Title: John Johnston to Walt Whitman, 17 May 1886
Date: May 17, 1886
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: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Whitman Archive ID: loc.02438
Contributors to digital file: Alex Kinnaman, Stefan Schöberlein, Nicole Gray, Ian Faith, and Stephanie Blalock
2. Bridgeman St1
May 17th 1886
To Walt Whitman,
Permit me to offer a word of congratulation and well-wishing upon the attainment of your 69th birthday and to express the hope that you may be spared to see many happy returns of the 31st of May.
I am prompted to take this liberty by a sense of my indebtedness to you, and I feel sure that you will not refuse the heart-given homage of one who loves you and who is proud to call you "master."
It is one of the desires of my life to look upon your venerable face in the flesh, and to be taken by the hand of my loving Comrade; and I am not without the hope of one day being thus honoured by him who has done so much to enrich my life and to rescue my Soul from its quagmire of Doubt and Despondency.
Again wishing you many happy returns of your birthday, & with kindest regards,
P.S. I trust your health is now quite restored.JJ
John Johnston (d. 1918) was a physician from Bolton, England, who, with James W. Wallace, founded the "Bolton College" of English admirers of the poet. Johnston and Wallace corresponded with Whitman and with Horace Traubel and other members of the Whitman circle in the United States, and they separately visited the poet and published memoirs of their trips in John Johnston and James William Wallace, Visits to Walt Whitman in 1890–1891 by Two Lancashire Friends (London: Allen and Unwin, 1917). For more information on Johnston, see Larry D. Griffin, "Johnston, Dr. John (d.1918)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).
1. This letter is addressed: Walt Whitman | Camden | New Jersey | United States of America. It is postmarked: Bolton | 47 | MY17 | 86; CA[MDEN?] | MAY | 29 | 7AM | 1886 | REC'D; [NEW YORK?] |. There is one additional, but illegible postmark. [back]