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Charles W. Eldridge to Walt Whitman, 26 May 1891

 loc.02032.001_large.jpg Dear Walt:

I have just read an article in New England Magazine posting your friends up to date in regard to your condition2 &c and was much pleased with it.

It seems to me the best thing I have seen from Traubels3 pen. His earlier pieces were a little Foreign to the English idiom. I know nothing about him but I suspect he is a German from certain peculiarities of style & I guess I am right about that—I am glad you have got so good and true a friend; and that other new friends have taken the places made vacant by death and absence.—Alas! Alas! "the old familiar faces." How fast they are fading away on this side of the river. Soon there will be more over there than here to greet us on that shining shore.—But enough of this pensive strain—

I was prompted to write particularly because next  loc.02032.002_large.jpg Sunday is your birthday—72 years old. I send lots of love and all good wishes—I hope to see you sometime next month—I expect to come East on a short visit, and will spend a day with you on my way from Washington to Boston. Deo Volente.4 Probably the last of June or first of July.—My dear mother5 is yet living in Boston at the age of 77.—one of the principal objects of my visit is of course to see her once more. I shall probably stay in San Francisco for a year or two longer in the internal revenue service—I am happily married to a loving and devoted wife. We keep house in a cosy flat near Golden Gate Park where we have plenty of fresh ocean breezes, laden morning and evening with the fragrance of grass, trees and flowers.—I was surprised and saddened some time ago to read of the death of your brother Jeff.6—I have very pleasant memories of him.—I get a Boston transcript from you occasionally. For which much thanks—I subscribe for the Saturday Evn'g Transcript so you need not send that number, but you seldom do so—God bless you my dear friend and may the physical burdens which  loc.02032.003_large.jpg have weighed on you so heavily the last few years be lifted during the coming year.

Affectionately yours Charles W. Eldridge  loc.02032.004_large.jpg  loc.02032.005_large.jpg  loc.02032.006_large.jpg

Charles W. Eldridge was one half of the Boston-based abolitionist publishing firm Thayer and Eldridge, who put out the 1860 edition of Leaves of Grass. In December 1862, on his way to find his injured brother George in Fredericksburg, Virginia, Walt Whitman stopped in Washington and encountered Eldridge, who had become a clerk in the office of the army paymaster and eventually obtained a desk for Whitman in the office of Major Lyman Hapgood, the army paymaster. For more on Whitman's relationship with Thayer and Eldridge see "Thayer, William Wilde (1829–1896) and Charles W. Eldridge (1837–1903)."


  • 1. This letter is addressed: Walt Whitman. | Camden, | New Jersey. It is postmarked: San Francisco Cal. | May 26 | 4pm [back]
  • 2. Horace Traubel's article, "Walt Whitman at Date," was published in the May 1891 issue of the New England Magazine 4.3 (May 1891), 275–292. The article is also reprinted in the first appendix of the eighth volume of Traubel's With Walt Whitman in Camden. [back]
  • 3. Horace L. Traubel (1858–1919) was an American essayist, poet, and magazine publisher. He is best remembered as the literary executor, biographer, and self-fashioned "spirit child" of Walt Whitman. During the late 1880s and until Whitman's death in 1892, Traubel visited the poet virtually every day and took thorough notes of their conversations, which he later transcribed and published in three large volumes entitled With Walt Whitman in Camden (1906, 1908, & 1914). After his death, Traubel left behind enough manuscripts for six more volumes of the series, the final two of which were published in 1996. For more on Traubel, see Ed Folsom, "Traubel, Horace L. [1858–1919]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]
  • 4. Deo Volente is Latin for "God willing." [back]
  • 5. As yet we have no information about this person. [back]
  • 6. Thomas Jefferson Whitman (1833–1890), known as "Jeff," was Walt Whitman's favorite brother. As a civil engineer, Jeff eventually became Superintendent of Water Works in St. Louis and a nationally recognized figure. For more on Jeff, see Randall Waldron, "Whitman, Thomas Jefferson (1833–1890)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]
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