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William Sloane Kennedy to Walt Whitman, 6 October 1890

 loc.03086.002.jpg Dear Walt1

The Dutch piece2 is all right, coming out in time; Clement3 is all right—a man—but very timid & slow in pushing the piece.

I write little bits ("jottings") &c every week for the paper. Have had some bad nervous set-backs since I came home from the West—over-pressure of work. But have got more help now & guess will be all right in future. Squirrels are going it in the hickories like Jehu this morn'g. Trowbridge4 still in Europe.


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 letter is addressed: Walt Whitman | Camden | New Jersey. It is postmarked Belmont | OCT | 6 | 1890 | Mass., Camden, N.J. | OCT | 7 | 9 AM | 1890 | REC'D. [back]
  • 2. In a letter to Whitman on August 29,1890, Kennedy suggests publishing a piece in The Critic, entitled "Walt Whitman's Dutch Traits." His "Dutch Traits of Walt Whitman" was published in The Conservator 1 (February 1891), 90–91 and reprinted in In Re Walt Whitman, ed. Horace Traubel, et al. (Philadelphia: David McKay, 1893), 195–199. [back]
  • 3. Edward Henry Clement (1843–1920) of Chelsea, Massachusetts, began his career as a journalist with the Savannah Daily News in the mid-1860s. He later became the editor of the Boston Transcript, a position that he held for twenty-five years. [back]
  • 4. John Townsend Trowbridge (1827–1916) was a novelist, poet, author of juvenile stories, and anti-slavery 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. For several weeks in 1863, Trowbridge stayed with Whitman in Washington, D.C., along with John Burroughs and William D. O'Connor. [back]
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