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Walt Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, 23–24 January [1872]

Mother, I wrote yesterday in my letter that I had a bad cold—I felt quite disagreeable yesterday, but went to bed early, & had a good sleep—to-day, Tuesday, I have felt all right.

It has been snowing some here to-day—I have been out walking though—it is not cold—As I write this, I am sitting here in the office, (Treasury solicitor's) at 8 o'clock—have been reading & writing all by myself—

Mother, you get Mrs. Bruce to give you Gracie's address in Iowa—I have just got some nice copies of my Am. Institute piece from Boston, & I will send her one—1let Mr. or Mrs. Bruce write the address on a slip of paper and you enclose it in your next—The last time I saw Arthur Price here2 he invited me to come down to the Navy yard here to visit his vessel, the Mahopac—so Saturday, after I left work, I went down—but found myself a day after the fair—the vessel had gone about an hour before I got there—I believe she has gone to Norfold.

Mother, on those envelopes you have you just cross out, draw a line over this way,3 when you send them, & leave the rest, (like you did your last)—and they will come safe—I got your letter this morning—it is too bad the letter Mat sent Christmas was lost—that was a real nice present of a barrel of flour—Poor Mat,4 I feel real blue to think of her condition—but perhaps she will come round yet—and may be live as long as any of us—

Well, mama dear, I will close for to-night & finish it to-morrow—

Mother, I am feeling well to-day—I think my cold must have been a false alarm, or else I have got off very easy—The weather is bitter cold here to-day, but bright & clear—

What do you hear from George—I kind of hope he will not go to Milwaukee—should not wish to have him & Lou live so far away, unless the inducement is very great—

Nothing new in the office—I like this place just as well as the other—I have not a room to myself, it is true—We are pretty well crowded—they are mostly young men, & a good deal of noise & moving about—but I don't mind it, as it is only from 9 to 3—& my work is much easier—Has Eddy got well of his cold?

I shall probably be on hand to eat some of Mat's cake—Good bye for to-day, mother dear—



  • 1. "Gracie" is Grace B. Haight (whose visits were anticipated in Walt Whitman's January 3, 1872 letter to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman). The "Am. Institute piece" is "After All, Not to Create Only." The poem was printed by Roberts Brothers of Boston, to whom Whitman had written on September 17, 1871. Haight acknowledged the poem in her letter to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman on February 7, 1872: "I missed much of it the day it was delivered" (Library of Congress). [back]
  • 2. Whitman wrote about the visit of Arthur Price, the son of Abby Price, in his January 1, 1872 letter to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman. [back]
  • 3. Whitman drew a line through "Department of Justice." [back]
  • 4. Martha Whitman came to Brooklyn in late April or early May of 1872, evidently for consultation with New York doctors; see her daughter's letter of May 5, 1872 (Library of Congress). The diagnosis was cancer, mentioned in Walt Whitman's July 19, 1872 letter to Charles W. Eldridge. Jeff either accompanied her or came for her; see Martha Whitman's letter to Louisa Whitman on May 27, 1872 (Missouri Historical Society). [back]
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