Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Albert Waldo Howard to Walt Whitman, 12 March 1890

Date: March 12, 1890

Whitman Archive ID: loc.02252

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 annotations, "out," and "Mind your helm | & | Keep the run of the log.," are in the hand of Walt Whitman.

Contributors to digital file: Blake Bronson-Bartlett, Ian Faith, Zainab Saleh, Jason McCormick, Brandon James O'Neil, and Stephanie Blalock

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Walt Whitman,
My Dear Friend:—

Allow me to express my ineffable gratefulness to you for the immense delight your "Leaves of Grass" have thrilled me with, in the form of a few of my rhapsodies which I take pleasure in committing to you—though, I fancy I shall survive minus encouragement, it would be infinitely agreeable to me to receive any cheer you may be disposed to render me—Mr. Emerson's2 recommends of your work secured you a very nice introduction to the world, and, perhaps, I should become as famous(!) under the ban of your warm regards for my poetic productions—(properly belonging to the 21 & 22 centuries.)

Like our great poets, I, too, am familiar with straitened circumstances..—Being, now, in a position, that would find a small-fortune a great blessing:—since, I do not seem to be endowed with the worldly tact or talent for making lucre—I have, however, amassed material both poetical and philosophical for volumes, as soon as ever, I can accrue the wherewithal for publishing.. Had, already, edited stray poems, which were received with much pleasure by the public—But they were the poorest specimens of my work—Had it been otherwise—that is, one of my most select copies,—the people would have recoiled from them horrified!—Unable to accompany me to the heights of such transcendent rhapsody.

Awaiting your benign consideration of me, I here will waft you my adieu,

Votre devouée Ami
Albert Waldo Howard

25 5th St North

To Walt Whitman,
New Jersey

Albert Waldo Howard (dates unknown, pseudonym, M. Auburré Hovorrè) was the author of a utopian novel, The Milltillionaire (Boston: A. Howard, ca. 1895). Howard was partially deaf and published two pamphlets implying that he was the reincarnation of the German composer Ludwig van Beethoven. In the late 1880s, he was living in Minneapolis, Minnesota, before moving east to Boston and New York City. The August 16, 1889, issue of the Minneapolis Star Tribune describes Howard as "an intelligent semi-mute who is looking for employment at copying, drawing, bookkeeping, teaching music or instructing private deaf pupils" (5). When he left the city in 1890, the newspaper's farewell message called him a "student of human nature" who "expects some day to give the world a volume of poetical and philosophical writings" (Star Tribune [June 8 1890], 5). For more information, see Howard P. Segal, Technological Utopianism in American Culture (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2005), 49–50.


1. This letter is addressed: Walt Whitman | Camden | New Jersey—. In the lower left corner, Howard has written: "(The Poet)." Howard provided the following return address: Albert Waldo Howard | 25—5th—St—North—. The letter is postmarked: Minneapolis, Minn | Mar 12 | 11 PM | 90; Camden, N.J. | Mar | 15 | 8AM | 1890 | Rec'd. [back]

2. Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882) was an American poet and essayist who began the Transcendentalist movement with his 1836 essay Nature. For more on Emerson, see Jerome Loving, "Emerson, Ralph Waldo [1809–1882]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]


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