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Charles P. Somerby to Walt Whitman, 25 September 1875

 loc_jc.00269_large.jpg Walt Whitman: Dear Sir:

Mr. Somerby left for Boston last night, before the arrival of yours of 24th inst.2 He will get your letter Monday morning. We should forward to him, if there was certainty of reaching him.

Yours, etc., C. P. Somerby, Per Wa[illegible]  loc_jc.00270_large.jpg  loc_jc.00267_large.jpg Sept. 26 '75. C. P. Somerby  loc_jc.00268_large.jpg

Charles P. Somerby was one of the book dealers whom Walt Whitman termed "embezzlers." In 1875, Somerby assumed the liabilities of Butts & Co.; see Whitman's February 4, 1874, letter to Asa K. Butts & Company. This proved to be a matter of embarrassment to Somerby, who, in reply to a lost letter on March 16, 1875, was unable "to remit the amount you name at present." On May 5, 1875, he wrote: "It is very mortifying to me not to be in a position to send you even a small portion of the balance your due." On October 4, 1875, Somerby sent $10—his only cash payment: "Have made every exertion to raise the $200 you require, and find it utterly impossible to get it. . . . We had hoped that you would accept our offer to get out your new book, and thus more than discharge our indebtedness to you." On April 19, 1876, Somerby reported that "I have been losing, instead of gaining." On May 6, 1876, he sent Whitman a statement pertaining to some volumes; on May 12, 1876, he included a complete financial statement: in eighteen months he had made only one cash payment, and owed Walt Whitman $215.17. The firm was still unable to make a payment on September 28, 1876. In August 1877, Whitman received a notice of bankruptcy dated August 8, 1877, from, in his own words, "assignee [Josiah Fletcher, an attorney] of the rascal Chas P. Somerby." These manuscripts are in The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.


  • 1. This letter is addressed: Walt Whitman | Camden | N.J. It is postmarked: New York | SEP 26 | 4:30 P.M. [back]
  • 2. This letter has not been located. [back]
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