Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to John Burroughs, [29] April [1873]

Date: April 29, 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), 2:216–217. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Location: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01715

Contributors to digital file: Kenneth M. Price, Elizabeth Lorang, Kathryn Kruger, Zachary King, and Eric Conrad

April [29].12

Dear John Burroughs,

I rec'd your letter, & was glad to hear from you—I am still in a pretty bad way—I am writing this over at the office, at my desk, but feel to-day more like laying down than sitting up—I do not walk any better, & my head has frequent distress—Still, for all that I slowly gain strength—very slowly—& shall yet get well as ever

Every thing goes on about the same, in the sphere of my affairs, &c. as when I last saw you—Mother is at Camden—mopes & worries a good deal about me—I don't feel like leaving here, for visiting or any purpose, until I get so I can move about—The doctor is applying electricity, every other day—I have had it now five or six times—I anticipate benefit, in a while, but it makes no perceptible difference yet—How and where is 'Sula? I wish I was where I could come in & see her & you often—(those nice breakfasts were bright spots, & I shall not forget them)—if I could just get 'round and sit an hour or so for a change, & chat with 'Sula and you, two or three times a week, I believe it would do me good—but I must take it out in imagination—for it is impossible in reality—

I got a long letter from Dowden3—he mentions you—As I sit I look over from my office window on the President's grounds—the grass is green enough—they have already been over it once with the cutter, & Saturday there were men out there in their shirt-sleeves raking it up—I have a big bunch of lilacs in a pitcher in my room—Washington looks about the same—rather cool & cloudy to-day—but pleasant weather may-be by the time you receive this—best love to you & 'Sula4

Walt Whitman


1. Whitman dated this letter April 30, but, as the envelope indicates, he was in error. Note that in his April 30, 1873 letter to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, he wrote, "I have not gone over to the office to-day." [back]

2. This letter's envelope bears the address, "John Burroughs, | Examiner Waukill Bank, | Middletown | New York." It is postmarked: "Washington | A(?)| 29." [back]

3. Edward Dowden wrote on April 12, 1873. [back]

4. Burroughs replied on May 14, 1873: though he was not completely "weaned" from Washington, he was looking forward to settling in New York State. [back]


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