Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Ernest Rhys, 8 June 1887

Date: June 8, 1887

Source: The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 4:98. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Location: British Museum

Whitman Archive ID: bms.00003

Contributors to digital file: Alex Ashland, Stefan Schöberlein, Kevin McMullen, and Stephanie Blalock




Camden New Jersey U S America1
June 8 '87

Yours of May 24 (with the printed slips Preface & Add'l Note) rec'd2—& welcomed, as always—nothing further rec'd, but I suppose some books will be coming soon. Thank you for the "Buchan's Ballads"3 bro't by Herbert Gilchrist4—I specially enjoy such things—I am ab't as usual (perhaps a little under a cloud, passing, I hope)—we hear from dear Mrs. C[ostelloe]5 and the birth of the child (Rachel—good name)—Mr S[mith]6 will be over there, almost with this—he is a very dear & valued friend of mine—Alys7 too—


Walt Whitman


Correspondent:
Ernest Percival Rhys (1859–1946) was a British author and editor; he founded the Everyman's Library series of inexpensive reprintings of popular works. He included a volume of Whitman's poems in the Canterbury Poets series and two volumes of Whitman's prose in the Camelot series for Walter Scott publishers. For more information about Rhys, see Joel Myerson, "Rhys, Ernest Percival (1859–1946)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).

Notes:

1. This letter is addressed: Ernest Rhys | care Walter Scott publishing | Co: 24 Warwick Lane Paternoster | row | London England. It is postmarked: Camden, N.J. | Jun 9 | 6 AM | 87. [back]

2. Rhys informed Whitman on May 24, 1887 that the English edition of Specimen Days was now in the bookshops, and that literary critic and Whitman admirer John Addington Symonds, Mary Whitall Smith (see later note), and Gabriel Sarrazin, a young French critic, had been given copies. [back]

3. Probably Ancient Ballads and Songs of the North of Scotland (1875), collected and edited by Peter Buchan (1790-1854). [back]

4. Herbert Harlakenden Gilchrist (1857–1914), son of Alexander and Anne Gilchrist, was an English painter and editor of Anne Gilchrist: Her Life and Writings (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1887). For more information, see Marion Walker Alcaro, "Gilchrist, Herbert Harlakenden (1857–1914)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

5. Mary Whitall Smith (1864–1945) was a political activist, art historian, and critic, whom Whitman once called his "staunchest living woman friend." A scholar of Italian Renaissance art and a daughter of Robert Pearsall Smith, she would in 1885 marry B. F. C. "Frank" Costelloe. She had been in contact with many of Whitman's English friends and would travel to Britain in 1885 to visit many of them, including Anne Gilchrist shortly before her death. For more, see Christina Davey, "Costelloe, Mary Whitall Smith (1864–1945)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). Rhys had become a fervent admirer of Mary Costelloe. See his letter to Whitman of March 29, 1887. [back]

6. Robert Pearsall Smith (1827–1898) was a Quaker who became an evangelical minister associated with the "Holiness movement." He was also a writer and businessman. Whitman often stayed at his Philadelphia home, where the poet became friendly with the Smith children—Mary, Logan, and Alys. For more information about Smith, see Christina Davey, "Smith, Robert Pearsall (1827–1898)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

7. Alys Smith was a daughter of Robert Pearsall Smith and eventually married the philosopher Bertrand Russell. [back]


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