Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Robert Pearsall Smith, 11 January 1888

Date: January 11, 1888

Whitman Archive ID: inu.00005

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, Benjamin Schmidt, Alex Ashland, and Stephanie Blalock

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Jan: 11 '881

P. M.—The box of chocolate & cocoa came—delicious—many thanks—I had some for my breakfast this morning—Remain "under the weather" yet—The plaster bust2 of E H3 may come in ten or twelve days—

—Would you pay the expressage for me? It will probably be $2 ab't—

Walt Whitman

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).


1. This postal card is addressed: R Pearsall Smith | 1305 Arch Street | Philadelphia. It is postmarked: Camden, N.J. | JAN 11 | 6 PM | 88. [back]

2. The bust of Elias Hicks was sculpted by Sidney Morse (1832–1903), a self-taught sculptor as well as a Unitarian minister and, from 1866 to 1872, editor of The Radical. He finally did send it to Whitman by April of 1888. See Whitman's April 18, 1888, letter to William Sloane Kennedy and Richard Maurice Bucke. [back]

3. Elias Hicks (1748–1830) was a Quaker from Long Island whose controversial teachings led to a split in the Religious Society of Friends in 1827, a division that was not resolved until 1955. Hicks had been a friend of Whitman's father and grandfather, and Whitman himself was a supporter and proponent of Hicks's teachings, writing about him in Specimen Days (see "Reminiscence of Elias Hicks") and November Boughs (see "Elias Hicks, Notes (such as they are)"). For more on Hicks and his influence on Whitman, see David S. Reynolds, Walt Whitman's America (New York: Knopf, 1995), 37–39. [back]


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