Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Charles L. Heyde to Walt Whitman, 23 June 1885

Date: June 23, 1885

Whitman Archive ID: duk.00404

Source: The Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library. 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.

Contributors to digital file: Alex Ashland, Stefan Schöberlein, Ian Faith, Kyle Barton, and Nicole Gray

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Burlington Vermont
June 23, 1885.

Bro Walt,

Just recieved Springfield paper, with extended notices of Walt Whitman. Came opportunely, for Han was growing nervous not recieveing any letter or card from you. She sprang right up, renewed, although she is not very strong as yet. And I was glad too, I assure you. Han is steadily improving; rather weakly and gray, but ambitious and systematic.

I have been dreadfull sick too, but can now breathe nearly as well as usual. Every body congratulates me.

We was as glad to learn that you are so comfortable with widow Davis:1 Han says she would so like to see her and talk with her: and so would I tell her so. My father was a sea captain; sailed from Philadelphia to France was wrecked, lost at sea: rember both of us to her: But what is the matter with Geo and Lou.2 I sent a small painting to them some months ago, framed, at 15 dollars with request to return it if not agreeable: have written twice, but recieved no reply.

Perhaps Geo is short of cash; still they keep the picture view from our house, with the Lake (Battery view) where you used to stroll. [Warm?] Han has large room up stairs to herself. I have small room adjoining: that I can hear, if she needs any thing: she is down stairs every day—cooks, I make fire etc—Han sends love—talks of you.


Charles Louis Heyde (1822–1890), a French-born landscape painter, married Hannah Louisa Whitman (1823–1890), Walt Whitman's sister, and they lived in Burlington, Vermont. Charles Heyde was infamous among the Whitmans for his offensive letters and poor treatment of Hannah. For more information about Heyde, see Steven Schroeder, "Heyde, Charles Louis (1822–1892)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


1. Mary Oakes Davis (1837 or 1838–1908) was Whitman's housekeeper. She had been married to a sea captain but was widowed when he was lost at sea. 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. Whitman's brother, George Washington Whitman, and his wife Louisa Orr Haslam (1842–1892), called "Loo" or "Lou." [back]


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