Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, 17 January [1873]

Date: January 17, 1873

Source: The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 2:191. 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.00664

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Zachary King, and Eric Conrad




Friday noon, Jan 17.1

Dearest mother2,

Nothing new or particular3—I send you an "Appleton's Journal," with some good reading in it4—Well, mother, how are you all? Last night was a heavy rain here—I thought of your roof—the snow has all disappeared here—very pleasant yesterday indeed here—to-day the whole city looks all washed clean—

I went to a concert Tuesday night—very good—I heard a singer, Mario5, I heard 30 years ago—an old man, now—yet he sings first-rate yet—then Patti6, a lady—& others. It was in quite a fine hall here called Lincoln Hall7—I go there once in a while—(an editor of a newspaper here sends me spare tickets some times—that's how I go, most of the time.)

I have got a letter from John Burroughs8—he is at Middletown, N. Y.—don't expect to return here permanently to live any more—but will return to pack up & move—his wife is still here—I was up there a couple of evenings since—Mrs. B. is alone—has lately been vaccinated, & is not very well—there has been a good deal of small pox here—all the clerks in the office have been vaccinated—Well, mamma dear, I believe I have scribbled down all the small talk I can think of to amuse you for this time—Love to you, mother dear,


Walt.


Notes:

1. The executors dated this letter 1868. [back]

2. Louisa Van Velsor Whitman (1795–1873) married Walter Whitman, Sr., in 1816; together they had nine children, of whom Walt was the second. The close relationship between Louisa and her son Walt contributed to his liberal view of gender representation and his sense of comradeship. For more information on Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, see "Whitman, Louisa Van Velsor (1795–1873)." [back]

3. Walt Whitman had made a New Year's visit to Camden, according to Hannah Heyde's letter to her mother on January 7–10, 1873 (Library of Congress); see also Louisa Van Velsor Whitman's letter to Helen Price on January 6(?), 1873 (Pierpont Morgan Library). [back]

4. The issue of January 18, 1873 (9 1873, 106–108) contained Burroughs's "A Glimpse of France." [back]

5. A farewell concert for Giuseppe Mario (1810–1883), "The World-renowned Tenor," and Carlotta Patti (1835?–1889), "The Queen of the Concert Room," was presented at Lincoln Hall on January 14, 1873. The review in the Daily Morning Chronicle the next day gave greater praise to a young contralto, Annie Louise Cary, than to Patti or Mario, the latter of whom sang with "great effort." Walt Whitman referred to Mario frequently in his prose writings (The Complete Writings of Walt Whitman [New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1902], 10 vols., IV, 26; VI, 186; VII, 56). [back]

6. A farewell concert for Carlotta Patti (1835?–1889), "The Queen of the Concert Room," and Giuseppe Mario (1810–1883), "The World-renowned Tenor," was presented at Lincoln Hall on January 14, 1873. The review in the Daily Morning Chronicle the next day gave greater praise to a young contralto, Annie Louise Cary, than to Patti or Mario. [back]

7. A farewell concert for Giuseppe Mario (1810–1883), "The World-renowned Tenor," and Carlotta Patti (1835?–1889), "The Queen of the Concert Room," was presented at Lincoln Hall on January 14, 1873. The review in the Daily Morning Chronicle the next day gave greater praise to a young contralto, Annie Louise Cary, than to Patti or Mario, the latter of whom sang with "great effort." Walt Whitman referred to Mario frequently in his prose writings (The Complete Writings of Walt Whitman [New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1902], 4:26; 6:186; 7:56). [back]

8. On January 12, 1873, Burroughs wrote: "It cost me a pang to leave W[ashington]. I was so warm & snug & my nest was so well feathered; but I have really cut loose & do not expect to return again except briefly. I can make more money here, be much freer, be nearer home & have a new field of duties." Burroughs became a bank inspector in New York State. [back]


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