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Walt Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, 8 January [1867]

Dearest mother,

Well, every thing is just about the same. I rec'd your letter New Years. I have rec'd a small present from Heyde—he sent me a small stereoscope,2 that is to put pictures in, & look through it, & it magnifies them, & makes them look like the real thing—it has some beautiful views of scenes in Vermont—I forget whether I told you that I sent Han some gloves & a $5 bill, Christmas—so I suppose this is in return—He says Han rec'd the parcels.3 Mrs. Grayson4 is still living—she is slightly better—I go [to] the hospital now oftener than usual—there are several very low—I just go, for an hour or so, [a] time—I had rather go than not—

Every thing is covered with snow here, looks wintry enough—cold weather, but somehow I like it—I have no fire in my room, so far, this winter—I have rec'd a letter from Mrs. Price. You must tell me how George is getting along with his business. You might ask George whether any thing could be done with $500 cash about getting a lot & moderate-sized two story house to have say 15 or $1600 on mortagage?—whether they could get some one to take the rest on mortgage, so as to save themselves5

Mat, I went to the opera last [night]—went alone—I was much pleased —the piece was Ernani6—first amusement I have been to in a year, except once to hear Ristori7 —Good by, mother dear.


I sent Jeff some envelopes for you a week ago.


  • 1. Whitman wrote "1866." [back]
  • 2. Charles Heyde, husband of Hannah Louisa Whitman, sent this package to Senator George Franklin Edmunds, of Vermont. Edmunds informed Walt Whitman of the package's arrival in his letter of January 4, 1867. [back]
  • 3. Heyde mentioned Walt Whitman's gifts in a letter to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, written in January: "Walter is very kind" (Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library). In commenting on this passage in her letter of January 17, 1867, Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, who was not without a sense of humor, wrote: "i suppose you will take it as a great complement . . . ." Hannah, with her customary guilt about her procrastination, acknowledged the gifts in a letter to her mother on March 20, 1867 (Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library). [back]
  • 4. Juliet Grayson operated the boardinghouse at 468 M North, where Walt Whitman lived between late January 1865 and February 1866. Whitman reported her death in his January 15, 1867 letter to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman. [back]
  • 5. Walt Whitman proposed a similar real estate venture to his brother George in an October 1866 letter to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman. [back]
  • 6. Verdi's Ernani was performed at the National Theatre, with a cast that included Carmen Poch, Mazzoleni, and Bellini. [back]
  • 7. Adelaide Ristori (1822–1906), a famous Italian tragedian, appeared at the National Theatre in Elizabeth, Queen of England on December 6, 1866. The Washington National Republican reported on December 7 that the house had been sold out, and that during the week she would also appear in Macbeth and Mary, Queen of Scotland. The Washington National Intelligencer printed a lengthy biography of the actress on December 3, 1866. [back]
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