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Charles P. Somerby to Walt Whitman, 28 September 1876

 loc_jc.00327_large.jpg Dear Sir—

We have received the enclosed circular referring to Leaves of Grass, and hereby transmit it to you for such consideration as you may think best to bestow upon it.

(The above has been held a month in the hope that we might be able to send something better along with it—but as Mr. Somerby is now away, and there is no immediate prospect of money, we (his representatives) send it without further delay as the enclosed letter & circular may be of use to you;

Respectfully, C.P. Somerby per. J.S. Peck.1  loc_jc.00328_large.jpg Somerby Sept 28 '76

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 Whitman $215.17. The firm was still unable to make a payment as of the date of this letter. 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.


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