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Walt Whitman to Byron Sutherland, 20 September 1868

331 East 55th street, bet. 1st and 2nd Av's— New York— Byron Sutherland,  
 Dear young man,

I have received your letter of September 12,2 & was well pleased to hear from you. I have many times thought of you—for I must tell you, Byron, I retain just the same friendship I formed for you the short time we were together, (but intimate,) in 1865.

I think, at that time, I was a clerk in the Interior Department. I was dismissed from there—but was appointed by the then Attorney General, Mr. Speed, to a moderate place in his Dep't. I have been in that Dep't. ever since—have a pleasant situation—have been promoted—& have now served under four successive Attorney Generals.

It is rather dull in Washington—but I make out quite comfortably—walk & ride around a good deal. Byron, I am still living in the same house, 472 M street, near 12th, where you staid with me a little while in 1865—and where you would be truly welcome to your old friend if you would come & stop with him again.

There is nothing very new or special with me. I have excellent health, eat my rations every time, and am I suppose full as fat and brown and bearded & sassy as ever.

I will send you, by same mail with this, a newspaper, with a piece written by a young man, Col. Hinton,3 a friend of mine, some time since, about me, that may interest you—but he plasters it on pretty thick.

As you see by the heading of this letter I am now in New York. Your letter was sent on to me here. I am on furlough, which expires last of October, when I shall return to Washington. While here I spend much of my time with my dear Mother, in Brooklyn—she is hearty & cheerful, though nearly 73.

My address, for some four weeks to come, will be as at the heading of this letter. After that, at Washington, D. C.

Well, I believe that is all, this time. Byron, I send you my love & friendship, dear soldier boy—and now that we have found each other again, let us try, as far as may be, to keep together.

Walt Whitman


  • 1. Walt Whitman began his correspondence with soldier Byron Sutherland on August 26, 1865. [back]
  • 2. Sutherland was now preparing to be a teacher at the State Normal School at Edinboro, Pennsylvania. He wrote after he had seen reviews of Walt Whitman's poetry in the New Eclectic Magazine, 11 (July 1868), 325–329, 371–375. One was a translation of Freiligrath's article in the Augsburg Allgemeinen Zeitung (Whitman wrote to the reviewer, Ferdinand Freiligrath, on January 26, 1869), and the other was a reprint of an English review of the Rossetti edition. In the same issue of the magazine the editor termed Walt Whitman "a monstrosity." Sutherland reported details of his academic program on October 8, 1868. [back]
  • 3. Whitman refers to the article by Richard J. Hinton in the Rochester Evening Express, of which he made mention in his April 28–May 4, 1868 letter to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman. [back]
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