Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: John Burroughs to Walt Whitman, 20 May 1883

Date: May 20, 1883

Whitman Archive ID: syr.00030

Source: Walt Whitman Collection, Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Library, Syracuse, N.Y. The transcription presented here is derived from Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, ed. Sculley Bradley (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1953), 4:509–510. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Stefan Schöberlein, Alex Kinnaman, Natalie O'Neal, Nicole Gray, and Blake Bronson-Bartlett

West Park,
May 20, 1883.

Dear Walt:

We have been back from Roxbury some weeks, and thoroughly at ease again in our old shoes. I am thinking every day how much I should enjoy a visit from you and what good times we could have. What do you say? Can you not be persuaded to turn your face and steps this way? I could arrange it so you could spend the summer here if you would. We shall probably be away in July and August, but there is a family in the other house with whom you could board as cheaply as you do in Camden. The young man is a good fellow and keeps our school, and the daughter is a sweet girl. The mother is a widow and a good beautiful woman. I think you would enjoy yourself here. If you preferred you could have your bed here in my shanty—a large comfortable room on the brink of the hill, fifty yards from the house, where my books and papers are, and where I spend most of my time. Drop me a line if you will come and when.

I am feeling pretty well. Julian grows finely. His mind runs much in strange channels. He has already got to the point where he wants to know who made God. One day he asked me who took care of the first pair of birds—"the first little birds what had no papa nor mama." Yesterday as he lay here on the sofa in a brown study, he said: "Papa, the Heaven-world owns this world."

My Carlyle article goes into the August Century. I am adding a page about Mrs. C. as revealed by her letters. How about Dr. Bucke's book? I hear nothing. How is Jenny O'Connor? Kindest remembrances to George and his wife.

With much love
John Burroughs.


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