Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Leonard M. Brown, 19 November 1887

Date: November 19, 1887

Source: The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 4:132–133. 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.07361

Contributors to digital file: Alex Ashland, Stefan Schöberlein, Caterina Bernardini, and Stephanie Blalock




Camden
Nov. 19 '87

Thank you & double-thank you, my dear young man, for your affectionate letter & money help $25 which came safely to-day—Every thing is going on here much the same—Mrs. D[avis]1 is well & busy—& I sit here each day in the big chair by the window—(slowly waning I suppose)—H Gilchrist2 is back in London with his picture, wh' as I understand gets good opinions. I have heard from him once or twice. I am expecting Ernest Rhys3 here soon. Morse4 the sculptor is still here. Mr Eakins the portrait painter, of Phila5:, is going to have a whack at me next week.6

Dull dark dripping day as I write. My little canary is singing blithely. I enclose you my last pieces—Yes, indeed we shall be glad to see you—Mrs D will & I will—Meanwhile love to you & God bless you—


Walt Whitman


Correspondent:
Leonard M. Brown, a young English schoolteacher and friend of Herbert Gilchrist, came to America in May, 1887. On March 31, 1887 Gilchrist wrote to Whitman: "he is an uncommonly good fellow, quiet earnet serious soul and very practical, full of solid worth, whose knowledge and attainments are sure to be valued in America. His father is a clergyman, and this son of his reads Leaves of Grass silently & unobserved by the sect of his orthodox family." An entry in Whitman's Commonplace Book on August 29 reads: "Leonard Morgan Brown goes back to Croton-on-Hudson—has been here ab't a week" (Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). See also Whitman's letter to Leonard Brown of November 19, 1887; his letter to Herbert Gilchrist of December 12, 1886, note 2; and his letter to Leonard Brown of February 7, 1890.

Notes:

1. Mary Oakes Davis (1837 or 1838–1908) was Whitman's housekeeper. For more, see Carol J. Singley, "Davis, Mary Oakes (1837 or 1838–1908)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

2. 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). [back]

3. 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]

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), 105–109. [back]

5. Thomas Eakins (1844–1919) was an American painter. His relationship with Whitman was characterized by deep mutual respect, and he soon became a close friend of the poet. For more on Eakins, see Philip W. Leon, "Eakins, Thomas (1844–1916)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

6. On December 22, 1887, Whitman wrote in his Commonplace Book: "Thos. Eakins is here painting my portrait—it seems strong (I don't know but powerful) & realistic—very different from Herbert's—It is pretty well advanced & I think I like it—but we will see" (Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). [back]


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