Title: Kate Richardson to Walt Whitman, 18 June 1865
Date: June 18, 1865
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: Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Whitman Archive ID: loc.00881
Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Blake Bronson-Bartlett, Vanessa Steinroetter, and Nicole Gray
June 18 /65
You will be surprised perhaps to receive a note from one whose name even you do not know, but I have long had you down in my heart as one of my friends, and will tell you all about how I came to write to you now. Some time ago, Mrs. J. T. Trowbridge1 — who is a friend of yours too, I believe — gave me "Leaves of Grass" to read, and told me about you, and since then, I have never thought of you as a stranger. Last week I had a letter from my friend Miss M. E. Rice who is helping nurse the wounded soldiers in Armory Square Hospital. She told me you were often in the Hospital, and so today, after writing to her, I couldn't help keeping on, and enclosing a little note for you. But you mustn't think I wholly like your book. Often when I am reading it I take the words right home to my heart, and feel stronger and better for them, but sometimes, I am a little angry, and wish I had you by my side that I might tell you what I think and hear what you had to say in self-defense. But that [only?] as we sometimes disagree with those we love best, you know, and I shouldn't be writing to you now if somehow or other the "Leaves of Grass" hadn't woven themselves into so fresh a garland in my mind as to make me wish to thank you for them. Now that the war is over, and peace is fast coming out of disorder and conflict, and there will be fewer sick and wounded soldiers to claim your time and care, I hope you will find new and still more beautiful "Leaves," for those of us who recognize and love their truth and beauty. In the meantime, don't be offended at the liberty I have taken in sending you this note. I am passionately fond of beauty in all its manifestations, but whoever gives me beautiful thoughts, is my friend forever, though I may never see his face, and this must be my excuse now. I hardly dare ask you, to send me a reply because I know, how fully your time must be occupied, but it would be very pleasant to have a few lines from you. Let that be just as you wish however, and believe me,
Very truly yours
Walt Whitman Esq.
1. Most likely the wife of John Townsend Trowbridge, novelist, poet, author of juvenile stories, and antislavery reformer. [back]