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Walt Whitman to Abby H. and Helen Price, [11 January 1874]

Dear Abby, & Dear Helen, not forgetting Emmy, & all

As I am sitting here alone in the parlor, the sun near setting pleasantly & brightly, (though cold to-day,) I just think that I ought to write you, even if but a line—that I am neglecting you—that perhaps you will be glad enough to hear from me. Well, I am still here—still alive, after quite a many pretty hard pulls & pressures—maintain pretty good spirits—which would be, quite first-rate & good—but every day & every night comes the thought of my mother—I am not despondent or blue, nor disposed to be any more ennuyeed​ than ever—but that thought remains to temper the rest of my life.

I am probably improving, though very slowly—go out a little most every day—go over to Philadelphia—get along pretty well in the cars & crossing the ferry. (The car fellows & ferrymen are very kind & helpful—almost all know me, I suppose instinctively)—appetite fair—rest at night tolerable—general strength better than at any time—(it is now just a year since I was paralyzed.) Can't use my left leg yet with any freedom—bad spells in the head too frequent yet—then, with all those, I am certainly encouraged to believe I am on the gain. (But I am not out of the woods yet.) I write some—(must occupy my mind.) I am writing some pieces in the Weekly Graphic—my reminiscences of war times—first number appears in Weekly Graphic of Jan. 242—three or four others to follow—

We are in the new house my brother has built—very nice. I find myself very3lonesome here, for all social & emotional consolation—(Man cannot live on bread alone—can he?)—I want to come & see you—must do so before long—want to pay a moderate board, (same as I do here,) if convenient for you to have me—Shall not come on any other condition—Well, Abby, I have just skurried​ rapidly over the sheet, & will send it to you just as it is, with love.

Walt Whitman


  • 1. On the basis of the reference to his illness and the appearance of articles in the New York Weekly Graphic, January 11, 1874, a Sunday, appears to be a plausible date; January 18, 1874, however, cannot be ruled out. [back]
  • 2. "'Tis But Ten Years Since" appeared in the New York Weekly Graphic from January 24 to March 7, 1874. For a discussion of these articles, see Thomas O. Mabbott and Rollo G. Silver, American Literature, 15 (1943), 51–62. Later these articles appeared in Memoranda During the War. [back]
  • 3. The word was underscored twice. [back]
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