Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Sylvester Baxter, 3 August 1887

Date: August 3, 1887

Whitman Archive ID: bpl.00019

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. Ted Genoways (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2004), vol. 7, and supplemented or updated by Whitman Archive staff.

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

page image
image 1
page image
image 2

Aug: 3 P M '87

Dear S B

Yours has just come with $285 additional for the Cottage1 (making 788 altogether)—Thanks true & deep to you & to Dr Wesselhaeft2 & to all

A little let up to day & I am sitting here by the open window comfortable enough—but the three previous days here have been terrible—

Believe me dear S B I shall have the good of your & the friends' kind help—

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. Boston friends were raising money to buy a summer cottage they hoped would improve Whitman's failing health. Whitman eventually used the money to build his extravagant mausoleum in Harleigh Cemetery—to the shock and dismay of those who had worked hardest to solicit money for the cottage. [back]

2. Apparently Dr. William P. Wesselhoeft contributed $50 to the fund, since Baxter enclosed Wesselhoeft's check for that sum in his letter to Whitman of August 2[back]


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

Support the Archive | About the Archive

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