Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Edward Carpenter to Walt Whitman, 1 July 1881

Date: July 1, 1881

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01236

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.

Editorial note: The annotation, "good letter from Edward Carpenter July 1 '81," is in the hand of Walt Whitman.

Contributors to digital file: Kirsten Clawson, Stefan Schöberlein, Eder Jaramillo, and Nicole Gray

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nr Sheffield
1. July.

Dear Walt,

I think you would like to see Robert Sharland's letter so I enclose it. I have just got Bucke's 'Moral Nature'—at least Mrs. Gilchrist lent me a copy some time ago, but I have bought two copies now. It is very interesting, I think—it seems to explain to me the relation of animals to man,—the smallness of their brains does not really constitute a gap—even physiologically....I was going to ask you a question about the soul, but the more I think about it the less can I make out what it was I was going to ask! It was something about whether the sympathetic comes next to it, or whether it is inside it or outside it, or behind it or before it: or what? or is it It?—but I fear such conversation is unprofitable.

It is so jolly living in this farmyard. Our landlord is a farmer and our little cottage is only divided from it by a low wall over which the cows come & put their noses, and there are the fowls and a pig and an old horse, and cats & ducks & things. The other side of the yard is an orchard, cherry apple & pear, with the farm house. We are high here, I daresay 800 ft above the sea, and the land is clayey & cold—the farmers mostly a slow going shrewd sort—saving more out of their land than putting into it; the country all the same breaks away into beautiful valleys & the wild moors are close at hand—Charles Fox our landlord is very friendly. He is about 35, unmarried, a great reader (or has been so), but so quiet, homely, clodhopping like that few people suspect him of it. He is very anxious to travel but a good deal tied down at present. The farm, about 30 acres, belongs to him; and I suppose he represents a class of small proprietors, farmers, that used to be common in these parts, but there are not so many now. Everything is rented now in this country.

Our household consists of Albert Fearnehough, his wife, and Annie a bright girl of 13. There is also a boy George who is apprenticed to a joiner in Sheffield. He comes home only on Saturdays & Sundays: and is always welcome. Now my lectures are over I am spending the summer helping in the garden and any odd jobs about the place—and am doing also a good deal of writing. I pretty well live out in the open air & don't feel as if I shd ever manage indoor life again. It is possible that Albert & I might take a small farm, but we shall see. I feel that I must write, at present.—I can't keep my fingers off it—but still that takes only a small fraction of the week & leaves plenty of time for other work.

These friends that I have here and my more natural open air life seem to have made a difference to me. I feel as if I had touched the bottom at last, and had something firm to go upon—after floundering about so long. Thanks for all that also to you.

I hear that Herbert Gilchrist is painting a portrait of you for Dr Bucke. Is it for the book? Dr B. asked me for some contribution—but I have never sent anything—I dont exactly know why, but chiefly because I wasn't sure how the Gilchrists wd like their names appearing so freely in what I had written.

Remembrances to the Staffords when you see them and to John Burroughs if you see him.

Your friend
Edward Carpenter


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