Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: James Scovel to Walt Whitman, 6 December 1880

Date: December 6, 1880

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03720

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

Contributors to digital file: Alicia Bones, Vince Moran, Anthony Dreesen, Nicole Gray, and Stefan Schöberlein

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Camden NJ
12th 6th 1880.

Walt Whitman
My Dear "Old Boy"

I was so full, Sunday, of the "ample ether, and the divine air" of your presence1—and the aurum potabile which always surrounds our symposiums that I forgot to say that I expended $9.50 in pursuit of the recalcitrant, pirate—Worthington,2 in New York City.

Please send me this amount by Bearer, & oblige Your Devoted but "impecunious" friend

J M Scovel

PS. If you want me further, you know how to "whistle" & "I will come to you my lad.


1. James Matlack Scovel (1833–1904) began to practice law in Camden in 1856. During the Civil War, he was in the New Jersey legislature and became a colonel in 1863. He campaigned actively for Horace Greeley in 1872, and was a special agent for the U.S. Treasury during Chester Arthur's administration. In the 1870s, Whitman frequently went to Scovel's home for Sunday breakfast (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). For a description of these breakfasts, see Walt Whitman's Diary in Canada, ed. William Sloane Kennedy (Boston: Small, Maynard, 1904), 59–60. For Scovel, see George R. Prowell's The History of Camden County, New Jersey (Philadelphia: L. J. Richards, 1886). [back]

2. For a discussion of the Worthington affair, see the letter from Whitman to Richard Watson Gilder of November 26, 1880[back]


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