Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Logan Pearsall Smith to Walt Whitman, 3 October 1890

Date: October 3, 1890

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03826

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, Breanna Himschoot, and Stephanie Blalock

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Oct 3rd 1890
Friday's Hill House.

Dear Mr. Whitman

Thanks for your postal card,1 we are always so glad when we come down to breakfast and find something there with your good black hand writing—so unlike anybody else's. As I wrote you2 the books came safely to hand and are greatly appreciated by our friends who ordered them.3 And that splendid complete volume4 you sent father5—that is a book! You know how to get out such nice editions—there is no one who has nicer ones.

We have just been having a party of about a dozen young people staying with us to help in an "opera" which we wrote and performed last Saturday. It was about Oxford, showing how some women-students got possession of a man's college and turned the men out. But alas, when the women were once in they began quarreling—some wishing to be serious and study, & some to have a good time— & in the end they all eloped with a handsome undergraduate and the men got back their college. It was very amusing—my part was to dance a ballet, which I did, in full ballet costume.

We have had a lovely summer here all-together, with visits from lots of friends—each of whom has brought some interesting word with him.

In a week now I go back to Oxford—to Balliol College, for my last year. It is a dear place. I shall hate to leave it.

all send love
yours affectionately
Logan Pearsall Smith

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 Costelloe, 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).


1. See Whitman's August 12, 1890, postal card to Smith. [back]

2. Whitman enclosed a letter from Smith with his August 27, 1890, letter to William Sloane Kennedy. Smith's letter has not survived. See Whitman's postal card of August 12, where the poet said that he would send the books to London rather than Haslemere. [back]

3. In the August 12 entry of his Commonplace Book the poet notes that the funds were received "for twelve copies [of the] pocket b'k b'd L of G" (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). In celebration of his seventieth year, Whitman published the limited and autographed pocket-book edition of Leaves of Grass, a volume which also included the annex Sands at Seventy and his essay A Backward Glance O'er Traveled Roads[back]

4. Whitman's Complete Poems & Prose (1888), a volume Whitman often referred to as the "big book," was published by the poet himself—in an arrangement with publisher David McKay, who allowed Whitman to use the plates for both Leaves of Grass and Specimen Days—in December 1888. With the help of Horace Traubel, Whitman made the presswork and binding decisions for the volume. Frederick Oldach bound the book, which included a profile photo of the poet on the title page. For more information on the book, see Ed Folsom, Whitman Making Books/Books Making Whitman: A Catalog and Commentary (University of Iowa: Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, 2005). [back]

5. 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]


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