Title: Anne Gilchrist to Walt Whitman, 6–12 October 1879
Date: October 6–12, 1879
Source: The transcription presented here is derived from Whitman and Burroughs—Comrades, ed. Clara Barrus (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1931), 147–148. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.
Location: Papers of Walt Whitman (MSS 3829), Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature, Albert H. Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia
Whitman Archive ID: uva.00460
Contributors to digital file: Kirsten Clawson, Stefan Schöberlein, Nima Najafi Kianfar, and Nicole Gray
Surrey, October 6, '79
My dearest friend,
Your letter came to me here just when Edward Carpenter and a group of his friends, one of them a native of Ceylon of the Tamil race, and all admirers and lovers of your Poems, were with us; and greatly they enjoyed hearing it.
We look forward to the new book I need not say. We all agreed in hoping you would reconsider the title so far, that is, as to leave out the clause 'by a half paralytic.' If you ask me why, I should be puzzled to say, unless it is that one resents that mere accident of slight bodily infirmity being thrust forward as if it were a part of you for health and vigour, dear friend, are and ever must remain synonymous with our Walt's name.
We have been spending the last six or seven weeks in this village I am so fond of where my children grew up; we came to live here after my husband's death and remained seven or eight years till the boys needed London for their studies, a wild, breezy little place lying up high amongst heath-covered hills, the walks over which, with wide views over rich green valleys below, springy turf to tread on, sweet smells around and elastic invigorating air, are delicious! And old friends have given us a very warm reception. Tennyson has been to see us, and we have been to luncheon with him, and seen his fine little grandson just the same age as mine. He made many enquiries after you, looks fairly well and is little if at all aged since we went away; is a good deal bothered just now about his new play Irving is so shilly-shally about bringing it out on the stage, and till that is decided it cannot be published in any other way. He has lately inherited quite a large addition to his fortune from an elder brother.
Herby is busily and hopefully painting away, a small landscape on the fair days, and a piece of still life some roses and a fragment of beautiful antique sculpture before a mirror on the wet ones.
Bee I hope by this time is at Berne. She has been successfully working away at German, boarding in a school at Wiesbaden since I last wrote, and can now speak and write it enough to enter on medical studies at Berne. Percy is, I think, in Westphalia, superintending the starting of the 'process' at some large works there.
I am going to spend a week with an invalid cousin in Essex and then we shall settle down in London or close to it for the winter.
I am trying to write a brief memoir of my Husband to prefix to the new edition of the Blake Macmillan is going to bring out.
Giddy sends her kindest remembrances and says she would not wonder if she were to drift back again to America in a few years.
I cannot tell you, dear friend, how often and how affectionately my thoughts turn to America the great beautiful land with its growth and its vigour and impetus and its friendly sunny welcomes.
Edward Carpenter is gone back to Sheffield to lecture there through the winter. He enjoys his work.
A friend told me an anecdote of Tennyson's two sons which will please you. One of them was going abroad and the other went to see him off at the station. They kissed one another heartily at parting. Hallam, the eldest, who is still unmarried, is such a comfort to his father and mother. He seems like son and daughter in one to them.
Write soon again, dear friend, and let us know if the book is ready that we may have some copies for ourselves and friends speedily.
Love to your brother and sister and to Hattie and Jessie,
Good bye, dearest Friend