Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Sylvester Baxter to Walt Whitman, 8 October 1887

Date: October 8, 1887

Editorial notes: The annotations, "2," "3," and "List of Contributors to the Boston Cottage Fund," are in an unknown hand. The annotation, "see notes sept 10 1888," is in the hand of Horace Traubel.

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.07102

Contributors to digital file: Alex Ashland, Stefan Schöberlein, Caterina Bernardini, and Stephanie Blalock



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R. M. Pulsifer & Co.
Proprietors.1
R. M. Pulsifer,
E. B. Haskell
C. H. Andrews.
The Herald,
Boston,
Oct. 8, 1887

My dear Friend:

I have yours of yesterday and enclose a list of the subscribers. I cannot send the amounts since it was understood that the individual sums should not be made known and some of the largest givers expressly made that stipulation, on the ground that it might be unjust to those who could give but little and yet in proportion gave even more largely than themselves. You will see that some are from outside Boston. Mrs. Van Renssalaer is, I believe, the only representative of New York, but if there had been anybody there to take hold we could have got many, I am confident. Mrs. Van R. is a genuine friend and hearing of the project specially send me word she wished to subscribe. She was visiting here then.

Saw Kennedy2 yesterday: has been working hard reading proof. Saw Dr. Bartol the other day and he spoke warmly of you.

What glorious October weather!

Faithfully yours,
Sylvester Baxter.

Subscribers to Whitman Cottage Fund.

J. T. Trowbridge3
C. A. Bartol4
William P. Wesselhoeft5
Mrs. Ole Bull6
L. N. Fairchild7
Albert B. Otis8
A friend
W. D. Howells9
John Boyle O'Reilly10
A friend
L. N. Fairchild11
S. L. Clemens, Hartford12
Charles S. Gleed, Topeka13
James Wyllis Gleed, Topeka14
A friend
Francis Tiffany, Newton, Mass.,15
H. R. Dorr, Rutland, Vt.16
Arlo Bates17
E. B. Haskell18
Charles S. Sarpent, Brookline, Mass.19
M. G. Van Renssalaer, New York20
Charles Eliot Norton21
T. B. Aldrich22
Mellen Chamberlain23
Mrs. Annie Fields24
Lawrence Barrett25
Edwin Booth26
Laurence Hutton27
James R. Osgood28
Susan C. Warren29
Frank Sanborn30
Linn Boyd Porter31
Albert A. Pope32
Mrs. S. A. Bigelow33
Daniel S. Ford34
Roberts Brothers35
George Fred Williams36
J. R. Chadwick37
—Bromley38
Hugh Cochrane39
Charles Levi Woodbury40
T. R. Sullivan41
J. J. Roche42
A. P. Brown43
Arthur Macy44
Benjamin Kimball45
W.S. Kennedy46
Sylvester Baxter


Correspondent:
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).

Notes:

1. This letter is addressed: Walt Whitman | 328 Mickle St. | Camden | New Jersey. It is postmarked Boston. Mass. | Oct 8 | 7–16 P. | 1887; Camden N.J. | Oct | 10 | [illegible] | [illegible]. [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 [1896], 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. John Townsend Trowbridge (1827–1916) was a novelist, poet, author of juvenile stories, and anti-slavery reformer. Though Trowbridge became familiar with Whitman's poetry in 1855, he did not meet Whitman until 1860, when the poet was in Boston overseeing the Thayer and Eldridge edition of Leaves of Grass. For several weeks in 1863, Trowbridge stayed with Whitman in Washington, D.C., along with John Burroughs and William D. O'Connor. [back]

4. Rev. Cyrus Augustus Bartol, D.D (died 1900) was a pastor of the West Unitarian Church in Boston. [back]

5. William P. Wesselhoeft (1835–1909) was a homeopathic doctor from Pennsylvania and the son of the famous William Wilhelm Wesselhoeft, one of the most prominent proponents of Hahnemannian medicine in the United States. [back]

6. Sara Chapman Thorp Bull (1850-1911) was an American writer, philantropist, musicologist, and religious activist of Vedanta. She was the wife of Ole Bull, a Norwegian violinist. [back]

7. Elizabeth "Lily" Nelson Fairchild (1845–1924) was a Boston socialite and writer, and the wife of Colonel Charles Fairchild. She assisted in the Boston fundraising for Whitman's proposed (but never built) small cabin. [back]

8. Albert Boyd Otis (1839–1897) was a Boston lawyer who practiced with John Albion Andrew (1818–1867) and later Andrew's son John Forester Andrew. On April 20, 1878, G. P. Lathrop wrote to Walt Whitman: "I think you have corresponded with Albert Otis, a lawyer of Boston, whom I know." A biographical sketch of Otis appeared in Memorial Biographies of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, vol. 9 (1908), 387–389. [back]

9. William Dean Howells (1837–1920) was the novelist and "Dean of American Letters" who wrote The Rise of Silas Lapham (1885) among other works. He described his first meeting with Walt Whitman at Pfaff's in Literary Friends and Acquaintances (New York: Harper & Bros., 1900), 73–76. [back]

10. John Boyle O'Reilly (1844–1890) was a fervent Irish patriot who joined the British Army in order to sabotage it. He was arrested and sentenced to be hanged in 1866. Later the decree was altered, and O'Reilly was sent to Australia, where he escaped on an American whaler in 1869. In 1876 he became the coeditor of the Boston Pilot, a position which he held until his death in 1890. See William G. Schofield, Seek for a Hero: The Story of John Boyle O'Reilly (New York: Kennedy, 1956). On April 26 O'Reilly informed Whitman that "James R Osgood wants to see the material for your complete book." Whitman's letter to Osgood was written, as he indicated, on the verso of O'Reilly's. [back]

11. Here, Baxter includes the name "L.N. Fairchild" for the second time on this list of subscribers. [back]

12. Samuel Clemens (1835–1910), better know by his pen name, Mark Twain, had attended Whitman's New York lecture in April. He also contributed to Thomas Donaldson's fund for the purchase of a horse and buggy for Whitman (see Whitman's September 22, 1885 letter [note 4]). Twain was reported in the Boston Herald of May 24, 1887 to have said: "What we want to do is to make the splendid old soul comfortable" (Clara Barrus, Whitman and Burroughs: Comrades [1931], 268). [back]

13. Charles Sumner Gleed (1856–1920) was a Kansas Businessman involved in a number of ventures such as railroads, mining, banking, and communications. He was also a newspaperman, lawyer and active member of the Republican Party. [back]

14. James Willis Gleed (1859–1926) was a lawyer and would later become the general attorney for the Southwestern Bell Telephone Company of St. Louis. He was the brother of Charles S. Gleed. [back]

15. Rev. Francis Tiffany (1810–1891) was a graduate of Harvard Divinity School and the pastor of the Unitarian church in Newton, Massachusetts. [back]

16. Henry Ripley Dorr (1858–1904) was a journalist and the Vice President of the Vermont Fish and Game League. He was the son of Vermont poet Julia Dorr. For more on Dorr, see Donald Wickman, "Henry Ripley Dorr in the Splendid Little War of 1898," Rutland Historical Society Quarterly (1998) 28, no. 3, 43–63. [back]

17. Arlo Bates (1850–1919) was an American author, literary critic, and newspaperman writing for the Boston Sunday Courier[back]

18. Edward B. Haskell was the editor-in-chief of the Boston Herald, published by R. M. Pulsifer and Company. [back]

19. Charles Sprague Sargent (1841–1927) was an American botanist. [back]

20. Mariana Griswold Van Rensselaer (1851–1934) was an influential American architectural critic. [back]

21. Charles Eliot Norton (1827–1908) was an American professor of art and a literary critic. Norton authored one of the few (cautiously) positive reviews of Whitman's 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass. It was published in Putnam's Monthly[back]

22. Thomas Bailey Aldrich (1836–1907) was associated with Clapp's Saturday Press from 1858 until its final number in 1860; see Ferris Greenslet, the Life of Thomas Bailey Aldrich (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, Co., 1908), 37–49. In 1865 Aldrich left New York and returned to Boston—to gentility and Longfellow. He was editor of the Atlantic Monthly from 1881 to 1890. For Aldrich's opinion of Whitman's poetry, see Greenslet, 138–139. [back]

23. Mellen Chamberlain (1821–1900) was the librarian of the Boston Public Library as well as a lawyer and historian. [back]

24. Annie Adams Fields (1834–1915) was a Bostonian writer. She was the wife of James Thomas Fields (of Ticknor & Fields) and had a literary salon at 148 Charles St. [back]

25. Lawrence Barrett (1838–1891) was an American actor, noted for his Shakespearean roles. [back]

26. Edwin Thomas Booth (1833–1893) was an American actor, famous for performing Shakespeare in the U.S. and Europe, the son of actor Junius Brutus Booth (1796–1852), and the brother of Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth (1838–1865), also an actor. He was the owner of Booth's Theatre in New York. [back]

27. Laurence Hutton (1843–1904) was a literary critic, writing for Harper's Magazine. He also authored a biography of Edwin Booth. [back]

28. James R. Osgood (1836–1892) agreed to publish Whitman's Leaves of Grass in 1881, but the firm stopped publication after Whitman refused to comply with the Boston district attorney, who had written to the publisher demanding some poems and passages removed. Osgood was also the publisher of Browning, Arnold, Holmes, Henry James, and Howells; see Carl J. Weber, The Rise and Fall of James Ripley Osgood (1959). [back]

29. Susan Cornelia Clarke Warren (1825–1901) was an art collector and philantropist in Boston. She was married to paper manufacturer and merchant Samuel Dennis Warren. [back]

30. Franklin B. Sanborn (1831–1917) was an abolitionist and a friend of John Brown. In 1860, when he was tried in Boston because of his refusal to testify before a committee of the U.S. Senate, Whitman was in the courtroom (Gay Wilson Allen, The Solitary Singer [New York: Macmillan, 1955], 242). He reviewed Drum-Taps in the Boston Commonwealth on February 24, 1866. He was editor of the Springfield Republican from 1868 to 1872, and was the author of books dealing with his friends Emerson, Thoreau, and Alcott. "A Visit to the Good Gray Poet" appeared without Sanborn's name in the Springfield Republican on April 19, 1876. For more on Sanborn, see Linda K. Walker, "Sanborn, Franklin Benjamin (Frank) (1831–1917)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998), 605. [back]

31. Linn Boyd Porter (1851–1916) was a literary critic from New York and a novelist writing under the pen name of Albert Ross. [back]

32. Albert Augustus Pope (1843–1909) was a Union Army veteran and industrialist. [back]

33. Mrs. S. A. Bigelow may be the Ella H. Bigelow who, along with Thomas Wentworth Higginson, compiled American Sonnets (1890), a volume that collected approximately 250 sonnets. She has been described as "a lady well-known in Boston society, a member of the 'Round Table' and the 'Browning Society.'" She also wrote several book notices for the Boston Transcript. See "News and Notes," The Writer 4.4 (April 1890), 93. [back]

34. Daniel Sharp Ford (1822–1899) was the owner and editor of The Youth's Companion[back]

35. The Roberts Brothers firm was established in Boston in 1863. Though it introduced such authors as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Morris, Joaquin Miller, Oscar Wilde, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Emily Dickinson, it became famous for the works of Louisa May Alcott. After All, Not to Create Only was the only work of Walt Whitman that the firm published. It has been suggested that Bronson Alcott persuaded Roberts to undertake the work; see Raymond L. Kilgour, Messrs. Roberts Brothers, Publishers (1952), 107. The house merged with Little, Brown and Co. in 1898. [back]

36. George Fred Williams (1852–1932) was a member of the Democratic Party and a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts. He later became involved with the Walt Whitman Fellowship. [back]

37. James Read Chadwick (1844–1905) was a Boston gynecologist and founder of the Boston Medical Library. [back]

38. As yet we have no information about this person. [back]

39. Hugh Cochrane was, presumably, a chemical manufacturer from Massachusetts. [back]

40. Charles Levi Woodbury (1820–1898) was a District Attorney from Massachusetts and a book collector. [back]

41. Thomas Russell Sullivan (1849–1916) was a novelist and dramatist and an active member of Boston society and literary community.  [back]

42. James Jeffrey Roche was an author and editor, whose works included Story of the Filibusters (1891) and a biography of John Boyle O'Reilly (1901), among others. He was O'Reilly's associate editor on the Boston Pilot and became editor after O'Reilly's death in 1890 [back]

43. A. P. Brown was, perhaps, an inventor from Worcester, Massachusetts. [back]

44. Arthur Macy (1842–1904) was a patriotic poet and Civil War veteran from Nantucket, Massachusetts.  [back]

45. Perhaps this is Benjamin Kimball (1833–1919), a railroad director from New Hampshire. [back]

46. 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 [1896], 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]


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