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Walt Whitman to William J. Linton, 28 March [1875]

Dear Linton,1

My note of yesterday, (or day before,) asking for the bill was written in the midst of a splitting headache—& without fully reading yours.

To-day, better, I have just taken up yours to read a second time, (as I generally do with my friends' letters,) & see your kind & friendly gift to me of the prints2—which I accept with thanks & pleasure.

Two days now of fine weather—which I fancy is telling on me, as well as on the frozen ground & sap in the trees—

Love to you— Walt Whitman


  • 1. William James Linton (1812–1897), a British-born wood engraver, came to the U. S. in 1867 and settled near New Haven, Connecticut. He illustrated the works of John Greenleaf Whittier, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, William Cullen Bryant, and others, wrote the "indispensable" History of Wood-Engraving in America (1882), and edited Poetry of America, 1776–1876 (London, 1878), which included eight of Whitman's poems and the poet's picture. Linton's engraving of Whitman appeared in the 1876 version of Leaves of Grass, in Complete Poems & Prose (1888–1889), and in The Complete Writings of Walt Whitman (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1902), 10 vols., 2:156; it also inspired the poem "Out from Behind This Mask." See Harold Blodgett, "Whitman and the Linton Portrait," Walt Whitman Newsletter, 4 (1958), 90–92. According to his Threescore and Ten Years, 1820 to 1890—Recollections (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1894), 216–217, Linton met with Whitman in Washington and later visited him in Camden, which Whitman reported in his November 9, 1873, letter to Peter Doyle. Linton wrote of Whitman: "I liked the man much, a fine-natured, good-hearted, big fellow, . . . a true poet who could not write poetry, much of wilfulness accounting for his neglect of form." Linton's obituary in the New York Times of January 8, 1898, called Linton "the greatest wood engraver of his time, an artist in other senses, and a poet of no mean ability." [back]
  • 2. Walt Whitman ordered 1,000 impressions of the engraving in his February 24, 1875 letter to Linton. [back]
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