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John G. Willson to Walt Whitman, 29 May 1882

 loc_vm.02407_large.jpg Dear Friend, Walt Whitman!

Though a stranger to you, in your Book you have been my friend, and so I salute you. I want to inform you that a literary club of young men to which I belong, and which is called the Melancholy Club, are to celebrate your Birthday this week on the third of June, Saturday, (at their rooms, 52 Lexington Ave., New York) with poems and addresses and music and supper. I cannot tell you, sir, how greatly we consider you. But we have adopted this method of expressing our love for you and appreciation of your noble music. We would be overjoyed to have you with us, could you come; and that you would also be delighted, the sweet and beautiful Philosophy of your Book already discovers. We were to celebrate the occasion on the 31st of this month, but college harness held some of us too tightly in check, and therefore we had to postpone it till the first convenient evening; which caused us some disappointment as we had been looking forward for many months to the Day of your Birth itself on which to meet in song and festivity to your honor,

Thou "measurless​ sweet vocalist of Ages!"

 loc_vm.02408_large.jpg  loc_vm.02409_large.jpg

I am urgently requested to invite you to attend; and as a Birthday token I send you some verses in your own heroic measure (or a poor attempt to imitate it) by one of the members of the Melancholy Club, my friend Leonard Wheeler. Take it as earnest of the respect in which we hold you—we, a number of young men, students of Theology, Music, Poetry, Painting, & Medicine, and devoted to you, your Champions & Lovers!

I have the honor to be Devotedly yours, John G. Willson, Box Dep't Gen'l P.O., New York City.  loc_vm.02410_large.jpg
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