Title: Walt Whitman to Sylvester Baxter, 25 May 1887
Date: May 25, 1887
Source: Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.
Notes for this letter were derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller, 6 vols. (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977).
Location: The Walt Whitman Collection, Boston Public Library
Whitman Archive ID: bpl.00011
Contributors to digital file: Alex Ashland, Stefan Schöberlein, Kevin McMullen, and Stephanie Blalock
328 Mickle Street
Camden New Jersey
May 25 '87
Thanks & God bless you my dear Sylvester Baxter for your kind project for me—(whether it comes to a fulfilment or not)1—
—I am feeling pretty well as I write—Should most gratefully accept & most intensely enjoy a little spot of my own to live in 6 or 8 months of the 12 in country air, so pined for by me—As it is I cannot go to a hotel,— nor visiting either—although I have many & kindest invitations—I want a cheap ¼ or ½ acre & 4-or-5-room house, spot & design selected by myself—
Sylvester Baxter (1850–1927) was on the staff of the Boston Herald. Apparently he met Whitman for the first time when the poet delivered his Lincoln address in Boston in April, 1881; see Rufus A. Coleman, "Whitman and Trowbridge," PMLA 63 (1948), 268. Baxter wrote many newspaper columns in praise of Whitman's writings, and in 1886 attempted to obtain a pension for the poet. For more, see Christopher O. Griffin, "Baxter, Sylvester [1850–1927]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).
1. Whitman's friend William Sloane Kennedy (see following note) had proposed the idea of building the poet a "summer 'shanty'" on the farm land owned by George and Susan Stafford (parents of Whitman's young friend Harry Stafford), a place Whitman often visited in the summer. Baxter took charge of raising funds for the project in and around Boston. See William Sloane Kennedy, Reminiscences of Walt Whitman (1896), 10–11. [back]
2. William Sloane Kennedy (1850–1929) was on the staff of the Philadelphia American and later published biographies of Longfellow and Whittier (Dictionary of American Biography). Apparently Kennedy had called on the poet for the first time on November 21, 1880 (William Sloane Kennedy, Reminiscences of Walt Whitman , 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]
3. Dr. C. A. Bartol was one of the contributors to the Cottage Fund; see Horace Traubel, ed., With Walt Whitman in Camden (1906-1964), 5 vols., II, 299. [back]