Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, 12 February 1867

Date: February 12, 1867

Whitman Archive ID: nyp.00256

Source: The Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, the 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), 1:312–313. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

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

Attorney General's Office,
Tuesday noon,
Feb. 12, 1867.

Dearest mother,

I rec'd your letter of Wednesday last all right. I shall begin to look for Jeff,1 to-morrow—I do hope he will come.

I have just changed my quarters—I moved to-day back again to the same house Mrs. Grayson2 used to live in—it is now occupied by a Mr. & Mrs. Benedict—3I have not got my old-room but a room right over it—it is in the attic, it is true, but I think it will be pleasant, & cool in summer—& all the quieter for being in the attic—every thing is new & clean, new bedstead, mattress, &c—I can't tell till I try, but I think I shall like it—that is, as well as one is apt to like any quarters here in Washington—I will write you how I like it in my next—I want Jeff to come & stay there with me—it will be pleasant & comfortable—it is 472 M st. 2d door west of 12th—

Mother, it may be I write kind of sober sometimes, but I have been this winter, & am now, in as good health as usual, & very good spirits—So, brother Jeff, I don't feel a bit "pegged out"—only getting old—most 50, you know—

We have had another cold spell here, pretty nearly as cold as ever—There is great excitement in Congress—they have night sessions—4

I went to the hospital Sunday afternoon last—there is a friend of mine there that got shot at Cold Harbor in June 1864— & he has had the bullet in him ever since—it was in a very bad place, the lower part of the stomach, just in the waist—last Saturday he had an operation & had it extracted—it was in, the length of my little finger—it was a very critical operation indeed—but he got through with, & is going to get well, according to all appearances now—There are lots of things left by the war, yet.

I hope Jeff will not disappoint me—the prospect, as I write, is for pleasant weather—& Jeff can stop with me just as well as not—Love to George and Matty, & all.



1. Thomas Jefferson "Jeff" Whitman (1833–1890), Walt's brother. [back]

2. Juliet Grayson operated the boardinghouse at 468 M North, where Walt Whitman lived between late January 1865 and February 1866. Whitman reported her death in his January 15, 1867 letter to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman. [back]

3. Newton Benedict. The 1869 Directory listed him as a clerk in the State Department and Mrs. Benedict as a clerk in the First Comptroller's office. The 1869 annual report from the Commissioner of Patents recorded that a Newton Benedict received a patent for a "sliding clamp… forming, for the wick, a slitted cap or covering" on a lamp, as well as for the construction of the press-gauge for the wick. [back]

4. A reconstruction bill under discussion aroused bitter controversy. The first Reconstruction Act was passed March 2, 1867. [back]


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