Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Sarah Tyndale to Walt Whitman, 1 July 1857

Date: July 1, 1857

Whitman Archive ID: loc.04300

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.

Notes for this letter were derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller, 6 vols. (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), and supplemented, updated, or created by Whitman Archive staff as appropriate.

Contributors to digital file: Lauren Claeys, Amanda J. Axley, Marie Ernster, Erel Michaelis, Kassie Jo Baron, and Stephanie M. Blalock

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7 mo 1—57

My Dear Friend

I received yours of the 29th last evening and hasten to comply with your request. a friend in the City will send you a check today for fifty Dollars Hector1 would be very glad to do it, but he left the City last monday.

I will help to pray for the good time which you evidently think is in reserve for you, I am quite sure it is—we all have times of groping in the dark but there is always enough light to find the true way, one thing has never failed me, that is to do this moment whatever my best judgment says I ought to do, and every succeeding hour and day it becomes easier to follow the same plan, in that way I have been enabled to overcome difficulties which many many times looked to be quite impassable. I never put off for tomorrow what ought to be done to day.

Am I writing a homily? I did not intend it. I know you will excuse me for apparently medling with your business I can not help it perhaps as I feel so great an interest in the success of Leaves of Grass. I was thinking yesterday of the difficulty you must have in having the work published, it is so ultra the publishers and it occured to me that it was quite possible that Mr Arnold2 or Mr Verner3 (I believe they have a press) could do it. With this hint I leave the subject to your better judgment

Mrs Walton4 has some means and I think would be willing to assist in geting out the work, entrenous.

I received a letter yesterday from a friend who stated that he had just received a letter from Worcester, in which the writer says, that Mr Alcot5 says, Walter Whitman is about to publish another edition of Leaves of Grass, leaving out all the objectionable parts, my friend in reply said he had understood that you intended no such thing. but intended to leave out every thing but your own poems.

He that receives the inspiration knows the best, but I with all my ultra radicalism would be delighted if some of the expressions were left out, the pictures are too vived in some instances. where it seems to me that common instinct seeks privacy, at the same time the entire nakedness of the intercourse is rather calculated to increase libidinousness in weak minds which Heaven knows is frightfully rampant, I feel constrained to treat all subjects of thought equally free and dispationately, but distrust the good effect of dwelling upon the rapture consiquent upon the indulgence of any of the appetites I detest drinking songs,& poems on the delight of eating the most luxurient food, and always consider their notaries as mean sensualists so too do I look upon an unnecessary expose of any personal enjoyment, whilst I would have the freest social intercourse, men and women associating humanly in all the true brotherly relations of life, insensably imparting the magnetism of humanity to each other, which would rectify the morbed condition of society on the great subject of procreation, however this is ground you have gone over hundreds of times, and I ought to have taken a hint from your brief note, brevity is not generally a womans fort.

Please write me when you receive this, kind regards to your mother

Yours in the brotherhood of the race
Sarah Tyndale

Walter Whitman

Sarah Thorn Tyndale (1792–1859) was an abolitionist from Philadelphia who met Walt Whitman during Amos Bronson Alcott and Henry David Thoreau's visit to the Whitman home in November 1856. For more information on Tyndale, see "Tyndale, Sarah Thorn [1792–1859]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


1. Hector Tyndale (1821–1880), son of Sarah Tyndale and Robinson Tyndale, was a Philadelphia merchant and importer like his father. During the Civil War, he played a significant role at the Battle of Antietam and rose to the rank of brigadier general in the Union Army. Whitman described a meeting with him on February 25, 1857 (The Complete Writings of Walt Whitman [New York: G. P. Putnam, 1902], 9:154–155). Louisa Van Velsor Whitman apparently made an impression on Tyndale. Whitman wrote to his mother that Tyndale "has been to see me again—always talks about you" (see Whitman's June 29, 1866, letter to Louisa). [back]

2. John Arnold lived with his daughter's family in the same house as the Abby and Edmund Price family. Helen Price, Abby's daughter, described Arnold as "a Swedenborgian," with whom Whitman frequently argued without "the slightest irritation between them" (Richard Maurice Bucke, Walt Whitman [Philadelphia: David McKay, 1883], 26–27). [back]

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

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

5. Amos Bronson Alcott (1799–1888) was an American educator, abolitionist, and father of Louisa May Alcott (1832–1888), whose 1868 novel Little Women (loosely based on the Alcott home) secured the financial stability her father had been unable to achieve through his own work as a teacher and transcendentalist. See also The Journals of Bronson Alcott, ed. Odell Shepard (Boston: Little, Brown, 1938), 286–290. [back]


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