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Walt Whitman to Susan Stafford, 14 May 1882

 loc_jc.00513_large.jpg Dear friend

Yours of 12th rec'd, & much welcomed—As I write the day is just closing & dark & the rain has been falling heavy & steady for hours—makes an undertone & music for me on the tin roof overhead—I have been moderately busy for some time past & to day writing—pieces I get fair pay for from the magazines—the more necessary now as quite a set-back & very bad piece of luck has happened to me in my new Boston book—but it would be quite a complicated story, & I will tell you the particulars when I come down—

—Susan I am sorry to hear of Howard Browning's death1—so young, & with life & pleasure all before him as it would seem—such things bring up thoughts in one's mind that no words or writing can describe—I wish Jo and Debby to see this letter—& I send them my love—

—I suppose Harry is not home to-day it is so stormy—I have sent him bundles of papers2—They say the old C & A road have bought the Narrow Gauge—will that affect Harry's position any?—I can fancy you all there in the house to-day, if it rains there any thing like it does here—George I dare say has gone up in his room & is taking a good blessed sleep—I don't know what Ed  loc_jc.00514_large.jpgwould be doing, but I can fancy Mont reading some of Mrs Holmes's3 books & perhaps Ruthey setting the table or frying something for supper—at any rate I hope you are all having a good time—& if I had the magic carpet of the Arabian Nights, I should come down & join your circle for a couple of hours, & then whisk myself back here again by nine o'clock, in time to finish the piece I have under way—Tell Mrs Rogers I send my best respects—I remember with pleasure the nice visit & dinner in Linden Street—I have not forgotten Jane either4

Susan you speak of my not being well—somehow I seemed to have a real bad time, a mixture of troubles, neuralgia among the rest, for a month past,—but I think I have got over the worst for the present, & for the last three or four days I feel about as usual—I went over a few days ago to a (Quaker) school in Philadelphia, where they teach well-grown children, not lessons by rote, but all sorts of practical things, such as would be appropriate and interesting to the young, but leading the way to occupations, for both sexes, drawing, painting, the use of carpenters' tools, cooking, sewing, cutting out clothes, &c. It was conducted by a gentleman and his niece, free—I tell you it opened my eyes to many new things—makes our ordinary schools ridiculous—Well, Susan, dear friend, I have filled out the sheet with writing, such as it is—I believe the first letter I have sent you now for a long time—God bless you & all—

Walt Whitman


  • 1. Probably the brother of Susan Stafford's son-in-law, Joseph Browning. [back]
  • 2. Whitman sent "papers" to Harry on May 7 (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). [back]
  • 3. Mary Jane Holmes (1825–1907) was a popular novelist. [back]
  • 4. Elizabeth W. Rogers, a widow, was Susan Stafford's sister. Whitman dined on March 11, 1882, with Mrs. Stafford at Mrs. Rogers's home at 431 Linden Street, Camden (Whitman's Commonplace Book). Mrs. Rogers died on March 30, 1888. [back]
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