Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Harrison S. Morris to Walt Whitman, 13 December 1889

Date: December 13, 1889

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03154

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: Kirby Little, Ashlyn Stewart, Breanna Himschoot, and Stephanie Blalock



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227 So. 4th St.
Phila.
Dec. 13/89.

Dear Walt. Whitman:

I give to my good friend Horace Traubel1 the Sarrazin2 book which I have had so much pleasure in translating from; and I want to excuse myself for keeping it overlong with the plan that I mainly retained it for use in case you desired me to read proof.

This gives me a chance to say a rousing Thank you! for your gift of Leaves of Grass and for your kindness in sending the letter of Dr. Bucke3 anent the American articles—all of which Traubel has probably conveyed to you my gratitude for, long ago.

The unique copy of L of G.4 is better than much wealth.

Yours faithfully
Harrison S. Morris


Correspondent:
Harrison S. Morris (1856–1948) of Philadelphia was a writer, editor, and translator. He made an English translation of French critic Gabriel Sarrazin's "Poétes moderns de l'amérique, Walt Whitman," La Nouvelle Revue, 52 (May 1888), 164–84; Morris's translation of Sarrazin's piece is reprinted in In Re Walt Whitman (1893, pp. 159–194). Morris also served as the managing director of the Philadelphia Academy of the Fine Arts and editor of Lippincott's Magazine, as well as the president of the Wharton Steel Company. He was the author and/or editor of several books, including Walt Whitman. A Brief Biography, with Reminiscences (1929).

Notes:

1. Horace L. Traubel (1858–1919) was an American essayist, poet, and magazine publisher. He is best remembered as the literary executor, biographer, and self-fashioned "spirit child" of Walt Whitman. During the mid-1880s and until Whitman's death in 1892, Traubel visited the poet virtually every day and took thorough notes of their conversations, which he later transcribed and published in three large volumes entitled With Walt Whitman in Camden (1906, 1908, & 1914). After his death, Traubel left behind enough manuscripts for six more volumes of the series, the final two of which were published in 1996. For more on Traubel, see Ed Folsom, "Traubel, Horace L. [1858–1919]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

2. Gabriel Sarrazin (1853–1935) was a translator and poet from France, who commented positively not only on Whitman's work but also on Poe's. Whitman later corresponded with Sarrazin and apparently liked the critic's work on Leaves of Grass—Whitman even had Sarrazin's chapter on his book translated twice. For more on Sarrazin, see Carmine Sarracino, "Sarrazin, Gabriel (1853–1935)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

3. Richard Maurice Bucke (1837–1902) was a Canadian physician and psychiatrist who grew close to Whitman after reading Leaves of Grass in 1867 (and later memorizing it) and meeting the poet in Camden a decade later. Even before meeting Whitman, Bucke claimed in 1872 that a reading of Leaves of Grass led him to experience "cosmic consciousness" and an overwhelming sense of epiphany. Bucke became the poet's first biographer with Walt Whitman (Philadelphia: David McKay, 1883), and he later served as one of his medical advisors and literary executors. For more on the relationship of Bucke and Whitman, see Howard Nelson, "Bucke, Richard Maurice," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

4. Whitman records in his Daybooks for December 1889 that he "sent morocco L. of G. to Harrison S Morris," referring to the 1889 special edition of Leaves of Grass that Whitman had printed to celebrate his seventieth birthday. Daybooks and Notebooks, ed. William White [New York: New York University Press, 1977], 2:541). [back]


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