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Walt Whitman to William Sloane Kennedy, 27 April 1886

I send you Dublin magazine with an article in you may like to run your eye over1—After you are through with it, mail to Wm D O'Connor, Life Saving Service, Washington, D C—

I am ab't as usual—went down to the sea-shore three days since & had a rousing dinner of shad & champagne with some friends2


William Sloane Kennedy (1850–1929) was on the staff of the Philadelphia American and the Boston Transcript; he also published biographies of Longfellow, Holmes, and Whittier (Dictionary of American Biography [New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1933], 336–337). Apparently Kennedy called on the poet for the first time on November 21, 1880 (William Sloane Kennedy, Reminiscences of Walt Whitman [London: Alexander Gardener, 1896], 1). Though Kennedy was to become a fierce defender of Whitman, in his first published article he admitted reservations about the "coarse indecencies of language" and protested that Whitman's ideal of democracy was "too coarse and crude"; see The Californian, 3 (February 1881), 149–158. For more about Kennedy, see Katherine Reagan, "Kennedy, William Sloane (1850–1929)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


  • 1. H. Rowlandson's review of Carpenter's Towards Democracy appeared in the Dublin University Review in April. The article was actually written by Thomas W. H. Rolleston; see his letter to Whitman of August 4, 1885. [back]
  • 2. On April 24 Whitman had a "planked shad & champagne dinner at Billy Thompson's" (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). William J. "Billy" Thompson (1848–1911), known as "The Duke of Gloucester" and "The Statesman," was a friend of Whitman's who operated a hotel, race track, and amusement park on the beach overlooking the Delaware River at Gloucester, New Jersey. His shad and champagne dinners for Whitman were something of a tradition. See William Sloane Kennedy, Reminiscences of Walt Whitman (1896), 15–16. [back]
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