Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Louisa Van Velsor Whitman to Walt Whitman, [30 January 1873]

Date: January 30, 1873

Editorial notes: The annotation, "30 Jan 73," is in the hand of Richard Maurice Bucke. An image of the verso of the leaf is not currently available. The verso is blank.

Source: Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Location: The Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library

Whitman Archive ID: duk.00613

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Felicia Wetzig, and Wesley Raabe



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My dear darling walt

I1 have just got your letter i am glad my dear walt you are as well as you are i know its bad enoughf to be confined in your room and unable to walk but i am glad to hear your friends is so kind2 i thought of peter3 i knew if it was in his power to be with you he would and cherefully doo everything that he could for you) i could wish you was here walter dear but as it cant be so i trust you will be restored to your usual health and your dear old mother i am about as i was when you was here4 the cold weather dont affect me so very much) good bie walter dear remember me to peter

write just as you are walter

dont say you are better than you are5

god bless you my son

thursday afternoon 30th6

Notes:

1. Louisa Van Velsor Whitman (1795–1873) married Walter Whitman, Sr., in 1816; together they had nine children, of whom Walt Whitman was the second. For more information on Louisa and her letters, see Wesley Raabe, "'walter dear': The Letters from Louisa Van Velsor Whitman to Her Son Walt" and Sherry Ceniza, "Whitman, Louisa Van Velsor (1795–1873)." [back]

2. Walt Whitman wrote that he "had a slight stroke of paralysis" and was "not able to get up," but he added that he had "some very attentive friends" (see his January 26, 1873 letter to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman). [back]

3. Walt befriended Peter Doyle (1843–1907), a horsecar conductor in Washington, around 1865. Though Whitman informed Doyle of his flirtations with women in their correspondence, Martin G. Murray affirms that "Whitman and Doyle were 'lovers' in the contemporary sense of the word." Doyle assisted in caring for Whitman after his stroke in January 1873. See Murray, "Pete the Great: A Biography of Peter Doyle." [back]

4. Walt Whitman visited Camden, New Jersey, from January 7–10, 1873 (see Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller [New York: New York University Press, 1961–77], 2:191, n. 2). [back]

5. Walt Whitman assured his mother that he would convey "the exact truth—neither better nor worse" (see his January 26, 1873 letter). A week later he wrote that despite the doctor's assurance and his own confidence that he was improving he had to remain in bed because he could "not move yet without great difficulty" (see his January 29, 1873 letter to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman). [back]

6. This letter dates to January 30, 1873, which is consistent with the day of week, Thursday, and day of month, 30, in Louisa Van Velsor Whitman's hand at the end of the letter. Richard Maurice Bucke assigned the year 1873, and Edwin Haviland Miller agreed with Bucke's date (Walt Whitman, The Correspondence [New York: New York University Press, 1961–77], 2:370). Louisa's letter acknowledges one from Walt Whitman, in which he wrote that he was confined to his room, unable to walk, and had "attentive friends" (see Walt's January 26, 1873 letter to Louisa). [back]


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