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Walt Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, 21 April [1873]

Mother, I am decidedly improving—feel more like myself the last three days—I walk very clumsily yet, & do not try to get around by walking—but I think I am stronger now, & my prospects are better than any time yet. The doctor has applied electricity again to-day, making the third application—So upon the whole I think I am doing real well—

I have rec'd a letter from Priscilla Townsend2—She speaks of you, says that Aunt Sally always wants to hear from you—She speaks of Sarah Avery's3 calling there, & of Mrs. Tripp,4 & all—nothing very new—

I am writing this over at the office—It is pleasant here, but cloudy & coolish—Mother, I suppose you got my letter Saturday last—How is Sister Lou getting along—when you write tell me about her5—George I suppose is full of business—Well I believe it is better for a man to have plenty to do, if he is well & active—Well, mamma dear, I have written you quite a rambling letter—Tell me when you want envelopes & I will send them—write whenever you can—I think I shall be able to soon give a good account of my improvement.


  • 1. Transcript. [back]
  • 2. Priscilla Townsend was a cousin of Louisa Van Velsor Whitman and apparently the granddaughter of Sarah Mead. Her husband James H. was a clerk in the New York "Hall of Records." The letter referred to is apparently not extant. In February 1873, Priscilla wrote to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman about Walt Whitman's illness (Library of Congress). [back]
  • 3. Sarah Avery was another one of Walt Whitman's cousins. On May 20, 1873, she suggested with trepidation and apologies—she was so overawed by Walt Whitman's "knowledge and intellect"—that he should find a good wife for his old age. Her husband John, a New York merchant, wrote to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman twice in 1872 about interest due her from the estate of Elizabeth Maybee (Library of Congress). [back]
  • 4. Maggy Tripp was Priscilla Townsend's sister, so Louisa Van Velsor Whitman informed her son on April 3(?), 1873 (The Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library). [back]
  • 5. Louisa Van Velsor Whitman was not unduly concerned about her health; on April 12, 1873, she wrote: "god forgive me if i judge wrongfully but i dont think there is much the matter." She was correct: Louisa was not pregnant. On April 21, 1873, she bitterly bewailed Louisa's economy, and continued to look forward to keeping house in Washington: "walt if you think you cant get a house for us to live in dont worry about me. i shall live my allotted time. if you ever do get one i think one about the size of what i wrote about would do and wouldent cost very much." [back]
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