Title: Walt Whitman to Abby H. Price, 10 December 1866
Date: December 10, 1866
Source: The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 1:301-302. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.
Location: The Pierpont Morgan Library, New York
Whitman Archive ID: pml.00017
Contributors to digital file: Alex Kinnaman, Elizabeth Lorang, Kathryn Kruger, Vanessa Steinroetter, Nicole Gray, and Alyssa Olson
ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE, Washington.
Dec. 10, 1866.1
My dear friend,
Yours of the 8th has just come. I am glad indeed to hear that you are free from asthma, & are feeling well.
I should be truly happy to become acquainted with Mrs. Andrews2—I am sure I should like her much.
For a month or so, I have not been very well—my trouble takes the form, sometimes, of neuralgia—but is a complication—(the doctor says it probably all dates from that time I got saturated with hospital malaria)—But I keep around, & go to the office just the same—& now for four of five days have felt much better—
The O'Connors are well—The consul at Rio Janeiro is James Munroe—Our Minister to Brazil, resident in Rio Janeiro, is James Watson Webb.3
I send my love to Helen and Emmy & all—I have rec'd a letter from mother to-day—she seems to be about the same as usual—I hope Helen or Emmy will just go over & visit her without ceremony as often as possible. Give my respects to Mr. Arnold4—also to Mr. Price—It would give me the greatest pleasure to see you or Helen here in Washington. I rec'd your friend's (Katy Hinds)5 letter at the time—I have had no letter from Mr. Parker's family6—I am writing this by my window in the office—it is a fine view, ten miles of river, & away across to Virginia hills, ever so far—My place is an easy & pleasant one here in the Att'y Gen's. office—And now for the present, dear friend, Farewell.
Abby H. Price (1814–1878) was active in various social-reform movements. Price's husband, Edmund, operated a pickle factory in Brooklyn, and the couple had four children—Arthur, Helen, Emily, and Henry (who died in 1852, at 2 years of age). During the 1860s, Price and her family, especially her daughter, Helen, were friends with Whitman and with Whitman's mother, Louisa Van Velsor Whitman. In 1860 the Price family began to save Walt's letters. Helen's reminiscences of Whitman were included in Richard Maurice Bucke's biography, Walt Whitman (Philadelphia: David McKay, 1883), and she printed for the first time some of Whitman's letters to her mother in Putnam's Monthly 5 (1908): 163–169. In a letter to Ellen M. O'Connor from November 15, 1863, Whitman declared with emphasis, "they are all friends, to prize and love deeply."
1. The envelope for this letter bears the address: Abby H. Price, | 279 East 55th st. | New York City. It is postmarked: Washington | Dec | 11 | D. C. [back]
3. James Monroe was the American consul at Rio de Janeiro from 1863 to 1869, and was later, after service in the Ohio legislature, professor of political science and modern history at Oberlin College. James Watson Webb (1802–1884) was an editor and later Minister to Brazil from 1861 to 1869. [back]
4. John Arnold lived with his daughter's family in the same house as the Price family. Helen Price described him as "a Swedenborgian," with whom Walt Whitman frequently argued without "the slightest irritation between them"; see Richard Maurice Bucke, Walt Whitman (Philadelphia: David McKay, 1883), 26–27. [back]
5. Mentioned again in "Letter from Walt Whitman to Charles W. Eldridge, 20 October 1868" (Miller, Correspondence, 2:64–65). [back]