Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Harry Stafford, 27 January [1881]

Date: January 27, 1881

Whitman Archive ID: hyb.00011

Source: The Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, New York Public Library; The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 3:207–208. 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, Nima Najafi Kianfar, Stefan Schoeberlein, Nicole Gray, and Kirsten Clawson

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431 Stevens Street Camden1
Thursday noon Jan: 272

Dear Hank—

Dear boy—your letter rec'd & read—Take it easy about the minister & the Ingersoll business3—the best answer you can make is to be quiet & good natured & even attentive & not get mad worth a cent—True religion (the most beautiful thing in the whole world, & the best part of any man's or woman's, or boy's character) consists in what one does square and kind & generous & honorable all days, all the time—& especially with his own folks & associates & with the poor & illiterate & in devout meditation, & silent thoughts of God, & death—& not at all in what he says, nor in Sunday or prayer meeting gas—My own opinion is that Ingersoll talks too much on his side—a good life, steady trying to do fair, & a sweet, tolerant liberal disposition, shines like the sun, tastes like the fresh air of a May morning, blooms like a perfect little flower by the road-side—& all the blowing, talking & powowing both sides amounts to little or nothing—Glad, dear boy, you had a good little visit, you & Mont,4 with me—I enjoyed it too—I am writing this up in the room—the sun shines, but sharp cold & the wind whistling—

Your Walt


1. This letter is endorsed: "1881." It is addressed: Harry Lamb Stafford | Kirkwood | Glendale | New Jersey. It is postmarked: Camden | Jan | 27 | N.J. [back]

2. Whitman referred to this letter in his Commonplace Book (Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). January 27 was on Thursday in 1881. [back]

3. See the letter from Whitman to Harry Stafford of January 2, 1881. For discussion of this letter, see Ed Folsom, "Trying to Do Fair: Walt Whitman and the Good Life," Speakeasy 10 (March/April 2004), 14–18. [back]

4. Whitman did not note in his Commonplace Book this visit with Harry and his brother. [back]


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