Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Henry H. Collins to Walt Whitman, 20 March 1888

Date: March 20, 1888

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01203

Source: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 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: Alex Ashland, Ian Faith, and Stephanie Blalock

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63 Libernia Road1
Mar 20–1888

Dear Sir

In one of your shorter poems in "Leaves of Grass" you say:—

"Stranger if you passing meet me and
desire to speak to me, why should you
not speak to me?"

And as I have met you (in spirit) and want to speak, I write you this letter.

It is now some two years ago since your poems were first brought under my notice (by my friend Mr A. Ladell Balls) and their effect upon my life from that time has been most marked.

You have taught, not only me, but the whole world, to realize that by living well and manfully in the present, we more than half form those circumstances which govern our future.

You have taught us to regard all mankind as comrades and brothers;—not as mere insensate beings of whose credulities, weaknesses, and errors we are to take every advantage in effecting our own material progress through life.

You have been the first to recognise, in all its fulness, the magnificent resources, and possibilities of America, and to teach us that the future of this country depends as much upon our exertions now, as upon the efforts of those who come after us.

Your poems are stupendous outlines, which it is to be the glory of the younger generations to fill in.

What I have written is not vain flattery, but the outcome of what I actually feel. The flattery accorded to you is no more than is accorded to any great and good man by those whose approbation he gains.

I do not expect an answer to this letter as I am convinced that your time is sufficiently occupied already, to prevent your replying to such an humble denizen of the "New Democracy" as myself; but should you favor me with an answer I should be happier at receiving, than you at sending it.

Long may you remain among us.

Very truly yours
Henry H. Collins

As yet we have no information about this correspondent.


1. This letter is addressed: Mr Walt Whitman | (Author of "Leaves of Grass") | Camden | New Jersey. | N.J. | (Or please forward). It is postmarked: Camden N.J. | Mar | 21 | 5 P M | Rec'd; Point St-Char [illegible] | 2 [illegible] | M [illegible] | 88 | [illegible]. The letter also has a New York postmark and an additional Camden postmark that are illegible. [back]


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