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Walt Whitman to Nicholas Wyckoff or Daniel L. Northrup, 14 May 1863

I adapt myself to each case, & to [indecipherable]1—some need to be humored, some are rather out of their head—some merely want me to sit down [near] them, & hold them by the hand—one will want a letter written to mother or father, (yesterd[ay] I wrote over a dozen letters)—some like to have me feed them (wounded perhaps in shoulder or wrist) perhaps a few bits of my peaches—some want a cooling drink, (I have some very nice syrups from raspberries &c.)—others want writing paper, envelopes, a stamp, &c.—I could fill a sheet with one day's items—I often go, just at dark, sometimes stay nearly all night—I like to go just before supper, carrying a pot or jar of something good & go around with a spoon distributing a little here and there. Yet after all this succoring of the stomach (which is of course most welcome & indispensable) I should say that I believe my profoundest help to these sick & dying men is probably the soothing invigoration I steadily bear in mind, to infuse in them through affection, cheering love, & the like, between them & me. It has saved more than one life. There is a strange influence here. I have formed attachments here in hospital, that I shall keep to my dying day, & they will the same, without doubt.2


  • 1. The manuscript is water-stained and mutilated in the upper right-hand corner. [back]
  • 2. Endorsed (by Walt Whitman): "sent May 14 | letter to | Nicholas Wyckoff | or Northrup." Draft letter. [back]
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