Title: Walt Whitman to Charles W. Eldridge, 20 October 1868
Date: October 20, 1868
Source: The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 2:64–65. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.
Location: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Whitman Archive ID: loc.01593
Contributors to digital file: Kenneth M. Price, Elizabeth Lorang, Zachary King, and Eric Conrad
Providence, R. I.
October 20, 1868
If the next Sunday Morning Chronicle1 contains a "personal" about me, would you do me the favor to get half a dozen copies, & keep for me? I shall doubtless return about the 26th—as my leave expires that day. (I wished to stay to vote, but have paired off with a vehement Seymourite, an old friend of mine.) I suppose Nelly received a letter I sent her yesterday, to your care.
I am writing this in my room at Mr. & Mrs. Davis's. I came here yesterday, after three most agreeable days with Dr. Channing & Jeannie. As I write, we are expecting a call from William O'C. as he promised yesterday to come over & see Mrs. D. and myself, & spend an hour or two. This afternoon, after dinner, Mr. Davis whom I like, & get along with first rate, is going to take me out to ride, down to the Point, as I wish to see more of the harbor & bay. I am treated on all sides with the greatest hospitality & courtesy—& yet left just as free as I wish to be. It is beautiful fall weather to-day. I go back to New York & Brooklyn on Thursday next.
I am profoundly impressed with Providence, not only for its charming locality & features, but for its proof & expression of fine relations, as a city, to average human comfort, life, & family & individual independence & thrift—After all, New England for ever!—(with perhaps just one or two little reservations)—With love to you, Charley—& repeated again to dear Nelly.
P.S.—Later—2 o'clock—William & Dr. Channing have been over here—staid to dinner—We had quite a gay time—indeed quite a little dinner party—William & Doctor, Mr & Mrs. Davis, Nora Perry,2 George Davis,3 Katy Hinds,4 & illustrious self—We are just through—Doctor has gone home, not wishing to leave Jeannie too long—William still remaining—I go presently on the drive with Mr. D.—and also to deposite this letter in P. O.
The following notice in the Washington Sunday Morning
Chronicle was Walt Whitman's public version of his vacation:
"After an absence of some weeks, Walt Whitman, the poet, is just returning, we hear, to his residence and employment in this city. Besides visiting his mother at Brooklyn, and recuperating down Long Island and at Providence and Newport, he has spent quite a while 'loafing at his ease' in New York, among the streets, docks, throngs on Broadway, and upon the waters adjacent to that great metropolis, abandoning himself to one of his favorite spells of studying and enjoying the life and scenes there, not for pleasure alone, but to give color to his characteristic poetry. Mr. Whitman, however, we may say in passing, it is understood among his friends, has been for some time and is now principally engaged on a poem, or a series of poems, intended to touch the religious and spiritual wants of humanity, with which he proposes to round off and finish his celebrated 'Leaves of Grass.' He has also, we hear, completed several magazine pieces for publishers in London, a quarter where his productions appear to be in demand. A small prose book by him, 'Democratic Vistas,' will probably appear the ensuing winter. As we understand, Mr. Whitman returns to Washington all the more robust and healthy from his vacation, and with the prospect and purpose, in the leisurely way usual for him, of considerable literary work in the future."
2. According to Dictionary of American Biography, Perry (1831–1896) was a poet, journalist, and author of juvenile books. [back]
3. Probably George K. Davis, a jeweller, undoubtedly related to the Davises. [back]