Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to John H. Johnston, 31 July [1885]

Date: July 31, 1885

Whitman Archive ID: loc.02567

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, "1885," is in an unknown hand.

Contributors to digital file: Stefan Schöberlein, Kyle Barton, and Nicole Gray

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Camden New Jersey1
July 31 P M

I was affected by the heat—had vertigo fits—unconscious temporarily—fell—but really nothing serious.2—Shall be out as usual in a day or two—Love to A.3—I suppose the book came—


John H. Johnston (1837–1919) was a New York jeweler and close friend of Whitman. Johnston was also a friend of Joaquin Miller (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Tuesday, August 14, 1888). Whitman visited the Johnstons for the first time early in 1877. In 1888 he observed to Horace Traubel: "I count [Johnston] as in our inner circle, among the chosen few" (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Wednesday, October 3, 1888). See also Johnston's letter about Whitman, printed in Charles N. Elliot, Walt Whitman as Man, Poet and Friend (Boston: Richard G. Badger, 1915), 149–174. For more on Johnston, see Susan L. Roberson, "Johnston, John H. (1837–1919) and Alma Calder," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


1. This letter is addressed: John H Johnston | Jeweler | 150 Bowery Cor: Broome | New York City. It is postmarked: CAMDEN | JUL | 31 | 5 PM | 1885 | N.J.; A | 8- [illegible]-85 | [illegible] IA | N.Y.; P O | 7-31-85 | [illegible] | N.Y. [back]

2. In an entry dated July 20 to 23 Whitman cited "the bad vertigo fits—bad fall." In another notation he described himself as "unwell" from July 20 to September 3 (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). The Critic noted his prostration from the heat as well as the English "offering" on August 1. [back]

3. Alma Calder Johnston was an author and the second wife of John H. Johnston. [back]


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