Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Sidney H. Morse, 19 September 1888

Date: September 19, 1888

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03185

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 derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller, 6 vols. (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), and supplemented, updated, or created by Whitman Archive staff as appropriate.

Editorial note: The annotation, "Whitman.," is in an unknown hand.

Contributors to digital file: Blake Bronson-Bartlett, Alex Ashland, Breanna Himschoot, and Stephanie Blalock



page image
image 1
page image
image 2


Camden
Wednesday P M
Sept: 19 '88

Dear S H M

Am surviving yet & in good spirits (sort) after the past nearly four months—Am still imprison'd here in my sick room, unable to move around or get out at all—but have my brain power as before & right arm volition—(now reduced to them what great blessings they are!)—November Boughs1 is all done printed & press'd & waits the binding—will send you one as soon as I get it—then I am to have a Complete W W in one large 900 Vol. ($6) L of G, Spec. Days, & Nov. B—all & several condensed in one2—this is now going through the presses—your bust of me still holds out fully in my estimation.—I consider it (to me at any rate) the best & most characteristic really artistic & satisfactory rendering of any—so tho't by me.—the bust of Elias Hicks3 pleases & satisfies me first rate—goes to the right spot—the little arm chair statuette is here (as when you left it) & must not be forgotten4—it is valuable exceedingly—Horace5 is invaluable to me—I couldn't have done anything with the printing without him—Whether I shall get out of this slough remains uncertain—I am comfortable—

Love to you & all inquiring friends
Walt Whitman


Correspondent:
Sidney H. Morse (1832–1903) was a self-taught sculptor as well as a Unitarian minister and, from 1866 to 1872, editor of The Radical. He visited Whitman in Camden many times and made various busts of him. Whitman had commented on an earlier bust by Morse that it was "wretchedly bad." For more on this, see Ruth L. Bohan, Looking into Walt Whitman: American Art, 1850–1920 (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2006), 105–109.

Notes:

1. Whitman's November Boughs was published in October 1888 by Philadelphia publisher David McKay. For more information on the book, see James E. Barcus Jr., "November Boughs [1888]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

2. Whitman wanted to publish a "big book" that included all of his writings, and, with the help of Horace Traubel, he made the presswork and binding decisions for the volume. Frederick Oldach bound Whitman's Complete Poems & Prose (1888), which included a profile photo of the poet on the title page. The book was published in December 1888. For more information on the book, see Ed Folsom's Whitman Making Books/Books Making Whitman: A Catalog and Commentary. [back]

3. Elias Hicks (1748–1830) was a traveling Quaker preacher and anti-slavery activist from Long Island, New York. For more on Hicks, see Henry Watson Wilbur, The Life and Labors of Elias Hicks (Philadelphia: Friends' General Conference Advancement Committee, 1910). [back]

4. A photograph of the plaster model of this work serves as the frontispiece of Horace Traubel's third volume of With Walt Whitman in Camden (New York: Mitchell Kennerley, 1914). [back]

5. 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]


Comments?

Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Ed Folsom & Kenneth M. Price, editors.