Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Whitelaw Reid to Walt Whitman, 22 December 1874

Date: December 22, 1874

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01858

Source: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 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.

Editorial notes: The annotation, "Whitelaw Reid," is in the hand of Walt Whitman. The annotation, "see notes July 10 1888," is in the hand of Horace Traubel.

Contributors to digital file: Alex Kinnaman, Elizabeth Lorang, Ashley Lawson, Eder Jaramillo, John Schwaninger, Caterina Bernardini, Amanda J. Axley, Marie Ernster, and Stephanie Blalock

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New-York Tribune.
New York,
Dec 22 18741

Dear Mr Whitman:

I was sorry the article about the Camden School seemed to you unkind in its reference to your health.2 I shall have a paragraph3 within a day or two, which will I think relieve you of the idea that we had any such intention.

I sincerely hope you are getting better, and will soon be out of the woods.

Very truly yours,
Whitelaw Reid.

Walt Whitman, Esq
431 Stevens St
corner West
Camden, N.J.

Whitelaw Reid (1837–1912) was the editor of the New York Tribune from 1872 to 1905 and also American ambassador to France (1889–1892) and England (1905–1912). He met Whitman in the hospitals during the Civil War. Of his relations with the poet, Reid later observed: "No one could fail then [during the War] to admire his zeal and devotion, and I am afraid that at first my regard was for his character rather than his poetry. It was not till long after 'The Leaves of Grass' period that his great verses on the death of Lincoln conquered me completely." See Charles N. Elliot, Walt Whitman as Man, Poet and Friend (Boston: Richard G. Badger, 1915), 213, and Edwin Haviland Miller, "Walt Whitman's Correspondence with Whitelaw Reid, Editor of the New York Tribune," Studies in Bibliography 8 (1956): 242–249.


1. This letter is addressed: Walt Whitman Esq | 431 Stevens St | Corner West | Camden, N.J. It is postmarked: NEW YORK | DEC24 | 130 PM. [back]

2. Seemingly in a lost letter to Reid, Whitman had protested what he considered a slurring reference to his health in a news item in the Tribune, which had likely been hostile chiefly because of the influence of Bayard Taylor (1825–1878). William Sloane Kennedy lists Taylor among Whitman's "Bitter and Relentless Foes and Villifiers"; see The Fight of a Book for the World (West Yarmouth, Massachusetts: The Stonecroft Press, 1926), 288. [back]

3. A complimentary notice appeared in the issue of December 26, 1874; In his January 7, 1875 letter to Ellen O'Connor, Whitman referred to this notice as "the most flourishing puff yet given me—& from them![back]


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