Published Works

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About this Item

Title: The Child and the Profligate

Creator: Walt Whitman [listed as Walter Whitman]

Date: October 1844

Whitman Archive ID: per.00344

Source: The Columbian Lady's and Gentleman's Magazine 2 (October 1844): 149–153. Transcribed from digital images of an original issue held at the American Antiquarian Society.

Contributors to digital file: Stephanie Blalock, Nicole Gray, and Kirsten Clawson




THE CHILD AND THE PROFLIGATE.1

———

BY WALTER WHITMAN, AUTHOR OF "THE MERCHANT'S CLERK."2

———

"They say 'tis pleasant on the lip,
And merry on the brain—
They say it stirs the sluggish blood,
And dulls the tooth of pain.
Ay—but within its gloomy deeps
A stinging serpent, unseen, sleeps."

WILLIS.3

AMONG the victims of the passion for strong drink the greater part become so, I have observed, not from any ignorance of the danger of the path they pursue, but from weakness and irresolution of mind. To the abstemious4 it is almost impossible to convey an idea of the strength of the desire, formed, after a while, in a habitual drinker. No one can know, except him who has realized it himself. The world points with contempt at the inebriate, and laughs him to scorn that he does not turn from the error of his ways. But oh, if the gony of his struggles could be seen—if the vain and impotent efforts he makes to disentangle himself from the thraldom of his tyrant—if the sharp shame, the secret tears, the throes of mortification and conscious disgrace—were apparent to those who condemn so severely, one little drop of sorrow might certainly be mingled with their anger.5

Now and then, though rarely, it does happen that something occurs which turns the tide and converts the drinker with the feelings I have mentioned into a reformed man. And it is strange to observe how small and trivial are frequently the causes of this change. A word merely, or an unimportant action, or a casual incident not out of the ordinary routine, forms the starting point whence the hitherto miserable one commences a reformation which ere long presents him to the world with a clearer head and a purer soul. Such a word, it may be—such an incident—stirs up the fountains of thought, brings back memories long passed away and awakens the man to beautiful and pathetic recollections of an earlier and more innocent age. Thus fully awakened, and with the genial influence of the time in all its sway over him, if the crisis turns for good, it will surely be consummated for good. But should it turn to wickedness again, God have mercy on the fated being!

The incidents of my little narrative are simple and unromantic enough, and yet I hope they will not be found without interest. I tell no tale of fiction either. There are those now in this metropolis who will peruse the tale and acknowledge in their own minds' consciousness of its unadorned truth.

Just after sunset, one evening in summer, that pleasant hour when the air is balmy, the light loses its glare and all around is imbued with soothing quiet, on the door step of a house there sat an elderly woman waiting the arrival of her son.6 The house was in a straggling village some fifty miles from New York city. She who sat on the door step was a widow; her neat white cap covered locks of gray, and her dress, though neat, was exceedingly homely. Her house—for the tenement she occupied was her own—was very little and very old. Trees clustered around it so thickly as almost to hide its color—that blackish gray color which belongs to old wooden houses that have never been painted; and to get in it you had to enter a little ricketty gate and walk through a short path, bordered by carrot beds and beets and other vegetables. The son whom she was expecting was her only child. About a year before he had been bound apprentice to a rich farmer in the place, and after finishing his daily task he was in the habit of spending half an hour at his mother's. On the present occasion the shadows of night had settled heavily before the youth made his appearance. When he did, his walk was slow and dragging, and all his motions were languid, as if from great weariness. He opened the gate, came through the path and sat down by his mother in silence.

"You are sullen to-night, Charley," said the widow, after a moment's pause, when she found that he returned no answer to her greetings.

As she spoke she put her hand fondly on his head; it was as wet as if it had been dipped in the water. His shirt, too, was soaked; and as she passed her fingers down his shoulder she felt a sharp twinge in her heart, for she knew that moisture to be the heard-wrung sweat of severe toil, exacted from her young child (he was but thirteen years old) by an unyielding task master.7

"You have worked hard to-day, my son."

"I've been mowing."8

The widow's heart felt another pang.

"Not all day, Charley?" she said, in a low voice; and there was a slight quiver in it.

"Yes, mother, all day," replied the boy; "Mr.

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Ellis said he couldn't afford to hire men, for wages are so high. I've swung the scythe ever since an hour before sunrise. Feel of my hands."

There were blisters on them like great lumps. Tears started in the widow's eyes. She dared not trust herself with a reply, though her heart was bursting with the thought that she could not better his condition. There was no earthly means of support on which she had dependence enough to encourage her child in the wish she knew he was forming—the wish not uttered for the first time—to be freed from his bondage.

"Mother," at length said the boy, "I can stand it no longer. I cannot and will not stay at Mr. Ellis's. Ever since the day I first went into his house I've been a slave; and if I have to work there much longer I know I shall run away and go to sea or somewhere else. I'd as lieve be in my grave as there." And the child burst into a passionate fit of weeping.

His mother was silent, for she was in deep grief herself. After some minutes had flown, however, she gathered sufficient self-possession to speak to her son in a soothing tone, endeavoring to win him from his sorrows and cheer up his heart. She told him that time was swift—that in the course of a few years he would be his own master—that all people have their troubles—with many other ready arguments which, though they had little effect in calming her own distress, she hoped would act as a solace to the disturbed temper of the boy. And as the half hour to which he was limited had now elapsed she took him by the hand and led him to the gate, to set forth on his return. The child seemed pacified, though occasionally one of those convulsive sighs that remain after a fit of weeping, would break from his throat. At the gate he threw his arms about his mother's neck; each pressed a long kiss on the lips of the other, and the youngster bent his steps toward his master's house.

As her child passed out of sight the widow returned, shut the gate and entered her lonesome room. There was no light in the old cottage that night—the heart of its occupant was dark and cheerless. Love, agony, and grief, and tears, and convulsive wrestlings were there. The thought of a beloved son condemned to labor—labor that would break down a man—struggling from day to day under the hard rule of a soulless gold-worshipper; the knowledge that years must pass thus; the sickening idea of her own poverty and of living mainly on the grudged charity of neighbors—thoughts, too, of former happy days—these racked the widow's heart and made her bed a sleepless one and without repose.

The boy bent his steps to his employer's, as has been said. In his way down the village street he had to pass a public house, the only one the place contained; and when he came off against it he heard the sound of a fiddle—drowned, however, at intervals, by much laughter and talking.9 The windows were up, and the house standing close to the road, Charles thought it no harm to take a look and see what was going on within. Half a dozen footsteps brought him to the low casement, on which he leaned his elbow and where he had a full view of the room and its occupants. In one corner was an old man, known in the village as Black Dave—he it was whose musical performances had a moment before drawn Charles's attention to the tavern; and he it was who now exerted himself in a violent manner to give, with divers flourishes and extra twangs, a tune popular among that thick lipped race whose fondness for melody is so well known. In the middle of the room were five or six sailors, some of them quite drunk and others in the earlier stages of that process, while on benches around were more sailors and here and there a person dressed in landsmen's attire, but hardly behind the sea gentlemen in uproar and mirth. The individuals in the middle of the room were dancing; that is, they were going through certain contortions and shufflings, varied occasionally by exceedingly hearty stamps upon the sanded floor.10 In short, the whole party were engaged in a drunken frolic, which was in no respect different from a thousand other drunken frolics, except, perhaps, that there was less than the ordinary amount of anger and quarrelling. Indeed every one seemed in remarkably good humor.11

But what excited the boy's attention more than any other object was an individual, seated on one of the benches opposite, who, though evidently enjoying the spree as much as if he were an old hand at such business, seemed in every other particular to be far out of his element. His appearance was youthful. He might have been twenty-one or two years old. His countenance was intelligent and had the air of city life and society. He was dressed, not gaudily, but in every respect fashionably; his coat being of the finest black broadcloth,12 his linen delicate and spotless as snow, and his whole aspect that of one whose counterpart may now and then be seen upon the pave in Broadway of a fine afternoon. He laughed and talked with the rest, and it must be confessed his jokes—like the most of those that passed current there—were by no means distinguished for their refinement or purity. Near the door was a small table, covered with decanters and with glasses, some of which had been used, but were used again indiscriminately, and a box of very thick and very long cigars.

One of the sailors—and it was he who made the largest share of the hubbub—had but one eye. His chin and cheeks were covered with large bushy whiskers, and altogether he had quite a brutal appearance.



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"Come, boys," said this gentleman; "come, let us take a drink! I know you're all a getting dry. So, curse me if you sha'n't have a suck at my expense."13

This polite invitation was responded to by a general moving of the company toward the table holding the before mentioned decanters and glasses. Clustering there around, each one helped himself to a very handsome portion of that particular liquor which suited his fancy; and steadiness and accuracy being at that moment by no means distinguishing traits of the arms and legs of the party, a goodly amount of the fluid was spilled upon the floor. This piece of extravagance excited the ire of the personage who gave the "treat;" and that ire was still farther increased when he discovered two or three loiterers who seemed disposed to slight his request to drink. Charles, as we have before mentioned, was looking in at the window.

"Walk up, boys! walk up! Don't let there be any skulker among us, or blast my eyes if he shan't go down on his marrow bones and taste the liquor we have spilt!14 Hallo!" he exclaimed as he spied Charles; "hallo, you chap in the window, come here and take a sup!"

As he spoke he stepped to the open casement,15 put his brawny hands under the boy's arms and lifted him into the room bodily.

"There, my lads," said he, turning to his companions, "There's a new recruit for you. Not so coarse a one, either," he added as he took a fair view of the boy, who, though not what is called pretty, was fresh and manly looking, and large for his age.

"Come, youngster, take a glass," he continued. And he poured one nearly full of strong brandy.

Now Charles was not exactly frightened, for he was a lively fellow, and had often been at the country merry-makings and at the parties of the place; but he was certainly rather abashed at his abrupt introduction to the midst of strangers. So, putting the glass aside, he looked up with a pleasant smile in his new acquaintance's face.

"I've no need of anything now," he said, "but I'm just as much obliged to you as if I was."

"Poh! man, drink it down," rejoined the sailor; "drink it down—it won't hurt you."

And, by way of showing its excellence, the one-eyed worthy drained it himself to the last drop. Then filling it again, he renewed his efforts to make the lad go through the same operation.

"I've no occasion. Besides, my mother has often prayed me not to drink, and I promised to obey her."

A little irritated by his continued refusals, the sailor, with a loud oath, declared that Charles should swallow the brandy, whether he would or no. Placing one of his tremendous paws on the back of the boy's head, with the other he thrust the edge of the glass to his lips, swearing, at the same time, that if he shook it so as to spill its contents the consequences would be of a nature by no means agreeable to his back and shoulders.

Disliking the liquor, and angry at the attempt to overbear him, the undaunted child lifted his hand and struck the arm of the sailor with a blow so sudden that the glass fell and was smashed to pieces on the floor; while the liquid was about equally divided between the face of Charles, the clothes of the sailor, and the sand. By this time the whole of the company had their attention drawn to the scene. Some of them laughed when they saw Charles's undisguised antipathy to the drink; but they laughed still more heartily when he discomfited the sailor. All of them, however, were content to let the matter go as chance would have it—all but the young man of the black coat, who has before been spoken of.

What was there in the words which Charles had spoken that carried the mind of the young man back to former times—to a period when he was more pure and innocent than now? "My mother has often prayed me not to drink!" Ah, how the mist of months rolled aside and presented to his soul's eye the picture of his mother, and the sound of an injunction conveyed in almost those very words! Why was it, too, that the young man's heart moved with a feeling of kindness toward the harshly treated child? Was it that his assocations had hitherto been among the vile, and the contrast was now so strikingly great? Even in the hurried walks of life and business may we meet with beings who seem to touch the fountains of our love, and draw forth their swelling waters! The wish to love and be beloved, which the forms of custom and the engrossing anxiety for gain so generally smother, will sometimes burst forth in spite of all obstacles; and kindled by one who, till the hour, was unknown to us, will burn with a permanent and pure brightness!

Charles stood, his cheek flushed and his heart throbbing, wiping the trickling drops from his face with a handkerchief. At first the sailor, between his drunkenness and his surprise, was much in the condition of one suddenly awakened out of a deep sleep, who cannot call his consciousness about him. When he saw the state of things, however, and heard the jeering laugh of his companions, his dull eye, lighting up with anger, fell upon the boy who had withstood him. He seized Charles with a grip of iron, and with the side of his heavy boot gave him a sharp and solid kick.16 He was about repeating the performance—for the child hung like a rag in his grasp—but all of a sudden his ears rang, as if pistols were snapped close to them; lights of various hues flickered in his eye, (he had but one, it will be remembered,) and a strong propelling power caused him to move from

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his position, and keep moving until he was brought up by the wall. A blow, a cuff given in such scientific and effectual manner that the hand from which it proceeded was evidently no stranger to the pugilistic art, had been suddenly planted in the ear of the sailor. It was planted by the young man of the black coat. He had watched with interest the proceedings of the sailor and the boy—two or three times he was on the point of interfering, and when the kick was given, his rage was uncontrollable. He sprang from his seat, and assuming, unconsciously however, the attitude of a boxer, he struck the sailor in a manner to cause those unpleasant sensations which have been described. And he would probably have followed up the attack in a manner by no means consistent with the sailor's personal safety, had not Charles, now thoroughly terrified, clung round his legs and prevented his advancing.

The scene was a strange one, and for the time quite a silent one.17 The company had started from their seats, and for a moment held breathless but strained positions. In the middle of the room stood the young man, in his not at all ungraceful attitude—every nerve out, and his eyes flashing brilliantly. He seemed rooted like a rock; and clasping him, with an appearance of confidence in his protection, hung the boy.18

"Dare! you scoundrel!" cried the young man, his voice thick with passion, "dare to touch this boy again, and I'll thrash you till no sense is left in your body."

The sailor, now partially recovered, made some gestures of a belligerent nature.19

"Come on, drunken brute!" continued the angry youth; "I wish you would! You've not had half what you deserve!"20

Upon sobriety and sense more fully taking their place in the brains of the one-eyed mariner, however, that worthy determined in his own mind that it would be most prudent to let the matter drop. Expressing therefore his conviction to that effect, adding certain remarks to the purport that he "meant no harm to the lad," that he was surprised at such a gentleman being angry at "a little piece of fun," and so forth—he proposed that the company should go on with their jollity just as if nothing had happened. In truth, he of the single eye was not a bad fellow at heart, after all; the fiery enemy whose advances he had so often courted that night, had stolen away his good feelings and set busy devils at work within him, that might have made his hands do some dreadful deed had not the stranger interposed.

In a few minutes the frolic of the party was upon its former footing. The young man sat down upon one of the benches, with the boy by his side, and while the rest were loudly laughing and talking they two conversed together. The stranger learned from Charles all the particulars of his simple story—how his father had died years since—how his mother worked hard for a bare living—and how he himself, for many dreary months, had been the servant of a hard hearted, avaricious master. More and more interested, drawing the child close to his side, the young man listened to his plainly told history—and thus an hour passed away.

It was now past midnight. The young man told Charles that on the morrow he would take steps to relieve him from his servitude—that for the present night the landlord would probably give him a lodging at the inn—and little persuading did the host need for that.

As he retired to sleep very pleasant thoughts filled the mind of the young man—thoughts of a worthy action performed—thoughts, too, newly awakened ones, of walking in a steadier and wiser path than formerly.

That roof, then, sheltered two beings that night—one of them innocent and sinless of all wrong—the other—oh, to that other what evil had not been present, either in action or to his desires!

Who was the stranger? To those that, from ties of relationship or otherwise, felt an interest in him, the answer to that question was not pleasant to dwell upon. His name was Langton—parentless—a dissipated young man—a brawler—one whose too frequent companions were rowdies, blacklegs and swindlers.21 The New York police officers were not strangers to his countenance; and certain reporters, who notice the proceedings there, had more than once received a fee for leaving out his name from the disgraceful notoriety of their columns. He had been bred to the profession of medicine; besides, he had a very respectable income, and his house was in a pleasant street on the west side of the city. Little of his time, however, did Mr. John Langton spend at his domestic hearth; and the elderly lady who officiated as his housekeeper was by no means surprised to have him gone for a week or a month at a time, and she knowing nothing of his whereabout.

Living as did, the young man was an unhappy being. It was not so much that his associates were below his own capacity—for Langton, though sensible and well bred, was by no means talented or refined—but that he lived without any steady purpose, that he had no one to attract him to his home, that he too easily allowed himself to be tempted—which caused his life to be, of late, one continued scene of dissatisfaction. This dissatisfaction he sought to drive away (ah, foolish youth!) by the brandy bottle, and mixing in all kinds of parties where the object was pleasure. On the present occasion he had left the city a few days before, and was passing his time at a place near the village where Charles and his mother

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lived. He fell in, during the day, with those who were his companions of the tavern spree; and thus it happened that they were all together. Langton hesitated not to make himself at home with any associate that suited his fancy.

The next morning the poor widow rose from her sleepless cot; and from that lucky trait in our nature which makes one extreme follow another, she set about her toil with a lightened heart. Ellis, the farmer, rose, too, short as the nights were, an hour before day; for his god was gain, and a prime article of his creed was to get as much work as possible from every one around him.22 He roused up all his people, and finding that Charles had not been home the preceding night, he muttered threats against him, and calling a messenger, to whom he hinted that any minutes which he stayed beyond an exceeding short period would be subtracted from his breakfast time, despatched him to the widow's to find what was her son about.

He roused up all his people, and finding that Charles had not been home the preceding night, he muttered threats against him, and calling a messenger, to whom he hinted that any minutes which he stayed beyond a most exceeding short period, would be subtracted from his breakfast time, dispatched him to the widow's to find what was her son about.

What was he about? He had a beautiful dream—and thus it was in seeming.

With one of the brightest and earliest rays of the warm sun a gentle angel entered his apartment, and hovered over him, and looked down with a pleasant smile, and blessed him. And the child thought his benefactor, the young man, was nigh, sleeping also. Noiselessly taking a stand by the bed, the angel bent over the boy's face and whispered strange words into his ear; it seemed to him like soft and delicate music. So the angel, pausing a moment, and smiling another and a doubly sweet smile, and drinking in the scene with his large soft eyes, bent over again to the boy's lips and touched them with a kiss, as the languid wind touches a flower. He seemed to be going now, and yet he lingered. Twice or thrice he bent over the brow of the young man—and went not. Now the angel was troubled; for he would have pressed the young man's lips with a kiss, as he did the child's—but a spirit from Heaven, who touches anything tainted by evil thoughts, does it at the risk of having his breast pierced with pain, as with a barbed arrow. At that moment a very pale, bright ray of sunlight darted through the window and settled on the young man's features. Then the beautiful spirit knew that permission was granted him; so he softly touched the young man's face with his, and silently and swiftly wafted himself away on the unseen air.

In the course of the day Ellis was called upon by young Langton, and never perhaps in his life was the farmer puzzled more than at the young man's proposals—his desire to provide for the widow's family, a family that could do him no pecuniary good, and his willingness to disburse money for that purpose.23 In that department of Ellis's structure where the mind was, or ought to have been situated, there never had entered the slightest thought assimilating to those which actuated the young man in his benevolent movements. Yet Ellis was a church member and a county officer.

The widow, too, was called upon, not only on that day, but the next and the next.

It needs not that I should particularize the subsequent events of Langton's and the boy's history—how the reformation of the profligate might be dated to begin from that time—how he gradually severed the guilty ties that had so long galled him—how he enjoyed his own home again—how the friendship of Charles and himself grew not slack with time—and how, when in the course of seasons he became head of a family of his own, he would shudder at the remembrance of his early dangers and his escapes. Often, in the bustle of day and the silence of night, would he bless the utterance of those words, "My mother prayed me not to drink!"24

Loved reader, own you the moral interwoven in this simple story? Let your children read it. To them draw forth the moral—pause a moment ere your eye wander to a different page—and dwell upon it.25


Notes:

1. This story is an extensively and significantly revised version of Whitman's "The Child's Champion," which was first published in the November 20, 1841, issue of The New World. Whitman kept the new title, "The Child and the Profligate," but made additional revisions to the story before republishing it as a work of serial fiction in three installments in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on January 27–29, 1847, while he was editing that paper. Each installment was printed on the first page of the paper. The story was also published under the same title in the "Pieces in Early Youth" section of Specimen Days & Collect (Philadelphia: Rees Welsh & Co., 1882), 361–366. "Pieces in Early Youth" was also reprinted in Whitman's Complete Prose Works (1892): see "The Child and the Profligate." Several of the revisions to the Columbian Magazine (1844) version of the story made or authorized by Whitman for publication in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (1847) and in Collect (1882) are included in our footnotes. For a reprint of the Collect version and a complete list of revisions made or authorized by Whitman to the language of the story for publication in the Eagle and Collect, see Thomas L. Brasher, ed., The Collected Writings of Walt Whitman: The Early Poems and the Fiction (New York: New York University Press, 1963), 68–79. For a publication history of the tale under its original title, "The Child's Champion," see "About 'The Child's Champion.'" For a publication history of the tale under its later title "The Child and the Profligate," see "About 'The Child and the Profligate.'" [back]

2. "The Merchant's Clerk" was another version of Whitman's temperance novel Franklin Evans, which was first published in J. Winchester's The New World in November 1842. This other version of the novel, described as an "off print from the New World" or "the 1843 edition," was titled Franklin Evans: Knowledge is Power. The Merchant's Clerk in New York, or the Career of a Young Man from the Country. By all reports, this version is identical to the 1842 edition, with the exception of the title. These versions are described in William G. Lulloff, "Franklin Evans (1842)," in Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J. R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998), 234–236. Neither Lulloff nor Brasher mention variants between the 1842 and 1843 versions, other than the title. Michael Winship has written in response to an email query that the extra sheets were likely issued at half price in a different wrapper in the Books for the People Series no earlier than May 1843. [back]

3. The epigraph is from "Look not upon the wine when it is red." The lines appear in George B. Cheever's The Commonplace Book of American Poetry (1831, but often reprinted), where they are attributed to N. P. Willis. Whitman used a number of excerpts likely taken from Cheever's book, a standard anthology of the time, in his temperance novel Franklin Evans. A longer excerpt that also includes these lines serves as the epigraph for Chapter 16 of Franklin Evans. [back]

4. Abstemious refers to those who remain temperate, abstaining from alcoholic drinks. [back]

5. Whitman was especially interested in the Washington Temperance Societies. The Washington societies, part of the Washingtonian temperance movement, were popular in New York in the early 1840s. Rather than condemn those who drank too much, the Washingtonians encouraged temperance society members to use sympathy and kindness to persuade heavy drinkers to abstain from alcohol and join the temperance cause. Whitman wrote several works of fiction with temperance themes. He mentioned the Washingtonian societies by name at the beginning of Franklin Evans. Short stories that address temperance include "Wild Frank's Return," "The Reformed," "The Love of the Four Students," and "Dumb Kate; An Early Death." For more on Whitman's interest in the Washingtonians, see Jennifer A. Hynes, "Temperance Movement," in Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, 709–711. For more on the Washingtonians' unique approach to temperance reform, see Glenn Hendler, "Bloated Bodies and Sober Sentiments: Masculinity in 1840s Temperance Narratives," in Sentimental Men: Masculinity and the Politics of Affect in American Culture, ed. Mary Chapman and Glenn Hendler (Berkeley, California: University of California Press), 126–129. [back]

6. In Collect, Whitman omits the preceding three introductory paragraphs and begins the story with this sentence. [back]

7. In the original printing of this tale in The New World, under the title "The Child's Champion," Charley is twelve. In the Eagle, he is fourteen, and in Collect, he is thirteen. [back]

8. Mowing can refer here to cutting grass or reaping crops like hay using a scythe. A scythe is an agricultural hand tool consisting of a wooden shaft and a blade for cutting. [back]

9. A public house could refer to a pub or tavern, or an inn that provided travelers with food, drink, and lodging. [back]

10. In Collect, the word "individuals" has been replaced by "men." [back]

11. When Whitman reprinted this tale as a three-part work of serial fiction in Brooklyn Daily Eagle, this sentence marked the end of the first installment, which was published in the January 27, 1847, issue. [back]

12. Broadcloth is a dense, sturdy cloth. It was often used for men's clothing and it became a marker of respectability. [back]

13. This sentence is omitted in both the Eagle and Collect. In both works the preceding sentence has been altered to read as follows: "'I know you're all a getting dry,' and he clenched his invitation with an appalling oath." [back]

14. In Collect, the beginning of this sentence, "Don't let there be any skulker among us, or," has been replaced by the clause "If there be any skulker among us." [back]

15. A casement is a window with its frame attached to a hinge so that it opens like a door. [back]

16. In the first printing of the story in The New World, this sentence explicitly states that the sailor "bent Charles half way over" before kicking him. See Whitman's "The Child's Champion." In subsequent versions of the story, Whitman removed this reference to the violent kicking of Charles's backside. [back]

17. This sentence is omitted in the Eagle. [back]

18. In Collect, the word "hung" has been replaced with "clung." [back]

19. In the Eagle, this sentence reads as follows: "'You be d—d,' said the sailor, now partially recovered, and he made some gestures of a belligerent nature." [back]

20. When Whitman reprinted this tale as a three-part work of serial fiction in Brooklyn Daily Eagle, this sentence marked the end of the second installment, which was published in the January 28, 1847, issue. [back]

21. In the original version in The New World ("The Child's Champion"), the young man's name is "Lankton." [back]

22. In Collect, the following sentence and the next three paragraphs are omitted. Both this version and the Eagle text include the long passage, but, unlike the original version of this passage, Langton and Charles may be sleeping in separate beds. For further analysis of the revisions Whitman made to this passage, see Brasher, The Early Poems and the Fiction, 78 n43. [back]

23. In Collect, the next two sentences are omitted. [back]

24. This sentence is omitted in Collect. [back]

25. This paragraph addressing the reader is omitted in Collect. [back]


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