Title: Frederick York Powell to Walt Whitman, 1 November 1884
Date: November 1, 1884
Source: Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.
Location: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Whitman Archive ID: loc.03510
Contributors to digital file: Alex Kinnaman, Stefan Schöberlein, Ian Faith, and Kyle Barton
1. 11. 84
I wish to thank you most heartily for your gift to me which I have just received from Mrs Wharton.1
I could not have received anything from America which I should prize as I do this Volume of the Leaves of Grass.
Since I first read your poems years ago now they have always had a great influence on my thoughts and wishes. I should have liked to write to you then, but I did not think I had a right to, and I wished to see you and talk to you, but I never had the opportunity. Your gift has given me at least the right to thank you now not only for it but for the great good I have got form your work. Every man I suppose worries out some idea of the right life for himself, but your books have helped me much in getting a truer view of things than I started with. I have found out the truth of your words too from my short experience of life in deed as well as in thought. You have many more worthy listeners but none more gratified than myself. Your Leaves of Grass I keep with my Shakespeare and my Bible and it is from these three that I have got more sympathy than from any other books.
I should like to tell you too that you have many more friends here than you can ever have heard of by letter or paper, men and women who have got a good hold of your poems and their pith.
If you should ever come to the Old Country how pleased we should be, I wish it may yet be possible for you to do so.
You will not I hope think that I wish to give you the trouble of sending or writing any answer to these few lines. I have not written for that at all, but simply because I wanted you to know that I am very grateful to you and that I am yours faithfully
Frederick York Powell (1850–1904) was an English historian and professor at the University of Oxford.
1. Possibly a reference to Edith Wharton (1862–1937), the famous novelist and admirer of Whitman. [back]