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Walt Whitman to William C. Church and Francis P. Church, 23 August 1867

Messrs. Church.1 Gentlemen:

The Weekly Tribune of 21st prints the Harvest Carol on its last page, but leaves out several connecting verses indispensable to the ensemble of the piece, & mangling it pretty badly in several ways. This is rather too much of a liberty. Would it be worth while to attempt a correction—asking the Tribune folk to insert in their columns an item like the enclosed slip—for instance?—As presented by them, the Carol is very much like one of those toy caoutchouc faces, with the mouth & nose utterly squeezed out—They ought by good rights to print it again in full, from the correct version in the Galaxy—but I suppose that could not be done.2

I only write suggestively, leaving it to you to decide whether it is necessary to take any action at all in the matter.

This letter is not to be given, or alluded to, in publication should there be any.

Walt Whitman


  • 1. William Conant Church (1836–1917), journalist and publisher, was a correspondent for several New York newspapers until he founded the Army and Navy Journal in 1863. With his brother Francis Pharcellus (1839–1906), he established the Galaxy in 1866. Financial control of the Galaxy passed to Sheldon and Company in 1868, and it was absorbed by the Atlantic Monthly in 1878. William published a biography of his life-long friend Ulysses S. Grant in 1897, and Francis wrote for the New York Sun the unsigned piece "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus." See Edward F. Grier, "Walt Whitman, the Galaxy, and Democratic Vistas," American Literature, 23 (1951–1952), 332–350; Donald N. Bigelow, William Conant Church & "The Army and Navy Journal" (New York: Columbia University Press, 1952); J. R. Pearson, Jr., "Story of a Magazine: New York's Galaxy, 1866–1878," Bulletin of the New York Public Library, 61 (1957), 217–237, 281–302. [back]
  • 2. John C. Broderick, who printed this letter, explains the situation clearly. "A Carol of Harvest, for 1867," which was to appear in the Galaxy in September 1867, was printed in abbreviated form in the New York Weekly Tribune on August 21, 1867; sections five to ten and half of section eleven were omitted. The Weekly Tribune observed on August 28, 1867: "Some of Mr. Walt Whitman's friends complain of us for publishing only a part of his Harvest Carol in the last number of The Weekly Tribune. We did not print the whole, first because it was too long, and secondly because it was not good enough. Anybody who wants the rest will find it in the Galaxy." The poem was later retitled "The Return of the Heroes." See also Whitman's August 7, August 11, and September 7, 1867 letters to William C. Church and Francis P. Church. [back]
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