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Walt Whitman to Harry Stafford, 5 May [1881]

Dear Hank

Yours of yesterday rec'd this afternoon, & glad to hear from you & the folks—I hear from you now & then by Hoag2 or Burr, who tell me they meet you up here frequently—(I wish you had said how Hieneken is getting along—is he getting better?)

Well, Hank, my Boston tramp, lecture, &c. turned out far ahead of what I had any idea of—it was not a very large room, but it was packed full (at $1 a head) & they say there never was a more high toned crowd collected in the town—full half were ladies, & I never saw finer ones—I had good quarters at the principal hotel, the Revere House, (dead-headed, the proprietor, Mr Ferrin invited me to stay as long as I liked)—& callers all the time—So, boy, you see how your uncle was set up—& yet I am going to speak to all my old friends just the same! !

Have had several little jobs writing lately—Phila: and N. Y. papers3—(will send you the Critic of the latter city next Monday or Tuesday with my piece in)—Havn't felt very well lately—a real bad spell last night & this forenoon—don't feel right living in the city any how, after the summer comes on—very possibly shall go off to Canada again, as Dr and Mrs B[ucke] wish me to, & write strongly—

I sent you a little book of poetry by a boy 13 years old, in Pennsylvania, he sent it to me with a nice letter4—Well, Hank, my sheet is short & most full, & I must come to a close—I gather by your letter that you are in good spirits—love to you & God bless you—I am sorry enough to hear your mother is unwell—Susan, my dear friend, I hope when this comes you will be all right—

Walt Whitman

I suppose your mother got a letter & some papers from Boston,5 as I sent them, & of course supposed you would all read them—my best love to your mother & father & I want you to let them read this—


  • 1. This letter was noted in Whitman's Commonplace Book (Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). For Harry's letter to Whitman on April 4, see Edwin Haviland Miller, "Introduction" (Walt Whitman, The Correspondence [New York, New York University Press, 1961–1977], 3:1–9). [back]
  • 2. See the letter from Whitman to Harry Stafford of October 31, 1880. [back]
  • 3. On May 3, 1881, Whitman sent "Bumble-Bees and Bird Music" to W. R. Balch of The American (Philadelphia), for which he received $20 (Whitman's Commonplace Book). It appeared on May 14, and was later included in Specimen Days, ed. Floyd Stovall (New York: New York University Press, 1963), 263. The poet sent "My Picture-Gallery" to Balch on October 8, 1880, for which he received $5, and which appeared in The American on October 30. On May 27, 1881, he sent to the same newspaper "A Summer's Invocation" (later called "Thou Orb Aloft Full-Dazzling"), and received $12 from Balch. The poem was printed on June 14. Unless Whitman meant The Critic, it is not clear which "N. Y. papers" he referred to. The third installment of "How I Get Around at 60, and Take Notes" appeared on May 7. [back]
  • 4. On May 3 Whitman sent Harry "Newspaper ballads" (Whitman's Commonplace Book). [back]
  • 5. See the letter from Whitman to the Staffords of April 15–17, 1881. [back]
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