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Walt Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, [13]–14 [March 1873]

Dearest mother,

I wrote you a short & very hurried letter last night, only a few minutes before the mail closed— To-day Mrs. O'Connor has just paid me a pleasant visit—& I have been eating my lunch of a roast apple & biscuit—I am feeling about the same—I suppose you are most tired, and perhaps a little suspicious of hearing I am "about the same"— Well I am quite tired myself, & want much to get out, & go to work, & go about— But I just have to make the best of it, & console myself with realizing that disagreeable as it is, it might be a great deal worse—& that I am feeling free from pain & comparatively comforting, & that it cannot be very long before I shall have the good use of my limbs again—So I just try to keep patient & wait—& you must too, dearest mother—

I got a good letter from Hattie to-day, dated March 91—she says she was writing to you— so I suppose you have one too—They seem to like it at Mr & Mrs. Buckley's.2

Mother, I got your letter of Monday and Lou's of Sunday3—it is an affection of the leg from the knee downward, partially helpless— but the principal trouble is yet in the head, & so easily getting fatigued— my whole body feels heavy, & sometimes my hand—Still, I go out a little every day almost—accompanied by Peter, or some one—sometimes spend an hour out, but cannot walk, except a very little indeed, very slowly indeed— Mother, in my looks you would hardly know the least thing had been the matter with me— I am neither pale nor thin in the least—

Friday forenoon  
 March 14.

I am sitting here in my room—it is very pleasant out apparently— I generally go out a little between two & three, and shall probably get out a little this afternoon—

John Burroughs has been on here again—he is trying to sell or let his house, & does not succeed very satisfactorily—he left here again by the train last evening & returned north—his wife is here—Mother, I send the Harper's Weekly— that picture gives a very good idea of the Capitol, (what they call the east front)— in the Extra is a picture of the inauguration ball—very good, they say—you must look over them Sunday—

Well, mother dear, it is now after 12—I expect to get out a little from 2 to 3—Love to you & to Lou & George & all.



  • 1. Mannahatta wrote to her grandmother on March 9 and March 14, 1873 (Library of Congress); her letter to Walt Whitman is evidently lost. [back]
  • 2. Mrs. Buckley, Jeff wrote on March 16, 1873, "was a particular friend of Mattie's" (Yale). After Martha died, the Buckleys immediately took charge of the funeral arrangements and provided for the children; see Jeff's letter to his mother on February 24, 1873 (Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). When Mannahatta wrote to her grandmother on March 14, 1873, she appeared quite satisfied with her new home (Library of Congress). [back]
  • 3. In a letter of early March 1873, Louisa Van Velsor Whitman complained of her loneliness. [back]
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