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Walt Whitman to Charles W. Eldridge, [29 (?) October (?) 1873]

 amh.00013.001_large.jpg Dear Charley,

My condition continues favorable—& if I dared to hope this will last & improve in proportion—indicates recovery at least, as definitely as any thing hitherto—I think more definitely—I send you & P.O. order—which please get & pay Godey. Write me a line Thursday or Friday.1


Charles W. Eldridge (1837–1903) was one half of the Boston-based abolitionist publishing firm Thayer and Eldridge, who issued the 1860 edition of Leaves of Grass. In December 1862, on his way to find his injured brother George in Fredericksburg, Virginia, Whitman stopped in Washington and encountered Eldridge, who had become a clerk in the office of the army paymaster, Major Lyman Hapgood. Eldridge helped Whitman gain employment in Hapgood's office. For more on Whitman's relationship with Thayer and Eldridge, see David Breckenridge Donlon, "Thayer, William Wilde (1829–1896) and Charles W. Eldridge (1837–1903)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


  • 1. Walter Godey was Whitman's replacement at the Attorney General's office, starting August 14, 1873 (see Whitman's letter of introduction for Godey to chief clerk Webster Elmes). Whitman subsequently sent payment for Godey's service through Eldridge on August 29, 1873, and September 29, 1873. On October 31, 1873, Whitman wrote Peter Doyle that "I got a letter from Mr. Eldridge that he had paid Godey, my substitute, the money I sent on for his October pay." It was clearly Whitman's routine to send Godey's money order on the twenty-ninth of each month (see also Whitman's letter to Eldridge of December 29, 1873). Therefore, this (possibly draft) letter would seem to date from either October or November 1873, as Whitman's correspondence with Eldridge has also been lost for November. However, his opinions of his health seem less optimistic during that month. Whitman's letters in October routinely begin in the same way this fragment does: "I am still doing as well as when I last wrote" on October 24, 1873, and "My condition remains about the same" on October 31, 1873. Thus it seems likely that a version of this letter was sent around October 29, 1873. [back]
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