Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Louisa Orr Whitman, 9 June 1889

Date: June 9, 1889

Whitman Archive ID: uva.00596

Source: Papers of Walt Whitman (MSS 3829), Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature, Albert H. Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 4:348. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Blake Bronson-Bartlett, Alex Ashland, Ryan Furlong, and Stephanie Blalock




Sunday forenoon June 9 '89

Lou, I rec'd the aspargus, strawberries &c, by Charley—have had some of the a[sparagus] for my breakfast—very good—thanks.

I w'd like you to put a strong middling deep pocket (one at least either on the right or left side) with a button at top—I am so in the habit of carrying things in my pocket—(no hurry at all for the gown)1

Am a little "under the weather" yesterday & to-day but will pass over—Judge Garrison yesterday bo't twelve books (6 L of G. & 6 Nov. B2) & paid the money.3 To-day quiet & warm & dull here muchly—I am sitting up in the 2d story room alone—door & windows open—Did you or George4 get my little poem5 in N Y World Friday mn'g last, or Camden Courier same evn'g?—If not I will send you one—


W W


Correspondent:
Louisa Orr Haslam Whitman (1842–1892), called "Loo" or "Lou," married Walt's brother George Whitman on April 14, 1871. Their son, Walter Orr Whitman, was born in 1875 but died the following year. A second son was stillborn. Walt lived in Camden, New Jersey, with George and Louisa from 1873 until 1884, when George and Louisa moved to a farm outside of Camden and Whitman decided to stay in the city. Louisa and Walt had a warm relationship during the poet's final decades. For more, see Karen Wolfe, "Whitman, Louisa Orr Haslam (Mrs. George) (1842–1892)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).

Notes:

1. Whitman noted that Louisa "bro't my new blue gown" on June 11, 1889 (The Commonplace-Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). [back]

2. Whitman's November Boughs was published in October 1888 by Philadelphia publisher David McKay. For more information on the book, see James E. Barcus Jr., "November Boughs [1888]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

3. Judge Charles G. Garrison had been a speaker at the birthday celebration (Camden's Compliment to Walt Whitman [Philadelphia: David McKay, 1889], 34–36); he paid $19.50 for the volumes (The Commonplace-Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). [back]

4. George Washington Whitman (1829–1901) was the sixth child of Louisa Van Velsor Whitman and ten years Walt Whitman's junior. George enlisted in 1861 and remained on active duty until the end of the Civil War. He was wounded in the First Battle of Fredericksburg (December 1862) and was taken prisoner during the Battle of Poplar Grove (September 1864). As a Civil War correspondent, Walt wrote warmly about George's service, such as in "Our Brooklyn Boys in the War" (January 5, 1863); "A Brooklyn Soldier, and a Noble One" (January 19, 1865); "Return of a Brooklyn Veteran" (March 12, 1865); and "Our Veterans Mustering Out" (August 5, 1865). After the war, George returned to Brooklyn and began building houses on speculation, with partner Mr. Smith and later a mason named French. George also took a position as inspector of pipes in Brooklyn and Camden. Walt and George lived together for several years in Camden, but when Walt decided not to move with George and his wife Louisa in 1884, a rift occurred that was ultimately not mended before Walt's 1892 death. For more information on George Washington Whitman, see Martin G. Murray, "Whitman, George Washington," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

5. Whitman is referring to his poem, "A Voice from Death," which was published in the New York World on June 7, 1889, and, seemingly, in the Camden Courier on the same day. [back]


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