Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: James Redpath to Walt Whitman, 11 August 1885

Date: August 11, 1885

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03287

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.

Editorial note: The annotation, "see notes July 29 1888 | also Aug 1," is in the hand of Horace Traubel.

Contributors to digital file: Alex Kinnaman, Stefan Schöberlein, Ian Faith, Kyle Barton, and Nicole Gray

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August 11, 1885.

Dear Walt Whitman:

I wrote you several days ago asking you to tell me whether $100 was your lowest price. I think I said also that if you charged lower than that price I could sell a great many more articles for you than I could at these rates. I enclose a check for $60, which is payment for the article according to your own estimate of 3,000 words, at the rate of $20 a thousand, which is the very highest rate they pay.1 I had to decide within ten minutes whether I would accept it or not, as Mr. Ferris, who is in charce of the syndicate, was just about to start for Mount McGregor. I told him, however, that if you refused to sell the article for less I should consider myself responsible for the balance and expect payment for it either from him or from Mr. Rice.2

So my dear old friend I have protected your interests to the best of my judgement and if you want me to follow orders and break owners in future let me know and I will do it. The great problem that the universe is asking you this moment is whether I am to regard this check as payment in full or payment on account. I also would like you to answer my letters. I have no interest whatever in the syndicate to which I sold the manuscript.

Ever yours truly
Jas Redpath

James Redpath (1833–1891), an antislavery activist, journalist, and longtime friend of Whitman, was the author of The Public Life of Capt. John Brown (Boston: Thayer and Eldridge, 1860), a correspondent for the New York Tribune during the war, and the originator of the "Lyceum" lectures. He met Whitman in Boston in 1860, and he remained an enthusiastic admirer; see Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Friday, January 4, 1889. He concluded his first letter to Whitman on June 25, 1860: "I love you, Walt! A conquering Brigade will ere long march to the music of your barbaric jawp." Redpath became managing editor of The North American Review in 1886. See also Charles F. Horner, The Life of James Redpath and the Development of the Modern Lyceum, (New York: Barse & Hopkins, 1926); John R. McKivigan, Forgotten Firebrand: James Redpath and the Making of Nineteenth-Century America, (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2008); and J.R. LeMaster, "Redpath, James [1833–1891]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


1. Redpath is discussing Whitman's "Booth and the Old Bowery." Whitman eventually accepted $60 for it, and it was published in Allen Thorndike Rice's New York Tribune on August 16, 1885. See also Whitman's reply to Redpath of August 12, 1885[back]

2. Charles Allen Thorndike Rice (1851–1889) was a journalist and edited and published the North American Review in New York from 1876 until his death. His Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln by Distinguished Men of His Time (1888) was published by The North American Review Publishing Company. [back]


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