Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to James Matlack Scovel, [1 November 1876]

Date: November 1, 1876

Whitman Archive ID: med.00443

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), 3:63–64. 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


Dear S.:—2

It seems the bottle I left for you was broken by accident. Here is another. Don't mind the tart puckery taste.

W. W.


1. Transcript. [back]

2. James Matlock Scovel 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 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 (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).

Apparently Whitman sent this note to Scovel, who was hospitalized shortly before the presidential election in 1876. The Camden lawyer included it in an article entitled "Walt Whitman: A Symposium in a Sick Room," which appeared in the Camden Daily Post on November 18, 1876. Scovel was one of Whitman's publicity agents at this time (see Whitman's July 31, 1875 letter to Rudolf Schmidt). [back]


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