Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Robert Pearsall Smith to Walt Whitman, 20 June 1888

Date: June 20, 1888

Whitman Archive ID: loc.05870

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.

Related item: Whitman wrote a letter to Richard Maurice Bucke on the back of the second page of this letter. Whitman then sent the letters to Bucke, who received this letter from the Smiths as an enclosure. See loc.05871.

Contributors to digital file: Jeannette Schollaert, Ian Faith, Stefan Schöberlein, and Stephanie Blalock

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Steamship Aller
June 20th. 1888.

My dear Friend —

It was with much regret that we felt compelled to leave you in your sickness last week. We hold you in affectionate remembrance as we pass over the waters to England where once we hoped to have had your company. We beg that you will send us from time to time as you feel able accounts of your health and of all that nearly concerns you concerns us also who love you.

Our passage across the whole way has been nearly as smooth as a duck pond, and my health has been very much benefited by it.

I bear your messages of love and remembrance to your many many friends in London, who without my privileges of personal fellowship with you, honour and love you. I hope that the knowledge of this may often cheer and console you in hours of pain and weariness. Alys,1 my faithful secretary, joins me in the expression of the hearty affection with which I am always

Your loving friend
R. Pearsall Smith
per Alys

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).


1. Alys Smith (1867–1951) was a daughter of Robert Pearsall Smith and the sister of Mary Whitall Smith Costelloe. She eventually married the philosopher Bertrand Russell. [back]


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