WHITMAN, Walt. Autograph letter signed (“Walt Whitman”) to John Swinton, Attorney General’s Office, Washington, D.C., 31 March 1868. One page, 8vo, on lined stationery of the Attorney General’s Office, discreet reinforcements along folds on verso, in fine condition.
WHITMAN REQUESTS AN ARTICLE ON SWINBURNE’S BLAKE
Whitman asks New York Times editor John Swinton to send him one or two copies (or as many as six if they are plentiful) of the Sunday, March 29 edition of the Times containing an article on Swinburne’s William Blake. This English edition was published by John Camden Hotten, who had published an edition of Whitman’s Poems, edited by William Michael Rossetti. Whitman received a copy of Swinburne’s study of Blake from Hotten earlier in the month. In the book Swinburne wrote a flattering comparison of Whitman and Blake: “Whitman has seldom struck a note of thought and speech so just and so profound as Blake has now and then touched upon; but his work is generally more frank and fresh, smelling of sweeter air, and readier to expound or expose its message, than this of the ‘Prophetic Book.’ Nor is there among these any poem or passage of equal length so faultless and so noble as his ‘Voice out of the Sea’ [‘Out of the Crade’…], or as his dirge over President Lincoln—the most sweet and sonorous nocturne ever chanted in the church of the world” (quoted in Gay Wilson Allen, the Solitary Singer: A Critical Bigraphy of Walt Whitman, NY, 1960, p.392). John Swinton (1829-1901), was managing editor of the New York Times, and frequented Pfaff's beer cellar, where he probably met Whitman.