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Walt Whitman to John Burroughs, [16 March 1881]

Dear friend

Yours rec'd with the good 10—God bless you—I half-moped along all through February, but am coming round, same as before—I go down three or four days at a time to my friends the Staffords, & get out in the woods a great deal—It is only half an hour's journey—go again Friday if it dont storm2—Should have come up there with you a month ago, but was hardly able—I got a bad chill six weeks ago, struck in—(was quite well up to that time)—

Your letter don't contain the slip about the Emerson business you allude to3—The just published Carlyle Reminiscences so well & strongly praised in the Herald, the Critic & every where, don't confirm or add to my estimation of C—Much the contrary4

Kennedey comes here quite often & is disposed to be friendly—I guess he is a pretty good man, but has the fever called literature & I shouldn't wonder if he was in for it, for life5—Lathrop6 has visited me—very pleasant—Shall be glad to supply you with a set of books of course—I have plenty yet7

Walt Whitman


  • 1. Whitman referred to this letter in his Commonplace Book (Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). On March 14 Burroughs sent "a little remembrance—enough to pay your expenses up here when you get ready to come." [back]
  • 2. Whitman again went to Glendale on March 18 and remained there four days (Whitman's Commonplace Book). [back]
  • 3. Burroughs enclosed, or thought he had, a copy of Emerson's "Impressions of Thomas Carlyle in 1848," which was to appear in the May issue of Scribner's Monthly, 22:89–92. [back]
  • 4. A review of James Anthony Froude's volume appeared in The Critic on March 12 (1:59–60). Of Carlyle, "a towering and god like man," Burroughs wrote eulogistically on March 14. [back]
  • 5. Burroughs observed on March 14: William Sloane Kennedy "is a good fellow but he needs hetcheling to get the toe [sic] out the flax." [back]
  • 6. George Parsons Lathrop (1851–1898) was a journalist and the biographer of his father-in-law, Nathaniel Hawthorne. Whitman received a letter from Lathrop on March 23 (lost) inviting him to come to Boston to give his lecture on Lincoln (Whitman's Commonplace Book). According to Kennedy, Lathrop was in Philadelphia on March 8 in order to arrange for Whitman's lecture (Reminiscences of Walt Whitman [London: Alexander Gardner, 1896], 3). Lathrop wrote to the poet for the first time on April 20, 1878. On March 31, 1885, he urged Whitman to give a reading from his own poetry in order to raise funds in aid of international copyright laws (Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). [back]
  • 7. According to Clara Barrus, Whitman enclosed a proof of "Patroling Barnegat" (Whitman and Burroughs—Comrades [Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1931], 200). [back]
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