Title: Herbert Gilchrist to Walt Whitman, 27 August–22 October 1883
Date: August 27–October 22, 1883
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: Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Whitman Archive ID: loc.02190
Contributors to digital file: Kirsten Clawson, Eder Jaramillo, Nima Najafi Kianfar, Stefan Schöberlein, Nicole Gray, and Elizabeth Lorang
12 Well Road
Aug: 27th 1883.
My dear old Walt
For the last 3 weeks I have been upon the point of penning you a little description of a little town I and my sister have just taken down in Devon & Somerset. I don't know whether you have scenery like Lyme-regis in America, rich in thistles tangled weeds & smooth grass growing down to the waters edge. Had some capital bathes in the sea.—always think of you when I am by the sea.—it was a [shingly?] coast at low water, so I went in, in a pair of old boots to protect my feet from the stones.
At an old farm in Somerset at a village—West Lambrook—There was a great chimney corner in which a body could sit on the oak settle and see a star or two up the chimney, how jolly it was and how you would have revelled in it I could but think.
I heard some strange Somersetshire stories, this is one—Lord Portman's steward died a rich man and willed at his death his best horse should be killed & buried by his side in order that at the day of resurrection, he could mount his steed and be fast in at the day of judgement. And to circumvent evil disposed persons who might dig him up for the new harness upon the horse, his men sat up ploughing all night over his grave so that no one could identify the spot: this happened some 20 or 30 years since. The Somersetshire men put a Z in everything, "I zaid I zhould."
Very much interested in John Burroughs article in the Century of Aug: upon Carlyle, presents his hero in a clear and telling manner, though I think he and Emerson are mistaken in thinking manliness predominated over intellect with C—truer I should say of dear old Dr. Johnson.
I hope that you will read mothers book,—Lamb was a man. If you get at the Lambs I am sure you will like them & see that the good Thomas was rather out in his judgment of them.
I was immensely interested in Mrs. Price's and your other great friend the pilot's letters about you in Dr. Bucke's book. Dr. Bucke writes genially too.
Your affectionate friend
Mother & Grace are away at the sea for a little change.