Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Charles M. Skinner, 19 January 1885

Date: January 19, 1885

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03812

Source: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; Papers of Walt Whitman (MSS 3829), Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature, Albert H. Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia . The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 3:385–386. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Editorial note: The annotation, "To CHARLES M. SKiNNeR | Walt Whitman Camden, N.J., Jan. 19, 1885. see envelope," is in an unknown hand.

Contributors to digital file: Stefan Schöberlein, Kyle Barton, and Nicole Gray

page image
image 1
page image
image 2
page image
image 3
page image
image 4

328 Mickle Street
Camden New Jersey 1
Jan: 19 '85

Dear Sir

In hasty answer to your request asking me to specify over my own signature what years I worked as an editorial writer in the Brooklyn Times office I would say that if I remember right it was along in 1856, or just before.2 I recollect (doubtless I am now going to be egotistical about it,) the question of the new Water Works (magnificently outlined by McAlpine,3 and duly carried out and improved by Kirkwood,4 first-class engineers both,) was still pending, and the works, though well under way, continued to be strongly opposed by many. With the consent of the proprietor, I bent the whole weight of the paper steadily in favor of the McAlpine plan, as against a flimsy, cheap and temporary series of works that would have long since broken down, and disgraced the city.

This, with my course on another matter, the securing to public use of Washington Park (Old Fort Greene,) stoutly championed by me some thirty-five years ago, against heavy odds, during an editorship of the Brooklyn Eagle, are "feathers in my wings" that I would wish to preserve.

I heard lately with genuine sorrow of the death of George C Bennett.5 I remember him well as a good, generous, honorable man.

I send best greetings to your staff, and indeed to all the Brooklyn journalists.

Walt Whitman


C M S—Dear Sir

You are at liberty to print letter, if you desire—If so read proof very carefully & copy—& don't forget to send me here a couple of papers—


Charles M. Skinner (1852–1907) was editor of the Brooklyn Daily Times in the early 1880s and then editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle until his death; his article on "Whitman as Editor" appeared in the Atlantic Monthly (November 1903).


1. This letter is addressed: Charles M Skinner | Daily Times | newspaper office | Brooklyn | New York. It is postmarked: Camden | Jan | 19 | 8 PM | 1885(?) | N.J. [back]

2. Whitman was the editor of the Daily Times from 1856 to 1859; see Gay Wilson Allen, The Solitary Singer (1955), 208–216. [back]

3. William Jarvis McAlpine (1812–1890), a civil engineer, planned the Riverside Drive in New York City. [back]

4. James P. Kirkwood was a friend of Jeff Whitman and aided Walt's hospital work during the Civil War (see the letter from Whitman to his mother of May 26, 1863). [back]

5. Bennett was the proprietor of the Daily Times. Apparently he dismissed Whitman from the editorship in 1859 (Gay Wilson Allen, The Solitary Singer [1955], 215). [back]


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

Support the Archive | About the Archive

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