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John Townsend Trowbridge to Walt Whitman, 30 April 1875

 loc_vm.00677_large.jpg see notes Aug 29 & 30, '88 My Dear Friend,

I think I have all of your books (2 or 3 Editions of some) except the last,1—specified in my former note,2—which alone I intended to ask for. That might be sent by mail. I write this because in your card you speak  loc_vm.00678_large.jpg of sending me books, & because I really desire only one.

I still go back occasionally to the old "Leaves of Grass" & find in them the same unfailing freshness & power, which repeated readings in no wise dull to the sense—a test which only master studies in literature  loc_vm.00679_large.jpg can stand. They seem very great to me. I am thankful for them.

Faithfully yours J. T. Trowbridge Walt Whitman—  loc_vm.00680_large.jpg

John Townsend Trowbridge (1827-1916) was a novelist, poet, author of juvenile stories, and antislavery reformer. Though Trowbridge became familiar with Whitman's poetry in 1855, he did not meet Whitman until 1860 when the poet was in Boston overseeing the Thayer and Eldridge edition of Leaves of Grass. He again met Whitman in Washington in 1863, when Trowbridge stayed with Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase in order to gather material for his biography, The Ferry Boy and the Financier (Boston: Walker and Wise, 1864); he described their meetings in My Own Story (Boston: Houghton and Mifflin, 1903), 360–401, with recollections of noted persons. On December 11, 1863, Trowbridge presented to Chase Emerson's letter recommending Whitman; see Emerson's letter from January 10, 1863. Though Trowbridge was not an idolator of Whitman, he wrote to William D. O'Connor in 1867: "Every year confirms my earliest impression, that no book has approached the power and greatness of this book, since the Lear and Hamlet of Shakespeare" (Rufus A. Coleman, "Trowbridge and O'Connor," American Literature, 23 [1951–52], 327). For Whitman's high opinion of Trowbridge, see Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden (1906–1996), 3:506. See also Coleman, "Trowbridge and Whitman," PMLA, 63 (1948), 262–273.


  • 1. The fifth edition of Leaves of Grass was published by J. S. Redfield in 1871. For more information on this edition, see Luke Mancuso, "Leaves of Grass, 1871–72 Edition," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]
  • 2. This letter has not been located. [back]
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