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Walt Whitman to John Burroughs, 12 December [1878]

Dear friend

Nothing new or particular to write about—I thought I would send you Tennyson's last letter—(written some time since but by misdirection had to be ret'd​ & only reached me lately)1—Send it back to me when through—I send you a muddled sort of criticism in a late English magazine, of no particular interest2—Send it back also—

How are you getting along? How is 'Sula? how the baby? Tell me, when you write, about Smith3—give him my love—I still keep well & bustling for me—have been down in the country much of the fall, but am now here probably for the winter—Wish I was with you & 'Sula for a few weeks—often think about you all—

Got a letter from London from Trübner day before yesterday for six sets of my books, remitting the (wholesale) price—I sell a set now & then—

The Gilchrists (Mrs G. and Herbert & Grace) are at 177 Remsen street Brooklyn—Jeannette Gilder4 has written to me that she is going to write my life & asking for items &c—

I rec'd​ the Scribner for Nov:5 I suppose from you—Three days storm & gale here, but beautiful & clear to-night—I am going out for an hour—



  • 1. See the letter from Whitman to Anne Gilchrist of November 10, 1878. [back]
  • 2. See the letter from Whitman to Josiah Child of December 10, 1878. [back]
  • 3. Smith Caswell was one of Burroughs' hired hands (Clara Barrus, Whitman and Burroughs—Comrades [Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1931], 178). In the New York Tribune on May 17, 1879, Whitman described Caswell ploughing in a raspberry field (Specimen Days, ed. Floyd Stovall [New York: New York University Press, 1963], 340). After Burroughs informed Whitman of the death of Caswell's brother, Charles, the poet copied verbatim Burroughs's sketch of the young man in "Three Young Men's Deaths," printed in Cope's Tobacco Plant and later in Specimen Days (157–158). Whitman sent the article to John Fraser, the editor of Cope's Tobacco Plant, on November 27, through Josiah Child (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). See also the letter from Whitman to John Burroughs of June 11, 1879. [back]
  • 4. Jeannette Leonard Gilder (1849–1916) was Richard Watson Gilder's sister. Whitman met her, probably for the first time, at a reception given by her brother on June 14, although he wrote to her in 1875 (see the letter from Whitman to Gilder of December 30, 1875). At this time Jeannette Gilder was writing a literary column for the New York Herald. With her brother Joseph, she founded The Critic in 1881 and was its editor until 1906. Whitman wrote to Jeannette Gilder, evidently about the biographical sketch, on December 20, 22, and 30 (Whitman's Commonplace Book). See also the letter from Whitman to John Burroughs of December 23–25, 1878. [back]
  • 5. Burroughs's "Picturesque Aspects of Farm Life in New York" appeared in the November issue of Scribner's Monthly, 17 (1878), 41–54. [back]
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