Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, 13 May [1873]

Date: May 13, 1873

Whitman Archive ID: nyp.00318

Source: The Oscar Lion Papers, 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), 2:219–220. 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, Kathryn Kruger, Zachary King, and Eric Conrad

Tuesday afternoon
May 13.

Dearest mother,

I suppose you got my letter Monday 12th (written Sunday.) I am still improving— (I don't feel quite as well to-day as for some days past— but it is a great advance on what I have been)—& am in good spirits—

Dear mother, I feel very anxious about you1—it is very distressing to have the nervous system affected, it always makes one feel so discouraged, that is the worst of it—Mother, I am afraid you are more unwell than you say—I think about it night & day— the enclosed letter came to me yesterday—Jeff sent it to me, by mistake (may-be one for me has gone to you)—I got another letter from Jeff to-day2—all are well—Jeff too is anxious about you— Mother, try to write a line soon after you get this—I am writing this in the office—Mother, I shall come on—



1. About May 12, 1873, Louisa Van Velsor Whitman explained that her "nervous system is very much out of order . . . my head feels bad . . . i have such trembling spels" (Trent Collection, Duke University). She thought that she would improve if she got away from Camden. Louisa, unknown to her mother-in-law, also wrote to Walt Whitman about the same time (The Library of Congress). [back]

2. Writing on May 9, 1873, Jeff was concerned about the situation in Camden, Louisa's stinginess, George's failure "to make things good and happy" for his mother, and the possibility of having her go to Washington (Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). [back]


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