Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Anne Gilchrist to Walt Whitman, 17 June 1881

Date: June 17, 1881

Whitman Archive ID: upa.00216

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.

Contributors to digital file: Natalie O'Neal, Alex Kinnaman, and Nicole Gray

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June 17/81
4 Manor Place. Edinburgh

Dearest friend,

"Bumble-bees & Bird Music" safe to hand this morning—does me good—makes me feel exactly as if I were with you in the flesh enjoying it all—dear America! I never saw here—thousands—swarms of bumblebees—on the contrary they seem always in ones & two—& half a dozen at a time would be quite surprising. Your robin is not the sam as ours either & is really they tell me a kind of thrush. Ours is the plumpest little roly poly of a bird—fat saucy, fierce & bold—his breast a much brighter red too. I am wondering whether this was written from Glenfield—whether you have found a "creek" there, or are back at "Timber Creek". I had a pain too in reading it—suddenly remembered your birthday—that it was past & I had not written one word—not just put my hand in yours as I would fain always do on that day. I am so very sorry. I was then (when I should have written—middle of May just preparing & starting on my journey to the north—first to Redear on the Yorkshire coast to stay with Percy & his wife & the dear little son in a cottage within a yard or two of the beach—the North Sea rolling up on broad smooth sands there, but with treacherous reefs just beyond on which there were [illegible] wrecks last winter. I enjoyed everything—the being with Norah (who is like one of my own) & the dearest jolliest little man digging & playing happily in the sands—& the wonderful colours & sweet odors of the sea—everything is [best?] except the keenness of the wind which made my breathing worse—& the absence of dear Per himself who was all the time busy over his fierce furnaces &c in Sheffield. And now I am with Beatrice & needn't tell you what a pleasure that is. She looks rather pale, but seems otherwise strong & hearty, & to have her heart in her work as much as ever—gaining more confidence in herself, too, which was what she most needed. Much liked by her patients—you know what a grand old place Edinburgh is amid its rugged hills & the beautiful broad firth of which one gets fine glimpses at the end of many of the streets. And then the wonderful grey old houses almost as high & massive as the hills (but I fear, too, full of most ancient dirt, & crammed with a poor, dirty, ragged looking population)—And the castle on its wooded height in the very midst—& the great cavern below that runs through the city & has many bridges over it. Drink is the giant evil of the city as of the north generally—Such a sensible rugged healthy looking people too! how can they give themselves up to the mean & ugly demon. It must be that the scanty amount of sunshine gives a great craving for the bottled fire. They seem even fonder even than we English of their dogs—take them into Church in country places & here into the cars where there are generally two or three faithful shaggy fellows uneasily wriggling in & out to avoid getting their poor little toes trodden on.—How about England dearest friend? Do your thoughts turn that way? I have an old friend coming for a week or two at the beginning of August—after that a sunny bed-room ready & waiting for you—as long as ever you will stay with us. Love to your brother & sister & to Mrs. Marvin & John Burroughs & to Hattie & Jessie & most of all to yourself. If Per were here he would return your friendly message. Bees best love. I send a line of Herbs that you may see how well they are getting on without me.

A. G.

I am to remain here till the end of July. Mrs. Rossetti has twins. 5 children now.


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