Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Harry Stafford, 31 January [1882]

Date: January 31, 1882

Whitman Archive ID: nyp.00435

Source: The Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, New York Public Library. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 3:265–266. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Stefan Schoeberlein, Nima Najafi Kianfar, Eder Jaramillo, and Nicole Gray

Tuesday Evn'g
Jan 311

Rec'd yours to-day—Sorry you didnt get the letter sent that day I met you, as I wanted you to have it particular2—but perhaps it has come to hand—that it went to Berlin p. o. I have no doubt, as I mailed it myself, addressed it to you "care of Sheriff Gibbs"3 same as this envelope—

I hear Ed has sold the nag, & gone off to seek his fortune, newspaper canvassing &c.4—Whether he will make much money or not, I dont know, but I feel sure he will learn a good deal & get experience of the world & people, & of himself too—all of which is the wisdom described in scripture as better than riches—rec'd a long letter from Herbert Gilchrist, to-day5—he seems to be well, & working away hard at his painting—he describes to me some of his new pictures—says his mother was temporarily quite unwell, when he wrote—Edward Carpenter was visiting them—has a big beard—

Nothing new with me—I keep well as usual—you say when I have a blue spell I must write to you—I don't have any such spells—& seems to me it is time you grew out of them—my theory is that it is in onesself and not from outside circumstances one suffers such unhappy hours—the more one yields to them the frequenter & stronger they get until at last they take complete possession of a fellow—Harry dear, you are a good wrestler—see if you cant throw them & keep 'em thrown—

But I ought to write you something cheerful—I have been in all day—quite a deep snow & the wind blowing—I here in my big rocking chair at a job writing—Oscar Wilde sent me his picture yesterday, a photo a foot & a half long, nearly full length, very good—

As this letter has little or nothing in it I suppose it will be sure to reach you & not miss—like the other I wanted you to get—

Your old W W


1. This letter is endorsed (by Richard Maurice Bucke): "1882." January 31 occurred on Tuesday in 1882. The year is also confirmed by the reference to Oscar Wilde. [back]

2. Whitman was probably referring to his letter to Harry Stafford of January 25, 1882[back]

3. In 1881 Whitman noted Harry's address as "care of T B Gibbs—Berlin N J" (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). [back]

4. Evidently Edwin Stafford was in Indiana, Pa., since that was his address when Whitman wrote (lost) to him on February 3. He was in Kirkwood, however, on March 31 (see the letter from Whitman to Herbert Gilchrist of March 31, 1882). [back]

5. See Gilchrist's letter of January 15[back]


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