Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Joseph M. Stoddart to Walt Whitman, 10 October 1890

Date: October 10, 1890

Whitman Archive ID: loc.04674

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

Related item: Whitman reused the envelope in which this letter arrived. He opened the envelope and used the blank inside to draft a poetry manuscript with the title "America to Old-World Books A reminiscence from reading Walter Scott." The words Whitman wrote on this envelope, as well as the lines he wrote on five others from around the same time, are part of a draft of a poem that would be titled "Old Chants," when it was first published in the New York Truth on March 19, 1891. See loc.00047.

Contributors to digital file: Blake Bronson-Bartlett, Ian Faith, Breanna Himschoot, Jason McCormick, and Stephanie Blalock



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Lippincott's Monthly Magazine
Philadelphia,1
Oct. 10—1890

My Dear Mr. Whitman.

Colonel Scovil2 tells me you say I am "worldly." Now what do you mean by this?—Is it because we haven't printed any of the poems yet? If it is, I can give you the charming intelligence that one of them will be pubd. in the December number, pubd November 20th.3

I am coming over to see you some and will make up a page4 in some way as you desire. I want to hear Col. Ingersoll,5 as I see he is announced6

Have you tickets?

Yours truly
J M Stoddart7


Correspondent:
Joseph Marshall Stoddart (1845–1921) published Stoddart's Encyclopaedia America, established Stoddart's Review in 1880, which was merged with The American in 1882, and became the editor of Lippincott's Monthly Magazine in 1886. On January 11, 1882, Whitman received an invitation from Stoddart through J. E. Wainer, one of his associates, to dine with Oscar Wilde on January 14 (Clara Barrus, Whitman and Burroughs—Comrades [Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1931], 235n).

Notes:

1. This letter is addressed: Walt Whitman | Camden | N.J. It is postmarked: Philadelphia, PA. | OCT 10 | 8 PM | 90; [CAMDEN,] N.J. | [illegible] | [illegible] | 6 AM | 1890 | Rec'd. There are two additional postmarks, but they are entirely illegible. The insignia for Lippincott's Monthly Magazine, Philadelphia, is printed on the envelope [back]

2. James Matlock 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, as he did on December 2 and 9, 1877 (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]

3. Whitman's "To the Sunset Breeze" was first published in Lippincott's Magazine in December 1890. [back]

4. Stoddart is referring to plans for the March issue of Lippincott's in 1891 (Volume 47, pages 376–389). The issue contained Whitman's portrait as a frontispiece, "Old Age Echoes" (including "Sounds of Winter," "The Unexpress'd," "Sail Out for Good, Eidólon Yacht!" and "After the Argument"), Whitman's "Some Personal and Old-Age Memoranda," Horace Traubel's "Walt Whitman: The Poet and Philosopher of Man," and "The Old Man Himself. A Postscript." [back]

5. Robert "Bob" Green Ingersoll (1833–1899) was a Civil War veteran and an orator of the post-Civil War era, known for his support of agnosticism. Ingersoll was a friend of Whitman, who considered Ingersoll the greatest orator of his time. Whitman said to Traubel, "It should not be surprising that I am drawn to Ingersoll, for he is Leaves of Grass. He lives, embodies, the individuality I preach. I see in Bob the noblest specimen—American-flavored—pure out of the soil, spreading, giving, demanding light" (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Wednesday, March 25, 1891). The feeling was mutual. Upon Whitman's death in 1892, Ingersoll delivered the eulogy at the poet's funeral. The eulogy was published to great acclaim and is considered a classic panegyric (see Phyllis Theroux, The Book of Eulogies [New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997], 30). [back]

6. On October 21, 1890 at Horticultural Hall in Philadelphia, Robert Ingersoll delivered a lecture in honor of Walt Whitman titled Liberty in Literature. Testimonial to Walt Whitman. Whitman recorded in his Commonplace book that the lecture was "a noble, (very eulogistic to WW & L of G) eloquent speech, well responded to by the audience," and the speech itself was published in New York by the Truth Seeker Company in 1890 (Whitman's Commonplace Book [Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.]). [back]

7. A diagonal line has been drawn through this letter in black ink. [back]


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