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Walt Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, 22–23 August [1872]

Mother, I suppose you got the letter last Wednesday, I sent—I have written a few words to Han1. continues very hot here, and is now dry again—nothing new with me—I am sitting in the office, writing this, Thursday afternoon—I keep quiet as possible—for if one stirs two steps, the sweat runs off him—It is 3 o'clock—there is a little air stirring to-day, but out doors it is like an over—John Burroughs2 has just been in to see me—he comes in most every day—Mother, I hope you will not get affected by the heat—By accounts it must be worse in New York than anywhere else—

Friday noon, Aug. 23.

Mother, I just rec'd your letter—I hope by the time you get this, you will get the things3—I want to come—perhaps about the 31st—(but if you all are not to rights I will put it off another week.)

When you write again tell me whether Ed has recovered his spirits—Mother, it is always disagreeable to make a great change, & especially for old folks, but a little time gets things working smoothly, & then one is glad of the change, & better off—

I am feeling quite well to-day—the weather is pleasanter—had a good sleep last night—

I think Grant stock is steadily going up, & Greeley4 stock down, here & every where—

Love to you, mama dear, & to Lou5 & all, Walt.


  • 1. Hannah Louisa (Whitman) Heyde (1823–1908), youngest sister of Walt Whitman, married Charles Louis Heyde (ca. 1820–1892), a Pennsylvania-born landscape painter. Charles Heyde was infamous among the Whitmans for his offensive letters and poor treatment of Hannah. Hannah and Charles Heyde lived in Burlington, Vermont. For more, see Paula K. Garrett, "Whitman (Heyde), Hannah Louisa (d. 1908)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]
  • 2. On August 16, 1872, Burroughs wrote to Dowden: "Walt Whitman is back again from his brief summer vacation but I am sorry to say is not as well as I should like to see him" (Clara Barrus, Whitman and Burroughs—Comrades [Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1931], 74). [back]
  • 3. Louisa Van Velsor Whitman and Eddy had moved to Camden to live with George and Louisa. [back]
  • 4. Horace Greeley (1811–1872) ran against Grant for the Presidency in 1872. [back]
  • 5. Louisa Orr Haslam Whitman (1842–1892), called "Loo" or "Lou," married Whitman'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. Whitman 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 Whitman 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). [back]
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