Interviews and Reminiscences

About this Item

Title: A Poet on Politics

Creator: Anonymous

Date: October 30, 1884

Whitman Archive ID: med.00536

Source: The Philadelphia Press 30 October 1884: 8. Our transcription is based on a photocopy of a microfilm copy of an original issue. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the interviews, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Brett Barney, Nic Swiercek, and Shea Montgomerey

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Walt Whitman May Vote for Blaine, but has
a Good Word for the Other Side.

"Yes," said old democratic Walt Whitman to a gentleman connected with THE PRESS, seated in the parlor of his little brown wooden house in Camden the other day, "I may vote for Blaine—undoubtedly shall—and yet I am an out and out opponent of the high tariff system, and respect and admire Governor Cleveland personally. They say Blaine is a mighty good fellow. Did you ever meet him much personally? He is a large man, isn't he?"

"Rather large; he is above the medium height, broad shouldered, in excellent health, and is a jolly good fellow, physically and mentally."

"So my friends tell me, but I never met him."

"Don't you think, Mr. Whitman, there was something commendable in Mr. Blaine's South American policy?"

"I do, decidedly. The United States, as the biggest and eldest brother, may well come forward and say to the South American states, 'Let us all form a bond of union, not only to increase our prosperity in a commercial point of view, but to resent and resist anything like foreign aggression.' I think no American can object to it. I believe Blaine is going to be elected. He will then come out well, I have no doubt. When a man is made President he soon gets a profound sense of his responsibilities, and an earnest desire to render his country good service. In looking back over the list, I cannot think of a single President who did not do the best he knew how from his point of view, although mistakes, and some pretty bad ones, have occurred. Even Fillmore, Buchanan and Andrew Johnson must be given the credit of patriotic intentions, whatever errors they made."

Mr. Whitman, in cheeriness and good heart at any rate, is a man who does not seem to age rapidly. A series of paralytic strokes, received in Washington soon after the close of the Secession War, while he was a clerk in the Attorney-General's office under Grant's administration—the result of over two years' exhaustive personal labor in the army hospitals and on the field—destroyed his activity to some extent, but he has recuperated, and now manages, with the aid of a cane, to take an occasional short walk. He still wields the pen in moderation.

In appearance and conversation he is much the same as the Walt Whitman of fourteen years ago. He is one of the cluster of writers engaged to furnish the living history of the Secession War, now just begun by General Beauregard in "The Century." Whitman is to write the Army Hospital article. He said to the writer, half in jest, he should write the Indian Summer of his poetry yet, if life and health are spared.


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