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Walt Whitman to Harry Stafford 6–7 July [1878]

Dear son1

I supposed you rec'd a paper from me lately with an acc't of some of my movements &c. here, as I sent you one—I had no idea of staying so long when I left 13th June—thought only of staying a couple of days—[but then?] it will be most a month soon—But I shall return to Camden next Tuesday—or Wednesday at furthest—

I keep well & hearty considering—it has been very hot weather here for a week, but I havn't minded it any to hurt—to-day it has been a little more moderate—I have been down this forenoon to Sarony's,2 the great photographic establishment, where I was invited to come & sit for my picture—had a real pleasant time—I will bring you on one of the pictures—

My darling boy, I want to see you very much, & I know you do me too—Harry, I meet many, many friends here, some very fine folks—some tip-top young men too—& there is no end to hospitality, & places to visit &c.—everybody seems to know me—it is quite funny sometimes—but I believe I am as contented down by the old pond as any where—(I wish I was there this afternoon—at least for a couple of hours)—

Well, I see Hunter3 was convicted—we will see now whether he is hung—I see an item in the paper that [Emma?] Bethel had confessed to poisoning the Bishops—I will finish my letter & send it off to-morrow—

Sunday July 7—The little 15 months old baby, little Harry (that was born that night there in 10th street,) is a fine, good bright child, not very rugged, but gets along very well—I take him in my arms always after breakfast & go out in front for a short walk—he is very contented & good with me—little Kitty4 goes too—I had a good night's rest last night, & am feeling comfortable to-day—Good bye for the present, my loving son—It will not be long now before we are together again—

Your old W W


  • 1. The letters from Harry Stafford to Walt Whitman in 1878 reveal the troubled relations between the two men (See Edwin Haviland Miller, "Introduction," Walt Whitman: The Correspondence [New York: New York University Press, 1961–77], 3:1–9). [back]
  • 2. On September 18, Whitman received 250 prints of this photograph (Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). [back]
  • 3. Benjamin Hunter was convicted of the murder of John Armstrong, a Philadelphia music publisher, on July 3. [back]
  • 4. Harry (Harold) and Kitty were two of John H. Johnston's children. [back]
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