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Catalog of the Walt Whitman Manuscripts in the Institute of Aerospace Sciences Archives, The Library of Congress

Original finding aid completed by the Library of Congress; revised and expanded by The Walt Whitman Archive and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries. Encoded Archival Description completed with the assistance of the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, the University of Nebraska Research Council, the Institute for Museum and Library Services, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Individual items at this repository

  • Whitman Archive Title: Nerve.—A Frenchman
  • Whitman Archive ID: loc.05997
  • Date: 1849
  • Genre: prose
  • Physical Description: 1 leaf, handwritten
  • View Images: 1 | 2
  • Content: This manuscript describes the ascent of a French balloonist from the Brooklyn Military Garden. Whitman leaves out the balloonist's name, but it is likely that he is referring to the ascent of Victor Vardelle on September 19, 1849. A number of announcements of the event had appeared in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle in the days leading up to the launch, and the launch itself was reported in an unsigned story in the issue of September 20. However, it is highly unlikely that Whitman was the author of that piece; while Whitman had written for the Eagle , his position at the paper was terminated in January 1848, and none of the specific wording from this manuscript appears in the Eagle article. At the time of the September 19 balloon launch, Whitman was apparently between jobs; having announced his resignation from the Brooklyn Freeman on September 11, 1849, he would begin publishing his series "Letters from a Travelling Bachelor" in the New York Sunday Dispatch in October 1849. No published version of this blurb of Whitman's has been located, but it is almost certain that the date of composition was shortly after the balloon launch, in September 1849. On the verso is a note written by antiquarian bookseller, collector, and Whitman bibliographer Alfred Goldsmith (1881–1947).

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