Commentary

Disciples


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Wednesday, April 11, 1888.

      [See indexical note p026.1] A hospital talk with W. led him to speak of a letter he had just recieved from a western man, now prosperous, who had as a soldier been nursed by W. and was offering to send money, "with love and out of my great surplus." W. was visibly touched. We had a fine hour together, W. full of reminiscence. "I got lots of help those days from noble people all over the North—especially from women." He stopped and pushed his forefinger among some papers on the round top, drawing forth an old yellow envelope, unstamped, which he shoved over toward me. [See indexical note p026.2] "That was a great woman." I saw that the letter was addressed in his hand to "Hannah E. Stevenson 86 Temple st, Boston Mass." This memorandum was made on the envelope: "sent Oct. 8, '63." "That," he explained, "was the rough draft. Take it along: it will give you a little look in on the sort of work I had to do those days." The letter is given in full.


Washington October 8 1863

Dear friend

 [See indexical note p026.3] Your letter was received, enclosing one from Mary Wigglesworth with $30 from herself and her sisters Jane and Anne—As I happened stopping at one of the hospitals last night Miss Lowe just from Boston came to me and handed me the letters—My friend you must convey the blessings of the poor young men around me here, many amid deepest afflictions not of body only but of soul, to your friends Mary, Jane, and Anne Wigglesworth. Their and all contributions shall be sacredly used among them. I find more and more how a little money rightly directed, the exact thing at the exact moment, goes a great ways. [See indexical note p026.4] To make gifts comfort and truly nourish these American soldiers, so full of manly independence, is required the spirit of love and boundless brotherly tenderness, hand in hand with greatest tact. I do not find any lack in the store houses, nor eager willingness of the North to unlock them for the

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soldiers—but sadly everywhere a lack of fittest hands to apply, and of just the right thing in just the right measure, and of all being vivified by the spirit I have mentioned—Say to the sisters Mary and Jane and Anne Wigglesworth, and to your own sister Margaret, that as I feel it a privilege myself to be doing a part among these things, I know well enough the like privilege must be sweet to them, to their compassionate and sisterly souls, and need indeed few thanks, and only ask its being put to best use, what they feel to give among sick and wounded. [See indexical note p027.1] —I have recieved L. B. Russell's letter and contribution by same hand, and shall try to write to him to-morrow—


Walt Whitman
Address Care Major Hapgood Paymaster U S A
cor 15th and F St Washington D C




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