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Walt Whitman to Susan Stafford, 6 January 1886

 loc_jc.00543_large.jpg My dear friend

I am sitting here in my little front room down stairs writing this—a good fire in the stove—It is cold & cloudy outside, & the day is drawing to a close—Two visitors from Phila:​ have been to see me—two youngish middle-aged ladies, one an artist & the other[—]I knew her years ago in Washington—Marie Le Baron then[—]a writer—the latter married to her second husband, (the first one dead)—now Mrs: Urie, a little bit of a body, but a great talker full of life & good sense & good nature (like the best goods done up in small parcels)—I have not been out all day—wish I could just come in & spend the evening & take supper with you all.—If it is any thing like fair weather next Sunday, shall be down ab't​ the usual time—but if it is stormy or very cold, don't look for me—Ed, I gave your gloves to Billy,2 ten days ago to take to you, so I suppose you have them long before this—Went to dinner New Years to Dr. Shivers,3—had a first rate time—  loc_jc.00544_large.jpg & Sunday to Col & Mrs. Scovel's also to dinner—Have not heard any thing further from Herbert—Often think of Mrs. Gilchrist—(I have a good photo. of her)—Do you remember that day—last of May '77 I think—she & her two daughters came down to see us, & me down at the pond, under the old oak tree?4—Ah that old pond & the banks, & the old lane—I shall never forget them—Shall never forget you & George, & all of you, either—Love to you all, & God bless you—

Walt Whitman

Shall be down Sunday if the weather is tolerable—if not not

 loc_jc.00547_large.jpg  loc_jc.00548_large.jpg

Susan M. Lamb Stafford (1833–1910) was the mother of Harry Stafford (1858–1918), who, in 1876, became a close friend of Whitman while working at the printing office of the Camden New Republic. Whitman regularly visited the Staffords at their family farm near Kirkwood, New Jersey. Whitman enjoyed the atmosphere and tranquility that the farm provided and would often stay for weeks at a time (see David G. Miller, "Stafford, George and Susan M.," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings [New York: Garland Publishing, 1998], 685).


  • 1. This letter is addressed: Mrs: Susan M Stafford | Kirkwood (Glendale) | New Jersey. It is postmarked: Camden | (?) | 7 | 7 AM | N.J. [back]
  • 2. Probably William H. Duckett, Whitman's young driver. [back]
  • 3. Dr. C. H. Shivers lived in Haddonfield, N.J.; Whitman also dined with him on October 13, 1885 (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). [back]
  • 4. Anne Gilchrist had died on November 29, 1885 (see the letter from Whitman to Gilchrist of December 8, 1885). Whitman did not record either in his letters or in his Commonplace Book a visit of Gilchrist and her daughters, Beatrice and Grace, to Kirkwood in May 1877. [back]
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