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Walt Whitman to William Sloane Kennedy, 2 December 1885

 rut.00003.001_large.jpg [This letter relates to what now forms a portion of Chap. III. of my "Walt Whitman." W.S.K] Dear W S K

Your "the Poet as a Craftsman" seems the best statement possible of the modern scientific American point of view—as it certainly is the highest & deepest (complimentary) statement of my theory & practise in L of G—I only rec'd it an hour or so ago—so reserve most of what I have to say for another letter.1

—If you have them to spare, can you send copies by mail to following?

  • Wm M Rossetti, 5 Endsleigh Gardens London N W Eng
  • Prof. Edward Dowden, Temple Road, Winstead, Rathmines, Dublin, Ireland.
  • T W Rolleston, Dalgany, County Wicklow, Ireland
  • Lord Alfred Tennyson, Freshwater, Isle of Wight, Eng.
  • J. Addington Symonds, Davos, Platz, Switzerland
  • Edward Carpenter, Millthorpe near Chesterfield, Eng.
  • Ernest Rhys, 59 Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, London, Eng
  • Dr Karl Knortz, 540 East 155th St, New York City
  • G. C. Macaulay, Rugby, England.
  •  rut.00003.002_large.jpg
  • Richard Watson Gilder, Century office, Union Square, New York City
  • Wm D O'Connor, Life Saving Service, Washington D C
  • John Burroughs, West Park, Ulster Co. New York
  • Edmund C Stedman, author, New York City
  • Dr. R M Bucke, Asylum, London, Ontario, Canada
  • James Knowles, 1 Paternoster Square, London E C Eng:
—if you can send these, do it at your leisure—only let me know if you cannot send

—I am getting along middling well. Eyesight improved again ab't as well as of late years—Walking power quite gone—Spirits buoyant & hearty—

—The December sun is shining out wistfully as I finish, & I am going out in my wagon, for a two or three hours drive—

Walt Whitman

William Sloane Kennedy (1850–1929) was on the staff of the Philadelphia American and the Boston Transcript; he also published biographies of Longfellow, Holmes, and Whittier (Dictionary of American Biography [New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1933], 336–337). Apparently Kennedy called on the poet for the first time on November 21, 1880 (William Sloane Kennedy, Reminiscences of Walt Whitman [London: Alexander Gardener, 1896], 1). Though Kennedy was to become a fierce defender of Whitman, in his first published article he admitted reservations about the "coarse indecencies of language" and protested that Whitman's ideal of democracy was "too coarse and crude"; see The Californian, 3 (February 1881), 149–158. For more about Kennedy, see Katherine Reagan, "Kennedy, William Sloane (1850–1929)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


  • 1. The Poet as A Craftsman was printed as a twenty-page pamphlet by David McKay in 1886. [back]
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