Title: Walt Whitman to Herbert Gilchrist, 7 April 1887
Date: April 7, 1887
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.
Notes for this letter were derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller, 6 vols. (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977).
Location: Walt Whitman Collection, 1842–1957, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, University of Pennsylvania
Whitman Archive ID: upa.00085
Contributors to digital file: Alex Ashland, Stefan Schöberlein, Kevin McMullen, and Stephanie Blalock
—April 7 '87
Dear Herbert Gilchrist
The book came two days ago, & I have been looking over all of it, & reading a great part minutely—Surely it has been done well, & is a beautiful & (in one sense) sufficient memorial of the noblest mother & woman. It appeals to my printer-sense too—is a handsome & generous piece of typography & mechanical book making, with its excellent paper & press work—Thank you indeed dear H. for sending me an early copy1—George and Susan Stafford2 are still at Glendale—Debby and Jo3 have gone to Kansas—I was there last Sunday afternoon—they are well as usual—Harry has had a surgical operation on his throat. He now comes up from Marlton, (or Glendale) every day, to have the doctor watch & dress it—is a little reduced in flesh & blood, but is getting along well—Ed and Van and George are well—Mont4 is married5—(I went down Sunday to G to take him Harry home, at his request)—I am still here in my shanty in Mickle street—probably let down a peg or two from when I saw you last, but not much different—mentally the same—physically a sad wreck—I am reciting my "Death of Abraham Lincoln" lecture6 when I get a call—(as this is the season)—go on to New York for that purpose April 14, if I can get there—had a good visit from Chas Rowley7 of Manchester yesterday—I am well as usual—Love to you—Spring is tardy here—My canary is singing blithely as I write—
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. Whitman noted receipt of Anne Gilchrist: Her Life and Writings on April 5 (Whitman's Commonplace Book [Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.]). In his letter of March 31, 1887, Gilchrist had informed the poet of the book's success in England and of his intended visit in May (Feinberg). [back]
2. George and Susan Stafford were the parents of Harry Stafford, a young man whom Whitman befriended in 1876 in Camden. They were tenant farmers at White Horse Farm near Kirkwood, New Jersey, where Whitman visited them on several occasions. For more on Whitman and the Staffords, see David G. Miller, "Stafford, George and Susan M." Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings, ed., (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998), 685. [back]
3. Joseph Browning was married to Harry Stafford’s sister Deborah [back]
4. Edwin Stafford (1856–1906), Van Doran Stafford (1864–1914), and Montgomery Stafford (1862–1926?) were brothers of Harry. [back]
5. Montgomery, according to The Stafford Family, married Josephine Ruff on October 28, 1886. [back]
6. Whitman first delivered this lecture in New York in 1879 and would deliver it at least eight other times over the succeeding years, delivering it for the last time on April 15, 1890. He had published a version of the lecture as "Death of Abraham Lincoln" in Specimen Days (1882-83). For more on the lecture, see Larry D. Griffin, "'Death of Abraham Lincoln,'" Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings, ed., (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998), 169–170. [back]
7. Charles Rowley (1839–1933), a British socialist, came to Whitman's house with an "introduction from Wm M Rossetti" (Whitman's Commonplace Book). [back]