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James Redpath to Walt Whitman, 25 June 1860

O rare Walt Whitman! I1 said I would write to you about your Book when I found time to read it as it was written to be read. But I take back my promise. For if you are not sane what will writing avail? and if you are sane your writings are alive with richest sanity. Now, if I do not understand them, or any parts of them, what good will it do to say so—silence, it seems to me, is a duty till I do understand them; and then again, if I do understand them, or when I shall do so, what good will it do to tell you of the fact? It is a waste of breath for my friend to tell me I am healthy when my pulse records the circumstance so often every minute.

I love you, Walt! A Conquering Brigade will ere long march to the music of your barbaric jawp. Ever and truly

James Redpath.


  • 1. James Redpath (1833–1891) was the author of The Public Life of Capt. John Brown (Boston: Thayer and Eldridge, 1860), a correspondent for the New York Tribune during the war, the originator of the "Lyceum" lectures, and editor of the North American Review in 1886. He met Whitman in Boston in 1860 (Thomas Biggs Harned Collection of Walt Whitman, The Library of Congress, Notebook #90) and remained an enthusiastic admirer; see Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, ed. Sculley Bradley (New York: Mitchell Kennerley, 1914), 3:459–461. See also Charles F. Horner, The Life of James Redpath and the Development of the Modern Lyceum (New York: Barse & Hopkins, 1926). [back]
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