WHITMAN (WALT) Autograph cheque signed, 1888
Lot 190
WHITMAN (WALT) Autograph cheque signed, 1888
Sold for £1,000 (US$ 1,553) inc. premium

Lot Details
WHITMAN (WALT)
Autograph cheque signed ("Walt Whitman"), for eighteen dollars drawn on the National State Bank of Camden in favour of W. W. Bennett; by whom it has been endorsed, one page, printed – with autograph manuscript insertions, unobtrusive cancellation incision at centre but in very good condition, oblong 8vo, Camden, New Jersey, 5 May 1888

Footnotes

  • WHITMAN AND THE AVERAGE MAN. This was the day that saw the famous conversation between Whitman and Leonard Corning, a candidate of the local Unitarian church: 'W. asked Corning: "And what may be the subject of your sermon tomorrow?" "My subject? Why – the tragedy of the ages." "And what may be the tragedy of the ages?" "The crucifixion." "What crucifixion?" "The crucifixion of Jesus, of course." "You call that the tragedy of the ages?" "Yes – what do you call it?" "It is a tragedy. But the tragedy? O no! I don't think I would be willing to called it the tragedy." "Do you know any tragedy that meant so much to man?" "Twenty thousand tragedies – all equally significant." "I'm no bigot – I don't think I make any unreasonable fuss over Jesus – but I never looked at the thing the way you do." "Probably not. But do it now – just for once. Think of the other tragedies, just for once: the tragedies of the average man – the tragedies of every-day – the tragedies of war and peace – the obscured, the lost, tragedies: they are all cut out of the same goods. I think too much is made of the execution of Jesus Christ. I know Jesus Christ would not have approved of this himself: he knew that his life was only another life, any other life, told big; he never wished to shine, especially to shine at the general expense. Think of the other tragedies, the twenty thousand, just for once, Mr. Corning."' (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, i, 1906).

    The beneficiary of the present cheque could well be just such an 'average man', there being a Union veteran by the name of William W. Bennett listed as a comrade in the 1886 roster of the veteran's association at Camden (the William B. Hatch Post No. 37, Grand Army of the Republic). Whitman, of course, had served as a wound-dresser in the war. See illustration overleaf.
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