Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Wellesley Sayle to Walt Whitman, 3 November 1888

Date: November 3, 1888

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03708

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, "Wellesley Sayle," is in an unknown hand.

Contributors to digital file: Alex Ashland, Stefan Schöberlein, Caterina Bernardini, Ashlyn Stewart, and Stephanie Blalock

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131 West 22nd St.
New York
Sunday 11/3/88

My dear Mr. Whitman:

You will remember my calling a few weeks back when I remember that I do so as a friend of Earl Russell's1 & I [much?] regret that before leaving Phila I could not get over to say good-bye, but I was called on business to New York & so could not help it. I take the Herald in here pretty regularly & am always delighted at the lines I find of yours there & I trust you will long continue to [rejoice?] our hearts with that that is so beautiful and good in Nature.

I am as you know an Englishman & am proud to be one of many thousands of my fellow countrymen who have received so much good cheer from your writings

I am about to ask a favor from you, thinking that it is perhaps in your power to render it. I am anxious to make the acquaintance of Col Robert Ingersoll,2 a man whom I much admire for his outspoken attitude & I wish to ask if you can give me a letter of introduction to him.

I shall be greatly obliged if you can. I trust I am not asking what is out of your power to give.

Again a great lady friend of mine & a great admirer of yours has asked me if possible to get your autograph, & so, I have taken the liberty of asking this double favor. I am about to go next door. I shall most likely call at Phila on my way where I hope to have the pleasure of seeing you again. With best wishes for your health & happiness

I am,
Your grateful fellow [travellor?] & friend
Wellesley Sayle

As yet we have no information about this correspondent.


1. John Francis Stanley Russell (1865–1931), also known as Earl Russell, 2nd Earl Russell, and Frank Russell, was a barrister and the brother of Bertrand Russell. [back]

2. 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 Horace 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" (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). [back]


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