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Walt Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, 5 February 1867

Dearest mother,

I received your letter of Sunday week, Jan. 26—Mother, I hope that lameness in the wrist is better by this time.1 There is no news to write you this time—I have heard that old Mrs. Mix got through safe to Brooklyn the next day—2 I looked for Jeff, but he didn't come—3 When you write, tell me how Jeff is—

I suppose you have had a great change in the weather in Brooklyn—we have here—for several days past, it has been thawing & melting—Here in the office, it is the same old story—it is now about 12 o'clock—the Attorney Gen'l. & Ashton4 have gone to the Supreme Court—they go most every day now from 11 till 2—& I have little or nothing to do a good deal of the time when they are away—

Mother, write whether Jeff got the books, for himself & Dr. Ruggles—5write how Hattie is—Well, the sun is shining, & as I look out this morning on the Potomac, I see the ice is broke up, & the river is all open—I hope we shall have but little more cold weather—I have not had a very agreeable winter—I have not had a satisfactory room & arrangements—I think I shall look around & get one more suitable—

Mother, do you still have the office partly in your house—there in the long room?

Sometimes I feel as though I want to come home for about a week—I think it quite likely I shall come before long—I should not be able to stay longer than a week—I will tell you though, in time—

Well, mother dear, I believe that is all this time. Give my love to George, & Jeff & Mat.



  • 1. In her letter of January 26, 1867, Louisa Van Velsor Whitman described the lameness and told Walt Whitman that Jeff planned to visit him in Washington the following week. [back]
  • 2. Mary Mix lived with her daughter, Juliet Grayson, who operated the boardinghouse at 468 M North, where Walt Whitman lived between late January 1865 and February 1866. After her daughter's death on January 7, 1867 (which Walt Whitman reported to his mother on January 15, 1867), Mix left Washington to live with her granddaughter, which Walt Whitman mentioned in his January 22, 1867 letter to his mother. [back]
  • 3. Walt Whitman wrote of Jeff's visit in his February 19, 1867 letter to his mother. [back]
  • 4. J. Hubley Ashton was the assistant Attorney General from 1864 to 1869. [back]
  • 5. The Brooklyn physician Edward Ruggles (1817?–1867) befriended the Whitman family and became especially close to Jeff and Mattie. Late in life, Ruggles lost interest in his practice and devoted himself to painting cabinet pictures called "Ruggles Gems." Walt Whitman enclosed a copy of Ruggles' obituary with his March 19, 1867 letter to his mother. [back]
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