Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Charles L. Heyde to Walt Whitman, 28 August 1888

Date: August 28, 1888

Whitman Archive ID: duk.00407

Source: Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. 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 created by Whitman Archive staff and/or were derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller, 6 vols. (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), and supplemented or updated by Whitman Archive staff.

Contributors to digital file: Jeannette Schollaert, Alex Ashland, Ian Faith, and Stephanie Blalock

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Van Ness & American
The "Van Ness House" has a Safety Hydraulic Passenger Elevator, Fire Escapes, and the Grinnell Automatic Sprinkler.
Fine Views of the Lakes and Mountains from all parts of the House.
U. A. WOODBURY, Proprietor.
L. S. DREW & H. N. CLARK, Managers.
Burlington, Vt.,
Aug 28 1888

Bro Walt.

Han1 was speaking about you; a minute ago. She is all the time guessing, wondering how Walt is. She recieves all your cards, letters, magazines, books/Antiquary, you send her. She is not very well: the weather has been hot, although our house is well shaded with the trees I planted 20 years ago. But I cannot but feel apprehensive that shall be compelled to give it up: prices of paintings are so low, and no purchasers, at that. I do not know what she would do, forced to quit her nice home: but such things will occur, and then it is, at my, or our age, like parting with life itself: there are times, when pinched by necessity and age, we feel that life is not worth living for. How well you have endured your trials, (physical) without complaining.

Han is very nervous: taxes (25) are overdue: every year they are increased – pay no rent, yet taxes are something.

I shall be pleased to see and read your book. My Sister Mrs Coll sends me a little money at times, which buys a load of wood and some groceries. Han says she is a good, good woman.

I experience nervous prostration occasionally. I had a shock this morning: all things seemed rain – life not worth preserving. I am better now – Han would scold me for writing –


Charles Louis Heyde (ca. 1820–1892), a French-born landscape painter, married Hannah Louisa Whitman (1823–1908), 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. Hannah Louisa Whitman Heyde (1823–1908) was Walt Whitman's younger sister, and she was one of the only members of the Whitman family to read and admire Whitman's writings. She married Charles Heyde in 1852, and the couple lived in Burlington, Vermont. Charles regularly disparaged his wife and her sometimes erratic behavior in his letters. For more information on Hannah, see Paula K. Garrett, "Whitman (Heyde), Hannah Louisa (d. 1908)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]


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