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Sylvester Baxter to Walt Whitman, 30 July 1890

 loc_es.00119.jpg see notes Aug. 3, 1890. My dear friend:

That young fop, Hartmann,1 has sent me a ms. for Herald called "A Lunch with Walt Whitman," worse than the N. Y. Herald yarn of two years ago, or so, in its mischief-making potency. It consists of cheap tattle, with malicious and ill-natured flings at prominent men. It would be well to "serve an injunction" on the young man, for the publication of any of his untruthful gossip about you would grieve all your friends.

Yours sincerely Sylvester Baxter  loc_es.00120.jpg

Sylvester Baxter (1850–1927) was on the staff of the Boston Herald. Apparently he met Whitman for the first time when the poet delivered his Lincoln address in Boston in April, 1881; see Rufus A. Coleman, "Whitman and Trowbridge," PMLA 63 (1948), 268. Baxter wrote many newspaper columns in praise of Whitman's writings, and in 1886 attempted to obtain a pension for the poet. For more, see Christopher O. Griffin, "Baxter, Sylvester [1850–1927]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


  • 1. Carl Sadakichi Hartmann (1869–1944) was the son of a German father and a Japanese mother and author of books on religion, art, and poetry. On June 21, 1889, Baxter informed Whitman of a "call" from "your friend Hartmann, who is on his way back to Philadelphia from Europe." Hartmann published in the New York Herald on April 14, 1889, "Walt Whitman. Notes of a Conversation with the Good Gray Poet by a German Poet and Traveller." Whitman expressed his disapproval of the article in his letter to William Sloane Kennedy of May 4, 1889. Hartmann also tried to establish a Walt Whitman Society in Boston. Whitman would later credit Kennedy and Sylvester Baxter with putting an end to Hartmann's Whitman Club at the poet's request (Horace Traubel, ed., With Walt Whitman in Camden, Saturday, September 8, 1888). [back]
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