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Walt Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, 1 January 1867

Dearest Mother,

I have just rec'd your letter—I thought of you during that storm—it was very severe here too, & awful gales of wind one or two nights—The dinner in the Hospital1 was a complete success—there was plenty, & good too—turkey & four or five kinds of vegetables, & mince pie, &c—then I purchased a large quantity of navy plug, & smoking tobacco, & pipes, &c. and after dinner every body that wanted to, had a good smoke—& I had a lot of oranges, apples, &c. & a large sugar cake for supper—then I read some amusing pieces to them for three quarters of an hour, for a change—& sat down by those who were worst off—&c. &c. Nobody else came in that day. They have a Chaplain, but he is miserable coot, like the rest of his tribe.

I have written again to Han— I am writing this in the office, all alone—I am going down to the Hospital for a little while, & to carry some tobacco—& then I am invited to O'Connor's to dinner at 4 o'clock—we are to have cold turkey, hot vegetables, &c—They are going to stay where they are till next March. We have had quite a snow storm here—it is snowing moderately now. Some are out with their sleighs. I am glad to hear such a good account of Eddy. It makes me feel quite satisfied.

I had a visit from Bayard Taylor,2 a few days since.

Well good bye for this time, dear mother.



  • 1. Walt Whitman wrote of preparations for this dinner, including a collection effort, in his December 24, 1866 letter to his mother. [back]
  • 2. Bayard Taylor (1825–1878), translator of Faust, journalist, and traveler, had sent a copy of his poem "The Picture of St. John" to Walt Whitman in a November 12, 1866 letter, to which Whitman responded in a November 18, 1866 letter to Taylor. In the November 12 letter, Taylor commended Whitman's "remarkable powers of expression" and "deep and tender reverence for Man." His letter of December 2, 1866 was even more unreserved in its praise of Whitman. Later Taylor's enthusiasm for Whitman was to change dramatically. In The Echo Club (2d ed., 1876), 154–158, 168–169, Taylor burlesqued Whitman's poetry. In his Reminiscences of Walt Whitman (1896), William Sloane Kennedy lists Taylor among Whitman's "Bitter and Relentless Foes and Cillifiers." [back]
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