Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: John T. Trowbridge to Walt Whitman, 2 December 1877

Date: December 2, 1877

Whitman Archive ID: loc.04066

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 Aug, 29 & 30, 88," is in the hand of Horace Traubel.

Contributors to digital file: Alicia Bones, Eder Jaramillo, Grace Thomas, and Nicole Gray

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Arlington, Mass.
Dec. 2, 1877.

Dear Friend Whitman,

By the time you get this, I suppose you will have received "The Book of Eden," which I have ordered for you from the publishing house.1 I think you will find some things in it that will interest you.

I have heard nothing from the projected bust of you, for a long while. The last time I saw it, nearly a year ago, it had quite lost headway. I hope, however, that Morse2 will take a new departure, & finally succeed.

I see that somebody has stepped forward to "defend" you (in a mild way) in the Contributors' Club of the last Atlantic. I am astonished that these latter-day critics should have so little to say of the first "Leaves of Grass," or venture to speak of them only apologetically. They still stand to me as the most powerful prophetic utterances in modern literature.

I have now two dear little girls, and we are all pretty well. I trust you are comfortable.

J. T. Trowbridge.


1. John Townsend Trowbridge (1827–1916) was a novelist, poet, author of juvenile stories, and anti-slavery reformer. Though Trowbridge became familiar with Whitman's poetry in 1855, he did not meet Whitman until 1860, when the poet was in Boston overseeing the Thayer and Eldridge edition of Leaves of Grass. For several weeks in 1863, Trowbridge stayed with Whitman in Washington, D.C., along with John Burroughs and William D. O'Connor. [back]

2. 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. [back]


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