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Mary Augusta Burhans to Walt Whitman, 26 June 1891

 loc.01101.001_large.jpg Walt Whitman Hon Sir

You will doubtless be surprised, but after the first reading, I think you will fully understand why I keep writing.

I carefully read the long article in the Herald1 drawing a clear cut picture of that thirty five years of your life, and found myself weeping at the close—for it brought back as plainly as if but yesterday my earliest recollections of yourself  loc.01101.002_large.jpg in connection with my father, and "dear Old Brooklyn."

Believe me Honored Sir. I can see the Yorkville Stage stopping at our door. Pleasant summer afternoons in 1852, and Walt Whitman and Jesse Talbot2 getting down from the upper most tops, and then the long and instructive chats, over good coffee, and paintings. I hold the family treasures—paintings, [illegible] choice books, and all our loved ones held most dear.

You I think, fully understand my Father—the American people have yet to learn his real merit  loc.01101.003_large.jpg I have deeply studied art—and find his best works all stand the test

I do sincerely hope I have not been too lengthy, and I should prize beyond words, either your commendations, or judgement,

Yours with esteem Mrs Talbot Burhans Heath N.Y.

M. Augusta Talbot


Mary Augusta Talbot Burhans (d. 1899) was the oldest daughter of the artist Jesse Talbot (1805–1879) and his wife Mary Augusta Sluyter. In 1863, Mary Augusta (the daughter) married George W. Burhans of New York.


  • 1. It is unclear which article is being referred to here. [back]
  • 2. Jesse Talbot (1805–1879), a native of Dighton, Massachusetts, was the son of Josiah and Lydia (Wheaton) Talbot. He was the secretary of the American Tract Society with interests and/or involvement in anti-slavery and religious reform movements. He went on to become a genre painter. Whitman and Talbot developed a friendship, and Whitman wrote newspaper articles about and in promotion of Talbot's artistic work. For more on Talbot's life and on Whitman's association with him, see Jessica Skwire Routhier, "Fellow Journeyers Walt Whitman and Jesse Talbot: Painting, Poetry, and Puffering in 1850s New York," Walt Whitman Quarterly Review 38 (Summer 2020), 1–37. [back]
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