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Walt Whitman to James R. Osgood & Company, 7 March 1882

I am not afraid of the District Attorney's threat—it quite certainly could not amount to any thing—but I want you to be satisfied, to continue as publishers of the book (& I had already thought favorably of some such brief cancellation.)

Yes, under the circumstances I am willing to make a revision & cancellation in the pages alluded to—wouldn't be more than half a dozen anyhow—perhaps indeed about ten lines to be left out, & half a dozen words or phrases.2

Have just returned from a fortnight down in the Jersey woods,3 & find your letter—

Walt Whitman


  • 1. According to Whitman's Commonplace Book, this communication was sent on March 8 (Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). [back]
  • 2. On March 1, 1882, Oliver Stevens, District Attorney in Boston, wrote to Osgood & Co., the publishers of the newest edition of Leaves of Grass: "We are of the opinion that this book is such a book as brings it within the provisions of the Public Statutes respecting obscene literature and suggest the propriety of withdrawing the same from circulation and suppressing the editions thereof." In transmitting Stevens's letter to Whitman on March 4, the firm asked Whitman's "consent to the withdrawal of the present edition and the substitution of an edition lacking the obnoxious features." [back]
  • 3. Whitman was with the Staffords from February 16 to March 6 (Whitman's Commonplace Book). [back]
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