Great Orators and the Lyceum: Robert G. Ingersoll

Excerpt from Great Orators and the Lyceum, by James B. Pond. From The Cosmopolitan magazine, Vol. XXI, No. 3, July 1896. The byline of the magazine at that time was “From every man according to his ability: to every one according to his need.”

This is the same magazine that is known as Cosmo, and features monthy “10 Ways To Make Your Man a Slave” type articles.

I just thought it was interesting to see something on Ingersoll, so I scanned and OCRed it.


Colonel Robert G. Ingersoll is without oubt one of the greatest popular orators now living. Ingersoll will never receive the full credit due to his great success as an orator during the present generation, as his vehement assaults on the Christian religion have aroused so many and such powerful enmities. But without regarding his creed, judging him solely by his power as an orator, no nation can to-day produce his equal. There is poetry, wit, humor, sarcasm, and tenderest bathos in nearly every lecture he delivers, whether on religion or politics. Colonel Ingersoll is not invited by the lyceums to lecture in their regular courses, as his infidelity arouses the opposition of all orthodox committees. But his fame is such that he does not need aid in procuring audiences. Whenever he wants to lecture, he sends out an agent, “hires a hall,” nd lectures at his own risk, and almost always, when in large cities, to his own great pecuniary benefit. In the smaller towns the church influence is always too much for him, and it does not pay him to lecture there.
While coming from New England one day with Mr. Beecher, I found Colonel Ingersoll in the same car. After a pleasant salutation between the two, the Colonel went to his seat. In his mischievous way, Mr. Beecher said “I have written that man’s epitaph.” He showed me, written on the margin of a newspaper, with his pencil, “Robert Burns.”