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Rudolf Schmidt to Walt Whitman, 18 April 1876

 loc.01915.005_large.jpg Dear Walt Whitman.

I have postponed to answer your letter of 27 January1 in the wanton hope to collect among your Danish friends an amount great enough to send you an order for a number of copies of your writings, that should be large sufficiently large to make impression on the newspapers in your own country.


My hope has been frustrated; I am myself a very lonely man without great connecions​ , especially in the last years. Therefore my dear friend I can only beg you accept my sincere sympathy with your unfortunate condition. I have myself my considerable lot of difficulties. In these days I have got a little harbour for my old father and now I am going to marry  loc.01915.007_large.jpg without fortune and clinging all my expectations to the fate of a book, which shall appear in the autumn. When this letter is in your hand, I most probably shall be a married man.

I shall as every time be glad to hear from you.

Rudolf Schmidt

Have you not seen the name of Clemens Petersen,2 newly in papers and periodicals—?


The Danish writer Peter Carl Rudolf Schmidt (1836–1899) was the editor of the idealist journal For Idé og Virkelighed ("For Idea and Reality") and had translated Whitman's Democratic Vistas into Danish in 1874.


  • 1. See Whitman's letter to Schmidt of January 27, 1876. [back]
  • 2. Clemens Petersen (1834–1918), for ten years a critic for the Danish magazine "Fædrelandet" (Fatherland), left Denmark in 1869 amid police accusations of homosexuality; accusations that Petersen was inappropriately involved with schoolchildren were never proven. Petersen remained in the U.S. until 1904, when he returned to Denmark. Petersen and Norwegian poet Björnstjerne Björnson (1832–1910) engaged in a long correspondence, suggesting a close friendship. Rudolf Schmidt pressed Walt Whitman for his opinion of Petersen, as in his February 28, 1874, letter: "I have asked you at least two times how you did like Clemens Petersen; you have not replied and most probably you wont speak of this matter. If that is the case, I shall repeat the question no more." See Who's Who in Gay & Lesbian History, ed. Robert Aldrich and Garry Wotherspoon (London: Psychology Press, 2000), 2:55, 343; see also Carl Roos, "Walt Whitman's Letters to a Danish Friend," Orbis Litterarum, 7 (1949), 43n. [back]
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