WHITMAN, Walt. Autograph letter signed ("Walt Whitman") to Charles Hine "artist," Brooklyn, 14 July [1860?]. 3 pages, large 8vo, neat repairs to folds, with original envelope addressed by Whitman.
WHITMAN IN FULL BLOOM. A good letter to Hine (1827-1871), an artist and friend who supplied the frontispiece portrait for the third edition of Leaves of Grass. Whitman states that he will try to visit him in New Haven, but is presently concerned for the health of his mother, Louisa Whitman: "I have been nurse & doctor too, as none of my sisters are home at present." He continues: "I have procured the portrait & frame without any trouble, & they are now hanging up in mother's front room--& are the delight & ever-increasing gratification of my folks & friends, young & old--some of whom sit by the half hour & just look steadily at it in silence--It is indeed a noble piece of work-manship..."
The portrait in the third edition of Leaves--perhaps the "noble piece of workmanship referred to here--is strikingly different from the famous "casual" portrait of the young Whitman in the 1855 leaves of Grass. In Hines' likeness, "the poet wears a Byronic collar with a flowing tie and looks like Victor Hugo, Garibaldi, or an opera singer, and although the face has been softened and bloated by the engraver the picture still gives an impression of buffalo strength" (Kaplan, pp.250-251). Hine'e portrait, Whitman later wrote, was perhaps "the best of all," for "I was in full bloom then, wieghed two hundred and ten pounds...I was in the best ofg health: not a thing was amiss: I was like Carlyle's man, who, asked the state of his system, exclaimed: 'System? system, what have I to do with systems'" (Correspondence, ed. Miller, pp.378-379). Not in Correspondence, ed. Miller, and apparently unpublished.