Title: John W. Wroth to Walt Whitman, 2 June 1887
Date: June 2, 1887
Editorial note: The annotation, "from Johnny Wroth | New Mexico | (ans'd)," 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.04506
Contributors to digital file: Alex Ashland, Stefan Schöberlein, Caterina Bernardini, and Stephanie Blalock
Mr Walt Whitman
My Dear Mr Whitman
It seems to be but yesterday that I saw you riding on the cars talking to the driver on Stevens Street, & it has really been nearly three years three years, this coming August since I left Camden. Time has flown so rapidly that it seems but a year & yet, again, it seems ten years, since I felt the old home
Your photograph greets me every time I go into my brother's office I have it hung there so we can both see it, & you do not know how many people know you way out, in this western country.
One of my friends came in the other day & said, "you have still got his picture hung up," & I said "yes! it would hang there until I go away & then it will go with me". it reminds me of so many pleasant chats with the original.
New Mexico, has changed me so My Dear Mr Whitman that you would not recognize me. I am only one inch short of six feet & am heavily built in proportion, weighing 150 lbs.
The first year I came out I was a cowboy, & altho' it is a very prosaic life, still I have some very pleasant reminiscences of that time. I have been out on the prairie with no house or food in sight when night came & had nothing to do but to roll up in my blankets & make the best of it, then again, horse breaking is one of the hardest times of the cowboys life. Many a tumble I have had off of a broncho but you have to get up & conquer the horse before you stop in spite of all the hard knocks you get.
For a man with money there is wealth in the cattle business, but for a cowboy—only, a small ranche with a smaller number of cattle, to look forward to—after years of hard & unceasing labor still a cowboy is always happy, contented & what is the best of all—the finest & constant friend, when you call upon him, that a man can have.
I have been to Calafornia I went about the first of April & was gone two weeks. the scenery I think was the grandest that I ever saw. It was just magnificent. I thought how Mr Whitman would like to see it. At times we would be going through some deep, dark cañon & then we would burst forth into the full glory of sun as we hastened over a level stretch of praire, then we would slowly slowly be going up a steep [part?] of the Rockies, only to come dashing down the other side with all the brakes set, hard & objects flying by you like magic. I remember one morning we reached the top of the San Fransica Mts. just as the sun was rising & it was grand to feel the sun & look down the valley when all was as yet in complete darkness with the sun slowly ascending & giving its light to the earth below. One place I remember well & that was Cañon Diablo a great rent in the Earth 300 ft deep and 100 ft wide looking down that fearful hole your imagination will conjure up ideas that you would not think of elsewhere & you can realize the freaks of nature to their fullest extent But I have not described the town of Albuquerque & I will not attempt to do so, as I can never describe anything correctly, but will send you a magazine that I have sent for which describes it fully The inhabitants are in expectations of a boom which they say will take place in about three months, but as I am not a sanguine person I do not say so. I must close now as it is bedtime Mother & Harry say "Remember us to Mr Whitman & tell him that we often remember him & wish we could see him"
If you ever feel like it Mr Whitman a small letter from you would be very much appreciated & promptly answered
Sincerely Your Friend
John W. ("Johnny") Wroth was the younger son of Mrs. Caroline Wroth, who was the wife of a Philadelphia importer, at whose residence (319 Stevens Street, Camden) Whitman took his meals for a period of time beginning in July 1881. Johnny moved with his mother and his brother James Henry ("Harry") Wroth to Albuquerque, New Mexico, soon after, and Whitman kept in touch with them.
1. This letter is addressed: Mr. Walt Whitman. | Camden. | New Jersey. It is postmarked: Albuq [illegible] | [illegible] | 18 [illegible] | 9 [illegible] | N. [illegible]. [back]