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Walt Whitman to Charles W. Eldridge, 29 August [1873]

 nyu.00003.001_large.jpg Dear Charley,

All continues to go well with my health &c. (The Union now promises to reconstruct—after a violent and somewhat doubtful struggle.) My leg is not much different, & I still have an occasional spell with the head—but I am much better.2

Please go down & hand Godey3 his money to-day.

Write me a line.


Yours of a week since rec'd.4


Charles W. Eldridge (1837–1903) was one half of the Boston-based abolitionist publishing firm Thayer and Eldridge, who issued the 1860 edition of Leaves of Grass. In December 1862, on his way to find his injured brother George in Fredericksburg, Virginia, Whitman stopped in Washington and encountered Eldridge, who had become a clerk in the office of the army paymaster, Major Lyman Hapgood. Eldridge helped Whitman gain employment in Hapgood's office. For more on Whitman's relationship with Thayer and Eldridge, see David Breckenridge Donlon, "Thayer, William Wilde (1829–1896) and Charles W. Eldridge (1837–1903)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


  • 1. The contents are of slight help in dating the letter, but Clara Barrus's conjecture that it was written in 1873 seems plausible (Whitman and Burroughs—Comrades [Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1931], 85). [back]
  • 2. Walt Whitman in January 1873 suffered a paralytic stroke that initially confined him to bed: it took weeks before he could resume walking. He first reported the stroke to his mother in his January 26, 1873 letter and continued to report his condition in subsequent letters. [back]
  • 3. Walter Godey was Whitman's replacement at the Attorney General's office, starting August 14, 1873 (see the letter of introduction for Godey from Whitman to chief clerk Webster Elmes of August 14, 1873). Whitman subsequently sent payment for Godey's service through Charles W. Eldridge (see the letters from Whitman to Eldridge of August 29, 1873 and September 29, 1873. [back]
  • 4. This letter has not been located. [back]
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