Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to C. P. Somerby, [23 April 1876]

Date: April 23, 1876

Source: The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1964), 3:42. 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.02833

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Zachary King, and Eric Conrad



Your1 letter of [                ] rec'd. I shall bear with you, trusting to the future.2

Please make a bundle of all my books, Burroughs's Notes, As a Strong Bird, 67 Ed'n L of G, &c, & send here to me prepaid by Express.

Make out a full plain statement of our acc't exactly how much you owe me, how it all stands &c. & send me.

Can you supply me with a copy of Websters Quarto Dictionary, latest fullest edition, & Author's Classical Dictionary ditto?



Notes:

1. Charles P. Somerby was one of the book dealers whom Walt Whitman termed "embezzlers." In 1875 Somerby assumed the liabilities of Butts & Co.; see Whitman's February 4, 1874, letter to Asa K. Butts & Company. This proved to be a matter of embarrassment to Somerby, who, in reply to a lost letter on March 16, 1875, was unable "to remit the amount you name at present." On May 5, 1875, he wrote: "It is very mortifying to me not to be in a position to send you even a small portion of the balance your due." On October 4, 1875, Somerby sent $10—his only cash payment: "Have made every exertion to raise the $200 you require, and find it utterly impossible to get it. . . . We had hoped that you would accept our offer to get out your new book, and thus more than discharge our indebtedness to you." On April 19, 1876, Somerby reported that "I have been losing, instead of gaining." On May 6, 1876, he sent Walt Whitman a statement pertaining to the volumes mentioned in this letter. On May 12, 1876, he included a complete financial statement: in eighteen months he had made only one cash payment, and owed Walt Whitman $215.17. The firm was still unable to make a payment on September 28, 1876. In August 1877, Walt Whitman received a notice of bankruptcy dated August 8, 1877, from, in his own words, "assignee [Josiah Fletcher, an attorney] of the rascal Chas P. Somerby." These manuscripts are in the Charles E. Feinberg Collection. [back]

2. This draft letter is endorsed, "Sent to C P Somerby | April 23 '76."

Somerby was one of the book dealers whom Walt Whitman termed "embezzlers." In 1875 Somerby assumed the liabilities of Butts & Co. This proved to be a matter of embarrassment to Somerby, who, in reply to a lost letter on March 16, 1875, was unable "to remit the amount you name at present." On May 5, 1876, he wrote: "It is very mortifying to me not to be in a position to send you even a small portion of the balance your due." On October 4, 1875, Somerby sent $10—his only cash payment: "Have made every exertion to raise the $200 you require, and find it utterly impossible to get it. . . . We had hoped that you would accept our offer to get out your new book, and thus more than discharge our indebtedness to you." On April 19, 1876, Somerby reported that "I have been losing, instead of gaining." On May 6, 1876, he sent Whitman a statement pertaining to the volumes mentioned in this letter. On May 12, 1876, he included complete financial statement: in eighteen months he had made only one cash payment, and owed Walt Whitman $215.17. The firm was still unable to make a payment on September 28, 1876. In August 1877, Walt Whitman received a notice of bankruptcy dated August 8, 1877, from, in his own words, "assignee [Josiah Fletcher, an attorney] of the rascal Chas P. Somerby."  [back]


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