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Walt Whitman to Herbert Gilchrist, 6 February [1879]

Dear Herb

Yours of 2nd rec'd​ , & good to hear from you, & all—That you improve in handling & dexterity is nothing more than I expected—You have it in you I am sure2

I am quite dismay'd to hear about John Burroughs's trouble—it is far more painful & serious than I thought—his last letter (Jan 13) just devotes a line to it—& I was in hopes all had passed over3

Have you seen my friend Johnston the Jeweler? His store is at 150 Bowery, cor:​ Broome street—his house 1309 Fifth avenue, near 86th street—he is a splendid champagny fellow, of the American type—

I met Mr Borody4 the Russian in Chestnut st. Mrs Barry has had a baby—Mr B. was to go to N Y, & I gave your address, to be call'd on—

Harry Stafford was up to see me ten days ago5—They are all going to move from the Creek (as Montgomery S[tafford]6 wants the farm)—They are going over to Glendale, to take the store there on the corner, opposite the church—are to move early in March—They are all well—I saw Capt. Townsend since7—all well yet—

Nothing new or different with me—I keep pretty well—My wrist, right arm & shoulder &c are symptomising a little, possibly for another March attack of that nerve-inflammation & rheumatism—(but I must not cry till I am hurt)—My brother & sister are well—Love to you, Herb, boy—& to your dear mother8 & Giddy9

Walt Whitman

Herb, why don't you all get a big cheap house in Brooklyn by the month or quarter, with the privilege of keeping it for two or three years?—room enough for all hands—Percy10 & his if he chooses to come on—a room for me—I would come on & stay & pay a moderate board—Can't we make it pay?


  • 1. This letter is addressed: Herbert H Gilchrist | 112 Madison Avenue | New York City. It is postmarked: Camden | Feb | 6 | N.J.; New York | Feb 6 | 8 PM | 79 | (?). [back]
  • 2. In his February 2, 1879, letter to "Dear Darling Walt," Herbert mentioned the development of a "tenfold facility with my brush since the autumn" and receptions given by various New Yorkers which were attended by such people as Katharine Hillard and Joaquin Miller (The Letters of Anne Gilchrist and Walt Whitman, ed. Thomas B. Harned [New York: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1918], 173–174). [back]
  • 3. Burroughs was suffering from "painfully excruciating" attacks of neuralgia (Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; The Letters of Anne Gilchrist and Walt Whitman, 173). [back]
  • 4. Whitman noted meeting Alexander Boroday, a "Russian gent, on Chestnut st. Feb. '79" (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). [back]
  • 5. Harry had visited Whitman on January 22 (Whitman's Commonplace Book); see also his letter to Whitman of January 13. [back]
  • 6. George Stafford's older brother, Montgomery (1820–1907). [back]
  • 7. Captain Vandoren Townsend was married to Patience, George Stafford's sister. [back]
  • 8. After moving from Massachusetts to New York, Anne Gilchrist wrote frequently and impatiently to Whitman (Walt Whitman: The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller [New York: New York University Press, 1961–77], 3:147). She wanted him to come to see her. "Are you never coming?" she asked on January 27. "I do long & long to see you" (The Letters of Anne Gilchrist and Walt Whitman, 171). Whitman did not hurry—he never did when he was importuned—and he arrived in New York on April 9. In fact, he apparently did not write to Anne until March 27 (see the letter from Whitman to Anne Gilchrist of March 27, 1879). [back]
  • 9. Grace, Herbert's sister. [back]
  • 10. Herbert's married brother, a metallurgist (1851–1935). On January 5 Anne Gilchrist informed Whitman that Percy was about to lose his position, and that she wondered about his making a career in America, but by January 14, she had come to the conclusion that Percy should remain in England (The Letters of Anne Gilchrist and Walt Whitman, 167, 169–170). Percy's problems created a great deal of uncertainly for Anne, since she had to assist her son, as she wrote to Beatrice on January 28, "with a little of the money that was to have taken us back—so that even if he gets an opening in England & decides not to come, we may have to wait another year, & contrive to get a little forward in money matters somehow or other before we can go" (Feinberg). At this time Percy was engaged in experiments which led to the establishment of the Basic Bessemer Process; see Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society, 2 (1936–1938), 19–24. [back]
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