Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: William C. Angus to Walt Whitman, 26 October 1888

Date: October 26, 1888

Whitman Archive ID: med.00830

Source: The location of this manuscript is unknown. The transcription presented here is derived from Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, ed. Sculley Bradley (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1953), 4:198–199. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Alex Ashland, Stefan Schöberlein, Caterina Bernardini, and Stephanie Blalock

October 26, 1888.

Walt Whitman, Dear Sir—

I am glad to see by the Pall Mall Budget of yesterday that you are in fairly good health. Were I near you I should like to have the honor of paying my personal respects to you. I am your debtor. When a young man I read your Leaves of Grass 1855 edition. It revealed a new world to me—the world within myself. Your Specimen Days1 I regard as the most humane book of the present century.

While breathing the spirit of freedom it bears no feeling of ill will against those who wished to keep chains on men because their skins were black.

I might say more, but enough to satisfy you that I have a real sympathy with your life's work, and that I regard your Leaves of Grass as being the most original of American books.

If you would write your name upon my 1855 edition, which I intend to present to a public library, I should send it to you. I should like the book to represent your penmanship as well as your skill as a printer. Hoping you will be willing to render me this service, I am, dear Poet, yours truly,

W. C. Angus

William Craibe Angus (1830–1899) was a Scottish art dealer from Glasgow.


1. The first issue of Whitman's Specimen Days and Collect was published by the Philadelphia firm of Rees Welsh and Company in 1882. The second issue was published by David McKay. Many of the autobiographical notes, sketches, and essays that focus on the poet's life during and beyond the Civil War had been previously published in periodicals or in Memoranda During the War (1875–1876). For more information on Specimen Days, see George Hutchinson and David Drews "Specimen Days [1882]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]


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