Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: James M. Scovel to Walt Whitman, 2 April 1890

Date: April 2, 1890

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03750

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: Blake Bronson-Bartlett, Ian Faith, and Stephanie Blalock

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323 North Sixth Street,
Tuesday Eve
April 2 / 90
10 PM

Dear Walt

Sometime ago you kindly said you wd give me something for the Sunday Times

I wish you wd hunt up some of your recent letters from abroad that we copy them for next Sundays Paper.

Where is Edwin Arnold?1

I will run down a moment Friday AM—Am glad as Tom H2 tells me you will be dined and wined on your next May-day (Birthday—)

We are all reasonably well save Marrie3 (my brightest child) who has been in bed a week but mending—

Mrs Scovel & both the Girls send their regards

Yours Ever
Jas Matlack Scovel

Any4 word from abroad [illegible] [illegible] [safe?] [illegible]


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).


1. Sir Edwin Arnold (1832–1904), the British poet and journalist, had visited Whitman in Camden in September 1889 and wrote frequently about it. See for example, "Arnold and Whitman," which was published in the September 26, 1889, issue of The Daily Picayune. Whitman found the visitor interesting but too effusive: "My main objection to him, if objection at all, would be, that he is too eulogistic—too flattering" (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Friday, September 13, 1889). [back]

2. Thomas Biggs Harned (1851–1921) was one of Whitman's literary executors. Harned was a lawyer in Philadelphia and, having married Augusta Anna Traubel (1856–1914), was Horace Traubel's brother-in-law. For more on him, see Dena Mattausch, "Harned, Thomas Biggs (1851–1921)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). For more on his relationship with Whitman, see Thomas Biggs Harned, Memoirs of Thomas B. Harned, Walt Whitman's Friend and Literary Executor, ed. Peter Van Egmond (Hartford: Transcendental Books, 1972). [back]

3. James and Mary Mulford Scovel (1831–1893) had three children: Mary (Scovel) Kookejay Senor, Anna Dean (Scovel) Brooke, and Henry Sydney Scovel. Scovel is likely referring to his daughter Mary. [back]

4. This postscript is written in the left margin of the first page of the letter. [back]


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