Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: John Burroughs to Walt Whitman, 23 May 1881

Date: May 23, 1881

Editorial note: The annotation, "15," is in an unknown hand.

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 Walt Whitman Collection, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Whitman Archive ID: tex.00465

Contributors to digital file: Sara Duke and Nicole Gray



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Esopus N.Y.
May 23d 1881

Dear Walt:

I tried to intercept you on your return from Boston in April. I was in N.Y. three or four days from April 18, but found you did not stop. I was greatly pleased over the success of the Boston affair, & over your account of it in the Critic. I am thinking about running down to see you, & would like to know if I will find you at Camden for the next week or two. Ursula came home from the Hospital early in April in a very bad way—worse than when she went there. We went out to Roxbury & stayed there 3 or 4 weeks We are now back home for part of the summer at least. She is much better now—in fact seems better than she has done for a year or two. Julian is well & grows finely. It has been my plan to have you up here for the summer if I could pursuade you to come, But things do not work right. I have saved & partly furnished a large room for you in the other house, but the woman in the other part whom I depended on to look after you has been sick for two months & we begin to fear she will not get well. What are your plans for the summer, & could you come if things take a favorable turn? I receive papers from you frequently. I sent you a copy of "Pepacton" which no doubt you recd R.H. Stoddard in the "Evening Maid" (Myron Benton says it is he) vents his speen upon it—takes nearly a column to condemn it & all that kind of literature. But little do I care. I have always had my opinion of him.

With much love
John Burroughs


Correspondent:
The naturalist John Burroughs (1837–1921) met Whitman on the streets of Washington, D.C., in 1864. After returning to Brooklyn in 1864, Whitman commenced what was to become a lifelong correspondence with Burroughs. Burroughs was magnetically drawn to Whitman. However, the correspondence between the two men is, as Burroughs acknowledged, curiously "matter-of-fact." Burroughs would write several books involving or devoted to Whitman's work: Notes on Walt Whitman, as Poet and Person (1867), Birds and Poets (1877), Whitman, A Study (1896), and Accepting the Universe (1924). For more on Whitman's relationship with Burroughs, see Carmine Sarracino, "Burroughs, John [1837–1921] and Ursula [1836–1917]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


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