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Walt Whitman to Anne Gilchrist, 18 August [1879]

Dear friend

Yours of 2d just rec'd​ (the one from Scotland came also)2—I am pretty well—full as well as when I last saw you in New York—(if any thing perhaps a little plus)—

I went down last month to spend a while with the Staffords at their new farm, but I miss'd my main attraction & comfort, the Creek, & did not make a long visit3—Mrs S and the rest are as usual, except Debbie, who was not at all hearty—

Brother & sister here well—sister seems to be engaged this morning with her new girl, (who seems to be doing marvellous!) in early fall house cleaning—at any rate I noticed every thing tumbled & heaped just now, as I have been down stairs to see what the post man left me—

I am sitting up in my room Stevens Street writing this—copious rains all the morning, and last night—(& indeed this is the third day of them)—Hattie and Jessie left for St Louis last Thursday night—Lou and I went over to the West Phil:​ depot and saw them off—(dear girls, how we miss them)—

I am busy a little leisurely writing—think of printing soon a smallish 100 page book of my accumulated memoranda down at the Creek, & across the Ferry, days & nights, under the title of

Idle Days & Nights of a half-Paralytic

prose, free gossip mostly, (you saw some specimens in that Jersey letter, last winter in the Phila:Times)4

Isn't that sad about the sudden death of our young Mr Sartoris in your country? Something strange too (I hope nothing uncanny will turn out)—

Thank you, dear friend, for your letter—(came in just right)—how I should indeed like to see that Cathedral—I dont know which I should go for first, the Cathedral, or that baby5

Best love to you—to Bee, Herb, Giddy and all—I write in haste but I am determined you shall have a word at least promptly in response—


  • 1. The letter is addressed: Mrs Anne Gilchrist | Lower Shincliffe | Durham | England. It is postmarked: Philad'a Pa. | Aug | 18 | Paid All; Durham | H | Au 29 | 79; Haslemere | A | Sp 1 | 79. [back]
  • 2. Anne Gilchrist wrote after landing in Glasgow on June 20 and on August 2 from Durham, where her son Percy was living. Both were substantive letters about her travels and various points of interest (The Letters of Anne Gilchrist and Walt Whitman, ed. Thomas B. Harned [New York: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1918], 181–185). [back]
  • 3. Whitman visited the Staffords from July 2 to 9. It was an uneventful summer except for an "Evening at Exposition Building, at National Teachers' Reception—saw the phonograph and telephone" (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; Specimen Days, ed. Floyd Stovall [New York: New York University Press, 1963], 203). [back]
  • 4. "Winter Sunshine. A Trip from Camden to the Coast" (see the letter from Whitman to John Burroughs of January 25, 1879). In her letter of October 6–12, Anne Gilchrist hoped "you would reconsider the title—so far, that is, as to leave out the clause 'by half paralytic'...for health and vigour, dear Friend, are and ever must remain synonymous with our Walts name" (Clara Barrus, Whitman and Burroughs—Comrades [Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1931], 147). [back]
  • 5. On August 2, 1879, Anne Gilchrist described her grandson and the Durham Cathedral (The Letters of Anne Gilchrist and Walt Whitman, ed. Thomas B. Harned [New York: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1918], 183). [back]
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