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Hallam Tennyson to Walt Whitman, 22 June 1889

My father2 has been yachting in the Sunbeam. He thanks you for your letter:3 he is not up to writing.

Your banquet and speech4 seem to have been a great success. All congratulations.

Hallam Tennyson (1852–1928) was the eldest son of the poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Hallam was educated at Marlborough College and Trinity College, Cambridge. He served as the personal secretary and biographer of his father, and he was made the Governor of South Australia in 1899. Four years later, he began serving as the second Governor-General of Australia, a position he held until 1904. He spent the last years of his life in Farringford, serving as the deputy Governor of the Isle of Wight from 1913.


  • 1. Tennyson sent this letter to Whitman through Herbert H. Gilchrist on behalf of his father, Alfred Lord Tennyson. [back]
  • 2. Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892) succeeded William Wordsworth as poet laureate of Great Britain in 1850. The intense male friendship described in In Memoriam, which Tennyson wrote after the death of his friend Arthur Henry Hallam, possibly influenced Whitman's poetry. Whitman wrote to Tennyson in 1871 or late 1870, probably shortly after the visit of Cyril Flower in December, 1870, but the letter is not extant (see Thomas Donaldson, Walt Whitman the Man [New York: F. P. Harper, 1896], 223). Tennyson's first letter to Whitman is dated July 12, 1871. Although Tennyson extended an invitation for Whitman to visit England, Whitman never acted on the offer. [back]
  • 3. It is uncertain which letter is being referred to here. [back]
  • 4. For Whitman's seventieth birthday, Horace Traubel and a large committee planned a local celebration for the poet in Morgan's Hall in Camden, New Jersey. The committee included Henry (Harry) L. Bonsall, Geoffrey Buckwalter, and Thomas B. Harned. See Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Tuesday, May 7, 1889. The day was celebrated with a testimonial dinner. Numerous authors and friends of the poet prepared and delivered addresses to mark the occasion. Whitman, who did not feel well at the time, arrived after the dinner to listen to the remarks and give a speech. The notes and addresses, as well as Whitman's speech, were collected and edited by Horace Traubel. The volume was titled Camden's Compliment to Walt Whitman, and it included a photo of Sidney Morse's 1887 clay bust of Whitman as the frontispiece. The book was published in 1889 by Philadelphia publisher David McKay. [back]
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