Skip to main content

Charles L. Heyde to Walt Whitman, June 1867

 duk.00391.001.jpg Walter Whitman

Your letters etc, to your sister are received—and have been duly handed to her—

When I peruse her mother's letters to you, and note the infirmity of the hand, I experience considerable indignation at a daughter, who comparatively well, and having ample time and convenience, so far deliberately continues to neglect her obligation to the same, and in fact exhibiting no emotion.

But it is only a matter of a time, (or pecuniary considerations how much longer I shall tolerate the personal indignities I recieve​ .

To state the latest: this morning (Sunday) I got up and prepared my own breakfast as usual (and after having went over my garden (until 10 o'clock,  duk.00391.002.jpg I quietly took a chair and sat down to enjoy a perusal of the New York Times. Han occupied another window, in her most negligent manner, peeping through the blinds at church goers; and because I did not look up at every remark and chafed some at the interrogation (which should have ceased) I was attacked with the usual personalities. I threw down the paper indignantly, and seizing my boots and coat retired to the kitchen, and shut the door, to escape further provocation and to prepare to leave the house.

But I was pursued there, and could not escape without forcing my way; but I came out of the encounter with the back of my right hand so badly lacerated by her nails, that I am compelled to bandage it. And this is from your gentle seeming, simple seeming sister,  duk.00391.003.jpg who is so plausible and ductile before strangers—

I procured her a book from the library, last evening, for her Sunday's reading (a novel) and managed all for her comfort as well as I could.

She wound up her most miserable outrageous behaviour by mean inferences toward a poor child of a girl, who now lies allmost at the point of death and whose has been declining for months—And whose brothers, 3 good, kind hearted men have helped me often (with material aid) in my struggles in this place.

I sent a flower to her, the other day, of a kind she had craved when she was in health, and a pupil under my care—And this was referred to—But it is a mean [illegible] subterfuge, and Han lies—knowingly—She knows how this family has befriended—But Han has  duk.00391.004.jpg no gratitude within herself—and never had any sympathy for me.

I never urged her to marry yet I have ever treated her in purest principle. I have nursed her in sickness, made every thing as agreeable and convenient as possible for her household work—taken half a woman's work upon myself. I have struggled within myself and solely. She is too mean. She is unjust—a liar, slovenly at times, without a parallel, for a woman without children. She is for herself, and herself only.

I meet with much respect from the citizens of this place, and increasing encouragement—I shall exhibit my hand to a person, with whom she once lived. It will scarcely be credited, the persistent, vulgar and provoking meanness I have so long endured.

C. L. Heyde
Back to top