Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Charles T. Sempers to Walt Whitman, 4 March 1888

Date: March 4, 1888

Whitman Archive ID: loc.07372

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, "Chas Sempers," is in an unknown hand.

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

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Cambridge Mass,
March 4, '881

Dear Mr. Whitman:

I enclose formal invitation of the Signet Society,—a senior literary society. Prof. Wm James2 would like you to be his guest if you can see your way to accept the Signet invitation. The society of course pays your expenses to and from Cambridge.

You may be pleased to know that Mr. Ernest Rhys3 is to lecture to Harvard students next Tuesday evening on the "New Poetry."

I wish to take this opportunity of expressing the personal satisfaction and pleasure not to say inspiration which your poetry have been to me during the last three years. I sent you some time ago a little article4 on your poetry which I published in the Harvard Monthly. I trust you received it safely. I have to apologize for a slight inaccuracy which crept into my article. It may not be uninteresting to you to know that I am making a special study of your poetry under the guidance of one of the English instructors here.

With thanks for the brave strong words you have spoken and assurances of a deep personal interest in you and your work

I remain
Most truly yours
Charles T. Sempers.

46 Mt. Auburn St.
Cambridge Mass.,
March 3, 1888

Dear Sir

The Signet Society of Harvard College has authorized me to extend to you an invitation to make an address under its auspices in Sanders Theatre.

Awaiting your reply I remain,

Very truly yours,
Charles T. Sempers

Walt Whitman
Camden N.J.

Charles T. Sempers was a Harvard student and later became a Unitarian minister in Boston.


1. This letter is addressed: Walt Whitman | Camden | New Jersey. It is postmarked: BOSTON MASS | MAR 4 | 9-15P | 1888; Camden, N.J. | Mar 5 | 1PM | 1888 | Rec'd. [back]

2. William James (1842–1910), brother of the writer Henry James, was an American psychologist, anatomist, and philosopher, famous for coining the term "stream of consciousness." James's works contain frequent references to Whitman. [back]

3. Ernest Percival Rhys (1859–1946) was a British author and editor; he founded the Everyman's Library series of inexpensive reprintings of popular works. He included a volume of Whitman's poems in the Canterbury Poets series and two volumes of Whitman's prose in the Camelot series for Walter Scott publishers. For more information about Rhys, see Joel Myerson, "Rhys, Ernest Percival (1859–1946)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

4. "Walt Whitman and His Philosophy" appeared in Harvard Monthly 5 (January 1888), 149–165. [back]


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