Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Charles L. Heyde to Walt Whitman, [5] June 189[0]

Date: June [5], 189[0]

Whitman Archive ID: duk.00449

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 The Letters of Dr. Richard Maurice Bucke to Walt Whitman, ed. Artem Lozynsky (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1977), and supplemented or updated by Whitman Archive staff.

Contributors to digital file: Andrew David King, Cristin Noonan, Breanna Himschoot, and Stephanie Blalock

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Van Ness House
Burlington, Vt.
June 5 18901

Our dear good brother Walt,

Your very kind note2 with 5 dollars, was safely handed to us, by postman—and timely as we were in need of a load of wood.

Han3 demirs at times lest you impoverish yourself, but I reply that you have good sympathisers, and those that appreciate your eminent talent, in allowance of all others.

She thought she would defer replying personaly for a few, days, but Walt, reading or writing overcomes her, nervously, and she declares she can do neither a tremulous fever of the blood, so she requested me to write to you, and I enclose your note to her, to show that you[rs] has been recieved—

The representative[s] at your dinner,4 were many the time advanced in humantarian ideas, sympathies—The Free Press noticed you generously, also Philadelphia Record. The weather is discouraging, so much heavy rain—Han complains of undue internal heat, bo[ther?] but the inflamation has left her chin and cheeks. We must have a woman to clean house for her—She speaks of you daily—hourly—emotionally I have been sick (gripp) and allmost disabled—

Gratefully Yours

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. Heyde dated this letter "June." The day (the 5th) and the year (1890) have been completed in red ink in an unknown hand. Richard Maurice Bucke may have dated this letter. [back]

2. This letter may not be extant. [back]

3. Hannah Louisa (Whitman) Heyde (1823–1908), youngest sister of Walt Whitman, married Charles Louis Heyde (ca. 1820–1892), a Pennsylvania-born landscape painter. Charles Heyde was infamous among the Whitmans for his offensive letters and poor treatment of Hannah. Hannah and Charles Heyde lived in Burlington, Vermont. For more, 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]

4. In honor of Whitman's 71st birthday, his friends gave him a birthday dinner on May 31, 1890, at Reisser's Restaurant in Philadelphia. The main speaker was Col. Robert G. Ingersoll, and there were also speeches by the physicians Richard Maurice Bucke and Silas Weir Mitchell. The Camden Daily Post article "Ingersoll's Speech" of June 2, 1890, was written by Whitman himself and was reprinted in Good-Bye My Fancy (Prose Works, 1892, ed. Floyd Stovall, 2 vols. [New York: New York University Press: 1963–1964], 686–687). "Honors to the Poet" appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, June 1, 1890. See also the notes on Whitman's birthday party in the poet's June 4, 1890, letter to Bucke. [back]


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