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Ernest Rhys to Walt Whitman, 3 April 1888

 loc.03326.001_large.jpg See notes July 23 1888 Dear Walt Whitman,

Thanks for note forwarded.—reached me this morning! Here in Boston I have had some queer ups-&-downs. The notorious blizzard ruined one lecture completely, but since then two have passed off with good success, & I am  loc.03326.002_large.jpg safe from bankruptcy,—glad to be able to get off with a whole skin to England & home. I think of leaving here for New York next Monday or Tuesday, & then taking a trip to Washington, returning via. Philadelphia for a last visit of two or three days. Spring is probably more forward with you, than up here; I hope the brighter weather is giving you good cheer,—after  loc.03326.003_large.jpg the long imprisonment of winter.

Kennedy3 has not crossed my sight very recently; I hope to spend an evening with him before I leave. He went with me the other day to see the collection of Jean François Millet's4 paintings at Mr. Quincey Shaw's, Brookline.5 A grand array they make,— giving one new insight into the human environment of earth & sky & water. How paltry this life of  loc.03326.004_large.jpg parlours & carpets in comparison!

The note from H. Gilchrist,6 which you sent on the other day, shows him full of work & good spirits. Of course he ends with "Love to Walt" as usual. Several other young fellows over there, who have written lately, have also sent greetings & love, to which adding my own, I am, as always,

Yours affectionately, Ernest Rhys  loc.03326.005_large.jpg  loc.03326.006_large.jpg

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).


  • 1. The St. Botolph Club, founded in 1880, was a well-known social club in Boston, named after Botwulf of Thorney, the patron saint of Boston, England. The club attracted many luminary figures, including Henry Cabot Lodge and John Boyle O'Reilly. [back]
  • 2. This letter is addressed: to Walt Whitman | 328 Mickle St. | Camden, | New Jersey. It is postmarked: BOSTON. MASS | APR 4 | 4–AM |1888. [back]
  • 3. William Sloane Kennedy (1850–1929) was on the staff of the Philadelphia American and the Boston Transcript; he also published biographies of Longfellow, Holmes, and Whittier (Dictionary of American Biography [New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1933], 336–337). Apparently Kennedy called on the poet for the first time on November 21, 1880 (William Sloane Kennedy, Reminiscences of Walt Whitman [London: Alexander Gardener, 1896], 1). Though Kennedy was to become a fierce defender of Whitman, in his first published article he admitted reservations about the "coarse indecencies of language" and protested that Whitman's ideal of democracy was "too coarse and crude"; see The Californian, 3 (February 1881), 149–158. For more about Kennedy, see Katherine Reagan, "Kennedy, William Sloane (1850–1929)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]
  • 4. Jean-François Millet (1814–1875) was a French realist painter and founder of the Barbizon School. He is noted for his depictions of peasant farmers. [back]
  • 5. Quincy Adams Shaw (1825–1908) was a wealthy Boston Brahmin businessman and art collector. He traveled with his cousin, the historian Francis Parkman, to the American West in the 1840s and is a key figure in Parkman's The Oregon Trail. He amassed a large collection of Millet's paintings, which Whitman saw when he was in Boston in 1881. [back]
  • 6. Herbert Harlakenden Gilchrist (1857–1914), son of Alexander and Anne Gilchrist, was an English painter and editor of Anne Gilchrist: Her Life and Writings (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1887). For more information, see Marion Walker Alcaro, "Gilchrist, Herbert Harlakenden (1857–1914)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]
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