Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Abby H. Price, 21 October 1868

Date: October 21, 1868

Whitman Archive ID: pml.00027

Source: The Pierpont Morgan Library, New York. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 2:66. 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, Alex Kinnaman, Elizabeth Lorang, Zachary King, Eric Conrad, and Nicole Gray

Providence, R. I.
October 21, 18681

Dear Abby,

I shall return to New York to-morrow, Thursday2—leaving here at ½ past 12, noon, and getting in N. Y. about 8—& intend to go on to Washington on Monday next, 26th. I have been at the Channings's—Jeannie is quite unwell—but bears it like the heroine she is—William O'Connor is there—I am now at Mr. & Mrs. Davis's—Am treated with the greatest hospitality & courtesy every where. Yesterday Mr. Davis took me out riding—went down to Fields' Point, off the bay—& thence to the domain & factories of the Spragues,3 & so to Olneysville &c &c—as interesting a ride & exploration as I ever had in my life—

I have seen Mrs. Whitman4—& like her. We had yesterday here to dinner & spend the evening Nora Perry,5 Wm O'Connor, Dr. Channing, &c—To-day Mrs. Davis had intended to take me out riding, but it is threatening rain, wind east, & skies dark—So it will have to be given up. I like Mr. Davis much. I am very glad I made this jaunt & visit—Love to you, Helen, Emily, & all.


Abby H. Price (1814–1878) was active in various social-reform movements. Price's husband, Edmund, operated a pickle factory in Brooklyn, and the couple had four children—Arthur, Helen, Emily, and Henry (who died in 1852, at 2 years of age). During the 1860s, Price and her family, especially her daughter, Helen, were friends with Whitman and with Whitman's mother, Louisa Van Velsor Whitman. In 1860 the Price family began to save Walt's letters. Helen's reminiscences of Whitman were included in Richard Maurice Bucke's biography, Walt Whitman (Philadelphia: David McKay, 1883), and she printed for the first time some of Whitman's letters to her mother in Putnam's Monthly 5 (1908): 163–169. In a letter to Ellen M. O'Connor from November 15, 1863, Whitman declared with emphasis, "they are all friends, to prize & love deeply." For more information on Whitman and Abby H. Price, see Sherry Ceniza, "Price, Abby Hills (1814–1878)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


1. This letter's envelope bears the address, "Mrs. Abby H. Price, | 331 East 55th street, | between 1st and 2d Avenues | New York City." It is postmarked: "(?) | Oct | (?) 1 | (?)." [back]

2. Walt Whitman was staying with the Prices on this visit to New York. [back]

3. Whitman refers to Amasa and William Sprague, manufacturers; their factories were detailed in Whitman's October 23 (?), 1868 letter to Peter Doyle. [back]

4. Sarah Helen Whitman (1803–1878), the American poet and fiancée of Edgar Allan Poe, to whom he wrote the second "To Helen." Her collected poems appeared in 1879. Walt Whitman presented an inscribed copy of Leaves of Grass to her during or shortly after his Providence visit. In a letter to Walt Whitman on November 23, 1868, O'Connor, who was a close friend of Sarah Helen Whitman, transcribed some of her comments in a letter to Walt Whitman: "The great, the good Camerado! The lover of men!…How strange it seems to me now that I should have been so near him without knowing him better! How many questions that I asked you about him would have needed no answer, if I had but have read his book then as I have read it now." [back]

5. According to Dictionary of American Biography, Perry (1831–1896) was a poet, journalist, and author of juvenile books. [back]


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