Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to John Burroughs, 13 April [1876]

Date: April 13, 1876

Whitman Archive ID: med.00442

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), 3:39–40. 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

April 13. 1

Your letter in 'Tribune' today headed 'W. W.'s Poetry'2 is like an artillery and bayonet charge combined—is splendid, earnest, and terribly live—(Wonder the T——ever printed it)—Bad spell this forenoon—F. B. Sanborn3 visited me today—Am going out and will see if I can get the T——to send you—am not sure—



1. Transcript. [back]

2. Although the New York Tribune had printed Whitman's review of his own books earlier in the year (see Whitman's February 8, 1876 letter to Whitelaw Reid) as well as sympathetic reports on January 29 and February 25, 1876, and excerpts from Two Rivulets on March 1, 1876, the newspaper, probably through the influence of Bayard Taylor (see Whitman's November 18, 1866, to Taylor), began to publish hostile notices. On March 28, 1876, the London correspondent assailed Buchanan's article in the London Daily News. An editorial on March 30, 1876, also attacked the recklessness of Buchanan's charges, and maintained that Whitman failed to save money from his Washington days, "the cause thereof was certainly not 'persecution.' " Another hostile editorial appeared on April 12, 1876. Burroughs' defense was published on April 13, 1876. On April 22, 1876, O'Connor, Walt Whitman's estranged friend, wrote an extravagant, and garrulous, encomium. Later the Tribune resumed its friendly attitude toward Walt Whitman. [back]

3. Franklin B. Sanborn (1831–1917) was an abolitionist and a friend of John Brown. In 1860, when he was tried in Boston because of his refusal to testify before a committee of the U.S. Senate, Walt Whitman was in the courtroom (Gay Wilson Allen, The Solitary Singer [New York: Macmillan, 1955], 242). He reviewed Drum-Taps in the Boston Commonwealth on February 24, 1866 (Miller, Drum-Taps, lviii). He was editor of the Springfield Republican from 1868 to 1872, and was the author of books dealing with his friends Emerson, Thoreau, and Alcott. "A Visit to the Good Gray Poet" appeared without Sanborn's name in the Springfield Republican on April 19, 1876. For more on Sanborn, see Linda K. Walker, "Sanborn, Franklin Benjamin (Frank) (1831–1917)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998), 605. [back]


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