Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Thomas Jefferson Whitman to Walt Whitman, 7 February 1873

Date: February 7, 1873

Whitman Archive ID: loc.00462

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), 155. 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 7th 1873

Dear brother Walt,

I wrote you a few days since about Mattie

The next day I saw in one of the papers here that you were confined to your room with sickness—is this true?1 I have written mother again this morning—there is no particular change in Mattie—I have been able to take her out for about an hour's drive for the last three days—this helps her more than anything else

In writing you I spoke to you about coming on—I also mentioned it to Mother—since then I have wondered if—supposing you to feel pretty good—you could'nt come by way of Philadelphia and bring Mother with you  Mat seems to want to see you two so very very much

I will write or telegraph you if any change occurs before I hear from you

affectionately Jeff


1. In the "Personal" column for February 4, 1873, the Missouri Republican tersely noted, "Walt Whitman is ill with paralysis." Walt Whitman's sad letter of February 8 made clear both his affection for Mattie and the serious nature of his illness: "Dear, dear, dear, sister Matty—O how I have been thinking of you, & shall all day—I have not now the use of my limbs to move from one room to the other—or else I should come on immediately to St. Louis...Your unhappy, sorrowful, loving brother" (Edwin Haviland Miller, ed., The Correspondence [New York: New York University Press, 1961-77], 2:196). [back]


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