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Thomas Jefferson Whitman to Walt Whitman, 9 November 1886

My dear Walt

Two or three times within the last half dozen days we have seen (and felt badly about) squibs in the papers saying you were "sick"—"not well" "confined to his room" etc etc—Each day I have been hoping to get something from you—but as the days pass and I do not I am beginning to fear that it is possible that you are not getting on as well as usual1—and that there may be some foundation for the newspaper stuff—more than usual with you

Dear Walt we all hope and pray that it is not so—yet fear that you may not be as well as usual—and hope you will let us know just how you are getting on. The last time we heard from you, you said you did not feel quite as well as usual—but that you had been out on a long drive and that you were able to get out every day or two—is there anything different

We are jogging along as best we may2  I manage to be at home and with Jess considerable of the time—and often I take her with me when I visit the works—and the places where they are building—I find both for her and myself there is nothing like the open air—the out doors. As good luck would have it we have had a splendid fall as regards weather—and too my work has been of such a kind that I could be out much of the time—and this way we manage, after a fashion, to put in the days—yet there are times when it does seem as if it was impossible to keep up.

It is pretty hard on Jess to leave her alone (with servants of course) in the house yet at times (for a short time) this does occur, and of course she gives way to her feelings, poor child, but I am doing my best to counteract it all I can do

Dear Walt write upon the receipt of this and let us know how you are  We always like to hear from you  it seems to help—Love of both

affectionately Jeff


  • 1. On November 5, [1886?], Walt Whitman reported to John Burroughs that he "had a bad week...[of] gastric & head troubles" (Edwin Haviland Miller, ed., The Correspondence [New York: New York University Press, 1961-77], 4:53). [back]
  • 2. Hattie had died suddenly from enteritis on September 3. She was only twenty-six. In response, Walt Whitman wrote Jeff six letters in nine days. Jeff's anguish is recorded in Walt Whitman's letter of September 8: "I hope & trust you both bear up under it, & that the 'God help us' of your telegraphic message will be fulfilled" (Correspondence, 4:47). [back]
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