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Walt Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, 7 September 1868

Dearest Mother—

Your letter came Saturday, with the acc't of the accident & sudden death of little Andrew—poor little child—I believe I have never seen him—it was sad enough—but the poor young one is out of this world of sin & trouble—& I don't know as we have any cause to mourn for him—

Mother, my leave of absence will commence early next week, but I will send you word two or three days before-hand, when I shall come on. I have a good long leave, & want to rest myself as much as possible, & have a change of scene, & a quiet time, & no literary or other work to bother me—only just have a good quiet moderate time, for somehow I feel as if I wanted to throw off everything like work or thought, for a while—& be with my old mammy at least a good part of the time—

Mr. Evarts1 is still away—O'Connor was to move to-day, but it is showery, & he has postponed it till Wednesday—I was up there last evening, & had tea & spent the evening.

I wrote to Han Saturday last,2 & enclosed your letter in mine—I am still at Mrs. Benedict's3 472 M st.—find it about as good as I could probably get anywhere—most of the boarders have left—I and another young man are the only ones left—they were in the Departments, & were discharged—Many have been discharged within the last two months, & many more the end of this month are expected to be. It makes great misery among some, especially with families—O'Connor & Burroughs still retain their places—

Well, Mother, the summer is pretty well over—they say the folks are coming home from the country, &c—I am glad I didn't take my leave 1st of August, as I expected to, at one time—but was disappointed—When you get this I wish you to write one more letter—but no more till you see me—I think it is going to be a fine day—I am feeling well—

Well, I have a long job of copying to do for Ashton,4 so I will wind up my letter, & set about it—I shall write once more before I come—Good bye for this time, dear Mother.



  • 1. William Maxwell Evarts (1818–1901) was chief counsel for Andrew Johnson during the impeachment trial of 1868. As a reward for his services, Johnson appointed Evarts Attorney General later in the year; Evarts was Secretary of State from 1877 to 1881 and U.S. Senator from New York from 1885 to 1891. [back]
  • 2. This letter is not known. [back]
  • 3. Walt Whitman had been living with the Benedicts since February 1867, as per his February 12, 1867 letter to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, but he expressed a passing interest in leaving the boarding house in a letter of August 24, 1868. [back]
  • 4. J. Hubley Ashton, the assistant Attorney General, actively interested himself in Walt Whitman's affairs, and obtained a position for the poet in his office after the Harlan fracas. [back]
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