Today, dear readers, marks the 123rd anniversary of Whitman’s death. A dear friend of mine, a wonderful Robert G. Ingersoll enthusiast, shared the letter below that Ingersoll wrote Whitman in December, 1891. It is as meaningful today as it was 122 years ago. Thanks Gerrie!
December 29, 1891
My dear Whitman,
I am glad that you have lived long enough to know that your Leaves of Grass will live forever—long enough to know that your life has been a success—that you have sown with brave and generous hands the seeds of liberty and love. This is enough—and this is a radiance that even the darkness cannot extinguish.
Maybe the end of the journey is the best of all, and maybe the end of this life is the beginning of another, and maybe the beginning of that is better than the ending of this.
But however and whatever the fact may be, you have lightened the journey here, for millions of your fellow-men. In the great desert you have dug wells and planted palms. As long as water and shade are welcome to the faint and weary, your memory will live.
Wishing you many, many days of health and happiness, and with a heart full of love,
R. G. Ingersoll
One last farewell letter arrived to Whitman from Ingersoll, just two days before Whitman died:
New York, N.Y.
March 24, 1892
My dear friend,
I am pained to know that you are suffering more and more, but was glad to know that your brave spirit has never been bowed–and that in all your agony your heart keeps sweet and strong.
I think of you a thousand times a day–and of the great good you have done the world. You have written such brave, free, and winged words–words that have thrilled and ennobled the hearts and lives of millions–that my admiration has deepened to obligation.
Again I thank you for your courage, and again I lovingly say farewell–and yet I hope to see you soon.
R. G. Ingersoll
Links to previous posts on Whitman’s death: