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Walt Whitman to Robert Underwood Johnson, 19 November 1887

 loc.02423.001_large.jpg My dear Sir2

I tho't I w'd send you word that Mr Eakins the portrait painter of Phila:3 is coming over here to paint me next week & I suppose will continue off & on all the current month (or more)—so you might tell Miss Wheeler4—Also give my best respects & remembrance to Miss W. & say I continue in the mind & promise of last summer (when it suits)—

Walt Whitman  loc.02423.002_large.jpg R. U. Johnson  loc.02423.003_large.jpg  loc.02423.004_large.jpg

Robert Underwood Johnson (1853–1937) was on the staff of The Century Magazine from 1873 to 1913, and was U. S. ambassador to Italy in 1920 and 1921. Whitman included in this letter a news release based on an interview printed in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on October 17, in which he criticized William Cullen Bryant, John Greenleaf Whittier, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (reprinted in American Literature, 14 [1942–1943], 144–147). See also Robert Underwood Johnson, Remembered Yesterdays (Boston: Little, Brown, 1923), 336, and Specimen Days, ed. Floyd Stovall (New York: New York University Press, 1963), 167.


  • 1. This letter is addressed: R U Johnson | Century Office | Union Square | New York City. It is postmarked: Camden, N.J. | Nov 19 | 4 30 [illegible] | 87; [cut away] | 11–23–[illegible] | [illegible] | N.J. The recto of the envelope contains the following printed return address: Walt Whitman, | Camden, | New Jersey. [back]
  • 2. See Whitman's letter to Robert Underwood Johnson of October 29, 1879. [back]
  • 3. Thomas Eakins (1844–1919) was an American painter. His relationship with Whitman was characterized by deep mutual respect, and he soon became a close friend of the poet. For more on Eakins, see Philip W. Leon, "Eakins, Thomas (1844–1916)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]
  • 4. Undoubtedly Dora Wheeler (1856–1940), who in the 1880s painted portraits of numerous American authors, including Harriet Beecher Stowe, Mark Twain, William Dean Howells, as well as Whitman. [back]
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