Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: John H. Johnston to Walt Whitman, 10 September 1887

Date: September 10, 1887

Whitman Archive ID: loc.02571

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.

Contributors to digital file: Alex Kinnaman, Nicole Gray, Stefan Schöberlein, and Stephanie Blalock

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New York, Sept 10 1887

Dear Walt;

The inclosed explains itself,1 Either a forgery as well as theft has been committed or else you have had happen to you what has happened to me and I'm only 50 yrs old—

Viz: I have rec'd a draft, endorsed it, deposited it, and forgot to give my customer credit for it. It happens, and will happen a thousand times.

An interruption, a call of a friend, or a dozen other things will make me do what they will never believe they have done until forced to. Maybe this Postal Card will be a reminder to you.

I am coming over to your celebration next week and will help you straighten out the matter.

I have written to Mr Shields and asked him to send me the draft.

Alma2 and the boys return today.

With Love
Sincerely yrs
JH Johnston

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. The enclosure is not extant. [back]

2. Alma Calder Johnston was an author and the second wife of John H. Johnston. Her family owned a home and property in Equinunk, Pennsylvania. For more on the Johnstons, 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). [back]


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