Title: John C. Everett to Walt Whitman, 23 May 1882
Date: May 23, 1882
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.
Location: Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Whitman Archive ID: loc.02014
Contributors to digital file: Stefan Schöberlein, Nima Najafi Kianfar, Eder Jaramillo, and Nicole Gray
University of Chicago
May 23 '82
Mr Walt Whitman
I have just read your 'Memorandum at a Venture' and wish to express to you my hearty concurrence with your grand fight for principle's sake.
I am a student at the above institution and while studying my text books I have also studied the times. I believe that we are living in an age of wonders, an age at once preeminent for its practicality & its shams. Strange anomaly. But it has ever been so. Seneca taught of the beauty of poverty while revelling in gardens of monarchical splendor. The Puritans, at home, denounced superstition & persecution yet at Salem these very elements were the most conspicuous factors of their life. So today, in an age that despises the grand speculations of Plato and adheres to the practical Bacon, we see a nation, the strongest & most prosperous of all time, bound in by shams. Shams in politics, religion, literature, art & society. Yet to expose any of these and liberate a people from a thralldom, perhaps the lighter for their ignorance of its existence, is but to call down upon the head of the reformer calumny, scorn and blackmail. And above all, we see a grace in Cleveland which contains within its bosom the mortal of a man assassinated because he dared to hurl the powerful shafts of his executive office against the filthy shams of public life. And you, sir, are today threatened for aiming the first master stroke against the gorgon which is drinking our best blood and destroying the possibilities for the final perfection of our race.
Sir, I bid you godspeed. And when time shall have rounded off your full allotment of years, and you shall have laid down the battle ax of social reform, Rest assured that there is one of younger years whose muscle though less strong—is still determined and who will lift it up and carry on the fight for another generation.
Jno. C. Everett