Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to John R. and Rebecca B. Johnston, 9 February 1875

Date: February 9, 1875

Whitman Archive ID: med.00430

Source: The location of the original manuscript is unknown. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 2:322–323. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Janel Cayer, Kenneth M. Price, Elizabeth Lorang, Kathryn Kruger, Zachary King, and Eric Conrad

431 Stevens St. / Cor. West. / Camden / N. Jersey.
Feb. 9, 1875.

My dear friends, John R. & Rebecca B. Johnston,1

This then is the 28th anniversary of your marriage day.

God bless you both.

Walt Whitman.

I wonder if you either of you have any idea how the otherwise monotony of my Camden existence has been pleasantly rippled—how warm & bright those gleams to me—from the unvarying hospitality and sweet friendship of both of you—God bless you.



1. Among Whitman's early friends at Camden was John R. Johnston, "the jolliest man I ever met, an artist, a great talker," per Whitman's November 9, 1873 letter to Peter Doyle. Johnston was a portrait and landscape painter who for years maintained a studio in Philadelphia and lived at 434 Penn Street in Camden. See The New-York Historical Society Dictionary of Artists in America, 1564–1860 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1957). On the verso of Anne Gilchrist's letter of February 21–25, 1875, Whitman scrawled some trial lines for an inscription: "written in memory of the good times Sunday evening's in Penn street, 1875—'4 & '3." The poet was fond of Johnston's children, Ida and Jack (John Jr.). [back]


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