Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, 18 December 1866

Date: December 18, 1866

Whitman Archive ID: nyp.00214

Source: Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection, New York Public Library. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 1:302. 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, Brett Barney, Vanessa Steinroetter, and Alyssa Olson

Dec. 18, 1866.

Dearest Mother,

I rec'd your letter Sunday morning last—It has been very cold here too, but is pleasant now. I sent you a copy of "Leaves of Grass"—which I suppose you have rec'd. Every thing here with me remains the same—I am free from the distress in my head—Mrs. Grayson1 is very sick—she sent my old washerwoman, old Aunt Kitty, around this morning to see if I had any of "that bread my mother used to send me"—I suppose she meant the sweet Dyer bread—I gave her a piece a long while ago, & she liked it—poor woman, I think she is on her dying bed—Mother, you must write to me how Jeff is, & how he is getting along—tell Hattie I hope she will take a lesson on the piano every day, and learn to play for her Uncle Walt—so when he comes home, she can play a beautiful tune2

I have been down to the Hospital a great deal lately—A friend of mine that I have known over three years, a Maine soldier named Racliffe,3 was very low with consumption & bleeding at the lungs—He died Sunday morning—it was a great relief, for he suffered much—

Well, mother, I believe that is all this time.



1. Whitman had boarded with Mrs. Grayson; see the letter of June 26, 1866[back]

2. Jeff liked Walt's reference to his daughter; see his letter of December 21, 1866[back]

3. William Rackliffe (or Racliffe) died December 15, 1866, and was buried in the National Cemetery (The Library of Congress # 108). See also Whitman's letter of February 2, 1864[back]


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