Title: Walt Whitman to Sylvester Baxter, 16 November 1887
Date: November 16, 1887
Source: The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Ted Genoways (Iowa City, Iowa: University of Iowa Press, 2004), 7:89–90. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.
Location: Private collection of Dr. Kendall Reed
Whitman Archive ID: prc.00117
Contributors to digital file: Ryan Furlong, Stefan Schöberlein, Caterina Bernardini, and Stephanie Blalock
Nov 16 '87
I send by Express a plaster head2 for WSK3 addressed to your care at the Herald office—K will call for it—It is prepaid—After K uses it I want it given to such gallery or public institution in Boston as you & he select. Your power is absolute.
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).
1. This letter is addressed: Sylvester Baxter | Herald Office | 255 Washington St. | Boston Mass. It is postmarked: Camden, NJ | Nov 16 | 4:30 PM | 87. [back]
2. The "plaster head" is the second of Sidney H. Morse's two plaster busts of Walt Whitman. [back]
3. 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). [back]