Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Alice Hicks Van Tassel to Walt Whitman, 28 April 1889

Date: April 28, 1889

Whitman Archive ID: loc.04352

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: Zainab Saleh, Stephanie Blalock, and Brandon James O'Neil

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Brooklyn, E. D.
April 28th 1889

Mr Whitman,

November boughs1 just recd. Am so filled with gratitude can scarce express my feelings. Tis the first time I have had the pleasure of gazing up on the picture of my Great Great Uncle Elias Hicks.

I shall always cherish the memory of Walt Whitman and this beautiful and instructive Volume November boughs.

When this life shall have ceased to cherish the book thou hast so kindly presented me, it shall fall to the pocession of your name sake Fred Whitman Van Tassel.2

In return for this precious gift, I shall present you his picture, which shall be taken expressly for you, may his baby face please you, he is just two years old.

Mr Whitman, I have no father now, he passed peacefully a way to his heavenly rest, Six years a go, since he has gone I miss his kindly face, and his tender love. He was to me a Mother, he loved his Grand children dearly, Since God took his life have been weary and dreary, but with the radiant hope of meeting him in the bright here after. I have patiently submited to the will of God, it is through him I breathe, live, and have my being.

Father and Mother gone, a vacency is felt never to be replaced untill we meet on that glorious shore, in the kingdom above, where parting is no more.

Trusting the Spirit of Jesus is hovering over and administering into your comforts, I close with much thankfulness of the heart for your great generosity in the presentation of so worthy a Volume, November boughs.

I Remain
Yours Truly
Alice Hicks Van Tassel

Little is known about Alice Hicks Van Tassel. She was the great grandniece of Elias Hicks—a Quaker from Long Island whose controversial teachings led to a split in the Religious Society of Friends in 1827, a division that was not resolved until 1955. She was the daughter of Charles Toll Hicks (1825–1883) and Selina "Lena" Hardiker Hicks (d. 1887). Alice was married to William Van Tassal.


1. Whitman's November Boughs was published in October 1888 by Philadelphia publisher David McKay. For more information on the book, see James E. Barcus Jr., "November Boughs [1888]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

2. Fred Whitman Van Tassal was Alice's son. [back]


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