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Harry Stafford to Walt Whitman, 2 November 1877

 loc_vm.00119.jpg Dear friend,

I received your welcome letter on the 31,1 was glad to get it, I received one from H Gilchrist2 the same day, he wishes me to come up to his house and go out to the theatre with him on Saturday, but I will not get to go, if I could go anywhere I would come up to see you, but I will have to put it off until next Saturday week, I think, I want to come up and see you so bad but cannot. I did not get my load of cabbage  loc_vm.00121.jpg sold, had to leave them with a commissioner, over in the city, I got all wet and cought​ cold, and have not been well since, have had the head ache all the time. It is raining very hard there, and when I went out to get the paper to write to you I got all wet and got the paper wet also, you must excuse the paper. I wrote a letter Jo, to-day. I have not heard from him for a long time, I think that I wrote the last letter to him, but perhaps he did not get it, for I put it in a Telegraphic envelope  loc_vm.00120.jpg and perhaps he has not received it. I am still with B K Sharp,3 him and I had a row one day last week, he came in as he always does with some of his fooling and I gave him back as good as he sent and he got on his ear about it and toled​ me if things did not suit me here I was free to leave at any time, then I cursed him and went out of the office and went over to the Narrow Gauge and found a job, but when I came back to tell him he made up with me, and I  loc_vm.00122.jpg the same with him, so I did not go.

The folkes​ are all well I ballieve​ , and I feel better than I have for the past 3 days, but not as well as I did before I went to market. I hear that: Elmer4 was over to see you 2 times and you and him went over to Mrs. Gilchrist's5 to spend the evening, hope you had a good time. I must close.

Ever your true and loving friend, H. Stafford

PS write soon


  • 1. Walt Whitman met the 18-year-old Harry Lamb Stafford (1858–1918) in 1876, beginning a relationship which was almost entirely overlooked by early Whitman scholarship, in part because Stafford's name appears nowhere in the first six volumes of Horace Traubel's With Walt Whitman in Camden—though it does appear frequently in the last three volumes, which were published only in the 1990s. Whitman occasionally referred to Stafford as "My (adopted) son" (as in a December 13, 1876, letter to John H. Johnston), but the relationship between the two also had a romantic, erotic charge to it. In 1883, Harry married Eva Westcott. For further discussion of Stafford, see Arnie Kantrowitz, "Stafford, Harry L. (b.1858)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]
  • 2. 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). [back]
  • 3. B. K. Sharp was at one time Harry Stafford's employer, according to Edwin Haviland Miller (see "Introduction," The Correspondence [New York: New York University Press, 1964], 3:6). [back]
  • 4. Elmer E. Stafford (1861–1957) was Harry Stafford's cousin (see Daybooks and Notebooks, ed. William White [New York: New York University Press, 1978], 1:76 n232). [back]
  • 5. Anne Burrows Gilchrist (1828–1885) was the author of one of the first significant pieces of criticism on Leaves of Grass, titled "A Woman's Estimate of Walt Whitman (From Late Letters by an English Lady to W. M. Rossetti)," The Radical 7 (May 1870), 345–59. Gilchrist's long correspondence with Whitman indicates that she had fallen in love with the poet after reading his work; when the pair met in 1876 when she moved to Philadelphia, Whitman never fully returned her affection, although their friendship deepened after that meeting. For more information on their relationship, see Marion Walker Alcaro, "Gilchrist, Anne Burrows (1828–1885)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]
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