Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Alfred Janson Bloor to Walt Whitman, 9 June 1879

Date: June 9, 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.

Location: The Thomas Biggs Harned Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1842–1937, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Whitman Archive ID: loc.05585

Contributors to digital file: Blake Bronson-Bartlett, Stefan Schöberlein, and Nicole Gray



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Holsman Mansion
Passaic, New Jersey
9 June '79

My dear Mr Whitman,

I got yours of the 24th ult. & also the pamphlets of mine I lent you, therein mentioned—for which thanks.

I enclose a copy of the selections you made from my journal, and also an account of the information Miss Harris gave me as to what she knew of Mr. Lincoln's assassination.1

Since seeing you I have been all the time intending, but have never yet found leisure to hunt thoroughly for those loose sheets which I used sometimes to resort to, partly because I was accustomed to write my journal in a hurry—leaving spaces to be filled up at the first opportunity thereafter, & then found I had not left myself enough room; and partly as a matter of precaution, Washington being most of the war-time virtually, & now & then literally, a besieged city; and during the war I wrote a good deal that would not have been pleasant to some readers, who might have made things uncomfortable for me.

What has added to my delay in forwarding, is that having an invitation the week before last to a morning reception at the house of a lady in town—an old Washington friend of both of us—I thought it possible I might meet the former Miss H. there (though she lives in Albany) & get the whole story over again from her own lips. It did not happen so however.

Once written, it was not worth while to amend what I said about the actors, which I see you really thought it worth while to print. It was written, like everything else of mine, outside of my professional work, (& some of that,) hurriedly, & it strikes me I have in my portfolios much that is better than that, unprinted.

As might be expected, your "May Afternoons" makes excellent reading. (By the way, I had my hand somewhat in the making of the Central Park—having been appointed on its architectural staff in 1859 & professionally connected with it until the war). But why, studying the Park equipages, should you count on seeing anything in the way of "'style' that fully justified itself"?—and why should your "top-loftical" friends, perched up on the barouche seats, be otherwise than "ill at ease." Nineteen out of twenty of the equipages in the Avenue & Park (those that are not owned by livery stable keepers—horses, drivers, military cockades & all—though a civilian feels just as happy with one on the coachman's hat) belong to men who have made all their money by less or more—generally more—questionable coups d'affaires within a decade—who know the chances are they will lose it within a year—and who are brothers or cousins of more or less remote degree, of the journeymen who made their carriages & of the coachman who sits on the box. Just as fast (with of course many honorable exceptions) as they have made their money, the men have lost their true manliness & the women have smothered their real graces in millinery & pearl powder. There is neither an aristocracy nor a peasantry in this country—nothing but a bourgeoisie, connected from top to bottom by blood & marriage. The nearest approach to the Old World's "higher classes"—in the sense of the possessors of the culture that is likely to come with birth or to genius—consists of men of letters, art & other professions, & of the descendants of colonial families of importance—and few if any of these have money enough to compete with the shifting wealth that comes & goes in the hands of commerce & finance. I have had a little to say on these matters in a paper recently published, which I read before the N.Y. Municipal Society. I will try to spare you a copy if you would like to see it.

I dare say your correspondence is heavy enough; but I should like to know, at least by a postal card, that you have received the within. In the summer I run away from office interruptions to write—but it makes no difference whether you address as above, or to my office in the city, as my letters are forwarded every day. I suppose however I will be apt to get anything a few hours earlier if addressed to this place, for I am at present not going to the office more than twice a week.

Yours faithfully
A.J. Bloor


Notes:

1. See Bloor's letter to Whitman dated June 7, 1879[back]


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