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Walt Whitman to Sylvester Baxter, 7 October 1887

 bpl.00020.001_large.jpg Dear friend

Yours with the $12 has reach'd me safely—making $800 altogether sent me by my Boston friends,1 & now herewith receipted—Soon as convenient cant you send me a plain list of names and amt's to this fund—so I may know definitely who have help'd me?—I am ab't as usual of late—was out driving yesterday, & shall probably go out for an hour this afternoon—Thanks to you & my Boston friends, & God bless you all2

Walt Whitman  bpl.00020.002_large.jpg

Sylvester Baxter (1850–1927) was on the staff of the Boston Herald. Apparently he met Whitman for the first time when the poet delivered his Lincoln address in Boston in April, 1881; see Rufus A. Coleman, "Whitman and Trowbridge," PMLA 63 (1948), 268. Baxter wrote many newspaper columns in praise of Whitman's writings, and in 1886 attempted to obtain a pension for the poet. For more, see Christopher O. Griffin, "Baxter, Sylvester [1850–1927]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


  • 1. Boston friends were raising money to buy a summer cottage they hoped would improve Whitman's failing health. Whitman eventually used the money to build his extravagant mausoleum in Harleigh Cemetery—to the shock and dismay of those who had worked hardest to solicit money for the cottage. [back]
  • 2. On the following day Baxter transmitted the names of the subscribers, who included William Dean Howells, Samuel Clemens, Charles Eliot Norton, and Edwin Booth (See Baxter's letter to Whitman of October 8, 1887). [back]
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