Title: Robert Elliott to Walt Whitman, 9 July 1880
Date: July 9, 1880
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: Charles Sixsmith Collection at the John Rylands Library, University of Manchester
Whitman Archive ID: man.00049
Contributors to digital file: Eder Jaramillo, Nima Najafi Kianfar, Stefan Schöberlein, and Nicole Gray
July 9th 1880
To Walt Whitman Esq.
Respected and Dear Sir,
You will doubtless be surprised at the receipt of this letter. I will briefly state the causes which lead me to write it.
A fortnight ago to-day, I was visiting the Brigade Camp of volunteers, then stationed at London East. I there recognized you, Mr Whitman as the original of a portrait published several years ago, in an issue of Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper.
You may possibly recollect me as the young person with whom you exchanged a few words on that day, respecting the Huron Co. Battalion and particularly about that portion of [their?] head-gear named 'Havelocks'. Subsequently I had the honor of receiving a recognition from you, and believe me, the compliment, though perhaps undeserved, was duly appreciated and treasured as a happy recollection.
Not content with this however, I have resolved, not without misgivings as to its propriety, to write to you, respectfully requesting by way of answer, a few words of advice, suitable to a young person (myself—22 yrs old to-day) desirous of embracing Literature as a profession. Report relates many incidents to show the desire you express of aiding, by the help of your genius, many with whom you come in contact and I am all the more willing to believe these reports, when I read in your poetry the lessons that teach the sublimity of Friendship the pathos of human sympathy, and the power that one man may wield over the destinies of another.
Earnestly hoping that you will honor my desire,
I remain very faithfully yours,
Stamp for reply