Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Logan Pearsall Smith to Walt Whitman, 21 October 1888

Date: October 21, 1888

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03822

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: Jeannette Schollaert, Alex Ashland, Ian Faith, Caterina Bernardini, and Stephanie Blalock



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Oct. 21 1888
Balliol College

Dear Mr. Whitman,

I hope this letter will reach you in good health and spirits—I wish I could share some of mine with you! I am back again at Oxford and at work once more. I realize more and more what a privilege it is to be here, so many chances for education and development. I am studying Greek & Latin literature & Greek art, I want to soak myself in the spirit of the classical times.

Apart from one's studies there is only too much that is delightful here. I row on the river every afternoon, all the men in the college who do not know how to row in the right way and yet want to learn, go down in the afternoons & sit in the barge that belongs to their particular college, & the experienced oarsmen take them out, four at a time & "coach" them.

We have a debating society also which meets once a week to discuss the questions of the day. Some of these young Englishmen speak certainly very well. Last night we debated whether the government ought to supress Zola's1 novels—there were only three of us to defend the cause of realism!

Father2 starts to-morrow to drive from Llwynbarried to London with Alys,3 Madge4 & Evelyn Nordhoff.5 I expect them here in Oxford in about three days. I enclose a map of their journey. We are having splendid October weather so they ought to have a good time.

The Costelloes6 are in London now I believe. Mother7 has gone to Broadlands for Lord Mount Temple's8 funeral, he died rather suddenly last week.

Yours with much love
Logan Pearsall Smith


Correspondent:
Logan Pearsall Smith (1865–1946) was an essayist and literary critic. He was the son of Robert Pearsall Smith, a minister and writer who befriended Whitman, and he was the brother of Mary Whitall Smith Coestelloe, one of Whitman's most avid followers. For more information on Logan, see Christina Davey "Smith, Logan Pearsall (1865–1946)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).

Notes:

1. Émile Édouard Charles Antoine Zola (1840–1902) was a French naturalist novelist, journalist, and dramatist.  [back]

2. 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). [back]

3. Alys Smith (1867–1951) was a daughter of Robert Pearsall Smith and eventually married the philosopher Bertrand Russell. [back]

4. As yet we have no information about this person. [back]

5. Evelyn Hunter Nordhoff (1865–1898) was the first female bookbinder in the US. She had learned her trade in London and became aquainted with Smith and his sister Mary Whitall Smith Costello there. [back]

6. The Costelloes were Benjamin Francis ("Frank") Conn Costelloe (1854–1899) and Mary Whitall Smith Costelloe (1864–1945). Frank was Mary's first husband, an English barrister and Liberal Party politician. Mary was a political activist, art historian, and critic, whom Whitman once called his "staunchest living woman friend." For more information about her, see Christina Davey, "Costelloe, Mary Whitall Smith (1864–1945)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).  [back]

7. Hannah Whitall Smith (1832–1911) was a speaker and author in the Holiness movement in the United States and the Higher Life Movement in Great Britain. She also participated in the women's suffrage movement. She was the wife of Robert Pearsall Smith and the mother of Mary, Alys Pearsall, and Logan Pearsall Smith. [back]

8. William Francis Cowper-Temple, 1st Baron Mount Temple (1811–1888) was a British Liberal Party politician. [back]


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