Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Franklin B. Sanborn to Walt Whitman, 21 July 1880

Date: July 21, 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.

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: Charles Sixsmith Collection at the John Rylands Library, University of Manchester

Whitman Archive ID: man.00054

Contributors to digital file: Courtney Rebecca Lawton, Nima Najafi Kianfar, Eder Jaramillo, Nicole Gray, and Stefan Schöberlein



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Concord Mass.
July 21 1880

My dear Sir:

I have long been waiting for an opportunity to invite you to my house here, under circumstances which would be agreeable to you, and now the time seems to have come.1 We have here this summer a school of philosophy2 which has drawn hither many thoughtful persons, and furnishes an occasion for saying many good things. I mailed you the programme some days ago, and now write to invite you to come to my house for a week or two after the 26th when some friends who are visiting me will take their leave. I am in a new house where I can give you freedom and some degree of comfort, and shall esteem it a favor if you will make it your home for a time.

The newspapers report you as ill in Canada. I hope this is not so, and that you may be well enough to make the journey hither; while here you may rest or be active as you may choose.

Very truly yours
F. B. Sanborn

Walt Whitman Esq,
at Dr R. M. Buck's3
London,
Ontario.


Notes:

1. 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]

2. The Concord School of Philosophy was a series of lectures held at Amos Bronson Alcott's Hillside Chapel in Concord, Massachusetts, from 1879 to 1888. [back]

3. Richard Maurice Bucke (1837–1902) was a Canadian physician and psychiatrist who grew close to Whitman after reading Leaves of Grass in 1867 (and later memorizing it) and meeting the poet in Camden a decade later. Even before meeting Whitman, Bucke claimed in 1872 that a reading of Leaves of Grass led him to experience "cosmic consciousness" and an overwhelming sense of epiphany. Bucke became the poet's first biographer with Walt Whitman (Philadelphia: David McKay, 1883), and he later served as one of his medical advisors and literary executors. For more on the relationship of Bucke and Whitman, see Howard Nelson, "Bucke, Richard Maurice," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]


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