Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to James R. Osgood & Company, 7 March 1882

Date: March 7, 1882

Whitman Archive ID: tex.00437

Source: T. E. Hanley Collection, Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 3:267–268. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Stefan Schoeberlein, Nima Najafi Kianfar, Eder Jaramillo, Nicole Gray, and Kirsten Clawson

Camden New Jersey
March 7 '821

I am not afraid of the District Attorney's threat—it quite certainly could not amount to any thing—but I want you to be satisfied, to continue as publishers of the book (& I had already thought favorably of some such brief cancellation.)

Yes, under the circumstances I am willing to make a revision & cancellation in the pages alluded to—wouldn't be more than half a dozen anyhow—perhaps indeed about ten lines to be left out, & half a dozen words or phrases.2

Have just returned from a fortnight down in the Jersey woods,3 & find your letter—

Walt Whitman


1. According to Whitman's Commonplace Book, this communication was sent on March 8 (Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). [back]

2. On March 1, 1882, Oliver Stevens, District Attorney in Boston, wrote to Osgood & Co., the publishers of the newest edition of Leaves of Grass: "We are of the opinion that this book is such a book as brings it within the provisions of the Public Statutes respecting obscene literature and suggest the propriety of withdrawing the same from circulation and suppressing the editions thereof." In transmitting Stevens's letter to Whitman on March 4, the firm asked Whitman's "consent to the withdrawal of the present edition and the substitution of an edition lacking the obnoxious features." [back]

3. Whitman was with the Staffords from February 16 to March 6 (Whitman's Commonplace Book). [back]


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