Title: Walt Whitman to William Sloane Kennedy, 17 February 1887
Date: February 17, 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 Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Whitman Archive ID: loc.02910
Contributors to digital file: Stefan Schöberlein, Ian Faith, Kevin McMullen, and Stephanie Blalock
Feb. 17 '87
2 p m
I continue much the same. Shall make up a little budget (perhaps trunk or box) of what MS memoranda or relics I think may be worth while—for you2—Fine sunny weather here to day, & I have been out in it with my horse & Wagon by myself, two hours—O'Connor3 has gone to Southern California—the poor fellow I fear is in a bad way4—
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).
1. This letter is addressed: W. Sloane Kennedy | Belmont | Mass:. It is postmarked: Camden | Feb | 17 | 3 PM | 1887 | N.J. [back]
2. Whitman is referring to material for Kennedy's study of the poet. [back]
3. William Douglas O'Connor (1832–1889) was the author of the grand and grandiloquent Whitman pamphlet "The Good Gray Poet," published in 1866 (a digital version of the pamphlet is available at "The Good Gray Poet: A Vindication"). For more on Whitman's relationship with O'Connor, see Deshae E. Lott, O'Connor, William Douglas [1832–1889]. [back]
4. Walt Whitman was informed on February 11, 1887 by Charles Eldridge of O'Connor's trip to California, where he was staying with his brother-in-law, Dr. Channing. Dr. Richard Maurice Bucke wrote to Walt Whitman about O'Connor's illness on February 20, 1887. [back]