Title: Walt Whitman to Anne Gilchrist, 10 November 1879
Date: November 10, 1879
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.
Notes for this letter were derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller, 6 vols. (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977).
Location: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Whitman Archive ID: loc.02140
Contributors to digital file: Alicia Bones, Grace Thomas, Eder Jaramillo, Kevin McMullen, and Nicole Gray
St Louis Missouri
(1000 miles west of Philadelphia)1
Nov 10 '79
My dear friend
Just rec'd your postal card—(your letter of a month ago from Haslemere rec'd —both forwarded here)2—Two months ago I started off (make or break) on a long jaunt west—have been to the Rocky Mountains (2000 miles) and Denver city, & Colorado generally,—with Kansas and Missouri—wonders, revelations I wouldn't have miss'd for my life, the great central area 2000 miles square, the Prairie States the real America I find, (& I find that I wasn't realizing it before)—but three weeks ago I was taken down sick & have come back & stopt here in St Louis ever since—am quite comfortable in quarters & shall soon be well enough to return home to Camden—
I enclose a rude map which will show you the line of my jaunt—the red lines are of my present trip, while the blue lines are of former journeys of mine, may interest you, & give you some idea3—
—I shall probably be able to send you papers of my jottings before long—(my sickness has prevented hitherto what I designed to write)4—My sister, brother & nieces all well—
Lived a couple of weeks on the Great Plains (800 miles wide, flat, the greatest curiosity of all)—50 years from now this region will have a hundred millions of people, the most comfortable, advanced, & democratic on the globe—indeed it is all this & here, that America is for—
1. The envelope for this letter bears the address: Mrs Anne Gilchrist | 1 Elm Villas | Elm Row Heath street | Hampstead | London | England. It is postmarked: Saint Louis | Nov | 10 | 2 PM | Mo,; London, N(?) | (?) | Paid | 24 No 79. [back]
2. Anne Gilchrist's post card of October 1879 contained her address (Walt Whitman Review, 7 , 12). In her letter of October 6–12 she noted a recent luncheon with Tennyson and the preparation of a new edition of her husband's Life of William Blake (Clara Barrus, Whitman and Burroughs—Comrades [Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1931], 147–148). [back]
3. The map is reproduced by Herbert Harlakenden Gilchrist in Anne Gilchrist: Her Life and Writings (London: T.F. Unwin, 1887), 253. Of this map Anne Gilchrist wrote to Whitman on December 5: "You could not easily realize the strong emotion, with which I read your last note and traced on the little map—a most precious possession to me which I would not part with for the whole world—all your journeyings—both in youth & now" (The Letters of Anne Gilchrist and Walt Whitman, ed. Thomas B. Harned [New York: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1918]). [back]
4. As his health improved, Whitman wrote articles for various newspapers. On November 12, 1879 he sent a letter to Joseph B. Marvin, a friend in Washington, with a "piece" for Frank Brett Noyes, the editor of the Washington Star. "A Poet's Western Trip" appeared in the Star on November 15. On November 20 he forwarded a "piece" to Bartram Bonsall, the editor of the Camden Daily Post, perhaps the item on November 29 referring to a volume of prose based on his Western journey. In a letter to Erastus Brainerd on December 9 he enclosed a poem, "What Best I See in Thee," and a "¶ for Personal—in answer to request"; they appeared in the Philadelphia Press on December 17. See Walt Whitman Review, 7 (1961), 10, 12. [back]