Title: Anne Gilchrist to Walt Whitman, 16 February 1881
Date: February 16, 1881
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: Walt Whitman Collection, 1842–1957, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, University of Pennsylvania
Whitman Archive ID: upa.00210
Contributors to digital file: Natalie O'Neal, Alex Kinnaman, and Nicole Gray
Well Rd. Hampstead
My dearest friend,
At last I am beginning to feel myself again after a four months spell of illness—indeed I may say it is a year since I have really felt well—for I was slowly running down all last spring & summer. Then came bronchitis & cardiac asthma—then being in that state closely shut up in our new house I was tremendously poisoned by the first paint, which was very slow in drying—& that brought on jaundice & such excessive weakness & irritability of stomach that for three months I was well nigh starved. But now the Sun shines again for me & I am picking up very fast. Dear Giddy has been such an indefatigable & capital nurse & housekeeper!—& has acquired a great deal of valuable experience & so, for that matter have I. I feel as if my usual good health has made me obtuse & unsympathetic towards the ailing. Now I understand them.
Dear friend what welcome tidings of yourself & what beautiful things to read have you sent to cheer me up all this while and I was never so that I could not enjoy them & mentally return you a grasp of the hand then in silence. There are autobiographical touches in those last notes in the "Critic" & in "Cedar Plums" that are especially precious to me & I doubt not will be so to all friends & lovers of yours. Even now do I go with and heartily believe in the North American Review article.
Our friend Edward Carpenter (whom we all grow to love better & better every time we are with him) has lost his mother lately—suddenly—a short attack of bronchitis which did not seem severe, but she was much worn with tending her aged husband. It was a gentle peaceful end. "All is as it should be" she kept saying to herself with a tranquil smile.—Bee has written you about herself. It was very hard for us to be sundered during my illness—but was the right thing to do, she was so much wanted where she was & learning so much too. Herby is working away heart & soul with his brush & is making great progress.—There are plenty of gardens & open heath & old trees round about our pleasant home & the birds tell us of spring early every morning. Friendly greetings to yr. brother & sister.
Love from us all dearest friend—
My letter seems all about myself but then I want you to know why I have been so long silent. I send you a photo of my little grandson.