Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Logan Pearsall Smith to Walt Whitman, [11 April 1891]

Date: [April 11, 1891]

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03829

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 notes July 31 1891," is in the hand of Horace Traubel.

Contributors to digital file: Cristin Noonan, Amanda J. Axley, Marie Ernster, and Stephanie Blalock

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Dear Mr. Whitman

Just a line to tell you that we are all well. We have come to the country for Easter, and it is most pleasant. Things are just beginning to come out, and the birds are arriving. The woods are full of primroses, anenomes, and daffodils—I wish we could send you some.

Alys2 and mother3 have got home from Sicily, and I am here from Oxford.

A very nice etching of you has just arrived from Leon Richeton.4 He has printed 300, and is selling them. He says he has sent one to you.

Mother and I have been planting things in our garden to-day—I really think I should enjoy doing a little gardening—I mean to try it some day.

This is my last term at Oxford—that dear place—after that I shall be free, and may turn up in America before long. There is so much of the raw material of literature in America—so much as yet unexpressed. I am anxious to try my hand in a modest way at it. The Quaker community in which I was brought up interests me immensely—I have always felt that the traditions of Philadelphia were much better material than the New England Hawthorne5 made so much of.

I hope you keep well. much love from all here, dear Mr. Whitman

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. This letter is addressed: Walt Whitman | 328 Mickle St | Camden | N.J. | U. S. America. It is postmarked: HASL [illegible]| B | AP11 | 91; NEW YORK | APR | 20; PAID | G | ALL; B | 91; CAMDEN, N.J. | APR | 20 | 3PM | 1891 | REC'D. [back]

2. Alyssa ("Alys") Whitall Pearsall Smith (1867–1951) was born in Philadelphia and became a Quaker relief organizer. She attended Bryn Mawr College and was a graduate of the class of 1890. She and her family lived in Britain for two years during her childhood and again beginning in 1888. She married the philosopher Bertrand Russell in 1894; the couple later separated, and they divorced in 1921. Smith also served as the chair of a society committee that set up the "Mothers and Babies Welcome" (the St Pancras School for Mothers) in London in 1907; this health center, dedicated to reducing the infant mortality rate, provided a range of medical and educational services for women. Smith was the daughter of Robert Pearsall and Hannah Whitall Smith, and she was the sister of Mary Whitall Smith (1864–1945), the political activist, art historian, and critic, whom Whitman once called his "staunchest living woman friend." [back]

3. 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, and Logan Pearsall Smith. [back]

4. Léon Richeton (1854–1934) was a painter and etcher. He often etched landscapes, and he copied works by other artists, including the English painter Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769–1830) and the English portrait painter Thomas Gainsborough (1727–1788). Richeton produced works for P. G. Hamerton's artistic periodical The Portfolio and produced etched portraits of Thomas Carlyle (1870) and Walt Whitman (ca. 1880). [back]

5. Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804–1864) was an American novelist and short story writer. He is the author of the novels The Scarlet Letter (1850) and The House of the Seven Gables (1851), among many other works. Hawthorne joined Brook Farm, a transcendentalist and utopian community in the early 1840s, and in 1842 he married the illustrator and writer Sophia Peabody (1809–1871). The couple had three children, Una, Julian, and Rose Hawthorne (Mother Mary Alphonsa). [back]


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