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Harry Stafford to Walt Whitman, 5 June 1878

 loc_vm.00173.jpg Dear Walt—

I have said that I would not write to you any more (until you wrote to me), but I have got some more of my troubles to tell you:1 [damage] there. [damage] one [damage] But I have some—[damage] I would like [illegible] you to know: it is this, last Monday  loc_vm.00174.jpg morning [damage] Lucas2 stoped​ me as I was coming from the pond with a pail of watter​ (on my way to the Station) and asked me how I would like to come over to his office and help the boys with the books and do the letters myself. I said I [damage] like to come and he talked [damage] asked me several questions which I answered to suit him and then he asked me to come over during the day and he would talk farther​  loc_vm.00173.jpg [damage] the subject, so when I got there he said that he would give me $50 for one year and board myselfe​ in the meantime he went away and left me with the boys, so when I came away they asked me if I would come back [damage] that I would see Mr. Lucas at the [damage] in the morning and give him [damage] my answer was no, of corse​ , I told him that I could not work for any less than  loc_vm.00176.jpg my board he did not think I could earn that I guess for he left me and went home. The result was this he refuses to let me practice in his line. What do you think of [damage]a rich man [damage] rough [damage] it. I will explain the mater​ more particularly to you when I see you. The folks are all well and all wish to see you very much.

Excuse writing for I am in a hurry.

Your affectionate son, Harry Stafford  loc_vm.00177.jpg  loc_vm.00178.jpg


  • 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. John Lucas was a manufacturer of paint with a store at 1028 Race Street in Philadelphia. Lucas and his wife were active in numerous professional and philanthropic organizations. A week after Harry's letter, John became a member of the Philadelphia Society for Organizing Charitable Relief and Repressing Mendicancy while his wife was later elected president of The Women's Silk Culture Association of the United States. The Lucas family had a zinc and color works near Kirkwood; see Proceedings of the New Jersey Historical Society, 66 (October 1948), 148. [back]
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