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Walt Whitman to Harry Stafford, 7 August [1877]

Dear Comrade & Dear Son

Your letter came this morning, & as I think my loving boy is so touchy ab't​ it, (he says he has writ three letters, but I can't make out but two) I will sit right down & send him a letter. I am feeling well—only as I was out with some friends Sunday night,2 I was foolish enough to take a good strong drink, & eat a couple of slices of rich cake late at night—& I shan't do any thing of the kind again. But I am pretty well, dear son, & feel more able & sassy every day—& we will have some good times yet. Harry, I don't know the particulars about the Herbert scrape, but you must let up on him—I suspect you said something pretty tantalizing before he call'd​ you that—Let it go—Of course I shan't say any thing about it to any one—3

There is quite a stir here in Camden to-day as the 6th New Jersey Reg't.​ is coming home this afternoon or evening, & they are going to give the boys a reception & sort of supper. A good many of the young fellows are friends of mine—I am invited, but it will be too boisterous for me, & I shan't go—If you was here you should go, as it would suit you.

I wish I was down by the pond to-day for a couple of hours, to strip & have a good bath—It is very close & hot here—

There is a great rush now to the country—every train most is full—it is quite a sight to go to the ferry, Philadelphia side, & see the stream of people, men, women & children, old & young, some really funny characters—I go once in a while & take a look at the sight—

We are all well—as soon as I finish this I shall go out for a couple of hours before dinner—(it is now between 11 and 12)—

Here is an item about your old friend Mr Moore, of Bingham's school & printing office:4

Henry W. Moore, Esq., formerly of the Philotechnic Institution of this city, and at present a resident of St. Louis, has been spending a few days with his friends in this vicinity, leaving Wednesday night for home. He intends departing, in company with Mrs. M., nee Vandergrift, one of our former school teachers, for Venezuela shortly, in the interest of St. Louis merchants.

And here is one about the little girl that was run over, & your father picked up & carried home:

Monday morning about 11 o'clock Lizzie Linkenheil, 6 years of age, living at 126 Market street, was run over in front of her home by a farmer's Sheldon wagon, loaded with truck, and instantly killed. George Sheer, the driver, was taken into custody and released afterwards by the Coroner. The child's father is a member of the 6th N. J.​ Regiment, and was absent with the command at the time.

And here is one about your old Woodbury friend, I suppose

The residence of Mr. Barber, editor of the Woodbury Constitution, at Woodbury, was discovered to be on fire about 9½ o'clock Sunday morning, and damaged to the extent of $1,000. The good folks of that delightful little place were about proceeding to church when the alarm was given, but they turned in nobly to save the furniture, which was removed little damaged.

Good bye for a couple of days, my own loving boy. I shall look for you Thursday5

Your old Walt

Harry, I want you to tell (above every one) your mother and father I have written to you & that I send them my love particular, & I will be down again one of these days—


  • 1. August 7 was on Tuesday in 1877. Until August 12, Whitman remained in Camden, where Harry had visited him on August 4 and 5 (The Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). [back]
  • 2. Probably with New York jeweler John H. Johnston and his friends. See the letter from Whitman to Johnston of June 20, 1877. [back]
  • 3. After staying with Whitman in Camden on August 4 and 5 (The Commonplace Book; see also the letter from Whitman to Herbert Gilchrist of July 22, 1877), Harry wrote from Kirkwood on August 6: "Herbret cut me prety hard last night at the supper table, you must not let on if I tell you: he called me a 'dam fool,' I wasn't talking to him anyway! we was all talking of telegraphing, and father said he was reading of a man who was trying to overdo it and I said that I did not think he could do it and the[n] Herbret stuck in that, it did not fit very well, and if I had been near enough to smacked him in the 'Jaws' I would of doneit, you must not say anything about it to him or any one, he thinks he can do as he wants to with me but he will find out sometime [t]hat he is fooling with the wrong one. . . . I will be up to see you on Thursday to stay all night with you, dont want to go any wais[?] then, want to stay in and talk with you, did not get time to say anything to you when I sawe you, did not have time to say scarcely anything." See also the letter from Whitman to Anne Gilchrist of November 11, 1877 and Edwin Haviland Miller's introduction to Walt Whitman: The Correspondence (New York: New York University Press, 1961–77) 3:1-9. [back]
  • 4. Whitman pasted three newspaper clippings in his letter from the Camden New Republic of August 4. [back]
  • 5. There is no notation in The Commonplace Book of Harry's visit on Thursday, August 9. Whitman returned to Kirkwood on August 12 and, except for a flying visit to Camden on August 15, remained there until September 10. [back]
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