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Walt Whitman to Moncure D. Conway, 19 March [1876]

My dearest friend,

I did not know at all till supper with my sister-in-law last evening that you had had a conversation with her about, & special interest in, my pecuniary condition, &c. If I had known it at the time I should have spoken about it, & freely, to you, by word of mouth—as that would have been, & is, best in such things.

When I came to Camden in '73, paralyzed, I felt, (& the feeling has since been confirmed,) that I had retired for good from the active world, but that I might linger along for years yet. I bought a pleasant little cheap lot here, paid for it, & my plan was to put up a small three or four room house on it, in which I might live plainly & comfortably the rest of my days—& that is still my plan & desire.2 I had saved up quite a fund from my earnings '65 to '72 as clerk in Washington—but they have now become about exhausted by expenses of three years, (for I just take board & lodging here & pay for them scrupulously same as in some temporary inn.) My great wish still is to put up for myself this little three or four room home for the rest of my days, independently, in a sort. I suppose it would cost 700 or 800 dollars.

I have managed to get out complete my new edition both Vols. which I now begin to sell & job myself—intend to continue doing so—(have somehow an idea that I should then, in my own shanty, & for time to come, be able to live on the moderate steady income of the sales of my own works—which is most satisfactory to me)—

I was in hopes to have seen you again before you sail'd—I was at Mrs Lesley's again about three weeks since (to meet Miss Kate Hillard)3—had a very pleasant afternoon with Mrs. L & the rest—

Things go on much the same with me in physical condition—I send you a paper & some slips, same mail with this—I have written very lately to W M Rossetti about my affairs, books, &c.

Walt Whitman


  • 1. The year is established by the references to the 1876 edition. Perhaps Conway visited Walt Whitman on March 18, 1876. According to Whitman's February 24, 1876 letter to Ellen O'Connor, Conway was to return to England about the middle of March 1876. For the subsequent controversy, see Whitman's April 7, 1876 letter to William Michael Rossetti. [back]
  • 2. On May 26, 1874, Thomas A. Wilson had offered Walt Whitman a lot on Royden Street for $450. Whitman wrote of the sale in his July 10, 1874 letter to Peter Doyle. Walt Whitman did not move into his own "shanty" until 1884. [back]
  • 3. See Whitman's February 24, 1876 and February 29, 1876 letters to Ellen O'Connor. [back]
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