Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Thomas Jefferson Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, 5 February 1873

Date: February 5, 1873

Whitman Archive ID: loc.00460

Source: Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. The transcription presented here is derived from Thomas Jefferson Whitman, Dear Brother Walt: The Letters of Thomas Jefferson Whitman, ed. Dennis Berthold and Kenneth M. Price (Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1984), 153-154. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Kathryn Kruger, and April Lambert

St. Louis,
Feb 5th 1873

Dear Mother

I write to say that Mattie is very sick—that although yet hopeful—I fear very much that in some of the paroxisms of coughing she may become so weak that she will not rally again—most of the time she continues cheerful and good—but at times her sufferings are too much for her to bear—as good as she always has been about such things

Of course we will all hope and pray for the best—yet you must not be surprised to hear that it is all over with the dear soul at any time—I have written to Walt1—I wish Walt would come and see her—do you not think he would2—Love to all

affectionately Jeff


1. This letter is not extant. [back]

2. Unfortunately, Walt Whitman had suffered a paralytic stroke on January 23 and could not leave his rooms (see Edwin Haviland Miller, ed., The Correspondence [New York: New York University Press, 1961-77], 2:196). Louisa Van Velsor Whitman wrote two letters to Jeff about the poet's stroke but neither one reached its destination (Louisa Van Velsor Whitman to Helen Price, February 12, 1873 [The Pierpont Morgan Library]). [back]


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