Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: James L. Corning to Walt Whitman, 19 September 1889

Date: September 19, 1889

Whitman Archive ID: loc.08102

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: Zainab Saleh, Brandon James O'Neil, Andrew David King, Stephanie Blalock, and Jason McCormick

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22, Kammenstr.
2. Rivage
Sept 19./89

My dear Mr Whitman

Among other precious things from Camden which greeted me this morning is the package of pictures of your dear self. Nellie1 & I have already feasted our eyes & hearts on them, & they will cheer us with their bright ministry through the many days of the homeward voyage. We thank you with all our hearts for the pictures; but we want to see the living original whom we respect & love so much.

And now our summer "loaf" is over, & glad I am of it, for loafing does not agree either with my health or morals.

Day after tomorrow we sail in the "Rhynland"2 & hope to reach New York on the first days of October. Accept my dear Mr Whitman the assurances of our sincerest affection.

Cordially Yours
JL Corning

James Leonard Corning (1828–1903) was educated in New York and ordained as a Congregational minister. He served as a pastor in Connecticut and Wisconsin, and, in 1888, he became the pastor of Unity Church in Camden, New Jersey. He was also a frequent visitor at Whitman's Camden home in the poet's final years (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). For more on Corning, see his entry in The Twentieth Century Biographical Dictorary of Notable Americans, ed. Rossiter Johnson (Boston, Massachusetts: The Biographical Society, 1904), Volume 2.


1. This may be a reference to Corning's daughter, Nellie. Nellie Corning Knote married Heinrich Knote, a tenor in the Royal Opera in Munich, Germany. Nellie died in Munich in 1907. See the notice of her death "Frau Knote Dead in Munich," The Musical Courier 55.17 (April 24, 1907), 25. [back]

2. The SS Rhynland was a transatlantic passenger ship built in 1879 and owned by the Red Star Line; it operated between Antwerp, Belgium, and New York City. It was scrapped in 1906. Corning wrote this letter on Red Star Line stationery that contains an image of the Red Star flag in the letterhead. [back]


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