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Walt Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, 16 April 1867

Dearest mother,

I rec'd your letter last week a couple of hours after I sent mine. I have written to Hannah. Well, mother, we have had a spell of warm weather here—& last night & this morning we are having quite a rain—I can see the difference this morning already—the grass & trees are beginning to look green—they have made a large flower garden right in front of my window at the office.

Wm O'Connor is coming on to New York to stop three days—he goes on to-night—he may call on Jeff at the City Hall—but may-be not—H. J. Raymond wants him to come to New York & write for the Times &c—but I don't know as he will go1

I went to a concert last night—Brignoli & Parepa2—nothing very great—

There is nothing new at the office—I went up to the Supreme Court last Friday, & heard the Attorney General Mr. Stanbery make quite a great speech—he is a good speaker—you would have liked it.

I was down at the hospital Sunday—there was one poor young man, a Maryland boy3, very bad from delirium tremens—(such cases are getting quite common)—this young man saw such sights & terrible things, he took it into his head that the Almighty was in a rage, & punishing him—& he just got on his knees, & remained so for over 12 hours, praying away for mercy—so the wardmaster told me—I sat by him some time—he told me, "they" went away while I was with him—he said he could hear "them," a good ways off—but they wouldn't come near him while I was there—he got into quite a little nap while I remained—you know if the delirium tremens patients can only get a few hours good sleep the worst is over—they are rational on most things—One of these men, in the hospital, had an idea there was a great cat gnawing at his arm, & eating it—he had this idea for days & days, & of course suffered awfully—One of the watchmen of the Treasury, (formerly a Captain in the army, in an Ohio reg't,) is there in the hospital, with delirium tremens—So you see what troubles there are in the world, of one kind & another—

We are quite busy at the office—have a good many people coming—so it is quite lively—We had a clerk here, who was a great nuisance to every body, a young sprig of a Virginian—he has cleared out, forced to resign—we are all very glad—it makes a great relief—all the rest of us get along like brothers—I like them all, & they like me.


If Mary & the girls come, you must give them my love, & tell Mary I shall send her a small package of books soon—I will send word before.

Tell Hattie she must behave like a lady & try to learn—Uncle Walt is coming home soon, to see her4


  • 1.

    Henry Jarvis Raymond (1820–1869) established the New York Daily Times on September 18, 1851. Raymond termed The Good Gray Poet "the most brilliant monograph in our literature" (Barrus, Whitman and Burroughs [Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1931], 35), and invited O'Connor to review Leaves of Grass on December 2, 1866 (see Whitman's December 4, 1866 letter to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman).

    Evidently Raymond was considering O'Connor for a position on the New York Times. On May 9, 1867, O'Connor wrote that he had heard from Raymond—"a sort of hankering treatment of the subject, but no offer."

  • 2. Pasquale Brignoli (1824–1884), the Italian tenor, and Euphrosyne Parepa-Rosa (1836–1876), the English soprano, gave a recital at Metzerott Hall, of which the National Republican reported: "Their performances last evening were all that heart and cultivated taste could demand." According to Gay Wilson Allen, "The Singer in the Prison" described Parepa-Rosa's concert in Sing Sing Prison (Walt Whitman Handbook [Chicago, Packard and Company, 1946], 195). [back]
  • 3. Walt Whitman later wrote of this soldier's recovery in his April 23, 1867 letter to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman. [back]
  • 4. [back]
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