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Walt Whitman to Montgomery Stafford, 4 August 1880

 loc_vm.00259_large.jpg Dear Mont

I have come on here (about 500 miles further) & am stopping in this city for a few days situated very comfortably & feeling pretty well—the journey is doing me good, for I lay quite sick in London about three weeks. I am better, & enjoying everything. I am traveling mostly by water,—and spent several days in "the Lakes of the Thousand Islands"—that is what they call a part of the St Lawrence river, some 50 miles long, & 10 to 20 wide, filled with the prettiest islands you ever see, all sizes, some quite big with fine farms on them, & some very moderate— loc_vm.00261_large.jpgothers rocky hills like, of an acre or two covered with cedars—but the water every where I travel in this country is the best part,—it is more beautiful and bright than you can conceive, very clean & pure, of a sky-blue color & there seems no end of it—I travel for days & days over it, from Lake Huron on through Lake Erie and Ontario & down the St Lawrence to here (700 miles) & it is just as fascinating to me now as ever—I have been in sight of it or traveling on it ever since I have been in Canada—I never get tired of it—(We have nothing like it our way, so grand & bright & clear.)

—This is a large & busy city, the most important in Canada, ships and steamboats & immense numbers of emigrants— loc_vm.00260_large.jpgThis is in general quite a great farming country—the land not near so rich & good as out west in the United States,— dont raise such corn &c—but it is a healthy & beautiful country here, good climate—pretty good for wheat—they raise a good deal of barley here, (perhaps more than any other grain)—but a fair show of wheat—first rate for grass—ditto for apples—then there is so good a chance for a farmer to have his farm run down to the water—As I travel I see hundreds and hundreds of farms, seems to me a majority of them along the banks,—they set a little up, & sprinkled with trees—looks as though the folks ought to be happy—(but I suppose they are just like all the rest of us)—It is very different from what I saw out in Kansas last fall—no water there


I often think of you all, I wish your father could be out here, & travel through it once see the country & the water & farming & everything—he would enjoy seeing it all, & would understand many things about it better than I do—But you ought to take some such trip Mont boy, it would make you open your eyes—(Only I must say I like the smell of the salt and sedge along the water, it is what I was born to, like Long Island or Old Jersey—but it is all fresh here)—

—I am going on some 400 miles further—north east to the river Saguenay, (you will see it on the map of Canada toward north east)—then back again to stay awhile in the old city of Quebec—give my love to your parents—tell your mother I rec'd​ her letter—love to Debby, I rec'd​ her letter too—love to Ed and Harry & Jo and Van, and Ruthey & Georgey—I rec'd​ a postal from Harry—Mont you & your mother write—I send envelope.1

Walt Whitman

Shall be back in London Aug​ 14—I want Ed and Debby and Jo to read this—Harry too, if home

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  • 1. In this paragraph Whitman referred to the Stafford children: Edwin, Van Doran, Ruth, George, and Deborah, who was married to Joseph Browning. Harry wrote to Whitman on July 17, Susan Stafford on July 16, Elmer on July 17, and Deborah on July 18. [back]
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