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Walt Whitman to Charles W. Eldridge, 23 June [1873]

Dear Charley,

I have now been a week here, & am about the same—well enough to keep up and around, but with bad spells most every day, & sometimes very bad ones. My head does not get right, that being still the trouble—the feeling now being as if it were in the centre of the head, heavy & painful & quite pervading—locomotion about the same—no better. I keep pretty good spirits, however, & still make my calculations on getting well.

I am pleasantly situated here—have two nice rooms, second floor, with windows north & south, if there is any air. They are the rooms in which my mother died, with all the accustomed furniture, I have long been so used to see. I am quite satisfied here, so far—Sleep good, & appetite sufficient. It has been warm weather here, but I have stood it fairly. I hear by your letter & the papers it has been very oppressively hot in Washington. Today, as I write, it is cloudy & cooler here. I have not felt well enough yet to strike out for Atlantic City.

Charley, I rec'd your letter Saturday, with the one enclosed. (It was a very kind sympathetic note from Kate Hillard.)1 I have written to Harry Douglas, my fellow clerk in the office, asking him to send me my letters here under frank from the office, till July 1st—I am glad to hear Nelly is feeling better—I hope quite well—I send my best love to her—please hand her this letter to read—Nelly, I still feel that I shall pull through, but O it is a weary, weary pull—& when I have these spells in the head that still afflict me, it requires all my phlegm. My lift at the Ashton's was a great help to me—the change from the 15th st. rooms, & then the weather being so favorable—the change here is so far good, too—As soon as I get a little stronger, & free from head-distress, I shall go down to Atlantic City—Remember me to Dr. Drinkard if you see him, & if you have a good chance, read to him what I have said of my case—if he has any suggestions, write me—

Charley, I have amused myself with Kenelm Chilinglly—read it all—like it well—Bulwer is such a snob as almost redeems snobdom—the story is good, & the style a master's—Like Cervantes, Bulwer's old-age-productions are incomparably his best. Send me a Chronicle occasionally.



  • 1. In a letter to Walt Whitman of September 13, 1871, Moncure D. Conway quoted from a letter sent to him by Katharine Hillard (1839?–1915): "I have made a discovery since I have been here [in the Adirondacks], and that is, that I never half appreciated Walt Whitman's poetry till now, much as I fancied I enjoyed it. To me he is the only poet fit to be read in the mountains, the only one who can reach and level their lift, to use his own words, to pass and continue beyond." The first meeting of the poet Katharine Hillard with Whitman took place on February 28, 1876, referenced in Whitman's February 29, 1876 letter to Ellen M. O'Connor. A Brooklyn resident, Hillard was a friend of Abby Price (see Whitman's September 9, 1873 letter to Price); in fact, according to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman's letter to Helen Price on November 26, 1872, the Prices expected that Arthur Price and Katharine Hillard would marry (Pierpont Morgan Library). She was also the translator of Dante's Banquet (1889) and the editor of An Abridgement . . . of The Secret Doctrine . . . by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1907). [back]
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