Interviews and Reminiscences

About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman's Pension

Creator: Anonymous

Date: January 21, 1887

Whitman Archive ID: med.00677

Source: The Philadelphia Press 21 January 1887: 2. 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



Willing to Accept if Granted, Contented to
Do Without if the Bill Fails.

Walt Whitman was reclining in an easy chair basking in the genial warmth of a red-hot stove in the study of his home on Mickle Street, below Fourth, Camden, yesterday when he was called upon by a PRESS reporter.

"Take a seat," was the hearty greeting of the poet, "and how have you been," was asked before the visitor could make known the object of his visit. The bill which Mr. Lovering, of Massachusetts, had on Monday introduced into Congress for the granting of a pension of $25 a month to Mr. Whitman was broached.

"Mr. Baxter, of Boston, a friend of Mr. Lovering," Poet Whitman said, "wrote to me about five weeks ago, saying that my Boston friends wished and proposed to push a pension bill for me through Congress by the aid of Mr. Lovering, of the Committee on Pensions, who was favorable to the project, and asking my consent. I immediately wrote to Boston, in answer to the letter, peremptorily refusing. When I saw the announcement of the proposed pension in THE PRESS I thought of writing a declination, but upon further thought I have decided to let the proposition take its course.

"I shall not be disappointed," he continued, "if it fails to pass, but if it does pass I will gladly accept it. I am not in actual want, but when persons of wealth and kind inclinations, either at home or abroad, offer to aid me I appreciate and accept their kindness and good will. I have been aided by gifts from men and women of distinction abroad, especially in Great Britain, during the past Winter. I received a handsome New Year's present of £80 from Sir Edward Malet, British ambassador at Berlin; Lord Ronald Gower and A. Gerstenberg, a wealthy Hebrew in the British army.

I was never enlisted in the army," said the poet, "but I was with the Ninth Army Corps at the first battle of Fredericksburg and looked after the wounded until the end of the war, and, in fact, I was at the hospitals at Washington helping for twelve months after the war. It was whilst assisting at a surgical operation that I became poisoned throughout my system, after which I became prostrated by hospital malaria, which finally caused my paralysis."


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