Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Elisa Seaman Leggett to Walt Whitman, 18 June 1880

Date: June 18, 1880

Whitman Archive ID: man.00037

Source: Charles Sixsmith Collection at the John Rylands Library, University of Manchester. 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. Ted Genoways (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2004), vol. 7, and supplemented, updated, or created by Whitman Archive staff as appropriate.

Contributors to digital file: Alicia Meyer, Eder Jaramillo, Nima Najafi Kianfar, Nicole Gray, and Stefan Schöberlein

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June 18th 1880
169 East Elizabeth St

My Dear Friend—

I am greatly obliged for your Book and have been exceedingly interested1—also I rec'd the Paper—

The hospitals during the War, were in my mind and heart so much I could but feel the distress of the homesickness of the poor fellows—when the news came to me, that my Boy was wounded, I said "Oh tell me that he is dead. I can stand that—for it would be my own suffering, but I cant endure to think of Percy as wounded in the Hospital and homesick—it was at night the news came to us that he was wounded, perhaps fatally and all the night I lay in such distress—but the next morning—when I was hurrying them off to Pontiac my son in law came to me (I saw that no horse was [hot?] out of the Stable)—and he laid his head on my shoulder and said, "Mother you said you could bear to hear that Percy was dead—but not that he was wounded and living"—"Yes" I said, "I could"—then he said, "he is dead" and I felt a sort of thankfulness to know that it was my sorrow not his—

I hope that you recd my story of "Leaves of Grass"—I and my family had hoped to have seen you before this—and now—we are unexpectedly call'd away—for some weeks—& we shall still hope to see you—when we can—I will let you know, for I want to welcome you to our home—before you leave Canada

With thanks I am yours truly
Elisa S Leggett—


1. Elisa Seaman Leggett, grandmother of the artist Percy Ives, corresponded sporadically with Whitman from 1880 until his death. A number of her letters to him are reprinted in Thomas Donaldson's Walt Whitman: The Man (New York: Francis P. Harper, 1896), 239–48. See also Joann P. Krieg, "Walt Whitman's Long Island Friend: Elisa Seaman Leggett," Long Island Historical Journal 9 (Spring 1997), 223–33. [back]


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