Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, 27 December 1871

Date: December 27, 1871

Source: The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 2:146. 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.00033

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




Department of Justice
Washington
Dec
27 1871.

Dearest mother,

There is nothing special to write about to-day. The new Attorney General Mr. Williams1 has been in once or twice—he is a tallish, western sort of man, wears a stove-pipe hat—is rather spare & a little round shouldered—sallow complexion—long legged—seems quite plain in his talk—Ashton says he is a good man—we will see—He takes his seat about the 10th Jan.

½ past 10, forenoon—Mama, your letter has just come—It is too bad to have such a puppy as Stanton2 annoying you—He is one of the Heyde sort, it always seemed to me—Mother, write to me how it turns out—whether they leave or not—

I see you have it very changeable there too—After the severest cold spell ever known here so early, we are just now having it mild & warm enough for spring—it rained here this morning, but is now bright & pleasant—

I suppose Lou3 will be with you now—I should like first rate to just drop in on you all—

I continue to get letters &c from abroad about my book—I believe I told you I got one the other day from Denmark, from the editor of the principal magazine there.4 He is preparing a review & partial translation of my writings—

Mama dear, I hope you will have a pleasant holiday week, what's left of it—Don't let Stanton annoy you, the dirty scamp—Love to you, dearest mother, & to George & Lou & all.


Walt.

Write by next Sunday if convenient, & tell me if the order comes safe—

Mother, give the enclosed $1 to the letter-carrier, if you think proper—


Notes:

1. George Henry Williams (1820–1910), U.S. Senator from Oregon, served as Attorney General from 1871 to 1875. Williams dismissed Walt Whitman on June 30, 1874; Whitman "respectfully acknowledged" his dismissal in his July 1, 1874 letter to Williams. [back]

2. The Stantons lived downstairs; according to Walt Whitman's January 26, 1872 letter to Thomas Jefferson Whitman, George "turned 'em out for impudence to mother."

According to a letter sent in 1928 to Harry Hanson of the New York World, which he in turn transmitted to Emory Holloway, Elizabeth Stanton was the daughter of an editorial writer on the New York News. Her daughter described Walt Whitman as a "rude and rough" man who enjoyed sitting in the Stanton kitchen as he recited his poetry. [back]

3. Louisa and George had come from Camden to visit Louisa Van Velsor Whitman. [back]

4. Rudolf Schmidt. [back]


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