Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: John Burroughs to Walt Whitman, 4 April 1876

Date: April 4, 1876

Whitman Archive ID: kal.00002

Source: Kalamazoo College. 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: Caitlin Henry, Nicole Gray, and Kenneth M. Price

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Esopus N.Y.
April 4, 1876

Dear Walt:

I wrote a letter to the Tribune the other day touching you & your matters & if they publish it I wish you would send me the paper as I do not see the daily except I am away from home. I saw their editorial of Tuesday & was much incensed by it. I presume it is Bayard Taylor's hand.1

I am on the sick list now from quinsy soar throat & am very distressed. I wish you would drop me a line. I wrote to you a week or two ago.

John Burroughs

The naturalist John Burroughs (1837–1921) met Whitman on the streets of Washington, D.C., in 1864. After returning to Brooklyn in 1864, Whitman commenced what was to become a decades-long correspondence with Burroughs. Burroughs was magnetically drawn to Whitman. However, the correspondence between the two men is, as Burroughs acknowledged, curiously "matter-of-fact." Burroughs would write several books involving or devoted to Whitman's work: Notes on Walt Whitman, as Poet and Person (1867), Birds and Poets (1877), Whitman, A Study (1896), and Accepting the Universe (1924). For more on Whitman's relationship with Burroughs, see Carmine Sarracino, "Burroughs, John [1837–1921] and Ursula [1836–1917]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


1. Although the New York Tribune had printed Whitman's review of his own books earlier in the year (see Whitman's February 8, 1876 letter to Whitelaw Reid) as well as sympathetic reports on January 29 and February 25, 1876, and excerpts from Two Rivulets on March 1, 1876, the newspaper, probably through the influence of Bayard Taylor, began to publish hostile notices. Burroughs' defense was published on April 13, 1876. On April 22, 1876, William D. O'Connor, Whitman's estranged friend, wrote an extravagant, and garrulous, encomium. Later the Tribune resumed its friendly attitude toward Whitman. [back]


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