Commentary

Interviews and Reminiscences

About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman Cheerful

Creator: Anonymous

Date: January 26, 1890

Publication information: New York Times 26 January 1890: 1.

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

Whitman Archive ID: med.00600

Contributors to digital file: Brett Barney and Shea Montgomerey




image 1

WALT WHITMAN CHEERFUL.

———

THE AGED POET THINKS PHILOSOPHY
CONDUCES TO LONG LIFE.


PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 25.—

Walt Whitman, the poet, was visited to-day by a TIMES reporter at his little frame cottage 328 Mickle-street, Camden. Since the banquet tendered him last May he seems to have taken a new lease on life. In talking of himself, Mr. Whitman said:

"I am jogging along in the old pathway and my old manner, able to be wheeled about some days and in rainy weather content to stay shut up in my den, where I have society enough in my books and in the daily communication I carry on, chiefly by letters, with the outside world. I see a good many actors, who seem to have a fondness for my society. The death of George H. Boker 'rattled' me a good deal. He had sent me some very warm and encouraging words of praise, and I had reason to think that Mr. Boker would outlive me. But, as he said in one his own poems: 'We do not know; we can but guess when the time comes to go across the divide.' I am sure if anybody had told me fifteen years ago, when I first suffered from my acute attack of paralysis, that I would live to be seventy years old, I would have bet a ducat to a beggarly denier that the curtain of life would have been rung down on me long before this time.

"It is best to keep an even mind. If I had met trouble even half way I would have lain down and died long ago. I tried to be a philosopher, to take things easy, and to take them as they come, and I seem to have succeeded, for in some respects I seem to feel better and stronger than I did at my last birthday. If I live till the 31st day of next May I will be seventy-one years old.

"I have been invited to deliver my essay or lecture or whatever you may be pleased to call it on Abraham Lincoln in New-York City the 14th of next April, but I have folded my tent as a public speaker, and must be content in going slow, for it is only along plain roads and not across lots that I can travel the rest of my pilgrimage. Apropos of going slow, I reckon that is the secret of Palmerston's long life, and of Tennyson still being able to enjoy the substantial joys of life, and I remember that Thaddeus Stevens, the great commoner of Pennsylvania, answered Lord Palmerston, who wrote to know how he could aid in conducting the impeachment trial at Washington when seventy-two years of age, that 'the secret of my being able to work is that I rest a good deal, I worry about nothing, and I don't think too much.'

"Tennyson still writes to me, as do Buchanan and my German friends. They insist on keeping themselves informed of my bodily and mental health, whereat I am profoundly grateful. I may not be able to bring forth any more books, but I still write whenever the spirit moves me, (and you know I am part Quaker.)

"John Burroughs is my oldest literary friend now living. Of the rest I can say, 'Some they are married, some they are dead,' but Burroughs is the one man left among my old literary companions whose muscular geniality and good fellowship are among the few things in life that never tire. John Burroughs is the author who wrote five years ago so many bright and charming articles about the woods, birds, and things for the Century Magazine. He also wrote a European book, which I named 'Wake Robin.' He came to see me a few days ago, but he has lost some of his old-time vim by reason of his suffering from insomnia.

"Not long since I had a delightful letter from Edwin Arnold, who when he left me said he intended to spend some months on the Pacific slope. His letter is from San Francisco, and he praises without stint the glorious climate of California, and is charmed with the manners and customs of the people out there. He has been spending a month in the mining country, and says the growth of the country is marvelous. He promises to come back by the way of New-York and to spend a day with me in Camden. It will be to me a 'lucky day.'"

And do you know," said Mr. Whitman sadly, that William D. O'Connor of the Treasury Department is dead? He it was who wrote the first article in any American magazine about me. It was in the first number of the old Putnam's Magazine, and it must have been thirty years ago. He got $300 for the article, and it was called 'The Carpenter.' O'Connor was a man of the finest literary endowment, and his little book on the Shakespeare-Bacon controversy was the keenest and brightest brochure ever written on that subject. O'Connor was a firm believer in the Baconian theory."


Comments?

Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Ed Folsom & Kenneth M. Price, editors.