Title: Henry Clapp, Jr. to Walt Whitman, 12 May 1860
Date: May 12, 1860
Source: The transcription presented here is derived from Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, ed. Sculley Bradley (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1953), 4:195-96. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.
Location: Location of original letter manuscript is unknown.
Whitman Archive ID: med.00326
Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Vanessa Steinroetter, and Nicole Gray
May 12, 1860.1
My dear Walt,
The books are duly delivered. The publishers and printers deserve high praise for the superb manner in which they have done their work. For the poet, he shall hear from me next week. Meanwhile I am up to my eyes—and over my eyes even to blindness—in the slough of a fearful road to that great castle "success" which looms up in the dim religious distance, and from which white-winged angels, peopling every turret, beckon me with many colored banners. In plainer English I am fighting like a thousand Humans to establish the Saturday Press, and have for my almost only encouragement the cheering words of warm and appreciating friends who alas (as in such cases made and provided) have nothing but words to give, and also the printer will not be paid in words though they are "like apples of gold in pictures of silver." As for you, success is certain. It is written all over the book. There is an aroma about it that goes right to the soul.
What I can do for it, in the way of bringing it before the public, over and over again, I shall do, and do thoroughly—if the S.P. is kept alive another month. We have more literary influence than any other paper in the land, and as your poems are not new to me, I can say it will all be used for the book—in the interest of poetry.
My brother George will deliver this. He is of the right stamp.
Henry Clapp, Jr. (1814–1875) was a journalist, editor and reformer. Whitman and Clapp most likely met in Charles Pfaff's beer cellar, located in lower Manhattan. Clapp, who founded the literary weekly the Saturday Press in 1858, was instrumental in promoting Whitman's poetry and celebrity: over twenty items on Whitman appeared in the Press before the periodical folded (for the first time) in 1860. Of Clapp Whitman told Horace Traubel, "You will have to know something about Henry Clapp if you want to know all about me." For more about Whitman's thoughts on Clapp, see Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, (1906–1996), 9 vols., 1:214.
1. Endorsed: "Henry Clapp to me in Boston." [back]