Skip to main content

Walt Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, 26 June 1866

Dearest mother,

Well, I suppose you have the hot weather too—it has been very hot here for the last four or five days, but I have got along very well—I think of you every day, with the work & the heat, &c.—I believe you said that it was good air around there in Pacific st., well I should think that was one great advantage over Portland av. any how. Mother, I rec'd your letter of last week—I do not go much to the hospital this hot weather—I think I feel better than usual now for a couple of weeks past—if I can only get through the summer as well as I am, I shall be satisfied—Mrs. Grayson gives me plenty of good vegetables, peas, string beans, squash & new potatoes, with fruit now & then, which is better than too much meat—Old Mrs. Mix1 is well as usual—the house is very pleasant this weather—as cool as it can be any where—

I should like to hear from Han,2 but I suppose she is getting along in the same old way—As I am writing this letter at my table, the celebrated Mrs. Cobb3 has just come in, to see about some rebel pardon, some profitable job for her, I suppose—she is a great piece—she is what most people would call a very pretty little woman—dresses gay, &c—but she has too brazen & silly a way, ever to be taken for a lady by any one that knows—she has got lots of pardons, & probably made a fortune—is half the time at the President's—is not a good character. This Washington is a great place—you see how funny the world is governed—& lots of queer doings that outsiders never dream of—

Well, mother, my new shirts are done, half a dozen, very satisfactory—I havn't bought any new clothes this summer except a new hat, a big brim, light drab—makes me look like a southern planter, but is very light & comfortable—Mother, I wish you could sit here by the window I have so often mentioned, & have the cool breeze blow on you, as it is now, & the trees & river & hills beyond, so pleasant—

Dear mother, you must try to take things moderate—because folks that worry & overdo are apt to get the cholera, you know—I hope brother Jeff feels all right again4—how I should like to see him, & all of you.



  • 1. Mrs. Edward B. Grayson, 468 M North, took in boarders. Her mother, Mrs. Mary Mix, a widow, lived with her. Mrs. Grayson died on January 7, 1867; see "Letter from Walt Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, 15 January 1867" (Edwin Haviland Miller, ed., The Correspondence [New York, North Carolina: New York University Press, 1961–77], 1:306–308). After her daughter's death, Mrs. Mix left Washington; see Whitman's letter to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman from January 29, 1867 (Miller, Correspondence, 1:311–312). [back]
  • 2. Hannah Louisa Whitman Heyde (1823–1908), sister of Walt Whitman and wife of Charles Heyde. Hannah and Charles lived in Burlington, Vermont. [back]
  • 3. Lucy Livingston Cobb became notorious when she brought a court action against General La Fayette C. Baker, chief of the National Detective Police, who ordered her arrested for her dealings in the pardons racket. Baker, who was no friend of Johnson, implied that she was intimate with the President. Baker defended his actions at length in History of the United States Secret Service (Philadelphia: L. C. Baker, 1867), 589–693; but see also Hugh McCulloch, Men and Measures of Half a Century (New York: Charles Scriber's Sons, 1887), 393–394. [back]
  • 4. On June 7, 1866, Mrs. Whitman reported that "Jeff looks bad, he dont complain but i think he ought to have a month of leave from all cares" (Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library). [back]
Back to top