?]
CHECK 9 Pd.
Received at
P 5/29 18901
Dated New York 29.

To Walt Whitman

Will be with you Saturday evening tell Mr Traubel.2


R.G. Ingersoll


Correspondent:
Robert "Bob" Green Ingersoll (1833–1899) was a Civil War veteran and an orator of the post-Civil War era, known for his support of agnosticism. Ingersoll was a friend of Whitman, who considered Ingersoll the greatest orator of his time. Whitman said to Traubel, "It should not be surprising that I am drawn to Ingersoll, for he is Leaves of Grass. He lives, embodies, the individuality I preach. I see in Bob the noblest specimen—American-flavored—pure out of the soil, spreading, giving, demanding light" (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Wednesday, March 25, 1891). The feeling was mutual. Upon Whitman's death in 1892, Ingersoll delivered the eulogy at the poet's funeral. The eulogy was published to great acclaim and is considered a classic panegyric (see Phyllis Theroux, The Book of Eulogies [New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997], 30).

Notes:

1. This telegram is addressed to Walt Whitman. The envelope includes the following information: Form 116. | Western Union Telegraph Co. | Pay no Charges to Messenger unless written in Ink in Delivery Book. | No. 27 | Charges, Pd. [back]

2. Horace L. Traubel (1858–1919) was an American essayist, poet, and magazine publisher. He is best remembered as the literary executor, biographer, and self-fashioned "spirit child" of Walt Whitman. During the mid-1880s and until Whitman's death in 1892, Traubel visited the poet virtually every day and took thorough notes of their conversations, which he later transcribed and published in three large volumes entitled With Walt Whitman in Camden (1906, 1908, & 1914). After his death, Traubel left behind enough manuscripts for six more volumes of the series, the final two of which were published in 1996. For more on Traubel, see Ed Folsom, "Traubel, Horace L. [1858–1919],"Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]


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