Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Anne Gilchrist to Walt Whitman, 13–21 October 1883

Date: October 13–21, 1883

Whitman Archive ID: loc.05153

Source: Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. The transcription presented here is derived from The Letters of Anne Gilchrist and Walt Whitman, ed. Thomas B. Harned (New York: Doubleday, Page, & Company, 1918), 220–222. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Kirsten Clawson, Stefan Schöberlein, Nima Najafi Kianfar, and Nicole Gray

Keats Corner
Oct. 13, '83.

Dearest Friend:

Long & long does it seem since I have had any word or sign from you. I hope all goes well & that you have had a pleasant, refreshing summer trip somewhere. All goes on much as usual with us.

Hythe. Kent. Oct. 21. Not having felt very well the last month or two, and Giddy also seeming to need a little bracing up, we came down to this ancient town by the sea—one of the Cinque Ports—on Wednesday, and much we like it—a fine open sea—a delicious "briny odour"—and inland much that is curious and interesting—for this part of the Kentish Coast—so near to France—has innumerable old castles, forts, moats, traces everywhere of centuries of warfare and of means of defence against our great neighbour. It is a fine hilly, woody country, too, and very picturesque these grey massive ruins, many of them used now as farm houses, look. The men of Kent are very proud of their country and are reckoned a fine race—tall, muscular, ruddy-complexioned, and often too with thick, tawny-red beards—curious how in our little island the differences of race-stock are still so discernible—keep along this same coast to the west only about a couple of hundred miles & you come to such a different type—dark—blackest and Cornish men.—I get a nice letter now & then from John Burroughs. I also saw this summer two women doctors who were very kind & good friends to my darling Bee—Drs. Pope—twin sisters from Boston, whom it did me good to see. They work hard—have a good practice—& say they don't know what a day's illness means so far as they themselves are concerned. They tell me also that the women doctors are doing capital work in America—and that one of them, who was with dear Beatrice at the Penn. Med. Col., Dr. Alice Bennett, is the efficient head of the woman's department of a large lunatic asylum. We are getting on in England too—but the field where English women doctors find the most work & the best position is India, where as the women are not allowed by their male relatives to be attended by men, the mortality was immense.—Herby has taken a better studio than our house afforded—both as to light & size—& finds the advantage great. I expect he is having a delightful walk this brilliant morning with the "Hampstead Tramps"—of whom I think I have told you. They often walk fifteen miles or so on Sunday morning.

Such a glorious afternoon it has been by the sea—sapphire colour—the air brisk & elastic, yet soft. To-morrow Grace goes home & I shall be all alone here.—I hear of "Specimen Days" in a letter from Australia—there will be a large audience for you there some day, dear Friend. I like what John Burroughs has been writing about Carlyle much. We have had nothing but stupidities of late about him here—but there will come a great reaction from all this abuse, I have no doubt—he did put so much gall in his ink sometimes, human nature can't be expected to take it altogether meekly. I hope you received my little book safely. I should be a hypocrite if I pretended not to care whether you found patience to read it—for I grew to love Mary & Charles Lamb so much during my task that I want you to love them too—& to see what a beautiful friendship was theirs with Coleridge.

How are Mr. & Mrs. Whitman and Hattie & Jessie? Send me a few words soon.

Good-bye, dearest Friend.
Ann Gilchrist.


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