Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Rudolf Schmidt to Walt Whitman, 28 December 1874

Date: December 28, 1874

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01913

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.

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.

Editorial note: The annotation, "Schmidt," is in the hand of Walt Whitman.

Contributors to digital file: Alex Kinnaman, Elizabeth Lorang, Eder Jaramillo, John Schwaninger, Nima Najafi Kianfar, Caterina Bernardini, Amanda J. Axley, Marie Ernster, Jeff Hill, and Stephanie Blalock

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28th of December 1874.

Dear Walt Whitman.

Before the old year is closing I will send you a few lines only to express the hope, that you may enter into the new year in an ameliorated state of health mind and body! Your answer to my letter from Garsdal I duely received. A forthnight after the receipt of it I sent you a number of "Danish Folkets Avis"1 (Danish people's paper) with a criticism of your book by Mr Termansen2—a very bad one. The author is a peasant, member of our Danish house of the Commons, originally a gifted man, but at present one of the spoiled darlings of the haut ton Copenhagen society. Even into the greatest assemblies he appears in the coarse stuffs of the Danish peasants' home dress;—vanity! He is one of what Björnson3 with a very happy expression calls the "pale-born peasants."

If you have had the criticisms especially Elster's4, completely translated to you I should like to know what impression all these foreign judgments may have made on you. The least benevolent of them are, you will allow, far more benevolent than your homely American criticisms. But you have many friends, male and female, here, who don't write criticisms.

I have been accostumed to receive papers and small parcels from you and have always been glad for it, even when I forgot to thank you. In the last five months I have received nothing. Earnestly hoping that the reason may not be, that your illness has increased

I am yours
Rudolf Schmidt

The Danish writer Peter Carl Rudolf Schmidt (1836–1899) was the editor of the idealist journal For Idé og Virkelighed ("For Idea and Reality") and had translated Whitman's Democratic Vistas into Danish in 1874.


1. Folkets Avis was a Danish newspaper. [back]

2. Perhaps a reference to Niels Jokum Termansen (1824–1892), a Danish farmer and politician. Termansen was also the author of Abraham Lincoln (1892). [back]

3. Björnstjerne Björnson (1832–1910), Norwegian poet, dramatist, and novelist, was co-editor of Schmidt's journal. In his January 5, 1872 letter Schmidt observed: "Hans Christian Andersen would perhaps not make you very great joy, if you did know him personally. Björnson would be your man." Schmidt later altered his opinion of Björnson; see notes to Whitman's March 19, 1874 letter to Schmidt. [back]

4. Kristian Elster (1841–1881) was a Norwegian novelist whose work focused on cultural conflict, as in his 1872 pamphlet, "On the contrast between the western and the eastern parts of Norway." According to Carl Roos, Elster was a friend of Björnstjerne Björnson (1832–1910), Norwegian poet, dramatist, and novelist; see Orbis Litterarum, 7 (1949), 51n. [back]


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