Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Edward Cattell, 24 January 1877

Date: January 24, 1877

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01251

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.

Notes for this letter were derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller, 6 vols. (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), and supplemented, updated, or created by Whitman Archive staff as appropriate.

Contributors to digital file: Grace Thomas, Alicia Bones, Anthony Dreesen, Kevin McMullen, Nicole Gray, and Kenneth Price

page image
image 1
page image
image 2
page image
image 3
page image
image 4
page image
image 5
page image
image 6

Jan 24th '771

Dear Ed2

I want to write you a few lines particular. Do not call to see me any more at the Stafford family, & do not call there at all any more. Dont ask me why—I will explain to you when we meet.3 When you meet any of the family I wish you to use them just the same as ever, but do not go over there at all. I want you to keep this to yourself, & not mention it nor this letter to any one & you must not speak about it at all to any one.

There is nothing in it that I think I do wrong, nor am ashamed of, but I wish it kept entirely between you and me—& I shall feel very much hurt & displeased if you don't keep the whole thing & the present letter entirely to yourself. Mr and Mrs Stafford are very near & kind to me, & have been & are like brother & sister to me—& as to Harry you know how I love him. Ed you too have my unalterable love, & always shall have. I want you to come up here & see me.4 Write when will you come.


1. This letter is endorsed: "letter to | Ed Cattell"; "letter sent to | Ed Cattell." It is a draft letter. [back]

2. Edward Cattell was a young, semiliterate farm hand and a friend of the Staffords. Whitman met him evidently in May, 1876: "about 25 or 6—folks mother, father &c. live at Gloucester—his grand, or great grandfather, Jonas Cattell, a great runner, & Revolutionary soldier, spy." (Whitman referred to Jonas in the Philadelphia Times on January 26, 1879.) Later in the same diary the poet wrote: "the hour (night, June 19, '76, Ed & I.) at the front gate by the road." Two days later he noted "the swim of the boys, Ed. [Stafford?], Ed. C. & Harry" (Diary Notes in Charles E. Feinberg Collection). In 1877 Whitman cited "Sept meetings Ed C by the pond at Kirkwood moonlight nights" (Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.), and in Diary Notes on October 29, "Ed. Cattell with me." On November 26, 1877, Cattell, who generally called Whitman "old man," wrote: "Would love to See you once moor for it seems an age Since I last met With you down at the pond and a lovely time We had of it to old man . . . I love you Walt and Know that my love is returned to." In another letter from October 21, 1877, Cattell said: "Went with Some Boys up the Pond to day and I Seen your old Chir floting down the Strem. . . . i would like to See you and have a talk. I love you Walt and all ways Will. So May God Bless You is my prayer." [back]

3. Whitman deleted the following: "Mr and Mrs Stafford are very near & dear to me, & as to Harry, you know how I love him." [back]

4. Whitman deleted the following: "Or come over to 1929 north 22d street Philadelphia [Mrs. Gilchrist's house] & see me." [back]


Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Matt Cohen, Ed Folsom, & Kenneth M. Price, editors.