Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Thomas Russell to Walt Whitman, 16 May [1871]

Date: May 16, [1871]

Whitman Archive ID: loc.02864

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, Elizabeth Lorang, Kathryn Kruger, John Schwaninger, Ashley Lawson, Caterina Bernardini, Amanda J. Axley, Marie Ernster, and Stephanie Blalock

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20 Hancock St.
May 16.

Dear Sir:

At the suggestion of Mr. Eldridge1 I enclose a likeness of Father Taylor;2 having no photo that is as good.

He died, April 6, 1871, just as the tide turned, going out with the ebb, as an old salt should.

Very Truly
Thomas Russell

Walt Whitman

Thomas Russell (1825–1887) was a judge for the Massachusetts Superior Court. He later served as the Collector of Customs for the Port of Boston and the United States Minister Resident to Venezuela.


1. Charles W. Eldridge (1837–1903) was one half of the Boston-based abolitionist publishing firm Thayer and Eldridge, who issued the 1860 edition of Leaves of Grass. In December 1862, on his way to find his injured brother George in Fredericksburg, Virginia, Whitman stopped in Washington and encountered Eldridge, who had become a clerk in the office of the army paymaster, Major Lyman Hapgood. Eldridge helped Whitman gain employment in Hapgood's office. For more on Whitman's relationship with Thayer and Eldridge, see David Breckenridge Donlon, "Thayer, William Wilde (1829–1896) and Charles W. Eldridge (1837–1903)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

2. Edward Thompson Taylor was an American Methodist clergyman who was well regarded for his oratory skills. Whitman, for example, referenced "Father Taylor" as "the only essentially perfect orator" he had ever heard (qtd. in Walter Lewin, "Review of November Boughs," The Academy [23 February 1889], 127). [back]


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