Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Herbert Gilchrist, 12 February 1884

Date: February 12, 1884

Whitman Archive ID: upa.00077

Source: Walt Whitman Collection, 1842–1957, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, University of Pennsylvania. 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. Edwin Haviland Miller, 6 vols. (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), and supplemented, updated, or created by Whitman Archive staff as appropriate.

Contributors to digital file: Stefan Schöberlein and Kyle Barton

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431 Stevens St.
Camden N J, U S A
Feb 12 '84

Dear Herb

Thanks for your affectionate letter—(thank your dear mother also for hers—a most welcome one)1—Nothing special or new to write about—health & every thing go on with me ab't as usual—I enclose a piece of cloth2—cannot find a coat that I think would serve you, (which is the garment I suppose you most want)—Dr Bucke3 has told me of a picture he got from you, he prizes immensely—I havn't seen it—Write whenever you can, dear boy, & I will to you—

Walt Whitman

Herbert Harlakenden Gilchrist (1857–1914), son of Alexander and Anne Gilchrist, was an English painter and editor of Anne Gilchrist: Her Life and Writings (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1887). For more information, see Marion Walker Alcaro, "Gilchrist, Herbert Harlakenden (1857–1914)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


1. Herbert's letter is not known. Apparently Whitman referred to Anne Gilchrist's letter of October 13–21, 1883[back]

2. On January 26 Mrs. Gilchrist asked Louisa Whitman for an old suit of Whitman's which would be of use to her son for a painting entitled "The Poet's Tea Party," in which appeared Whitman, Mrs. Gilchrist, Grace, and Herbert; see Amy Haslam Dowe, "A Child's Memories of the Whitmans" (unpublished). See also the letter from Anne Gilchrist to Walt Whitman of April 5, 1884. [back]

3. Richard Maurice Bucke (1837–1902) was a Canadian physician and psychiatrist who grew close to Whitman after reading Leaves of Grass in 1867 (and later memorizing it) and meeting the poet in Camden a decade later. Even before meeting Whitman, Bucke claimed in 1872 that a reading of Leaves of Grass led him to experience "cosmic consciousness" and an overwhelming sense of epiphany. Bucke became the poet's first biographer with Walt Whitman (Philadelphia: David McKay, 1883), and he later served as one of his medical advisors and literary executors. For more on the relationship of Bucke and Whitman, see Howard Nelson, "Bucke, Richard Maurice," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]


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