Mitchell Santine Gould: Sources & Essays

Walt Whitman's Unrecognized Borrowings

Whitman’s Debt to Tupper  Whitman scholars are more or less (usually less) willing to acknowledge that the so-called “innovative” verse form used by the poet was borrowed from Martin Farquhar Tupper. To say that Leaves of Grass was indebted to Tupper is an understatement. Not only do the lines, “lawless as snowflakes,” bear a strong resemblence, but a survey of all Tupper’s output reveals many striking examples where Whitman borrowed images, concepts, or phrasings from Tupper’s highly-successful books.
Whitman’s Debt to Carlyle  Although Charles Roberts Anderson (in 1965) and Thomas Edward Crawley (in 2014) vaguely alluded to Whitman’s indebtedness to Thomas Carlyle, the literal borrowings from Thomas Carlyle’s Heroes and Hero-Worship were only enumerated at LeavesOfGrass.Org.
Whitman’s Debt to Hicock  As previously shown at LeavesOfGrass.Org, the geological tropes in Leaves of Grass were lifted from Rational Psychology, an 1848 book reprinted in 1854, by Laurence P Hicock.

Sailors, Lovers, and Quakers in the Making of New York

Friends of the New York Seaport, Quaker History, 2019  This is the first-ever comprehensive survey of Friends’ crucial contributions to the merchant marine and the rise of the Port of New York. Quaker historians have yet to appreciate the crucial role these Friends played in the utter transformation of global shipping, not to mention of New York City, although it is a familiar story to New York historians. This essay attempts to establish awareness of forgotten Quaker roles in the merchant marine, the Erie Canal, finance, philanthropy, and the spectacular development of New York City. A version of this essay was published in Quaker History, Spring 2019
Elias Hicks and the Spirit of New York  This pamphlet seeks to deepen our conception of Elias Hicks (1748 — 1830) beyond the mere “farmer” imagined by historians. It seeks to illuminate how Hicksite theology expressed the commercial values of the New York seaport during the Age of Sail, a world now gone with the wind — a forgotten way of life, so different from our own. In doing so, we shall touch the essence of our beliefs about human sexuality, and deepen our appreciation of Quakerism’s unique contribution to modern society: an historic advocacy of the sanctity of individual conscience.
Sailors: the Wheels on Melville’s Coach (video) Contribution to “Maritime Toxic Masculinity,” an online conference conducted by Global Maritime History on April 26, 2019. This documentary addresses the extraordinary disincentives to maritime labor during the Age of Sail, using modern psychological insights into Sensation Seeking Behavior to illuminate Herman Melville’s trope of sailors as the wheels on a coach. There is a special emphasis on same-sex acts afloat, which the author argues was the flip side of the forbidden sexual habits involving prostitution ashore. Comparing Melville to Whitman, this film explores how both authors ascribed sexual tolerance to Quaker values and culture.

Elias Hicks’s Inner Light Theology and Walt Whitman’s Quaker Paradox

Walt Whitman’s Quaker Paradox, Quaker History, 2007  The life and works of Walt Whitman [1819-1892], the author of Leaves of Grass, pose many challenges for the serious student of American history. One of the most intractable problems has proven to be his lifelong, conspicuous affiliation with Quakers — with their theology, values, heritage, and their many social reforms, as well as with their distinctive dress and speech. I have called this puzzle “Walt Whitman’s Quaker paradox.” This essay revealed that long before Walt Whitman became the premiere lightning-rod for puritanical America, the Inner Light theology of Elias Hicks provoked similar criticism.
Some (F)riends of Walt Whitman This is the first and only comprehensive review of Walt Whitman’s Quakerism, encompassing: (1) an overview of 19th-century Quakerism; (2) the forgotten aspects of antebellum life which enabled Quakers to be such leading players; (3) new Light on the Hicksite Schism; (4) the forgotten Hicks sermons referenced in Whitman’s marginalia; (5) Whitman’s “Good Gray Poet” brand; (6) Whitman in the context of recurring historic intersections between Gay and Quaker history; (7) the uneasy creation of Whitman’s botched Elias Hicks essay; (8) the theme of tolerance as “the Spirit of New York;” and (9) 20th-century Quakers forgetting their close association with Walt Whitman.
Forgetting “Friend Walt:” Whitman and Hicksite Amnesia  After Walt Whitman's death in 1892, Friends’ grasp of the unmentionable relationship between love, faith, and sex decayed swiftly. To recreate the course of this spiritual devolution, LeavesOfGrass.Org revealed a candid eulogy published by Moncure Conway in an obscure journal shortly after Whitman’s funeral; Whitmania (in the literary sense of the term) embraced by the journal Friends Intelligencer; praise for the late Whitman among Haverford alumni; and the sale of Leaves of Grass by self-styled “Quaker Infidel,” Elimina Slenker. None of these items have been considered by either Quaker or Whitman scholars.
Daniel Brinton: Walt Whitman, Child of Light  In the sacred moment of Whitman’s funeral, Quaker Daniel G. Brinton asserted that “the iteration of this child of the doctrine of the inner light, whose mortal remains we now consign to the tomb, was ’Be thyself.’” I view Brinton as the de facto Quaker ambassador to Whitman’s circle.
Walt Whitman’s Elias Hicks Marginalia  In April, 2020, the online Walt Whitman Archive began to publish transcriptions of Whitman’s marginalia, in books he is known to have personally owned. Now, for the first time, we can actually trace his debt to the Perfectionist, Inner-Light ethos of his principal hero, the influential Quaker theologian and dear friend of the Whitman family on Long Island: Elias Hicks. In A Defence of the Christian Doctrines of the Society of Friends — a book which repeatedly quotes Hicks’s sermons, for the purpose of attacking his advanced, rationalist Christology — Whitman underscored many passages and additionally bracketed some of them. The decision to restrict this analysis mostly to a few Whitman documents has not been an easy one. The profound contradictions between Whitman’s role as the 19th century’s most eloquent voice for the right to sexual-determination and his close and frequent affinities with Quaker culture have baffled scholars ever since his life and work were first subjected to serious critical scrutiny… since, after all, contemporary Friends had cultivated a reputation for moral rectitude that bordered upon asceticism. In 2007, this exceedingly complex problem was labeled “Walt Whitman’s Quaker Paradox.”
Walt Whitman’s Rebuke to Standish O'Grandy  This paper, first of all, seeks to fix 1883 as the date of Whitman’s earliest explicit denial of sex in Calamus, in case this hasn’t already been clearly recognized. Far beyond that, it seeks to provide insight into both O’Grady’s and Whitman’s positions concerning manly love. Whitman’s sexual identity was a matter of controversy in his own lifetime and throughout the 20th century, culminating in today’s scholarly consensus that he was indeed sexually active as a gay man. So we shall skip the familiar arguments and facts behind the matter and proceed with the task at hand: exploring the Victorian crisis of masculinity, and the Hicksite theology of “God-implanted voices.”
Let Brotherly Love Continue [1824] (video) This video dramatizes the liberation theology of Walt Whitman's principal hero: his former neighbor and family friend, Elias Hicks [1748 — 1830]. It reveals Friend Hicks as Whitman saw him. Quaker history has so far only recognized two causes of the epochal Hicksite Schism: a shift towards fundamentalism and a struggle over Meeting governance. I determined that the sexual implications of Hicks’ insistence on the Inner Light were a third cause. That controversy was so incendiary, however, that it disappeared from Quaker journals two years after Hicks' death in 1830.
Walt Whitman and the Secret of the Inner Light  Lecture at the Walt Whitman dinner of 1905 by author Henry David Wright: “Professor Powys, from Cambridge University, England, who lectured here last winter, said that Whitman was the colossal intellect of the last century, and that when we understand the secrets of his book, and of this strange old man, we will understand the secrets of the universe. So with the Inner Light of Quakerism: ’The light that never was on land or sea.’”
1916: Whitman Guided by the Inner Light  Significant because it reiterates the point that in the World War I era, Friends did not object to Whitman’s sexuality and recognized him as guided by the Inner Light, as shown by his acceptance by Friends Intelligencer, the Quaker journal of record: “Whitman shows the influence of his Quaker upbringing, and the evidence of his sincere belief in the inner light.”
Did Walt Whitman Come from a Quaker Family?  Although Walt Whitman was nearly as great a lie-teller as a truth-teller, we can feel confident the following answer is perfectly accurate. “My father was not, properly speaking, a Quaker: he was a friend, I might almost say a follower, of Elias Hicks: my mother came partly of Quaker stock: all her leanings were that way—her sympathies: her fundamental emotional tendencies.”
At Haverford College, The Gospel of Comradeship  Alfred Cope Garrett, who served on the Board of Managers of Haverford College, privately published his “Signs of the Times in Literature.” Poetry, Garret said, “may once more plunge into the darkness of pain, sin, and perversity, — may even appropriate the flat common-place, for the sake of the significance which lies beneath. This is the direction in art which Walt Whitman more fully exemplifies... I tell you the movement of the future is not for individualism, it is for union — the new union of men’s hearts; not for freedom, but for fellowship; not for selfishness, but for comradeship! If you would hear an expression of the right spirit of peace, of the gospel of comradeship, and that arising from below to meet us, listen to a chant of old Walt Whitman’s :— 'I dreamed that was the new city of Friends...'”

Orthodox Attacks on Hicksite Morality

Walt Whitman’s Quaker Paradox, Quaker History, 2007  This essay provides a number of charges by Orthodox critics that Hicks’s theology of the Inner Light could lead to an outbreak of sexual immorality. I have suggested that such charges were suppressed from further mention in the Quaker press within one year of Hicks’s 1830 death. The Friends’ Book of Discipline forbade such “back-biting” and “tale-telling.”
1831: Free Indulgence of Their Corrupt Propensities  In 1831, Orthodox journalist Elisha Bates charges that since the late Elias Hicks strove to “gain admiration of the licentious,” and “It will not seem strange that the doctrines of Elias Hicks, should be congenial to the feelings of those who are disposed to the free indulgence of their corrupt propensities and desires.”
1828: Evan Lewis Restates Hicks’s Ethics  “I can safely appeal to every man’s experience [that] a desire for the gratification of self, in some way or manner — the indulgence of some appetite or passion, beyond the limitations of divine truth — [has been] the efficient cause of all the sin, that he has ever committed. Trace all the sins and wickedness we see in the world around us, to their source, and we shall find self, or a desire to gratify self in unlawful indulgence, to be the root from which they all spring.”

Elias Hicks’s Inner Light Theology and Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Self Reliance

Walt Whitman of the New York Aurora  Proposes that: (1) Whitman was fully tuned into Transcendentalism by 1842; (2) Emerson himself admitted that Self-Reliance was in essence the secularization of the Quaker doctrine of Inner Light; (3) the earliest embryo of Leaves of Grass is contained in Whitman’s 1842 essay, “Life and Love.” The following account consists of a very close reading of six snippets regarding Transcendentalism in his newspaper, the New York Aurora. This paper aims to reveal Whitman’s earliest advocacy of unspeakable love beneath the spiritual charter of Inner Light. It therefore suggests that the prominent Whitman scholar Jerome Loving was more right than he knew, when he declared, “The year 1842 was pivotal in Whitman’s development as a poet.” Following the eminent Quaker historian, Frederick B Tolles, we identify the key doctrine of Transcendentalism, Self-Reliance, as the secularization of Quakerism’s Inner Light.
The Socratic Daimonion in Quaker Thought, 1678-1948  From his introduction by Quaker theologian Robert Barclay in the 1670s, until Rufus Jones’ last sermon in 1948, Socrates remained a key exemplar for Friends’ insistence on universal salvation. Following the earliest Christian theologians, Friends argued that all Greeks who preached the One True God to a pagan society were prophets. As early Friends began to focus on legends of the philosopher’s daimonion, however, Socrates gradually stepped out of their general lineup of en-Light-ened Greeks to emerge as the preferred pre-Christian ambassador for the doctrine of divine illumination. But curiously, the Quaker tradition never developed an accurate portrayal of the daemonic phenomenon, and in the case of Rufus Jones, this was especially curious because his personal philosophy was recognized as Socratic. On the other hand, antebellum New Bedford’s ex-Quaker, Mary Rotch, exhibited not only a more faithful, but more pragmatic, understanding of Socrates’ daimonion. As originally shown by Fredrick B. Tolles, her embrace of a similar spirit, or sign, played a pivotal role in the development of Emerson’s Self-Reliance — the key doctrine of Transcendentalism. This paper reviews the historic usage of Socrates as an implicit exemplar of Friendly action: as gadfly, as martyr, and above all, as mystic — specifically, as channel for the central mystery in Quaker theology: “the Ray of that true Light which lighteth every Man who cometh into the world.”
Burroughs: Whitman’s Self-Reliance and Inner Light  John Burroughs de facto eulogy for Walt Whitman: “In many ways was Whitman, quite unconsciously to himself, the man Emerson invoked and prayed for — the absolutely self-reliant man... He ignored entirely all social and conventional usages and hypocrisies, not by revolt against them, but by choosing a point of view from which they disappeared... The voice of that inner self was final and authoritative with him. It was the voice of God. He could drive through and over all the conventions of the world in obedience to that voice.”
Quakerism and Transcendentalism: “a Perfect Identity”  In 1842, Emerson received an appreciative letter from a Quaker which recognized Transcendentalism as the secularization of Quakerism: “It is very interesting to me to see, as I do, all around me here, the essential doctrines of the Quakers revived, modified, stript of all that puritanism and sectarianism had heaped upon them, and made the foundation of an intellectual philosophy... the Quakers... have educated the world till it is now able to go beyond those teachers.” In response, Emerson confirmed that “The identity, which the writer of this letter finds between the speculative opinions of serious persons at the present moment, and those entertained by the first Quakers, is indeed so striking as to have drawn a very general attention of late years to the history of that sect.”

Quakers and Sexuality

God within the Breast: Hicksite Sexuality...  Frederick B Tolles found in 1938 that American Transcendentalism, in a significant way, represented a secularized Quakerism. Walt Whitman stated emphatically that Elias Hicks exerted “a long plane of influence” “largely felt outside of that Society.” This was manifested in two major historical developments: Transcendentalism and the Free Love movement. The introduction of Hicks’s Inner Light as a theological justification of the Free Love movement began even before Hicks's death, in the speeches of Frances Wright.
1852, 1855: God Reveals to the Instinct  Marx Edgeworth Lazarus dedicated his controversial Free Love manifesto, Love vs Marriage, to “All True Lovers. To the modest and the brave of either sex, who believe that God reveals to the instinct of each heart the laws which He destines it to obey, who fear not to follow the magic clew of charm, but defy the interference of all foreign powers, The Author dedicates this work.” This is a sterling example of Inner Light theology carried to its logical, daring conclusion. In 1855, within months of the appearance of Leaves of Grass, an investigative journalist for the New-York Daily Times interviewed a spokeswoman for the “Progressive Union" club, or “League Union of the Men of Progress," "grown out of an organization devised by certain social theorists, including Messrs. Stephen Pearl Andrews, Albert Brisbane, and others... [who] betook themselves to the consideration of Passional Attraction, or Free Love." The unnamed spokeswoman indicated that her free-love choices were inspired by “God Within." Spiritualist historian John Buescher pointed out to me an incident involving male couples on the ballroom dance floor: “some forgetting that such acts are generally deemed to be in bad taste, engage perhaps in a dance with each other, though a polite request from one of the managerial officials is sufficient to cause them to discontinue.” This is emblematic of the way in which Whitman’s Adhesiveness was treated as an unwanted stepchild of the greater Free Love movement.
For Sympathy, For Utterance, For Awakening  Horace Traubel recognized the English Quaker, Henry Bryan Binns, as the first author to pen a legitimate Whitman biography. This document offers brief reviews of Henry Bryan Binns’s own poetry, The Great Companions (1908, 1911). None of these criticize its whispered gay-liberation message, but rather, the literary merit, or lack thereof, in Binns’s poetry.
Benjamin Kirk Gray  Henry Bryan Binns, an English Quaker, was not only one of the earliest Whitman biographers, but the author of several impassioned works that resemble the literature of his friend and mentor Edward Carpenter. In his 1911 manifesto, The Great Companions, he profiles another friend: Unitarian minister, social worker, labor reformer, and sociologist Benjamin Kirkman Gray. Because Gray was a lifelong bachelor until the very last years of his life, a gay reading of Binn's rapturous eulogy comes easily. In 1905, Benjamin Kirkman Gray addressed the Friends’ Summer School at Street in an eulogy for Gray: “He had an affection for Quakerism, and especially for what he used delightedly to describe as the ‘dangerous doctrine of the inner light.’ One of his last public addresses was given in the little Meeting at Letchworth.” [Benjamin Kirkman Gray, Henry Bryan Binns, and Clementina Black. Modern Humanist; Miscellaneous papers of B. Kirkman Gray (London: A.C. Fifield, 1910), 54.
Honest Robin: “Out” in 1911  In 1911, English Quaker Henry Bryan Binns, one of the earliest Whitman biographers, and a friend to Edward Carpenter, published The Great Companions, a book clearly inspired by Whitman and Carpenter. The book’s title is taken from Whitman’s prophesy of the emergence of great companions, and the chapter’s title is taken from Whitman’s reminder that they would be the spiritual equivalents of those pioneers who tamed the American west. In this characteristic vignette, Binns seems to be alluding to period practices of a touch of lipstick and the wearing of notorious colors such as Wildean green, sure to trigger homophobic reactions on the street.
Many Queer Ways: Cornelius Heeney, Catholic-Quaker  At the turn of the century, Brooklyn’s most prominent Catholic philanthropist Cornelius Heeney was remembered as “an odd character” possessing “many queer ways:” until his death in 1848, he dressed like an 18th century Quaker. [“Cornelius Heeney, Founder of Brooklyn Society, Had Many Queer Ways” Brooklyn Eagle Sunday, October 29, 1899, 28.] As shown here, Heeney’s housemates included John George Gottsberger, Francis Cooper, and Patrick Halegan: “a sort of familiar who lived in the Brooklyn house with Mr. Heeney during the close of his life and exercised considerable influence over him.”

The Erotic Side of Brotherly Love in Fiction

Quaker Armor in S Weir Mitchell's Fiction  Did the 19th century version of the Quaker testimony on Equality extend to lovers of their own sex, such as Walt Whitman, Henry Clapp, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Susan B Anthony, Phebe Ann Coffin Hanaford, and Henry Scott Tuke? Decades of my research suggests that it did. How did Friends’ sexual tolerance manage to withstand the potential backlash inherent in Victorian society? My answer has always been that they were protected behind “the fence” of Quaker prohibitions. It would appear that above all, their commitment to nonviolence acted to protect them. This is suggested by S Weir Mitchell, Walt Whitman's physician, and author of Hugh Wynne, Free Quaker, an extremely queer novel about the love between between “Miss Gainor’s girl-boy — our own dear Jack,” and “Mr. Wynne... the perverted Quaker with the blue eyes.”
Defoe, Cooper, Melville Let Brotherly Love Continue  This paper explores ardent Brotherly Love as a conduit for God's love, first, in Thomas Lurting’s memoir of Quaker convincement aboard an English man o' war, “Fighting Sailor Turn'd Peaceable Christian,” and then, in novelist Daniel Defoe’s derivative portrayal of a Quaker “pyrate” in Captain Singleton. These are early treatments of one species of Quaker casuistry — the essential conflict between Friendly pacifism and a sailor’s complicity in a world of war, piracy, cruel discipline, or whaling. Subsequent tales by Joseph C Hart (Miriam Coffin) and Thomas Chandler Haliburton (The Season Ticket), however, ignored Quaker friendships and focused solely on the paradoxical violence of “Quakers Afloat.” The last novel to handle the problem of Friends at war was Hugh Wynne, by S Weir Mitchell. But there was a second species of Quaker casuistry: flirtations with male eros in a society (ostensibly) dominated by Biblical prohibitions against it. This continued to inspire novelists, because it continued to inform the actual lives of Quaker men. The letters of Henry Clapp and Elihu Hubbard Smith suggested that the cultural latitude for fervid affection among Friends could raise hackles in mainstream America. James Fennimore Cooper fictionalized his father’s passionate friendship with a private secretary in The Pioneers, while coyly hinting at the community’s misgivings about their relationship. Whereas Hart and Haliburton, in their novels, chose to wrestle only with the casuistry of bloodshed, Herman Melville, given his greater investment in love between men, cleverly subverted it in Moby Dick to allude to a more unspeakable casuistry: eroticized Brotherly Love. Embers of the inflamed sexual suspicions rampant in the anti-Quakeriana of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, therefore, smoldered throughout the nineteenth century. Mitchell’s 1896 novel Hugh Wynne marked the end of the pre-Freudian era, a time when a story of the friendship between a fair-haired Quaker “girl-boy” and “the perverted Quaker with the blue eyes” could still — somehow — be appreciated without embarrassment.
Hugh Wynne, Free Quaker: a Gay Reading  Historians may find this novel interesting because it treats the difficult problem of “free” or “fighting” Quakers who defended our nation in the Revolutionary War... but as we shall see, a far more fascinating aspect is its portrayal of the friendship between a fair-haired Quaker “girl-boy” and the “the perverted Quaker with the blue eyes.” In addition to his role as a popular author, Mitchell was also one of the most eminent physicians in turn-of-the-century Philadelphia. Indeed, Mitchell was a physician to Walt Whitman, and seems to have been a good friend.

Historic New York

1876: New York  “From dawn to dark New York is a maelstrom, never ceasing to whirl, and human beings are carried about on the circles like bits of wreck. The roar is a voice which speaks in its own strange way of ships sailing in and sailing out; of millions of bushels of cereals pouring into warehouses to be sent across the seas; of a mint of money passing from hand to hand; of muscle hammering at wood, iron, and stone; of minds planning humble homes and great edifices — of a thousand things spoken by no other voice.”
1856: New-York Omnibus Drivers  “... no philanthropist ought to withhold his pity from the driver of a New-York omnibus; he would gain considerably by being included in the act that protects his animals. It may be doubted whether any negro in the hardest worked gang of a southern plantation has to undergo such toil.”
1864: The Awfulness of the Omnibus  “Modern martyrdom may be succinctly defined as riding in a New York omnibus. The discomforts, inconveniences and annoyances of a trip in one of these vehicles are almost intolerable. From the beginning to the end of the journey a constant quarrel is progressing. The driver quarrels with the passengers, and the passengers quarrel with the driver.”
1866: “Through Broadway”  “...a perpetual tide of emigration, and the pressure of the business on the resident section, involving change of domicile, substitution of uses, the alternate destruction and erection of buildings, each being larger and more costly in material than its predecessor, — make the metropolis of the New World appear, to the visitor from the Old, a shifting bivouac rather than a stable city, where hereditary homes are impossible, and nomadic instincts prevalent...”