Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Charles L. Heyde to Walt Whitman, December 1866

Date: December 1866

Whitman Archive ID: med.00330

Source: Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library. The transcription presented here is derived from Charles L. Heyde, Faint Clews & Indirections: Manuscripts of Walt Whitman and His Family, ed. Clarence Gohdes and Rollo G. Silver (Durham: Duke University Press, 1949), 223-24. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Brett Barney, and Vanessa Steinroetter

Dec 1866

Friend Walt.

I1 have sent to you the "Galaxy"; It contains two articles, one on Whitman and one on Swinburne,2—I have read both criticisms, with great satisfaction. Richard Grant White has but paid just sympathy to a true poet "Swinburne"; The criticism is a "Poem," in itself. It has the comprehensiveness, and the fearless recognition of the divine idea, or sentiment of "Love," as expressed by the Poet, he writes upon—Swinburne electrifies me. I read one verse of his "Laus Veneris," in a store, and bought the book—When critics or ordinary readers, or writers scribble him down, the Sun will cease to procreate and vitalize the earth. He is cultivated, and "passion" is his subject—"St Dorothy" is saddening, and the "Leper" oh how passionately full of piteous Love—and the "Orchard" oh! the night is all starrd by it, and earth burdend with dewy fragrancies—

There is enough beauty in your "Leaves" to make a rare book, and not cast out sensuous extravagance either. But you are wonderfully, woefully mistaken in the privileage you take of being merely savagely material, and consequently offensively vulgar— Han is much better than usual, and is continualy promising to write to her Mother.

C L Heyde


1. Charles Heyde, a landscape painter, was the husband of Hannah Louisa Whitman, Whitman's younger sister. They married in 1852 and lived in Vermont. [back]

2. Heyde is referring to the December 1, 1866, issue of the Galaxy, which contained a review of Drum-Taps written by John Burroughs and a review of Algernon Charles Swinburne's work by Richard Grant White. [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.