Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to John Burroughs, 27 March [1879]

Date: March 27, 1879

Whitman Archive ID: yal.00237

Source: Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. 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.

Notes for this letter were created by Whitman Archive staff and/or were derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller, 6 vols. (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), and supplemented or updated by Whitman Archive staff.

Contributors to digital file: Alicia Bones, Grace Thomas, Anthony Dreesen, Kevin McMullen, and Nicole Gray

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Camden New Jersey1
March 27 p m2

My dear friend

I could not conveniently come to the West Phil: Depot—I have just written to Johnston leaving the hall, &c to his selection (the night too, if necessary)—I am averse to a first class hall—(I shall certainly be on hand, if alive & able, but the thing is yet a prospecting, & we are not at all sure what we shall find.)

I am as usual—was over to Phila: last evening to a nice dinner party, all men, artists, &c, Horace Furness, (a good fellow)—his brother Frank, architect3—my friend Forney4—Kirke,5 (of Lippincott's Mag:) & eight or ten others—a jolly time—No imminent intention of going south or to California—Love to all inquiring Wash'n friends—



1. This letter is addressed: John Burroughs | care J B Marvin | Internal Revenue Bureau | Washington | D C. It is postmarked: Philadelphia | Mar | 27 | (?).

Joseph B. Marvin, one of Whitman's Washington friends, had visited Whitman on February 24, 1879 (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). Marvin had been co-editor of The Radical in 1866–1867. Later he was employed in the Treasury Department in Washington. [back]

2. That this letter was written in 1879 is confirmed by an entry in Whitman's Commonplace Book and by the reference to the New York lecture. [back]

3. Horace Furness (1833–1912) was the distinguished editor of the Variorum Shakespeare, and was one of the honorary pallbearers at Whitman's funeral. See also Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden (New York: Mitchell Kennerley, 1914), 3:520. Frank Furness designed the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and was the teacher of Louis Sullivan, who described his mentor in The Autobiography of an Idea (New York: Press of the American Institute of Architects, 1926), 190–196. [back]

4. John W. Forney (1817–1881) established the Philadelphia Press in 1857, the Washington Sunday Morning Chronicle in 1861, and the Daily Morning Chronicle in 1862. In 1878, he founded the Philadelphia Progress, a weekly magazine to which Whitman contributed; "The First Spring Day on Chestnut Street" appeared in the Progress on March 8, 1879 (Specimen Days, ed. Floyd Stovall [New York: New York University Press, 1963], 188–190). During the Washington years, Whitman's self-puffs had frequently appeared in Forney's newspapers. Later in 1879, the publisher accompanied Whitman to Kansas (see the letter from Walt to Louisa Whitman of September 12–13, 1879). [back]

5. John Foster Kirk (not Kirke) (1824–1904) was editor of Lippincott's Magazine from 1870 to 1886. [back]


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