A Biographical Appreciation of
Robert Green Ingersoll
FROM EIGHTEEN THIRTY-THREE TO EIGHTEEN FORTY
England has her Stratford, Scotland has her Alloway, and America, too, has her Dresden. For there, on August 11, 1833, was born the greatest and noblest of the Western World; an immense personality, — unique, lovable, sublime; the peerless orator of all time, and as true a poet as Nature ever held in tender clasp upon her loving breast, and, in words coined for the chosen few, told of the joys and sorrows, hopes, dreams, and fears of universal life; a patriot whose golden words and deathless deeds were worthy of the Great Republic; a philanthropist, real and genuine; a philosopher whose central theme was human love, — who placed “the holy hearth of home” higher than the altar of any god; an iconoclast, a builder — a reformer, perfectly poised, absolutely honest, and as fearless as truth itself — the most aggressive and formidable foe of superstition — the most valiant champion of reason — Robert G. Ingersoll.
Dresden, Torrey Township, Yates County, N.Y., lies a tranquil village on the western shore of Seneca Lake. Passing over its history, which would take us back to the stirring days of redskin and Tory, — to “old, unhappy far-off things, and battles long ago,” — we may note that it is a hamlet typical of the hundreds which have gradually arisen from the modest wants and necessities of rural New York and New England.
In this handful of buildings with a classic name, there is little to recall the splendor of the Saxon city. No palace “of rare and nameless marble” tells of imperial grandeur; and in no church or gallery has any master left his wealth of art. Its finest street would never remind one of the Schloss or the Prager; and through its midst no Elbe flows dreamful of the sea. Indeed, there is nothing, either within or around, which would lead one oblivious of its name to associate the Dresden of the American lake with the Dresden of the German river, nor to suspect that it was entitled to a special place in the memory of mankind — nothing in its embellishments, its environment, its quiet atmosphere, to suggest the origin of him whose unheralded coming was destined to transform a humble hamlet into a shrine for many millions of the human race. As at Stratford there is nothing outward to indicate the source of that “intellectual ocean whose waves touched all the shores of thought”; as at Alloway no muse or goddess stands ready to tell why the world will forever keep green with its tears “the banks and braes o’ bonnie Duon”; as in the “woods of Kentucky” no century — storied rock reveals the secret of him who broke the shackles of a race and preserved the sublime unity of a nation: so at Dresden, — that veriest misnomer, — there is naught to account for him who possessed at once the language of Shakespeare, the tenderness of Burns, the justice and wisdom of Lincoln — the genius, the goodness, the heroism, to strike the mental manacles from millions of his fellows and create an epoch in intellectual progress.
Ingersoll himself has said, that “great men have been belittled by biography.” He might have added, that great biographies have been belittled by genealogy. Why? Because, in the present state of knowledge, the utmost possibility of genealogy, namely, the establishment of heredity, is irrelevant in biography, the story of a life. Primarily, biography deals with the what and the how. The why, that is, the inherent causes of the phenomena produced, — the secret of genius, — belongs in the province of natural science, — of anatomy, physiology, and histology, — of pathology, physiological chemistry, and psychology.
By proving that a man resembled his mother, what do we accomplish? We prove that she resembled him. We merely add to the evidence for heredity. If we are to demonstrate the real origin, — the ultimate cause, — of his genius, we must next show why she was as she was. It will not do to say that he was metaphysical because she was Scotch, nor that he was witty because she was Irish. Maybe the Scotch are sometimes witty. So the question still is, Why was she metaphysical? or Why was she witty? And until we are able to answer such questions, our dealings with genealogy cannot rise in importance and dignity above mere curiosity.
Why is it, that, while a vast majority of mankind merely vegetate, — manifest only so much mental power as is requisite to provide for the gratification of their physical appetites, — there occurs, once in a few hundred years, such a combination of the elements as to produce a Shakespeare, a Burns, a Lincoln, or an Ingersoll? We do not know; and if we could demonstrate that the ancestors of such men are invariably great, we should still be in darkness. In the undiscovered vaults of being, nature has locked the secret of genius, and into the Styx of human ignorance has she cast the key.
Beyond the fact that the brain is the exclusive organ of mind, we can scarcely go with certain step. Of the exact origin of thought, or even of consciousness, we have no knowledge. All that we positively know, can be told in few words. We know that the brain of the average adult male (Caucasian) weighs about forty-nine and one-half ounces; that, usually, a brain weighing from twenty- three to thirty-four ounces belongs to a very inferior person; that a brain weighing less than twenty-three ounces belongs to an idiot; and that, usually, a brain weighing sixty-five ounces or more belongs either to a very wise man or to a fool. Perhaps we may be somewhat more definite and say, that, between the two extremes of normality (thirty-four ounces and sixty-five ounces), the manifestations of a brain depend upon its form, the number and the depth of its convolutions and sulci, and, probably above all, upon its chemical composition. But the physicochemical constitution that is essential to any particular form or degree of genius, or, indeed, to mediocrity, is unknown.
There is cause to believe, that an exact knowledge of the latter will some day be acquired and if reduced to intelligible terms. Then, may genealogy reasonably occupy a conspicuous place in biography. Meantime, it seems that, in telling the story of a life, we should concern ourselves chiefly with what the subject did, and how he did it.
Ingersoll himself clearly recognized the present futility of attempting to account for genius with a tedious list of ancestral names. Without denying that genius is the necessary and inevitable fruit of the ancestral tree, he saw that the fruit was, to say the least, no more mysterious than the tree itself; and he felt the uselessness of trying” to account for one mystery by another.” This explains his indifference to genealogy when he said, that he knew as much of his ancestors as they did of him; and it is in harmony with the following extracts from his lecture on Shakespeare: —
“It has been said that a man of genius should select his ancestors with great care — and yet there does not seem to be as much in heredity as most people think. The children of the great are often small. Pygmies are born in palaces, while over the children of genius is the roof of straw. Most of the great are like mountains, with the valley of ancestors on one side and the depression of poverty on the other.”
We account for this man as we do for the highest mountain, the greatest river, the most perfect gem. We can only say: He was.”
But while the several reasons indicated in these quotations and the paragraph preceding them must be accepted as the basis of his belief in the futility of endeavoring, in the traditional way, to discover the secret of genius in general, and of that of Shakespeare in particular, they afford no explanation of his lack of interest in a personal biography, nor of his decided aversion to autobiography. We must look further for an explanation of the regrettable fact, that, after one of the most eventful and important lives of the nineteenth century was “rounded with a sleep,” the world was not vouchsafed the privilege of perusing, with the additional pleasure born of the assurance of perfect intimacy, candor, and authenticity, the most instructive and inspiring of stories. But such explanation is by no means hard to find. Indeed, it is instantly apparent to all who are familiar with the personality of Ingersoll. It stands out, with a clearness that almost transcends modesty itself, in that inherent modesty of true greatness which was his, and in a serene, abiding content to be known through his works alone. We need no stronger proof of this than is contained in his invariable oral reply, “No biography,” to writers, who frequently besout him for personal data, and in a private letter answering a communication in which the present author had inclosed, for authorization, the manuscript of an article of a biographical and complimentary nature. Aside from the contents of the letter itself, from which I quote, its date, August 19, 1898, clearly indicates how great was its writer’s indifference to biography and contemporary praise; the author’s communication, written in the early spring, evidently not having awakened sufficient interest to prevent its being mislaid for some three months: —
“Do not trouble yourself about this business. It will all come out right at last. Of course, I am greatly obliged to you. At the same time, I know how far I fall short.”
And an examination of his posthumous ” Fragments” shows that he had already written (ten years previously) the following lines: —
“I have never given to any one a sketch of my life. According to my idea a life should not be written until it has been lived.”
As perhaps a majority of geniuses belonging to families of more than two children were either the oldest or the youngest of those families, it may or may not be interesting to note that Robert G. Ingersoll was the youngest of five, — two sisters and three brothers; but it certainly is interesting, and amusing as well, that fate, with wonted irony, should decree that his father was to be an orthodox preacher, and that a part of his own name was to be borrowed from another preacher, — Rev. Beriah Green.
Rev. John Ingersoll, upon whom destiny bestowed by far the greater of these honors, — the greatest that was ever bestowed upon a clergyman, — was born at Pittsford, Rutland County, Vt., on July 5, 1792, his parents being Ebenezer and Margaret (Whitcomb) Ingersoll, both of English descent. He graduated from Middlebury College (then and still non-denominational), Middlebury, Vt., with the degree of bachelor of arts, in 1821. On September 25th of that year, at Ogdensburg, N.Y., he married Miss Mary Livingston. Having studied theology with Rev. Josiah Hopkins, D.D., New Haven, Vt., he was ordained a Congregational preacher, in 1823, and was pastor of the Congregational Church at Pittsford from that year until 1826.
In addition to the education and culture ordinarily implied by the regular collegiate and the private theological studies above indicated, Rev. John Ingersoll possessed superior native endowments, and was most proficient in Hebrew, and in the Greek and the Latin classics. Moreover, he was an extensive reader, — withal a man of wide and profound learning.
However, that he was, in the beginning of his ministerial career, as absolutely orthodox, in spite of all his learning, as Jonathan Edwards, for example, had been in spite of his, is certain. That he was intellectually hospitable in his later years is equally certain. “He was grand enough,” writes Robert, “to say to me, that I had the same right to my opinion that he had to his. He was great enough to tell me to read the Bible for myself, to be honest with myself, and if after reading it I concluded it was not the word of God, that it was my duty to say so.” (v 148) We have another statement by Robert, that, for many years, he and his father were wont to discuss with each other the questions in which both were so profoundly interested, and that, “long before” the father’s death, the latter utterly gave up,” as unworthy of a place in the mind of an intelligent man, the infamous dogma of eternal fire; that he regarded with abhorrence many passages in the Old Testament; that he believed man, in another world, would have the eternal opportunity of doing right, and that the pity of God would last as long as the suffering of man.” (v 149). Even more significant is the fact that, on his death-bed, the father requested Robert to read to him, not the Hebrew nor the Christian Scriptures, but pagan Plato on immortality.
It has been widely stated, and perhaps as widely believed, that Rev. Mr. Ingersoll was harsh and tyrannical, particularly in his domestic relations, and that it was this circumstance which caused his gifted son to rebel against the faith. On this point, I quote, as far as pertinent, a letter from Robert to a friend: —
“The story that the inkindness of my father drove me into infidelity is simply an orthodox lie. The bigots, unable to meet my arguments. are endeavoring to dig open the grave and calumniate the dead. This they are willing to do in defence of their infamous dogmas. * * * My father was a kind and living man. He loved his children tenderly and intensely. There was no sacrifice he would not and did not gladly make for them. He had one misfortune, and that was his religion. He believed the Bible, and in the shadow of that frightful book he passed his life. He believed in the truth of its horrors, and for years, thinking of the fate of the human race, his eyes were filled with tears. * * * My father was infinitely better than * * * the religion he preached. And those stories about his unkindness are maliciously untrue. * * *”
“He was a good, a brave and honest man. I loved him living, and I love him dead. I never said to him an unkind word, and in my heart there never was of him an unkind thought.”
However, it is admitted that, with all his excellent qualities, Rev. Mr. Ingersoll, like so many other parents of his generation, was unduly exacting; that he adhered too literally to the biblical injunction concerning rod and child. There is good evidence that this attitude, doubtless always unjustifiable, was particularly so in the case of Robert. That the youngster in whom maturity found a sense of humor and a command of wit and raillery which would have obliged the Reverend Ingersoll himself to laugh at the Mosaic cosmology (even while he proclaimed its divinity!), was aglow with life, and given to fun and pranks, there is no doubt. But there certainly was nothing wanton or perverse in Robert Ingersoll the boy. There were the same good heart and the same great candor with which Robert Ingersoll the man appealed, as by irresistible magic, to the goodness and the candor in others. To his playmates, the boy was known as “Honest Bob”; and the fitness of the epithet his father at length came to recognize. Some of the ever-dutiful (numerous enough in every age and community!) were wont to inform the clergyman of the doings and sayings of his iconoclastic son. Confronted with charges,Robert would enter a demurrer; but the clergyman’s faith in his informants was sufficiently strong, for a time at least, to bring the proverbial rod into immediate requisition. Afterwards, he would discover that Robert had told the truth, just as many another clergyman has since discovered. The effect of these chastisement was anything but good. With most boys, it might, perhaps, have been at least indifferent. But the mere thought that an own parent could inflict him with physical suffering, whether or not, in common parlance, he “deserved” it, was itself a greater punishment than should have been imposed upon the uncommonly sensitive and affectionate nature of Robert Ingersoll. Nevertheless, the clergyman’s parental love (no doubt reciprocated by the rest of his children also) was, as already shown, returned in generous measure by Robert; and when, on Sunday May 1, 1859, at Peoria, Rev. Mr. Ingersoll breathed last, at the home of another son, it was in the arms of the future’s “Great Agnostic.”
Robert G. Ingersoll’s mother, Mary Livingston Ingersoll, was burn at Lisbon, St. Lawrence County, N.Y., on November 9, 1799. Her parents were Judge Robert Livingston and Agnes Oceanica (Adams) Livingston. The former was of the noted colonial family from which Livingston Manor, Livingston County, etc., derived their names. To this family belonged Philip Livingston, who was one of the signers of the Declaration, and Robert R. Livingston, who was one of the committee of five appointed to draft that document, and who, as chancellor of the State of New York, administered the oath to Washington as the first president of the United States.
If Robert G. Ingersoll resembled any of his ancestors, either direct or collateral, it was Edward Livingston, the jurist, statesman, and philanthropist. At any rate, it is interesting to note, at this late day, the opinion of one who was competent to pass judgment on such a matter, and who had observed both Livingston and Ingersoll. John Church Hamilton, the biographer and historian (a son of Alexander Hamilton), once came upon the platform, at the conclusion of a lecture by Ingersoll, and, in the course of the ensuing conversation, assured the latter of the resemblance just mentioned. At this the orator was by no meat’s displeased, since the ancestor referred to was one (and the only Livingston) for whom he entertained high admiration. He was always inclined to believe that it was from her mother, Agnes Oceanica (Adams) Livingston, that his own mother chiefly derived her noble qualities.
Be the latter as it may, we are bound to record here, if we attach anything like normal credence to the many statements concerning her character and attributes, that Mary Livingston Ingersoll was one of the greatest and most charming of women. For it is said that her intellect was exalted, that her sympathies were wide and profound, that her love of liberty was intense. Of the latter, there is ample evidence in the fact that, shortly before the birth of Robert, she prepared and circulated, in the state of New York, a petition to the Federal Congress, praying that slavery in the District of Columbia be abolished. It is claimed that this petition was the first of its kind to be prepared in America by a woman.
We are therefore inclined, after all, to think that fate was not, as we supposed, the sole arbiter in the decision that the middle name of the epoch-making babe should begin with “G”; for Rev. Beriah Green was an “uncompromising abolitionist.” But whether our supposition was correct or not, we do know that fate soon proved to be as inexorably cruel in this case as she had been ironical in it, or in any other; for Mary Livingston Ingersoll, at Cazenovia, Madison County, N. Y., on December 2, 1835, — scarcely more than two years after the decision mentioned, — passed into the great shadow, not with the proud memories which might have been hers, but with only a mother’s dream of her marvelous child. —
“Nearly forty-eight years ago, under the snow, in the little town of Cazenovia, my mother was buried. I was but two years old. I remember her as she looked in death. That sweet, cold face has kept my heart warm through all the changing years.”
After the death of the wife and mother, the life of Rev. Mr. Ingersoll and family was destined to run, as indeed it had already run, — even before the birth of Robert, — a shifting and precarious course. For, orthodox though this clergyman was, especially in his earlier days, — heartily though he favored mental slavery, — he was as strongly opposed to physical slavery as were even his wife and Rev. Beriah Green; and as he had “the courage of his convictions,” he was continually at odds with the pro-slavery element of the church. Furthermore, he was, by native aptitude and acquired reputation, an evangelist. Under those conditions, it was of course inevitable that his “calls” should be many and near between.
In endeavoring to trace the resulting career, one is only too often reminded of the statement of Robert, that ‘history, for the most part, is a detailed account of things that never occurred.’ And one is finally forced to ask: If so little can be positively ascertained about a Christian clergyman who lived and labored extensively during the middle decades of the nineteenth century, and who, moreover, was the father of one of the most widely known men of that century, how much of the history of individuals and events antedating by hundreds and thousands of years the invention of printing, was made by the historians themselves? How much of it consists, indeed, of “a detailed account of things that never occurred”? But in the case of Rev. Mr. Ingersoll, there is very meager “account” of any sort. This, however, is easily explained. The Congregational denomination, of which he was a minister, had fewer organizations than the Presbyterian (particularly in rural communities); and, consequently, he was often obliged to accept “calls,” more or less temporary, from Presbyterian churches. The services incident to suck calls, being performed by one who had not been regularly “received” into the presbyters concerned, were not recorded by the latter, nor in the minutes of the annual general assemblies. If the local churches, or societies, themselves kept any written records, such records have been, in many cases, destroyed by fire, mislaid, or otherwise rendered unavailable. The same is true of the Congregational church. or societies, that he served, whether permanent as pastor, or temporarily as evangelist. Despite these difficulties, however, we shall be able, by means of the following outline, prepared after diligent research and extensive correspondence, realize how shifting and precarious, as already hinted, was his career and, consequently, the childhood of him who, while perpetuating the name, was so totally to eclipse the abilities, of the father.
From some unknown date in 1831, until the spring of 1833, Rev. Mr. Ingersoll was pastor of a Congregational church at Hanover, then in the town of Marshall, now in the town of Deansboro, Oneida County, N.Y. There, in a house (and room) still pointed out, was born, on December 12, 1833, his second son, Ebenezer Clark (“Ebon” or “Clark,” as he was familiarly called), who became a Republican representative in Congress, from Illinois, in 1864, succeeding Owen Lovejoy, deceased, and being thrice reelected.
From Hanover Rev. Mr. Ingersoll removed to Pompey, in Onondaga County. Remaining only a month or so, he was called to what is now Dresden, Torrey Township, Yates County, where, on August 11th, as already stated, Robert first saw the light. The village was then known as West Dresden. There the father was pastor of the Presbyterian Church; also of the Presbyterian Church at Bellona, both West Dresden and Bellona then being in the same town, Benton.
After a stay of scarcely six months, or about three months subsequent to Robert’s birth, the clergyman again obeyed the familiar summons. Whence it came cannot be positively stated; but on the 2d of the following April (1834), he was installed as associate pastor of the Second Free (Presbyterian) Church, New York City.
Rev. Charles G. Finney had been the regular pastor since September 28th (or October 5), 1832, but at the time of Rev. Mr. Ingersoll’s installation, the former was on a voyage to the Mediterranean, for his health. This church, which was organized on Tuesday February 14, 1832, with forty-one members, mostly colonists from the First Free (Presbyterian) Church, had, as its first place of worship, Broadway Hall, just above Canal Street. It soon leased and fitted up, for its exclusive use, at a subscribed outlay of about $10,000, the Chatham Street Theater, which, on April 23, 1832, was dedicated as Chatham Street Chspel (“Chstham Chapel”). It wss there that Robert G. Ingersoll was baptized, by his father, probably in 1834. Six years later this Sccond Free (Presbyterian) Church had evolved into the present Broadway Tabernacle (Congregational) Church. Rev. Mr. Finney returned from abroad and resumed his duties late in October, or early in November, 1834; but Rev. Mr. Ingersoll continued as associate pastor, or co-pastor, until February 4, 1835, when he resigned.
To what place he removed cannot be positively stated; but he probably went directly to Cazenovia in Madison County, where, in the year last mentioned, he was pastor of the Congregational Free Church, and where, on December 2d of the same year, as we have already seen, the wife and mother died.
It is interesting that the church at Cazenovia, which was organized about two years previously, by revolting members of the Presbyterian church, stood especially for a free pew, and for a free platform to any one who desired to speak on moral questions. It advocated temperance and the abolition of slavery.
From Cazenovia, in February, 1836, Rev. Mr. Ingersoll was again called to Oneida County, this time on special evangelistic service with the Congregational church at Hampton (now Westmoreland). While a revival was in progress, the regular pastor withdrew, Rev. Mr. Ingersoll remaining as “stated supply,” from March, 1836, until March, 1838.
In the following year, he was preaching to the Preshyterians of Belleville, in Jefferson County.
Be had moved again by 1840, being a resident of Oberlin, O. Be does not seem to have been regulady connected with any church, but to have preached occasionally in Oberlin and adjacent places.
From Obedin he removed, in 1841, to Ashtabula, succeeding Rev. Robert H. Conklin as pastur of the Presbyterian Church, and supplying the pulpit at Saybrook. The house which he occupied in Ashtabula is still pointed out, at No. 242 Main Street, as one of the landmarks of the city, it having been for sixty-three years in the possession of Mr. John P. Robertson and family. Mr. Robertson was one of the trustees of the church, took part, as such, in engaging Rev. Mr. Ingersoll, and taught the Sunday-school class, Robert Ingersoll being among the pupils.
After a residence of about one yesr in Ashtabula, Rev. Mr. Ingersoll removed to North Madison, to become pastor of what is now the First Congregational Church, which was founded in 1819, and which was called the “Bell Church,” because it was the first in the township of Madison to possess a bell. Having served “two years or more,” at a salary of two hundred dollars a year, he transferred his pulpit elsewhere, probably to Illinois.
In 1851 he went to Greenville, in Bond County, as pastor (“stated supply”) of the Congregational Church, remaining about a year.
From Greenville he removed to Marion, Williamson County, where, during 1853 aud ’54, he was pastor (“stated supply”) of the Presbyterian Church, preaching also at Mouut Vernon and Benton.
In 1855, four years before his death, he was residing at Belleville, St. Clair County, “without charge.”
During his ministerial career, he preached also in Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, and Kentucky, and possibly at some other points in Vermont, New York, Ohio, and Illinois; but the itinerary thus far given is sufficient for the purpose indicated in the beginning of this section.
Not the least interesting fact concerning the father of Robert G. Ingersoll was his facial resemblance to one who, in most things, was doubtless his exact opposite. Call to the mind’s eye a characteristic portrait of Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, extinguish the spark of humor with the “sinfulness” of joy, weight down the curves with “foreordination,” and you have a close likeness of Rev. John Ingersoll. That the latter, however, would have consented to be seen through the features of another, no matter how distinguished, is quite unthinkable. Indeed, carefully weighing the preceding personal history and the testimony of relatives, friends, hosts, and converts who came into close relations with him, we are able to synthesize a very distinct individuality. That he was an individuality — that you would have had to count him as a separate and sovereign unit in taking a census of the universe — there is no doubt. He was always himself — dignified, reticent, austere. People, — young people in particular, — “looked up” to “Doctor” Ingersoll. He was regarded as a learned man. Exceedingly pious and devout, even for a clergyman, he spent an unusual amount of time in prayer, and insisted on keeping the Sabbath in the strictest orthodox way. He was very abstemious, following, at least for many years, the diet of the Grahamites, and always strongly condemming the use of liquor and tobacco.
He was a zealous and outspoken abolitionist. His experiences in New York City, iu 1834, when abolition-leaders and clergymen of anti-slavery sentiment were subjected to mob-violence, did not dampen his ardor nor bridle his tongue. He would never allow anything derogatory of the negro to be uttered in his presence.
He was a man with strong convictions, and he spoke them fearlessly, whether as friend, as citizen, or as pastor.
As a preacher, he was earnest, eloquent, impressive. Many whom he converted remained so until they heard his son; then they paid substantially the following tribute to the powers of both: “Your father gave me religion, and now you have taken it away.” Surviving members of Rev. Mr. Ingersoll’s congregations recall his “restlessness” in the pulpit, or rather, perhaps, around it; for often, in hermeneutic fervor, he would leave the pulpit, stepping down in front and pacing alternstely to the right and the left, and sometimes even walking dowu an aisle. Now and then he would suddenly pause and “look right at you.”
At Hanover (Deansboro), N.Y. he established the reputation of “an eloquent and masterful preacher, with great personal magnetism, — stirring his audience to the depths.” One of his converts once said: “When I went to hear ‘Priest Ingersoll’ [as he was there called], I could scarcely take time to eat my dinner. I knew my soul was in jeopardy, and, fearing lest I lose one moment, I ran all the way back. He made salvation seem so plain, so easy, I wanted to take it to my heart without delay.” He is also said to have possessed great physical endurance, sometimes preaching from morning until nearly sunset, with only a brief intermission.
The records of the Congregational Church at Westmoreland, N.Y., fortunately afford what probably may be safely accepted as a view of his average ministerial work and environment. After setting forth that he came to the church as an evangelist, and that while his meetings were in progress the regular pastor withdrew, the records coutinue: —
“The meetings were in no way interrupted, Mr. Ingersoll assuming entire control; and on the 26th of the same month (February) there were added to the church, on profession of faith, about thirty members. About the same time, now new and considerably modified articles of faith were adopted. Mr. Ingersoll continued to accupy the pulpit as stated supply. He was an able and attractive preacher, his audence never tiring on account of long sermons, to which he was not a little liable. His forte was doubtless as an evangelist. Few men can read character with the accuracy that he did. * * * It was during his ministry that the church was called upon to meet the widespread craze of perfectionism, which it did sffectually. This was the theory that Christ was in its subjects in such a way that they could not sin, which constituted a fundamental principle in Oneida communism, where it was permitted thoroughly and nauseatingly to expend itself. During the time Mr. Ingersoll was with the church, the subject of slavery was seriously agitated, resulting in its condemnation, without any per se proviso.”
There is equally interesting evidence that, as a clergyman, Rev. Mr. Ingersoll, in at least one respect, was far ahead of his time — that, even in the early forties, he was an occasional exemplar of what is now termed “muscular Christianity.” While residing at Nonh Madison, Ohio, knowledge of his earlier feats as a wrestler became curreut. A mile or so from the place lived a notorious wresder weighing about two hundred and twenty five pounds. One day, by a mischievous prearrangement of the village boys, the two men met, and, after some talk, engaged in a wrestling bout. The clergyman was victorious! The saints were scandalized; they demanded an apology from their pastor. On the following Sanday he complied, in substantially these words: “Dear friends, I was tempted to wrestle this man, which was not becoming in a minister; but I threw him in less than a minute.” This closed the incident.
The physical prowess of Rev. Mr. Ingersoll was doubtless reflected in the heroic presence of his youngest sun.