Interviews and Reminiscences

About this Item

Title: Two Visitors

Creator: Anonymous

Date: September 13, 1879

Whitman Archive ID: med.00674

Source: The Missouri Republican 13 September 1879. Our transcription is based on a digital image 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

image 1



Each Widely Known, Stopping
Briefly in the City.


Col. Forney, the Journalist, and Walt
Whitman, the Poet.


Their Views Expressed on Various
Topics of Interest.


Col. J. W. Forney of Philadelphia and Walt Whitman, the poet, arrived in the city yesterday and with their party took rooms at the Planters' house. Both are billed to take leading parts in the Kansas quarter centennial celebration at Lawrence next Monday, Col. Forney having agreed to deliver the chief oration of the day and Mr. Whitman being the poet of the occasion. The other members of the party are: E. K. Martin of the Philadelphia Press, J. M. W. Geist of the Lancaster New Era, and W. W. Reitzel of the Philadelphia Progress. The train arrived three hours late, but as the party only intended to stop one day in the city, they immediately started out sight-seeing as soon as they had their breakfast. Col. Forney with Mr. Reitzel was taken in charge by friends and drove to Tower Grove park, Shaw's garden and the Fair ground. Mr. Whitman was the guest of his brother, Mr. Thos. J. Whitman, the water commissioner. Both parties had a pleasant afternoon and interesting routes and put in the time to advantage.

Col. Forney had returned from his jaunt, finished his dinner, and was just opening the last of his correspondence when a representative of the REPUBLICAN was shown into the room. Col. Forney had enjoyed his afternoon trip and the correspondence just opened had been found to contain the usual documents required to pass five gentlemen on their way to Kansas, therefore the traveller was in the best of humor.

"What a superb city St. Louis is!" exclaimed he. "I rode through it to-day with my friend, Senator Armstrong, and went to see my other ancient friend, Ike Cook. I also poid my respects to that most intelligent octogenarian, Mr. Henry Shaw; saw the park he gave to the city and his wonderful botanical garden, and talked with him about Senators Benton and Lynn, whom I knew in Washington when I was a boy. It's a great city."

"Quite a town, isn't it?"

"Yes, indeed. While I am proud of Philadelphia, I wish I could make Philadelphians as proud of their city as you are of St. Louis. Every man I have met here is full of pride in this great part of Jefferson's Louisiana purchase. We have a superb park in Philadelphia over 3,000 acres in extent, we have a fine zoological garden, the great Girard college, and other things of which we are reasonably proud, but we have nothing like your magnificent bridge across the Mississippi, or your race course or Fair ground, and certainly nothing at all comparable to Mr. Shaw's unequalled generosity, and even with the splendors of our horticultural hall we have nothing like his botanical garden. I am so well pleased with St. Louis that I am sorry to leave it, but I must go at 8:30 to-morrow morning."

"You are coming a long way to the celebration, Colonel."

"Yes, it is what I call a kind of Kansas silver wedding. I expect to see there thousands who went forth from Pennsylvania between 1854 and 1860, and found homes and happiness and fortunes. I am almost the last of the Democrats who joined the Republican party long before the war. Douglas, Broderick, Thos. L. Harris, Jno. Hickman, Martin Ryerson of New Jersey, Jno. H. Reynolds of New York, Robert J. Walker, Andrew H. Roeder, Jno. W. Garey of Pennsylvania have all found out the great secret, and I hope to meet their posterity and their friends and followers during my two days' stay in the dazzling republic of Kansas."

The colonel was evidently very favorably impressed with what he expected to see in Kansas. In order to ascertain the views of so old a politician on an interesting topic of current politics the reporter asked "How does the Syracuse convention strike you?"

"I think," said he, that the nomination of Gov. Robinson is the very best that the Democrats could have made. It is time for the good men of that party to break away from Tammany control, and in view of the fact of the nomination of Cornell being forced upon the Republicans by that senatorial Don Juan, Roscoe Conkling, I would not be at all surprised if thousands of Republicans voted for Robinson."

"You think it is a wise thing for the Democracy?"

"Yes; and it was a manly thing for Tilden to stand by Robinson, and it will do more to help than to hurt him. A fearless, honest, clear-headed old Democrat like Robinson recalls the days of the great governors of New York, Michael Hoffman, Bouck, Wm. L. Marcy and Martin Van Buren."

"And what about the presidency in 1880?"

"I am quite clear the Republicans will take Grant in 1880 and the Democrats will take Tilden."

Walt Whitman.

Walt Whitman is a man well advanced in years and his snow-white hair and the long white beard which grows upon a large portion of his face give him a decidedly venerable appearance. He wore a gray travelling suit and his shirt-bosom was left open at the neck, something after the fashion of the Goddess of Liberty as shown on a fifty-cent piece. He walks with a cane, using considerable care as he has not fully recovered from a paralytic stroke. A REPUBLICAN reporter found him in very cheerful humor and congratulating himself that he had suffered no more by the journey. At Urbana, O., their train met with a serious accident, colliding with another train and wrecking both engines. Fortunately nobody was killed though several persons were injured by broken glass and by the schock. The incident was quite sufficient to try the nerves of those on board. Mr. Whitman expressed himself as highly pleased with St. Louis. In response to a question as to his future movements, he stated that he intended to go on to Colorado next week for a short stay only. It is his intention to recuperate as much as possible this fall, and he feels much encouraged to hope that he will be able to carry out his programme already formed for an extended lecture tour. He contemplates taking the field as a lecturer and reader of his own poems. The Colorado trip, he said, was not fully decided upon, and in case it was not carried out, he would probably return to St. Louis.


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