Title: Herbert Gilchrist to Walt Whitman, 17 February 1888
Date: February 17, 1888
Editorial note: The annotation, "H Gilchrist," is in the hand of Walt Whitman.
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 Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Whitman Archive ID: loc.02197
Contributors to digital file: Jeannette Schollaert, Stefan Schöberlein, and Ian Faith
12 Well Road, Hampstead, London, England.
17th February. 1888. Friday morning.
It is a long time since I have heard from you or word of you: though I have had one short note from Ernest Rhys, it is true, who spoke of you; & of your being somewhat under the weather.
We all liked your brief letter about the President—& our Friend—Mr. Forman1 spoke of it the other evening as "very nice."
It seemed to me to eminate from someone who felt pretty brisk.
You find E. Rhys2 a good fellow—I am heartily glad he is getting on so well in the States—at least he seems to be entering into the fun of a winter there.
Last Friday evening I created a chalk & charcoal portrait of Buxton Forman: he was delightful with it & so was his wife, for whom it was a birthday present. He has a good characteristic head and I enjoyed making it very much.
Once a week H.B. Forman is Clerk-in-Waiting at the General Post Office & on those evenings in comfortable office lit with electric light I made the portrait.
I am in the evening now planning out this large reception w 33 friends to see your portrait, that I spoke of in my last letter.
If any names & addresses of friends occur to you, that you would like me to ask, send them in your next. I have already got a good many of your friends' addresses but the last batch of subscribers through the Pall Mall Gazette I have not got. Mrs. Rosamund Powell (a friend of L. Morgan Brown's)3 sends (£3) through me in this letter her annual subscription (free will offering) to you. Let me know if you get this all-right?
Give my kind rememberances to Morse,4 when you are writing, I expect to show his bust along with my others works at this reception in April.
Carpenter5 is well.
Mont S.6 has been very ill as you must have heard.
With kind love
PS. I am going to Lincoln tomorrow morning to paint a portrait.
Herbert Harlakenden Gilchrist (1857–1914), son of Alexander and Anne Gilchrist, was an English painter and editor of Anne Gilchrist: Her Life and Writings (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1887). For more information, see Marion Walker Alcaro, "Gilchrist, Herbert Harlakenden (1857–1914)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).
1. Henry Buxton Forman (1842–1917) was most notably the biographer and editor of Percy Shelley and John Keats. On February 21, 1872, Buxton sent a copy of R. H. Horne's The Great Peace-Maker; A Sub-marine Dialogue (London, 1872) to Whitman. This poetic account of the laying of the Atlantic cable has a foreword written by Forman. After his death, Forman's reputation declined primarily because, in 1934, booksellers Graham Pollard and John Carter published An Enquiry into the Nature of Certain Nineteenth Century Pamphlets, which exposed Forman as a forger of many first "private" editions of poetry. [back]
2. Ernest Percival Rhys (1859–1946) was a British author and editor; he founded the Everyman's Library series of inexpensive reprintings of popular works. He included a volume of Whitman's poems in the Canterbury Poets series and two volumes of Whitman's prose in the Camelot series for Walter Scott publishers. For more information about Rhys, see Joel Myerson, "Rhys, Ernest Percival (1859–1946)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]
3. Leonard Morgan Brown was an English teacher from Croton-on-Hudson, New York, who had contributed to Whitman's funds in the past. [back]
4. Sidney H. Morse (1832–1903) was a self-taught sculptor as well as a Unitarian minister and, from 1866 to 1872, editor of The Radical. He visited Whitman in Camden many times and made various busts of him. Whitman had commented on an earlier bust by Morse that it was "wretchedly bad." For more on this, see Ruth L. Bohan, Looking into Walt Whitman: American Art, 1850–1920 (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2006), 57–84; and David Reynolds, Walt Whitman's America: A Cultural Biography (New York: Vintage Books, 1996), 546–590. [back]
5. Edward Carpenter (1844–1929) was an English writer and Whitman disciple. Like many other young disillusioned Englishmen, he deemed Whitman a prophetic spokesman of an ideal state cemented in the bonds of brotherhood. Carpenter—a socialist philosopher who in his book Civilisation, Its Cause and Cure posited civilization as a "disease" with a lifespan of approximately one thousand years before human society cured itself—became an advocate for same-sex love and a contributing early founder of Britain's Labour Party. On July 12, 1874, he wrote for the first time to Whitman: "Because you have, as it were, given me a ground for the love of men I thank you continually in my heart. . . . For you have made men to be not ashamed of the noblest instinct of their nature" (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden [1906–1996], 1:160). For further discussion of Carpenter, see Arnie Kantrowitz, "Carpenter, Edward [1844–1929]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]
6. Mont is Montgomery Stafford (1862–1926?), one of Harry's brothers. [back]