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Walt Whitman to Richard J. Hinton, 2 October [1873]

 loc.02318.001_large.jpg Dear Dick Hinton,

I hear that Linton1 has returned. Please send me his address if you have it.

I am still here—waiting—the issue uncertain. I seem to be recovering—then fall back.2 This happens over & over again. Last Saturday was a remarkably good day with me—but since then every thing has changed for the worse—To-day is the third day I have had continuous successions of severe spells—blurs I call them—bad, bad enough.—Still, somehow, I think I am going to weather it—(though I understand perfectly well that I may not)—write—come & see me.

Walt Whitman 431 Stevens st. cor West st Camden, N. Jersey3

It is only 5 minutes from Philadelphia ferry, foot of Market st


Department of Justice

Washington. 187

I send my respects to Dr.4 & Mrs.5 Bielby. Give them my address.—I shall be happy to hear from them.

I saw Mrs. B's piece about me in the Graphic,6 & liked it—It was written with much feeling

Richard Josiah Hinton (1830–1901) was born in London and came to the U.S. in 1851. He trained as a printer, and, like the radical abolitionist writer and publisher James Redpath, went to Kansas and joined John Brown. In fact, but for an accident he would have been with Brown at Harper's Ferry. A man mistaken for Hinton was hanged. Together with Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Hinton also planned the jailbreak of John Brown's accomplices Albert Hazlett and Aaron Stevens in Charlestown for the "Jayhawkers," a band of abolitionists who assisted slaves through the Underground Railroad that included Silas S. Soule. With James Redpath he was the author of Hand-book to Kansas Territory and the Rocky Mountains' Gold Region (New York: J. H. Colton, 1859). Later he wrote Rebel Invasion of Missouri and Kansas (Chicago: Church & Goodman, 1865) and John Brown and His Men (New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1894). Apparently Hinton had suggested that Thayer & Eldridge print Leaves of Grass (see The New Voice, 16 [4 February 1899], 2). Hinton served in the Union Army from 1861 to 1865, and saw Whitman while lying wounded in a hospital, a scene which he described in the Cincinnati Commercial on August 26, 1871. After the war Hinton wrote for many newspapers. He defended William O'Connor's The Good Gray Poet in the Milwaukee Sentinel on February 9, 1866 (2). Hinton's article in the Rochester Evening Express on March 7, 1866, "Farms and Fortunes in England and America," included a lengthy discussion of Whitman, with quotations from O'Connor and John Burroughs. Obviously pleased, Whitman sent it to friends, including William Michael Rossetti, who acknowledged it on April 12, 1868 (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Saturday, August 11, 1888). See also Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Friday, September 28, 1888; William Sloane Kennedy, The Fight of a Book for the World (West Yarmouth, Massachusetts: The Stonecroft Press, 1926), 19, 67, 110–111, 242; and the Boston Transcript, 21 December 1901.


  • 1. William J. Linton (1812–1897), a British-born wood engraver, came to the United States in 1866 and settled near New Haven, Connecticut. He illustrated the works of John Greenleaf Whittier, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, William Cullen Bryant, and others, wrote the "indispensable" History of Wood-Engraving in America (1882), and edited Poetry of America, 1776–1876 (London, 1878), in which appeared eight of Whitman's poems as well as his picture. According to his Threescore and Ten Years, 1820 to 1890—Recollections (1894), 216–217, Linton met with Whitman in Washington and later visited him in Camden (which Whitman reported in his November 9, 1873, letter to Peter Doyle): "I liked the man much, a fine-natured, good-hearted, big fellow, . . . a true poet who could not write poetry, much of wilfulness accounting for his neglect of form." [back]
  • 2. In January 1873, Whitman suffered a paralytic stroke that made walking difficult. He first reported it in his January 26, 1873, letter to his mother, Louisa Van Velsor Whitman (1795–1873), and continued to provide regular notes on his condition. By mid-March Whitman was taking brief walks out to the street and began to hope that he could resume work in the office. See also his March 21, 1873, letter to his mother. [back]
  • 3. This letter has no date in Whitman's hand. However,it is almost certain that this letter dates to 1873. Firstly, Whitman's paralytic stroke occured in 1873. Here in this letter Whitman listed his address as being 431 Stevens Street, Camden Jersey, the address he moved to from Washington D.C., following his stroke in January of 1873. Secondly, Whitman assigns himself as being "still here" (meaning Camden), as if the relocation was recent, further underscoring his uncertainties about his overall recovery. Lastly, October 2nd was a Thursday in 1873, and "Thursday" is the day Whitman penned at top of the letter. [back]
  • 4. Dr. Bielby is likely Porteus P. Bielby (1846–1880). On May 2, 1868, the Medical and Surgical Reporter printed that Porteus P. Bielby had been appointed Assistant Surgeon in the Medical Corps of the United States Navy during the week ending April 25, 1868. An obituary for Porteus P. Bielby was printed in the Churchman on August 21, 1880. [back]
  • 5. Mary LeBaron Andrews (1842–1894) married Porteus P. Bielby in 1863. [back]
  • 6. The New York Daily Graphic published a number of Walt Whitman's poems and prose pieces in 1873 and 1874. In 1873 it printed "Nay, Tell Me Not To-day the Publish'd Shame" (March 5, 1873), "With All the Gifts, America" (March 6, 1873), "The Singing Thrush" (March 15, 1873, later called "Wandering at Morn"), "Spain" (March 24, 1873), "Sea Captains, Young or Old" (April 4, 1873, later called "Song for All Seas, All Ships"), "Warble for Lilac-Time" (May 12, 1873), "Halls of Gold and Lilac" (November 24, 1873), and "Silver and Salmon-Tint" (November 29, 1873). In 1874, the Daily Graphic printed "A Kiss to the Bride" (May 21, 1874), "Song of the Universal" (June 17, 1874), and "An Old Man's Thought of School" (November 3, 1874). On November 25, 1873, a picture of Whitman and a review of his work occupied an entire page of the paper (as Whitman alludes to in his November 28, 1873, letter to Peter Doyle). An editorial in the same issue added biographical details, probably supplied by Whitman himself, and announced the forthcoming publication of the sixth edition of Leaves of Grass. For more on Whitman's relationship with the Daily Graphic, see "The New York Daily Graphic." [back]
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