Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Ernest Rhys, 18 November 1890

Date: November 18, 1890

Whitman Archive ID: nyp.00750

Source: The Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, New York Public Library. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 6:53. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Cristin Noonan, Marie Ernster, Erel Michaelis, and Stephanie Blalock




Camden N J, U S America1
Nov: 18 '90—

Nothing particular to write but tho't I w'd send a word. Still here in same spot (holding out the fort sort o')—Still grip & bladder trouble on me badly—writing a little—I believe I sent you Ingersoll's2 lecture3—A visitor to-day f'm England Mr Aidé4 (with Stanley5)—I am sitting here by oak wood fire—


Walt Whitman


Correspondent:
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).

Notes:

1. This letter is addressed: Ernest Rhys | Care Walter Scott Pub'r | Warwick Lane | Paternoster row | London England This letter has been readdressed in another hand: Mr E. Rhys | 1 Mount Vernon | Hampstead. It is postmarked: Camden, N.J. | Nov 19 | 6 AM | 90; London E C | A | No 28 90 | A(?). [back]

2. Robert "Bob" Green Ingersoll (1833–1899) was a Civil War veteran and an orator of the post-Civil War era, known for his support of agnosticism. Ingersoll was a friend of Whitman, who considered Ingersoll the greatest orator of his time. Whitman said to Traubel, "It should not be surprising that I am drawn to Ingersoll, for he is Leaves of Grass. He lives, embodies, the individuality I preach. I see in Bob the noblest specimen—American-flavored—pure out of the soil, spreading, giving, demanding light" (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Wednesday, March 25, 1891). The feeling was mutual. Upon Whitman's death in 1892, Ingersoll delivered the eulogy at the poet's funeral. The eulogy was published to great acclaim and is considered a classic panegyric (see Phyllis Theroux, The Book of Eulogies [New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997], 30). [back]

3. On October 21, 1890, at Horticultural Hall in Philadelphia, Robert Ingersoll delivered a lecture in honor of Walt Whitman titled Liberty in Literature. Testimonial to Walt Whitman. Whitman recorded in his Commonplace Book that the lecture was "a noble, (very eulogistic to WW & L of G) eloquent speech, well responded to by the audience," and the speech itself was published in New York by the Truth Seeker Company in 1890 (Whitman's Commonplace Book [Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.]). [back]

4. Charles Hamilton Aidé (1826–1906) was a poet, novelist, and British army officer, who served as a secretary to the explorer Sir Henry Morton Stanley (1841–1904). [back]

5. Sir Henry Morton Stanley (1841–1904) was a Welsh journalist and explorer who made a triumphal tour of America in 1890. [back]


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