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Walt Whitman to Harry Stafford, 2 January 1881

Dear Hank

I hear from you indirectly once in a while by Hoag,1 (& saw Debbie & Jo2 some days since)—I suppose you got the postal I sent you about 12 days ago3—the weather has been so bad, or I should have come down—I have had quite a good deal to do writing—have finished quite a piece for a big magazine in N. Y.—the North American Review—it was ordered—I get $100 for it—I read the proof last night & sent it off4—then I have a little poem the Patrol at Barnegat probably in next Harper's5—(but I think I told you about it)—then to-day I am busy on another order6—So you see I have something to do—I will send you the Review piece when printed—I am feeling better and sassier this winter so far than for some years, am very comfortable here, plain & quiet though—eat my allowance every time—& have a little jug of good Jamaica rum from which I take a sip now & then—(but not very often)—came in chill'd & dumpy late yesterday afternoon—made myself a good mug of hot rum, & felt better—

Hank, I hope you are having fair times on the road—I am glad you stick to it—perseverance will conquer. Horner7 was here again a few evenings ago, an hour—How do you get on with Col: Ingersoll's book?8 (You mustn't take too much stock in him)—If there is any book particular you want, you tell me, & I will try to get it—Lots of sleighs out, good sleighing—my brother was out day before yesterday, & got overturned—I wanted to go yesterday, but he was afraid for me to venture it—his nag is pretty lively, (but I should have liked that all the better)—

1½—just had dinner, hot soup, cold roast beef, apple pie—all good—the sun is out real warm, & I shall go at my piece for the N Y order—it is for a lady, a friend of mine—she has been for years principal literary editor of the Herald, & now she is going to start a paper of her own—pays me9

Is Ed10 home? I should just like to have a ten mile ride behind his nag with the sleigh bells—Dear boy, I send you my best love & dont you forget it—

Your old Walt


  • 1. See the letter from Whitman to Harry Stafford on October 31, 1880. [back]
  • 2. Harry's sister and brother-in-law, the Brownings. [back]
  • 3. This card is evidently not extant. [back]
  • 4. "The Poetry of the Future" appeared in The North American Review in February (195–210). It was later called "Poetry To-day In America" (see Whitman's Complete Prose Works, 288). On January 15, Whitman received $100 in payment for the article (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). [back]
  • 5. "Patroling Barnegat" was sent to Harper's Monthly on October 9, 1880 and published in the April issue (Whitman's Commonplace Book). The poem had appeared in The American in June, 1880 (The Cambridge History of American Literature, ed. A. W. Ward and A. R. Waller [New York: Putnam, 1907–1921]). On May 20, 1881, Whitman sent Harper's Monthly "A Summer's Invocation," which was returned (Whitman's Commonplace Book). It appeared, however, in The American (see Whitman's letter to Harry Stafford on May 5, 1881). [back]
  • 6. The articles for The Critic. [back]
  • 7. As evidenced by an address mounted in Whitman's Commonplace Book, Horner was the nickname of Jacob H. Stafford (1850–1890), Harry's cousin, whose mother was Mary Horner. [back]
  • 8. Apparently Whitman gave Harry one of the books which Robert G. Ingersoll sent on March 25, 1880 (see the letter from Whitman to Ingersoll on April 2, 1880). [back]
  • 9. The articles for Jeannette L. Gilder of The Critic (see the letter from Whitman to Gilder of December 31, 1880). [back]
  • 10. Harry's brother, Edwin. [back]
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