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Herbert Gilchrist to Walt Whitman, 5 September 1885

 loc.02186.001_large.jpg Dear Walt

Your letter of August 1st to hand, it was printed in the Athenaeum of Aug 22nd and in Daily News of 24th.1 A week ago William Rossetti2 sent off to you £21.2.0 and £1. sent by Aldrich;3 this latter is in the form of an American Bank draft, wh Aldrich said should be forwarded to you in that form; I do not know in what form Rossetti has mailed you the £21.2.0. This then is an instalment​ of the money accruing from the scheme.

We have got John Fraser4 to print a circular reprinting Athenaeum paragraph with a list of names and your letter in facsimile, expect copies Monday morning. Will send a copy to you.

 loc.02186.004_large.jpg  loc.02186.002_large.jpg

William Rossetti and your friends generally were very pleased and glad to get your letter (William Rossetti remarking that it was a very nice letter.) I am very glad dear Walt that you have one good stout friendly Jersey woman in Mary Davis.5

I trust that you will soon resume your rides over to Philadelphia on the boat. I have just returned from the country, hence a little delay in getting off this note.

With best love Herbert H Gilchrist.

P.S. William Rossetti sent you the £21.2.0. through the post office.


Herbert Harlakenden Gilchrist (1857–1914), son of Alexander and Anne Gilchrist, was an English painter and editor of Anne Gilchrist: Her Life and Writings (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1887). For more information, see Marion Walker Alcaro, "Gilchrist, Herbert Harlakenden (1857–1914)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


  • 1. See Whitman's letter of August 1, 1885. Herbert Gilchrist and William Michael Rossetti had been collecting funds in England for the financial support of Whitman. A paragraph in the Athenaeum of July 11, 1885, read: "A subscription list is being formed in England with a view to presenting a free-will offering to the American poet Walt Whitman. The poet is in his sixty-seventh year, and has since his enforced retirement some years ago from official work in Washington, owing to an attack of paralysis, maintained himself precariously by the sale of his works in poetry and prose, and by occasional contributions to magazines." [back]
  • 2. William Michael Rossetti (1829–1915), brother of Dante Gabriel and Christina Rossetti, was an English editor and a champion of Whitman's work. In 1868, Rossetti edited Whitman's Poems, selected from the 1867 Leaves of Grass. Whitman referred to Rossetti's edition as a "horrible dismemberment of my book" in his August 12, 1871, letter to Frederick S. Ellis. Nonetheless, the edition provided a major boost to Whitman's reputation, and Rossetti would remain a staunch supporter for the rest of Whitman's life, drawing in subscribers to the 1876 Leaves of Grass and fundraising for Whitman in England. For more on Whitman's relationship with Rossetti, see Sherwood Smith, "Rossetti, William Michael (1829–1915)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]
  • 3. Charles Aldrich (1828–1908) was an ornithologist, a member of the Iowa House of Representatives, an infantry captain in the Civil War, and founder of the Iowa Historical Department. He was also an avid autograph collector, especially of Whitman's. He was so eager that the poet termed him "a very hungry man . . . never satisfied—is always crying for more and more" (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Tuesday, August 20, 1889). Aldrich visited Whitman at his Camden home numerous times, and he served as a conduit between the poet and William Michael Rossetti in England, who edited the first British edition of Whitman's work. For more information, see Ed Folsom, "The Mystical Ornithologist and the Iowa Tufthunter: Two Unpublished Whitman Letters and Some Identifications," Walt Whitman Quarterly Review 1 (1983), 18–29. [back]
  • 4. John Fraser was the editor of Cope's Tobacco Plant. [back]
  • 5. Mary Oakes Davis (1837 or 1838–1908) was Whitman's housekeeper. For more, see Carol J. Singley, "Davis, Mary Oakes (1837 or 1838–1908)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]
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