Title: Charles L. Heyde to Walt Whitman, June 13 1870
Date: June 13, 1870
Source: Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.
Location: The Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library
Whitman Archive ID: duk.00392
Contributors to digital file: Kenneth M. Price, Ashley Lawson, Elizabeth Lorang, and Kathryn Kruger
June 13 70
Han has received all your letters, also the Radical, containing a very complimentary testimony by a genuine woman, to your "Leaves of Grass": Yet you perceive, even the praise she bestowes, [i?]s qualified with the general recoil, which all natures of true human sensibility experience, at your (mistaken) barbarism. The louse and the maggot know as much about procreation as you do, and when you unveil and denude yourself you descend to the level of the dog, with the bitch, merely. But I intended to write of Han only. She is tolerably well. The swelling in her neck has subsided. She makes a half barbarous life for herself, however and allmost baffles all my efforts at times to humanize her. I have come to view her as a being, half child, wtih small promptings to her social obligations and no longer held her accountable for her ways. Somethings she does very well, but her speech is so vagrant, that, to use her own expression, "I must not put any meaning in her words."
Her usual supiness, or sluggishness continues. I think it must be in the blood. It is very trying to me. Respecting her neglect in not writing to her mother, it is simply the want of inclination, but she treats her good, kind neighbours, who came and watched over her, during her last dreadfull sickness the same way. On her recovery she never crossed the street to thank them. I need scarcely explain to you what gratitude is: Han could have done better and saved me great mortification, but her mother in Brooklyn, thwarted my endeavours, by continualy rushing in, and without sufficient occasion, advising separation. Oh! such stupid recklessness and wickedness. The Allmighty, it seems to me, has no gift, in the Future [t?]o amend the unnecessary and degrading experience [I?] have endured. Nor would [I?] enter upon such a life again, after it, were a thousand years of mortal existence promised to me, [(to?] follow) every year to enter upon a different phase of life, each growing brighter and happier than the last, [s?]till ascending upon a [g?]reater scale of grandeur and felicity.
But Han is to remain as she is and where she is. It is imperative: Any positive pressure socialy, or change might prove disastrous. She is looking well, but is never feeling well—has headaches or something. She treats herself too barbarously entirely.
Mrs Whitman rather intimates a desire to make Han another visit: She is becoming too aged, and it is as much as Han can do to take care of herself. For my part I have as much care as I desire, and more than I ever anticipated. I have just paid off the mortgage on my house and have sustained myse[lf?] here, not so much upon the merit or appreciation of my paintings, as by a certai[n?] force of character, which has found sympathy among the people.
C L Heyde