Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Ada H. Spaulding to Walt Whitman, 27 March 1889

Date: March 27, 1889

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03950

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

Contributors to digital file: Blake Bronson-Bartlett, Alex Ashland, Ryan Furlong, and Stephanie Blalock

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Dear Friend

You were so good as to call yourself so, in my book,—that I value more than you guess,—and may I not claim you now?

If you received all the letters I write you mentally, you would have sufficient kindling for a long Winter. I do even begin them upon paper, but words, that I know how to put together, seem so weak against the truth of which I wish to speak, that the unfinished letter goes into the waste basket, first torn into inch pieces. On yesterday I sent some flowers to speak for me. They know how to talk without tiring you. They can speak of divine things without mockery. They can speak of tenderness, without annoying you. They can talk with you of "India"—of "more than India"—and you will understand each other. I do not know what flowers you love best. If I were arranging flowers for your room, I should have masses of one kind, if I could. In this case, I thought a few sprays of the more delicate miracles, quite a variety of them, might enable you to fancy you had left your room, and were picking them as you walked. I wanted to see them put in the box, but the kind hearted man who held them in his care assured me they had better remain unpacked till just before the express train left Boston. The dear little crocuses I picked from my own tiny spot of earth, and sent each one laden with loving wishes. May they carry their messages safely.

I wonder if you have an idea how much I enjoyed being with you—or how hard it was for me to leave you.

(I worried after leaving, lest I had stayed too long a time and wearied you.) I have longed to see you as I never longed to see the Alps. There seemed no prospect of my going. The way seemed hedged. Then—a friend opened the gate and let me through. I have not called on Mrs. Fairchild1 yet. I have been too busy, but am anticipating the pleasure soon. How good it will be to speak with her of you.

Good bye—good bye—

God bless you ever—ever—!

Sometime America will know what you have done for her. In the meantime, souls, here and there, in sorrow2 and in gladness, think of you and love you.

With deep gratitude
A.H. Spaulding

Princeton St. 9

Ada H. Spaulding (b. 1841), née Pearsons, was a socialite and active member of various reform movements and women's clubs. She served as the President of the Home Club of East Boston and was a member of the Women's Educational and Industrial Union. She married Ebenezer Spaulding, an Assistant Surgeon during the Civil War, and, later, a homeopathic physician and surgeon who practiced in Boston. Ada Spaulding read and admired Whitman's poetry, visited the poet, and wrote a number of letters to him in his final years. For more on Spaulding, see Sherry Ceniza, "Women's Letters to Walt Whitman: Some Corrections," Walt Whitman Quarterly Review 9 (Winter 1992), 142–147.


1. Elizabeth Fairchild was the wife of Colonel Charles Fairchild, the president of a paper company, to whom Whitman sent the Centennial Edition on March 2, 1876 (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). He mailed her husband a copy of Progress in April, 1881, shortly after his visit to Boston, where he probably met the Fairchilds for the first time (Commonplace Book). [back]

2. The rest of the letter is written vertically at the top of the first page. [back]


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