Commentary

Interviews and Reminiscences

About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman's Needs

Creator: Anonymous

Date: December 16, 1886

Publication information: The Evening Post 85 (16 December 1886): 1.

Source: Our transcription is based on a digital image of a microfilm copy of an original issue.

Whitman Archive ID: med.00537

Contributors to digital file: Brett Barney, Nic Swiercek, and Shea Montgomerey




image 1

WALT WHITMAN'S NEEDS.

———

An Appeal for Him in
Great Britain.


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Artists to His Aid—His Real Condition as Disclosed by a Visit to Him—Not in Need, but Not Unwilling to be Aided.

———

[Evening Post Special Cable Despatches: Copyright, 1886 by the Evening Post Publishing Co.]
LONDON,December 16.—

A circular has been issued signed "Calamus," which hides the name of a well-known Scotch artist who desires to remain anonymous. It is headed "Walt Whitman Starving," and appeals for subscriptions from him. It begins: "A man's ransom wanted. The victim is in the hands of a relentless enemy, who, if the ransom be not speedily paid, will immediately make an end of him. Will his fellow-men put forth a hand to keep one of the world's immortals a little longer here, or will they allow death to take him ere his time?"

A copy of this has been sent to the editor of every leading paper here, accompanying a letter from Mr. Underwood, the United States Consul at Glasgow which confirms the statement regarding Mr. Whitman's necessitous circumstances. The circular has been widely and sympathetically noticed by the press, and a movement has been started in Glasgow, whereby a number of young artists give each a picture to be sold by public auction, the proceeds to go to Mr. Whitman.

———

A Call on the Poet at His Home.

[Special Despatch to The Evening Post.]
CAMDEN, N.J.,December 16.—

I found Walt Whitman in the kitchen at his home this morning, partaking of breakfast. The aroma of old Government Java dispelled all ideas of want, while a substantial meal did not convince a visitor that he was starving. Two handsome cats were purring contentedly about the ankles of the benign old man, and did not seem to be at all anxious about their future. A fine large coach dog was stretched out by his chair and looked up at the newspaper man with that lazy, yawning sort of a scrawling look that betokens anything but stomachic anxiety. Mr. Whitman ceased his petting of the handsome quadrupeds long enough to give his visitor a cordial greeting. As the good gray poet continued sipping his coffee the cablegram containing a reference to his needy condition and the circular alleged to be circulating England were shown him.

Tipping back in his chair in an easy manner, while he pushed his white locks back from his brow, the author of 'Leaves of Grass' said: "I have been pained to see the allusions in the New York papers to what is termed my extreme want. I always have enough to supply my daily wants, thanks to my kind friends at home and abroad, and am in no immediate danger of perishing. By the way, won't you have a cup of coffee? You will find it most excellent, I think. I am really not advised regarding the circular of which you speak. It may be so, and may not. My friends in Great Britain are very kind, and have on several occasions recollected me in little acts of pecuniary attention for which I am very grateful. They are very pleasant reminders of a pure friendship. About a year ago a testimonial of this sort from friends in England was sent me. It was very acceptable. Though, as I before stated, I have no knowledge of such a circular as the one you describe, yet if such a paper is being curculated and accomplishes its evident purpose, I will not decline the gift whether it be money or what not, and will thank the generous donors for their benefactions.

"Regarding the insinuation of my being in want of the necessaries of life, I will state that I make it a rule never to affirm or deny stories the design of which is to malign or injure me. You can see for yourself my present condition. Yes, I will say I am not in want. My health is reasonably good. I lie abed in the morning till I have about exhausted the luxury of a morning nap, and come down stairs with a good appetite for breakfast. I am not doing any literary work just now worthy of mention."

Mr. Whitman gave physical evidence of his good health by courteously rising without effort as his visitor was about leaving, and grasping him heartily and vigorously by the hand.


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