Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to William Sloane Kennedy, John Burroughs, and Richard Maurice Bucke, 7 April 1887

Date: April 7, 1887

Source: The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 4:80. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Location: The location of this manuscript is unknown. Miller's transcription is derived from Kennedy's transcript in Trent.

Whitman Archive ID: med.00813

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




Camden1
April 7 '87,
Evening

Expect to go on to N. Y. to speak my piece [Lincoln Lecture] April 14.2 A friend3 is to convoy me on—Alys Smith4 & other friends have been here to day.

Walt Whitman


Correspondent:
This letter is addressed to three close acquaintances of Whitman: William Sloane Kennedy (1850–1929), the naturalist John Burroughs (1837–1921), and the Canadian physician Richard Maurice Bucke (1837–1902). For more on these figures, see these entries from Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998): Katherine Reagan, "Kennedy, William Sloane (1850–1929)," Carmine Sarracino, "Burroughs, John (1837–1921) and Ursula (1836–1917)," and Howard Nelson, "Bucke, Richard Maurice (1837–1902)."

Notes:

1. This letter is endorsed by Kennedy: "Joint letter to Kennedy | Burroughs & Bucke." [back]

2. This is referring to Whitman's lecture entitled "The Death of Abraham Lincoln." He first delivered this lecture in New York in 1879 and would deliver it at least eight other times over the succeeding years, delivering it for the last time on April 15, 1890. He had published a version of the lecture as "Death of Abraham Lincoln" in Specimen Days (1882–83). For more on the lecture, see Larry D. Griffin, "'Death of Abraham Lincoln,'" Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings, ed., (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998), 169–170. [back]

3. Robert Pearsall Smith (1827–1898) was a Quaker who became an evangelical minister associated with the "Holiness movement." He was also a writer and businessman. Whitman often stayed at his Philadelphia home, where the poet became friendly with the Smith children—Mary, Logan, and Alys. For more information about Smith, see Christina Davey, "Smith, Robert Pearsall (1827–1898)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

4. Alys Smith (1867–1951) was a daughter of Robert Pearsall Smith and eventually married the philosopher Bertrand Russell. [back]


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