Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Ernest Rhys to Walt Whitman, 26 April 1890

Date: April 26, 1890

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03342

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: Blake Bronson-Bartlett, Ian Faith, and Stephanie Blalock

page image
image 1
page image
image 2

(c/o Walter Scott,)
Walt Whitman,
26 April

On almost every American mail-day I think of writing to you, but I have a bad habit of putting off things—as you know, & week after week slips by & accuses my long silence. This remissness is very much of a part with the rest of my story of late. I seem to have done nothing but vegetate, & think of the fine fruition that there may be to come. However, it is good to vegetate too at times.

Since writing last, I have moved still higher up Hampstead Heath, & am now at the very top of everything, with fine old trees & gardens all around & the northern part of the Heath leading on to a wide sweep of open country beyond, making a characteristic view of the English kind, quite unlike anything that I saw in America. As for the Heath itself, it has a comparative wildness for a place so near London, & makes a capital background for a holiday crowd such as comes up here on Easter Monday, when penny shows & all sorts of nonsense flourish amain.

Cold winds have rather kept back the spring in the last week or two, but now the trees are getting fairly green. Opposite my window the birds kick up a great row in the branches, as they discuss the delicate question of mating & nesting & teaching the youngsters the social proprieties. Happy little rascals, that have not to write—write—write, for a living.

By the way, have you seen Havelock Ellis's book,—"The New Spirit,"1 in which you figure very notably? No doubt the writer (who is a good friend of mine, & an original fellow) has sent you a copy. If he has not, I must send you one.—I'm afraid I must stop here to-day

I2 will write again soon—in time for your approaching birthday.

So long!
Ernest Rhys

Ernest Percival Rhys (1859–1946) was a British author and editor; he founded the Everyman's Library series of inexpensive reprintings of popular works. He included a volume of Whitman's poems in the Canterbury Poets series and two volumes of Whitman's prose in the Camelot series for Walter Scott publishers. For more information about Rhys, see Joel Myerson, "Rhys, Ernest Percival (1859–1946)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


1. Havelock Ellis (1859–1939), a physician and pioneer in the study of human sexuality, devoted a chapter of The New Spirit (1890) to Whitman. The first edition of the book was published in London by George Bell and Sons, 1890. [back]

2. This sentence has been written vertically in the left margin. [back]


Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Matt Cohen, Ed Folsom, & Kenneth M. Price, editors.