Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Thomas Nicholson, 17 December [1880]

Date: December 17, 1880

Whitman Archive ID: duk.00751

Source: The Trent Collection of Walt Whitman Manuscripts, Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 3:200–201. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Alicia Bones, Grace Thomas, Eder Jaramillo, Kevin McMullen, and Nicole Gray

431 Stevens Street
Camden New Jersey1
Dec: 17

Dear Tom

I was glad to have word from you, once more, & glad to get the particulars of that race—this is the first full account I have heard, & I am real pleased, Tommy, first at the satisfaction of your winning, and next at your raking in the good stakes—altogether it must have been quite a time—

Yes Dr Bucke was here, and we had a very pleasant afternoon and evening together—had a first rate dinner—and then in the hotel sitting room some of the tallest kind of talking & arguing you may be sure.2

I live very quietly & plainly here, board with my brother & sister-in-law—have a nice little room up in the third story fronting south (I am sitting here now in a great rocking chair, & the sun is pouring in bright and warm as you please—I wish you was here, Tommy, to spend the afternoon with me)—

I have some work to-day, most every day a little, but I take it easy, content if I can make enough to pay my expenses—I never cared to be rich, (no possibility of that any how) but I dont care to be too poor either.

I get out on the river, (the Delaware) or over in Philadelphia most every day—lately I go down to the Ferry at nights & cross over & back two or three times. The river is full of ice & the boats have a pretty tough time—but the nights are light, the full moon shining like silver, and I enjoy it all—(Know the pilots and boat hands intimately.) Last night was perfect, & only middling cool—I staid crossing till 12 o'clock—felt good—& then got hungry & went and got a dozen nice oysters & a drink (Dont that make your mouth water, Tommy boy?) I often think of you and the boys & girls—give my best respects to all of them, Dick Flynn, Tom Bradley3 & all the cricket boys—that was the best summer there in Canada, & among you all & the Asylum grounds, & the daily rides into London & all, that I ever put in & I am feeling the benefit of it yet. My love to you, Tom, & am glad you dont forget me, as I won't you—try to write to me regular—

Walt Whitman

Did George England's picture come all safe?


1. Whitman noted this letter to Nicholson in his Commonplace Book. The poet sent the young man a newspaper account of a "N Y walking match" on January 30, 1881 (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). [back]

2. Whitman had spent the afternoon of December 5 with Dr. Richard Maurice Bucke at the Girard House in Philadelphia (Whitman's Commonplace Book). [back]

3. These two friends of Nicholson are mentioned in the letter from Whitman to Nicholson of October 14, 1880[back]


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