Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Robert Pearsall Smith, 8 September 1889

Date: September 8, 1889

Whitman Archive ID: inu.00004

Source: Courtesy, The Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana. 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.

Contributors to digital file: Blake Bronson-Bartlett, Caterina Bernardini, Breanna Himschoot, and Stephanie Blalock



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Camden New Jersey US America
Evn'g Sept 8 '89—1

Here I sit toward sunset in my big old chair in the 2d story room in Mickle street wafting affectionate wishes over to you—

Nothing new or notable in my affairs. I am still alive & in as good trim & spirits as the rule & fates & luck permit—go out sometimes propell'd in a wheel chair2—Dr Bucke3 is well & busy (So much in these words)

Love to you & all—
Walt Whitman


Correspondent:
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).

Notes:

1. This postal card is addressed: R Pearsall Smith | Friday's Hill | Haslemere | Surrey England. It is postmarked: Philadelphia, PA | Sep 8 | 10PM | Paid; Camden, N.J. | Sep 8 | 5PM | 89. [back]

2. Horace Traubel and Ed Wilkins, Whitman's nurse, went to Philadelphia to purchase a wheeled chair for the poet that would allow him to be "pull'd or push'd" outdoors. See Whitman's letter to William Sloane Kennedy of May 8, 1889[back]

3. Richard Maurice Bucke (1837–1902) was a Canadian physician and psychiatrist who grew close to Whitman after reading Leaves of Grass in 1867 (and later memorizing it) and meeting the poet in Camden a decade later. Even before meeting Whitman, Bucke claimed in 1872 that a reading of Leaves of Grass led him to experience "cosmic consciousness" and an overwhelming sense of epiphany. Bucke became the poet's first biographer with Walt Whitman (Philadelphia: David McKay, 1883), and he later served as one of his medical advisors and literary executors. For more on the relationship of Bucke and Whitman, see Howard Nelson, "Bucke, Richard Maurice," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]


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