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Silas Weir Mitchell to Walt Whitman, 15 December 1889

 loc.03249.001.jpg My Dear good gray Poet—

Ever since I bought the first edition of Leaves of grass we have been friends through your books—I warmly thank you for this precious memorial of a man whose life work & example are better even than loc.03249.002.jpg  loc.03249.004.jpg  loc.03249.003.jpg his books

and I am gratefully yr. friend Weir Mitchell Walt. Whitman  loc.03249.005.jpg  loc.03249.006.jpg

Dr. S. (Silas) Weir Mitchell (1829–1914) was a specialist in nervous disorders as well as a poet and a novelist. On April 18, 1878, Whitman had his second interview with Dr. Mitchell, who attributed his earlier paralysis to a small rupture of a blood vessel in the brain but termed Whitman's heart "normal and healthy." Whitman also noted that "the bad spells [Mitchell] tho't recurrences by habit (? sort of automatic)" (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). Mitchell was the first physician to indicate the psychosomatic nature of many of Whitman's ailments.


  • 1. This letter is addressed: Walt Whitman Esq | Camden | New Jersey. It is postmarked: PHILADELPHIA | DEC16 | 7 PM | 89, CAMDEN, N.J. | DEC | 17 | 6AM | 1889 | REC'D. [back]
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