Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Sylvester Baxter, 21 July 1887

Date: July 21, 1887

Whitman Archive ID: bpl.00018

Source: The Walt Whitman Collection, Boston Public Library. 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.

Notes for this letter were created by Whitman Archive staff and/or were derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller, 6 vols. (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), and supplemented or updated by Whitman Archive staff.

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

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P M July 21 '87

Yours has come with the $130—making 503 with the previous instalment sent by you—Loving thanks dear friend to you & all—I shall proceed immediately (from what you say) to practically suit myself & invest to the extent you speak of.

We have had a very hot (& lengthened) spell of weather—sapp'd me badly—but I have got along with it & am quite comfortable this afternoon—It is a cloudy rainy day, here—very welcome—

I spend the time very idly—sit here by the open window in great ratan arm-chair, with a big palm leaf fan & do nothing—sleep, eat and digest middling well—pretty good spirits—am alone most of the time—bodily-getting-around-power almost entirely gone—What have you to say ab't the W W "society" project?1 & ab't Ch: Hartman2?

Walt Whitman

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. Baxter replied on August 2: "Oh! about Hartmann. He was altogether 'too previous' and hardly appreciated what he had undertaken. He did not know how to go to work and appointed officers of a society which had not been organized! We all had to sit down on him and the matter is in abeyance." According to Hartmann's Conversations with Walt Whitman (1895), the officers were to be Bucke as president, Kennedy as vice-president, and "Your humble servant" as director (36). For Walt Whitman's reaction, see Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Wednesday, April 17, 1889[back]

2. Carl Sadakichi Hartmann (ca. 1867–1944) was an art historian and early critic of photography as an art form. He visited Whitman in Camden in the 1880s and published his conversations with the poet in 1895. Generally unpopular with other supporters of the poet, he was known during his years in Greenwich Village as the "King of Bohemia." For more information about Hartmann, see John F. Roche, "Hartmann, C. Sadakichi (ca. 1867–1944)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]


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