Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: John Burroughs to Walt Whitman, 18 November 1883

Date: November 18, 1883

Whitman Archive ID: syr.00009

Source: Walt Whitman Collection, Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Library, Syracuse, N.Y. 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.

Editorial note: The annotation, "see notes Jan 27 1889," is in the hand of Horace Traubel.

Contributors to digital file: Alicia Meyer, Stefan Schöberlein, Nima Najafi Kianfar, and Nicole Gray

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Sunday Nov 18, 83

Dear Walt:

Dr Bucke says you talk of going home with him: if you do be sure you stop & see me on the way. We have a girl now & are well fixed for the winter. Why not come on & stay here till Dr Bucke is ready to go back? I was in N.Y. a couple of weeks ago, & saw Arnold at Gilder's house—liked him better than I expected, looks coarse & strong & healthy, has a sort of husky voice like a sea captain, looked as if he came from a bigger stronger race than the other persons in the room, no pride, or "manners" or "culture" visible in him. I found he knew of me & was very cordial in meeting me. Liked him much better than the other Englishmen I have seen. Wish you could see him & have a good sit down talk with him, I think he is honest & sincere, & not too sure about things in this country. The idea of his lecture on numbers, namely, that the majority is unsound, is to be taken with many qualifications & I wish some one would answer it in a mild friendly way. From some points of view the majority may appear in the wrong, but from other very important ones they are in the right, especially modern majorities. The mass of men are no longer capable of being gulled & duped and victimized as they were once. A shrewd common sense, that extends to big things as well as to little is characteristic of the people in this age. If the masses were essentially unsound the prophet & the wise man would have only a barren soil to work on. I wish you would feel moved to write a short essay in The Critic on the subject. I enjoyed much your paper in this weeks number. I think that both Arnold & Carlyle detach & see out of its due relations, this idea of the unsoundness of the masses. I have written a short sketch as the result of my sea-shore sojourn, for the Boston "Wheelman" a new magazine of outdoor literature. I will send you the proof for suggestions & revision, especially the part that relates to you

Eldridge writes me that O'Connor is ill & at the Sulphur Springs of Va. What do you know about him? Eldridge thinks that my publishers are dealing honestly with me. I have asked to see their accounts, & they are willing, but probably I shall not go on these. When one of my books was published they sold the first 6 months 733 copies. When the next book came out, they sold in the same time 733 copies. Of another vol. they sold 131 copies in 6 mo: the next 6 mo, they sold 131 copies of the vol published next. These coincidences seem almost incredible. I called their attention to them, & they reply that they are merely coincidences. Osgood would gladly undertake my books; so would Dodd Mead & Co of N.Y. Fine day here to-day, but have had a cold windy week. Out home in Roxbury I tramped over the mountains in blinding snow & cold. I hope you keep well. Send me the Scottish Review article if you have it & I will return it.

With much love
John Burroughs


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