Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Louisa Sterling to Walt Whitman, 5 August 1890

Date: August 5, 1890

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03725

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.

Editorial note: The annotation, "See Note Aug. 7, '90.," is in the hand of Horace Traubel.

Contributors to digital file: Andrew David King, Cristin Noonan, Breanna Himschoot, and Stephanie Blalock

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Maxwell—Grey Co—Ontario
Aug 5th 1890

Mr. Whitman
Dear Sir—

Seeing in the papers that you are in delicate health I thought of writing to you—The use of an electric battery will often restore the strength when other remedies fail—Dr Charles Cullis2 of Boston has a faith cure home where he not only receives patients, but prays for those who cannot go there, but who write to him, he charges nothing, and gives accounts of many remarkable cures—

I trust you are a follower of Jesus, and enjoy the peace of God which passeth all understanding—

It is important to make no mistake for eternity—We are all sinful by nature: we must repent of and forsake sin; then place all our trust only in the merits of Jesus to save us, then the Holy Spirit enters the soul and fills it with such peace as the world can neither give nor take away—I do not know whether you make a profession of religion or not, but if not, it is to be hoped you will now seek that Saviour who stands waiting to receive you—

"My brother the Master is calling for thee,
His grace and His mercy are wondrously free;
His blood as a ransom for sinners he gave
And He is abundantly able to save—
Whoever repents and forsakes every sin,
And opens his heart for the Lord to come in
A free and a present salvation shall have
For Jesus is ready this moment to save3—"

Hoping you will have health in body and soul.

I remain
Yours sincerely
Louisa Sterling

Louisa B. Sterling (1845–1932) of Grey County, Ontario, was the daughter of Irish-born parents, James and Margret (Dunning) Sterling, and the middle child of three sisters, Mary Jane and Elizabeth. According to Canadian census data from 1881, 1911, and 1921, Sterling was a member of the Methodist church. For the last sixteen years of her life, Sterling and her sister Elizabeth lived in Bradford, Ontario, where they are buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Horace Traubel records Whitman receiving this letter in With Walt Whitman in Camden, see the entry for August 7, 1890, where Whitman is recorded saying, "[H]ere is a woman who is afraid I am to be damned—bless her!"


1. This letter is addressed: Mr Walt Whitman | Camden | New Jersey | U—S—A. It is postmarked: MAXWELL | AU 6 | 90 | ONT; CAMDEN, N.J. | AUG | [illegible] | 90 | REC'D. [back]

2. Charles Cullis (1833–1892) was a Boston homeopathic physician. He became famous in 1864 when he established a Home for Consumptives in Boston, and was a leader in the faith-cure movement. [back]

3. These verses were in large part borrowed from the hymn "Abundantly Able to Save," composed by the Ohio priest and religious songwriter Elisha Hoffman (1839–1929). Sterling repeats here the chorus and the third verse of the hymn, modifying the concluding two lines of the third verse slightly. [back]


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