Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Abby H. Price, 10 April 1868

Date: April 10, 1868

Source: The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 2:25–27. 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.00024

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




Attorney General's Office,
Washington.
April 10, 1868.1

My dear friend,

I rec'd your first letter of about a month ago, (March 9)—I enquired of a friend in the revenue office, about the tax under the new law, & whether ruffles would be exempted, &c.2—& on or about the 11th March, I wrote you, what I had learned—viz: that they were to be exempted—& also all the gossip & news, about the O'Connors, & about myself, literary matters with me, and how I was situated here, and about things in general—of course a mighty interesting letter it must have been—and a dreadful loss not to get! for I infer by your second letter April 7, just rec'd, that you did not get it—which I deeply regret, for I don't like to be supposed capable of not responding to those that are almost the same as my own folks—(I put both the old & new No's on the address—perhaps that made it miscarry,) but let that go—

The changes in the Attorney Gen's office have made no difference in my situation—I have had the good luck to be treated with "distinguished consideration" by all the Attorney Gen's—Mr. Speed,3 Mr. Stanbery, & the present one Mr. Browning—I couldn't wish to have better bosses—& as to the pleasantness & permanency of my situation here, it is not likely to be affected, as far as at present appears, unless Wade,4 coming in power, should appoint Harlan,5 or some pious & modest Radical of similar stripe, to the Attorney Generalship—in which case, doubtless, I should have to tumble out.

My dear friends, I often think about you all—Helen & Emily in particular, & wish I could look in upon you, Sunday afternoons—I warmly thank you for your hospitable offers—Give my best respects to Mr. Arnold & Mr. Price—

I shall have a piece in the Galaxy for May—it will be called "Personalism"—is a continuation of the piece on Democracy—shall have a poem soon, (perhaps in May No.) in the Broadway magazine6

I am well as usual—the Impeachment is growing shaky7—it it a doubtful business—I am writing this at my table in office—as I look out it is dark & cloudy with a chill rain, but the grass is green & I see the river flowing beyond. With love,


Walt Whitman

I saw William & Ellen O'Connor last night—told them I should write you to-day—Both charged me to send you their love—little Jenny is well & active. I send you a newspaper same mail with this.


Notes:

1. This letter's envelope bears the address, "Mrs. Abby H. Price, | (new number) | No. 331 East 55th street, | New York City." It is postmarked: "Washington, D.C. | Apr | 10." [back]

2. Walt Whitman had written on March 27, 1867 to Abby Price, a seamstress, about the possible exemption of ruffles from taxation. [back]

3. James Speed (1812–1887) was appointed Attorney General in 1864 by Lincoln; because he was opposed to Johnson's policies, he resigned on July 17, 1866. [back]

4. Benjamin Franklin Wade (1800–1878), U.S. Senator from Ohio, was a bitter opponent of President Johnson. [back]

5. James Harlan was the Secretary of Interior who had peremptorily fired Whitman; see the notes to Walt Whitman's June 9, 1865 letter. Harlan had resigned in 1866 and had returned to the Senate in the following year. [back]

6. Submitted with his December 30, 1867 letter to Routledge and Sons, "Whispers of Heavenly Death" appeared in the October issue of the Broadway[back]

7. On April 9, 1868, the prosecution in the impeachment proceedings against Johnson concluded its arguments, and the defense opened. [back]


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