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Walt Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, 23 November 1866

Dearest mother,

I feel middling well to-day. I go to the office just the same as usual—If I had a good home where I could have a decent time, & keep in for three or four days, I should get all right—the principal trouble with me, I think, is neuralgia—it gives me great distress in the head at times—but the spells do not last long at a time—I eat pretty nearly the same as usual—but do not sleep well—But I think I am making too much of it—I thought I would write you just a few lines, you would get Saturday.

You must tell Jeff or George to get the "Galaxy" of Dec. 1.—it is a magazine—it is for sale at most of the book-stands—30 cts—it has a piece in about me1—I think it is very good—John Burroughs is a young man from Delaware county, New York—he lives here, now, is married—I am well acquainted with him, & he & his wife have been very hospitable & friendly to me.

Mr. Conway's article2 was about as impudent as it was friendly—quite a mixture of good & bad.

I am glad you like Emily Price—she is a good girl. She seems to me one that you needn't make any fuss or change—but let domestic things go on just as they may be, when she comes to visit you.

It is pleasant this afternoon—the sun is shining out—the river & hills on the other side look beautiful.

I sent Han a book—"Lady Audley's Secret"3—& shall send her a letter to-day.

Dont forget, George or Jeffy, to get the Galaxy of Dec. 1.

Mother, if any of you want another copy of the new "Leaves of Grass," I can send you an order for one on the binder in New York, & you can get it.

Well, mother dear, I believe that is all—except that I am getting a new pair of trowserloons—Shall not get any other new clothes this winter—

Love to George & all.



  • 1. The Galaxy was edited by W. C. and F. P. Church; see "Letter from Walt Whitman to W. C. Church, 7 August 1867" (Edwin Haviland Miller, ed., The Correspondence [New York, North Carolina: New York University Press, 1961–77] 1:335–336). When W. C. Church wrote on June 13 to William O'Connor (Charles E. Feinberg Collection), requesting an article, he suggested that the magazine publish Burroughs's "Walt Whitman and His 'Drum-Taps,'" which appeared in The Galaxy, 2 (December 1, 1866), 606–615. In a letter to Moncure Conway on December 5, O'Connor asserted fervidly that Burroughs's was "the first article . . . that reveals real critical power and insight, and a proper reverence, upon the subject of Whitman's poetry" (Yale). Whitman's biographer, Gay Wilson Allen, concurs in O'Connor's judgment: Burroughs "deserves credit for having lifted the criticism of Whitman's poems to the plane of reason and intellectual appreciation" (Gay Wilson Allen, The Solitary Singer: A Critical Biography of Walt Whitman [New York: Macmillan, 1955; rev. ed., New York University Press, 1967], 375). [back]
  • 2. See the letter of November 13, 1866. [back]
  • 3. Mary Elizabeth Braddon (Maxwell), English novelist (1837–1915), established a phenomenal reputation after the publication of Lady Audley's Secret, which appeared in 1862 in The Sixpenny Magazine and later in the year as a three-volume novel. According to the Dictionary of National Biography, "in various forms nearly a million copies must have gone into circulation; it has been translated into every civilized tongue, several times piratically dramatized, and twice filmed." [back]
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