Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Mary Augusta Burhans to Walt Whitman, 26 June 1891

Date: June 26, 1891

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01101

Source: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 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.

Contributors to digital file: Ethan Heusser, Amanda J. Axley, Marie Ernster, and Stephanie Blalock

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Jun 26/91

Walt Whitman
Hon Sir

You will doubtless be surprised, but after the first reading, I think you will fully understand why I keep writing.

I carefully read the long article in the Herald1 drawing a clear cut picture of that thirty five years of your life, and found myself weeping at the close—for it brought back as plainly as if but yesterday my earliest recollections of yourself in connection with my father, and "dear Old Brooklyn."

Believe me Honored Sir. I can see the Yorkville Stage stopping at our door. Pleasant summer afternoons in 1852, and Walt Whitman and Jesse Talbot2 getting down from the upper most [tops?], and then the long and instructive chats, over good coffee, and paintings. I hold the family treasures—paintings, [illegible] choice books, and all our loved ones held most dear.

You I think, fully understand my Father—the American people have yet to learn his real merit I have deeply studied art—and find his best works all stand the test

I do sincerely hope I have not been too lengthy, and I should [prize?] beyond words, either your commendations, or judgement,

Yours with esteem
Mrs Talbot Burhans

[Heath?] N.Y.

M. Augusta Talbot

Mary Augusta Talbot Burhans (d. 1899) was the oldest daughter of the artist Jesse Talbot (1805–1879) and his wife Mary Augusta Sluyter. In 1863, Mary Augusta (the daughter) married George W. Burhans of New York.


1. It is unclear which article is being referred to here. [back]

2. Jesse Talbot (1805–1879), a native of Dighton, Massachusetts, was the son of Josiah and Lydia (Wheaton) Talbot. He was the secretary of the American Tract Society with interests and/or involvement in anti-slavery and religious reform movements. He went on to become a genre painter. Whitman and Talbot developed a friendship, and Whitman wrote newspaper articles about and in promotion of Talbot's artistic work. For more on Talbot's life and on Whitman's association with him, see Jessica Skwire Routhier, "Fellow Journeyers Walt Whitman and Jesse Talbot: Painting, Poetry, and Puffering in 1850s New York," Walt Whitman Quarterly Review 38 (Summer 2020), 1–37. [back]


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