Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Harry Stafford to Walt Whitman, 27 November 1877

Date: November 27, 1877

Whitman Archive ID: loc.04001

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: Nima Najafi Kianfar, Stefan Schöberlein, Kirsten Clawson, Nicole Gray, Kenneth Price, and Elizabeth Lorang

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Kirkwood N.J.
November 27th 18771

Dear friend Walt:

I arrived home [last night at?] about 7 PM,2 [and I was feeling?] bad and I [was going slow?] but the horses did not like it much they wanted to troot all the way home, they felt good I guess, they have not been doing much for a couple of weeks or more, so they wanted to show off, you know how it is your self when you feel like licking me; but I held them down as I do you, when you feel that way. I have a kind of a cold from comeing up yesterday [illegible] good other ways. Father is a little better today than he was yesterday, but he looks very badly yet. Debbie & Joe got home about 9. OK., they were over to Philadelphia after they left [illegible] over to [illegible] Swartse's, [illegible] from what I hear them say. Ed and I went over to Glendale to church Sunday ev., they had distracted meeting (as I call) it over there, there was 3 up seeking there souls salvation. It looks as if the rain was not over with yet, and the "rooster" is crowing, (that is a sure sign) they say.

When I saw you on Federal St., yesterday, I thought you did not look very well, what was the matter with you? did you not feel as well as usual? Ben is not collecting today and it seems lonly here without him here. I don't have any one to talk too unless he is here, everything is as still as the dead of night, not a sound reaches my ear and the ticking of the clock appears to be almost [illegible] looking out of the [store window?] over here. I wonder what his thoughts are about; there the click of the register has broken the stillness of the place, it seems like the presence of an old and loving friend, it is telling of the death of a man out in the st of Origan, I don't know to who: but here comes a fellow around now he sais put in a word for him he is blaguarding me, let him crack away, I will have to close.

Ever yours
Harry Stafford

write soon come down when [you?] feel or good bye


1. The envelope for this letter is endorsed (by Whitman): Nov 27 '77. [back]

2. Walt Whitman met the 18-year-old Harry Lamb Stafford (1858–1918) in 1876, beginning a relationship which was almost entirely overlooked by early Whitman scholarship, in part because Stafford's name appears nowhere in the first six volumes of Horace Traubel's With Walt Whitman in Camden—though it does appear frequently in the last three volumes, which were published only in the 1990s. Whitman occasionally referred to Stafford as "My (adopted) son" (as in a December 13, 1876, letter to John H. Johnston), but the relationship between the two also had a romantic, erotic charge to it. In 1883, Harry married Eva Westcott. For further discussion of Stafford, see Arnie Kantrowitz, "Stafford, Harry L. (b.1858)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]


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