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William Sloane Kennedy to Walt Whitman, 22 April 1888

 loc_es.00783_large.jpg Dear Friend:1

C'est A great moment at last this April 22, (88) Sund. Eve (I free from the gnarring of the finite at my heels). Your very interesting letters rec'd & forwarded.

Last night I saw Bronson Howard's2 play—Henrietta—Robson & Crane3 chief actors. A very useful play—satire on Wall Street.

Matthew Arnold's4 article on America in the April Nineteenth Century5 you ought to read. He's as insolent & haughty toward us (amusingly so) as all other Englishmen. They are getting afraid of us—to tell the truth?

W.S.K  loc.02942.001_large.jpg

William Sloane Kennedy (1850–1929) was on the staff of the Philadelphia American and the Boston Transcript; he also published biographies of Longfellow, Holmes, and Whittier (Dictionary of American Biography [New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1933], 336–337). Apparently Kennedy called on the poet for the first time on November 21, 1880 (William Sloane Kennedy, Reminiscences of Walt Whitman [London: Alexander Gardener, 1896], 1). Though Kennedy was to become a fierce defender of Whitman, in his first published article he admitted reservations about the "coarse indecencies of language" and protested that Whitman's ideal of democracy was "too coarse and crude"; see The Californian, 3 (February 1881), 149–158. For more about Kennedy, see Katherine Reagan, "Kennedy, William Sloane (1850–1929)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


  • 1. This postal card is addressed: Walt Whitman | Camden | New Jersey. The postmarks are illegible. [back]
  • 2. Bronson Howard (1842–1908) was an American journalist and dramatist, whose work earned him membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters. [back]
  • 3. Stuart Robson (1836–1903) and William Henry Crane (1845–1928) were American comedic actors who formed a popular theatrical duo that lasted twelve years. Productions such as Our Bachelors (1878) and Sharps and Flats (1880) were so successful that Bronson Howard's The Henrietta (1887) was written specifically for them. For more on Robson & Crane, see Lewis C. Strang, Famous Actors of the Day in America (Boston: L.C. Page and Company, 1900). [back]
  • 4. The English poet and critic Matthew Arnold (1822–1888) first came to America on a lecture tour in October, 1883, and remained until March, 1884. He "returned to England confirmed by experience in his conception of the average American as a hard uninteresting type of Philistine." After a second trip to the United States in the summer of 1886, Arnold commented on American life being "uninteresting, so without savour and without depth" (Stuart P. Sherman, Matthew Arnold [Indianapolis, 1917], 46–49). [back]
  • 5. Arnold's "Civilisation in the United States" appeared in the April 1888 issue of Nineteenth Century. [back]
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