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Joseph B. Gilder to Walt Whitman, 12 February 1889

 loc.02215.001.jpg Dear W. Whitman:

The 22d of February (Washington's Birthday) being the seventieth anniversary of the birth of Mr. James Russell Lowell,1 it is our intention to publish on that date a number of The Critic consisting mainly of personal estimates of, and greetings to, the distinguished poet, satirist and statesman.

Should you care to make the tribute a more memorable one by adding your congratulations to those of the other distinguished men and women whose names will appear in this special number, we should esteem it a privilege & make room  loc.02215.002.jpgfor as many words—or as few—as you may care to write.

We need hardly add that Mr. Lowell knows nothing of the intended compliment, which we trust will surprise as much as it must please him.

Whatever you may send should reach us by Feb. 19.

Very sincerely yours, Joseph B. Gilder

Joseph Benson Gilder (1858–1936) was, with his sister Jeannette Leonard Gilder (1849–1916), co-editor of The Critic, a literary magazine.


  • 1. James Russell Lowell (1819–1891) was an American critic, poet and editor of The Atlantic. One of Whitman's famous poetic contemporaries, Lowell was committed to conventional poetic form, which was clearly at odds with Whitman's more experimental form. Still, as editor of the Atlantic Monthly, he published Whitman's "Bardic Symbols," probably at Ralph Waldo Emerson's suggestion. Lowell later wrote a tribute to Abraham Lincoln titled "Commemoration Ode," which has often, since its publication, been contrasted with Whitman's own tribute, "O Captain! My Captain!" For further information on Whitman's views of Lowell, see William A. Pannapacker, "Lowell, James Russell (1819–1891)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998) [back]
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