Skip to main content

Walt Whitman to George and Louisa Whitman, 15–17 June [1878]

Dear brother & Sister

I will just write you a line to let you know I am all right—I sent you a N Y​ paper the Sun of to-day with an acc't​ of the funeral3

I am feeling pretty well for me—am stopping with Mr Johnston and his wife & family—there is a big family & they have moved up here in 5th Avenue—very grand—a big four or five story house, near 86th St overlooking the Park, cool & fresh as can be—all are very kind, especially Mrs J. (the new one)—the children all call me Uncle Walt—the baby is bright & interesting, but not rugged—(I hardly think its tenure of life secure)4—I have many invitations, but don't accept them—

I have seen John Burroughs & he wants me to go up there to Esopus, but I don't think I shall go5—I find my gray clothes very seasonable here, as it is cool enough all the time except at mid-day—

I suppose Hattie and Jessie are there, all right6—Dear girls, I send you my best love, & I will soon be home & see you—I will finish to-night—

I finish my letter here—having had a very pleasant 3 hours trip up here on the "Plymouth Rock," to Mr & Mrs John Bigelow's (he was U S minister to France)7—I met her at Mr. Bryant's funeral & she invited me up here—I came up for the sail, as well as to see the good folks & this beautiful spot—I think it the finest I have ever seen—Had dinner about an hour ago, and in about an hour more, shall return on the boat—Shall get to N Y​ before sundown.

The weather is perfect—I am feeling all right—shall probably mail this to you when I get in to-night—Hope you are all well &c—


I was so tired out & got in so late from the West Point trip that I did not go to mail this last night—At present I am sitting alone in the front parlor with the Park opposite like a dense woods—is pleasant, but cloudy & almost cold to-day—(if I had not my old grays wearing I should be uncomfortable)—Lou, you would like the folks & everything here—especially Mrs Johnston—at meals there is a great big table & the little children sit up the same as any—toward the last the baby & the little 4 year old girl are generally down crawling around on the floor—the whole squad are model children lively & free & children, but no bother & no whimpering or quarreling at all under any circumstances—they form a great part of my comfort here—Yesterday was such a strain that to-day I [am] going to keep still—Best love to you all—I enclose a card—write me about the girls & all—



  • 1. John R. Johnston, Jr. had moved to this address after his marriage to Alma Calder on April 21 (Charles N. Elliott, Walt Whitman As Man, Poet and Friend [Boston: R.G. Badger, 1915], 152). [back]
  • 2. Whitman was in New York from June 13 to July 10 (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). [back]
  • 3. A lengthy account of the funeral of William Cullen Bryant appeared in the New York Sun on June 15, one paragraph of which began: "The man most looked at was the white-haired poet, Walt Whitman, who presented a Homeric picture, in which were combined the easy good nature of Grandfather Whitehead and the heroic build of an antique statue." [back]
  • 4. Harold Johnston, the child whose birth caused his mother's death. See the letter from Whitman to Anne Gilchrist of March 4, 1877. [back]
  • 5. However, see the letter from Walt Whitman to Mannahatta Whitman of June 22–26, 1878, sent from Esopus on the Hudson. [back]
  • 6. Whitman's nieces arrived in Camden on June 13 (Whitman's Commonplace Book). [back]
  • 7. John Bigelow (1817–1911) had been minister to France in 1865 and 1866 and had been coeditor, with William Cullen Bryant, of the New York Evening Post from 1848 to 1861. The account of Whitman's visit appeared in the New York Tribune on July 4, but was not included in Specimen Days. [back]
Back to top