Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Charles L. Heyde to Walt Whitman, 8 September [1890]

Date: September 8, [1890]

Whitman Archive ID: duk.00451

Source: Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and 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.

Editorial note: The annotation, "90," is in the hand of Walt Whitman.

Contributors to digital file: Brandon James O'Neil, Ryan Furlong, Ian Faith, and Stephanie Blalock

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Burlington Studio
Sept 8.

Our dear Bro Walt

Han1 is not so well to day—but much cast down. Much disappointed, althought appreciating her friends, Lou2 and Jessie's3 visit. She thinks as I do that they should have visited our home first and administered to its immediate urgent necessities—taxes were due 24 dollars—which Han mentioned. On leaving Lou mentioned that Han should write to her, and she would send her all she needed.

Now Walt, we need money most—taxes—then 1 ton of coal, 1 cord of wood, which Lou promise to pay for—coal 6—wood 4—for a stove which was set up for Han in winter, but for which there is scarcely any use, as I keep a heater all the winter going, pipe traversing upper rooms—.

But Han is apprehensive and cast down—dread glooming her 25 years pleasant home.

Cannot something, money be raised to relieve us of this present pressure? It seems incredible that I could have sustaind ourselves so long, with so little derived professionally.

Real estate inducements are advertised in Camden. I have written to the Agents—then Han would be near her family. She often desires to be near you—living near You, Walt. She is cast down. No money was bestowed, our good true friend.


Should you send 5 dolls for me, stick a pin in it for Charlie, home service

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]

2. Louisa Orr Haslam Whitman (1842–1892), called "Loo" or "Lou," married Whitman's brother George Whitman on April 14, 1871. Their son, Walter Orr Whitman, was born in 1875 but died the following year. A second son was stillborn. Whitman lived in Camden, New Jersey, with George and Louisa from 1873 until 1884, when George and Louisa moved to a farm outside of Camden and Whitman decided to stay in the city. Louisa and Whitman had a warm relationship during the poet's final decades. For more, see Karen Wolfe, "Whitman, Louisa Orr Haslam (Mrs. George) (1842–1892)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

3. Jessie Louisa Whitman (1863–1957) was the second and youngest daughter of Whitman's brother Thomas Jefferson "Jeff" Whitman (1833–1890) and Jeff's wife Martha Mitchell Whitman (1836–1873). [back]


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