Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Robert Underwood Johnson, 4 August 1884

Date: August 4, 1884

Whitman Archive ID: duk.00798

Source: The Trent Collection of Walt Whitman Manuscripts, Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 3:373–374. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Stefan Schöberlein and Kyle Barton

328 Mickle Street
Camden New Jersey
August 4 1884

Dear Sir1

In answer to your letter & request a few days ago Yes I will gladly write for the Century an article on the Hospitals & Hospital Nursing of the Secession War, such as outlined by you—I will set about it immediately—

I enclose a short sketch & reminiscence of Father Taylor, with authentic portrait, (given me by his daughter). The price is $50—If you use it I would want to see proof, & would like to reserve the right of printing it in future book—Say after the lapse of a year—Respects to Watson Gilder2

Walt Whitman

Robert Underwood Johnson (1853–1937) was on the staff of The Century Magazine from 1873 to 1913, and was U. S. ambassador to Italy in 1920 and 1921. Whitman included in this letter a news release based on an interview printed in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on October 17, in which he criticized William Cullen Bryant, John Greenleaf Whittier, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (reprinted in American Literature, 14 [1942–1943], 144–147). See also Robert Underwood Johnson, Remembered Yesterdays (Boston: Little, Brown, 1923), 336, and Specimen Days, ed. Floyd Stovall (New York: New York University Press, 1963), 167.


1. On July 12 Johnson asked Whitman for an article on the Civil War (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Wednesday, August 29, 1888). "Army Hospitals and Cases" was printed in the magazine in October, 1888. See also the letter from Whitman to William D. O'Connor of September 29, 1884[back]

2. Gilder, who was also associated with the magazine, thanked Whitman for "Father Taylor and Oratory" on August 9, 1884. See also the letter from Whitman to Charles W. Eldridge of May 7, 1884[back]


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