Commentary

Selected Criticism

Title:
Smith, Logan Pearsall (1865–1946)
Author:
Davey, Christina
Print source:
J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings, eds., Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998), reproduced by permission.

Logan Pearsall Smith was an essayist, literary critic, and writer of aphorisms. In 1913 he helped Robert Bridges establish the Society for Pure English. His works include The Life and Letters of Sir Henry Wotton (1907), The English Language (1912), and Milton and His Modern Critics (1940). Smith is probably best known for All Trivia (1933) and Unforgotten Years (1938).

Smith was born in Millville, New Jersey, son of Quakers Hannah Whitall and Robert Pearsall Smith. He was educated at Haverford, Harvard, and Oxford. In 1888 he made England his permanent residence, and in 1913 he became a British citizen. Smith and his sister Mary Whitall Smith, who had read Leaves of Grass as a student at Smith College, admired Whitman's writing. Invited by their father, Whitman first visited the Smith home in Germantown, Pennsylvania, at Christmas time in 1882. During Whitman's many visits with the Smiths, he participated in family activities—after-dinner conversations, singing, and recitations. Logan Pearsall Smith was strongly influenced by Whitman's "familiar presence" in their home (Smith, "Walt Whitman" 100). The poet provided him with "ideas in solution tho' not yet crystallized," thereby affecting Smith's ways of seeing and thinking (Smith, Chime of Words 41). Smith devoted a chapter of Unforgotten Years to his remembrances of Whitman; however, William White has noted errors in Smith's account of the poet's first visit with the Smiths. Moreover, Barbara Strachey's version of the Smiths' arrangements for this visit differs from accounts found in sources cited by White.

Whitman and Smith's relationship revealed a mutual fondness and caring. They remained friendly until the poet's death.

Bibliography

Smith, Logan Pearsall. A Chime of Words: The Letters of Logan Pearsall Smith. Ed. Edwin Tribble. New York: Ticknor and Fields, 1984.

———. "Walt Whitman." Unforgotten Years. By Smith. Boston: Little, Brown, 1939. 79–108.

Strachey, Barbara. Remarkable Relations: The Story of the Pearsall Smith Family. London: Victor Gollancz, 1980. Rpt. as Remarkable Relations: The Story of the Pearsall Smith Women. New York: Universe Books, 1982.

White, William. "Logan Pearsall Smith on Walt Whitman: A Correction and Some Unpublished Letters." Walt Whitman Newsletter 4 (1958): 87–90.

Whitman, Walt. The Correspondence. Ed. Edwin Haviland Miller. 6 vols. New York: New York UP, 1961–1977.


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