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Walt Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, 16 April 1868

Dearest mother,

Well, it is a dark cloudy day, & raining hard—the darkies were to have a great celebration here to-day, in honor of emancipation—they turn out here in real good style, on such occasions—but it is too wet for them to-day—Mr. Stanbery is quite ill, as you see by the papers—The Impeachment trial still goes on—I went up, that day,1 but it was very crowded, & the air was so bad, I left, & went off & had a real good tramp, way up Georgetown, along the banks of the river—it is beautiful along there, of a fine day—So you see I am still able to get around.

There is nothing new in the office—the same old story—I have rec'd a number of papers from England with notices of my book, there—mostly friendly & favorable—more so than any here2—Mother, I am very sorry you have those pains in your face & head3—I shouldn't wonder if it was neuralgia—that is a violent inflammation of the nerves of the face & head—Mrs. Mix4 used to have it very bad—O, I forgot I believe to tell you Mrs. Mix is living yet—she had a very bad spell, but got over it—Mother, I have just got your letter of 14th—& was glad to get it—I havn't seen William Velsor5 for some time—will tell him when I see him—

Mother, I send a couple of papers same time with this—they are not much, but will do just for a change—poor old Uncle John6—he is failing then at last—I suppose George7 is well, & having good times—I see him every day as I have his picture tacked up on the door of my desk in front—Good bye, dearest mother, & take good care of yourself, & dont work too hard.



  • 1. A reference to a lost letter. [back]
  • 2. In his April 24, 1868 letter to John Camden Hotten, Walt Whitman wrote graciously about the reviews Hotten had been forwarding. [back]
  • 3. On April 7, 1868, Louisa Van Velsor Whitman said that she was "troubled with the dissiness in my head but to day i feel entirely free from it." [back]
  • 4. A Washington acquaintance, Mary Mix was first mentioned in Walt Whitman's June 26, 1866 letter to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman. [back]
  • 5. Probably a nephew of Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, he was listed as a "teamster" in the 1869 Washington Directory. "Jo. Velsor," mentioned in Walt Whitman's July 2, 1866 letter to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman as a driver in the Quartermaster Department, was probably a brother. [back]
  • 6. Not identified. [back]
  • 7. In 1868 George Washington Whitman lived with his mother in Brooklyn. He was an inspector for Moses Lane, chief engineer of the Brooklyn Water Works (for Lane, see Walt Whitman's January 16, 1863 letter to Thomas Jefferson Whitman). On July 8, 1868, Louisa Van Velsor Whitman wrote to Walt Whitman: "Mr Lane makes strait for george [when there is trouble]. Jeff says george needent be uneasy about being discharged as long as lane is there." George continued to build houses on speculation. [back]
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