Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to William Ingram, 13 September 1888

Date: September 13, 1888

Whitman Archive ID: prc.00130

Source: Private Collection of Professor Harold D. Kelling. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961—1977), 4:209–210. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Ryan Furlong, Marie Ernster, Erel Michaelis, and Stephanie Blalock

Thursday noon
Sept: 13 '88

Thanks, dear friend,2 & to dear Mrs: I[ngram]3—the fruit came this forenoon by express—all safe—& the bottles of wine ditto—thanks. Beautiful perfect weather here. I am still kept in my sick room, (but no worse)—My book printing4 goes on smoothly—My "Notes," such as they are, on E[lias] H[icks]5 among the rest—the bunch of golden rods on my table as I write—

Walt Whitman

William Ingram, a Quaker, kept a tea store—William Ingram and Son Tea Dealers—in Philadelphia. Of Ingram, Whitman observed to Horace Traubel: "He is a man of the Thomas Paine stripe—full of benevolent impulses, of radicalism, of the desire to alleviate the sufferings of the world—especially the sufferings of prisoners in jails, who are his protégés" (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Sunday, May 20, 1888). Ingram and his wife visited the physician Richard Maurice Bucke and his family in Canada in 1890.


1. This letter is addressed: Wm Ingram | Telford | Bucks Co: | Penn:. It is postmarked: (?)den, N.J. | Sep 13 | 8 PM | 88. [back]

2. This is Whitman's reply to Ingram's letter of September 12, 1888. When discussing this letter with Horace Traubel, the poet pronounced Ingram "the best salt of the earth: he is the finest sample of the democrat—of the plain self-sufficient comrade: a real man among real men" (Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, "Friday, September 14, 1888." [back]

3. Little is known about Jane Ingram (ca. 1826), the wife of William Ingram, who was the owner of a tea store in Philadelphia. [back]

4. Whitman's November Boughs—a book of prose and poetry—was published in 1888 by David McKay. The book included a long prefatory essay, "A Backward Glance O'er Travel'd Roads," a collection of sixty short poems under the title "Sands at Seventy," and reprints of several articles already published elsewhere. For more information on November Boughs, 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]

5. Elias Hicks (1748–1830) was 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. Hicks had been a friend of Whitman's father and grandfather, and Whitman himself was a supporter and proponent of Hicks's teachings, writing about him in Specimen Days (see "Reminiscence of Elias Hicks") and November Boughs (see "Elias Hicks, Notes (such as they are)"). For more on Hicks and his influence on Whitman, see David S. Reynolds, Walt Whitman's America (New York: Knopf, 1995), 37–39. [back]


Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Matt Cohen, Ed Folsom, & Kenneth M. Price, editors.