Skip to main content

Walt Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, 24 December 1866

Dearest mother,

I got Jeff's letter sending the money toward the soldiers' dinner—it was more than I asked for, & was very good of them all1—I have not had any trouble myself, worth mentioning—the dinner has been got up at my instigation—I have contributed handsomely—but they, (the Hospital steward, &c.) have done the work.

Mother, I sent Han a handsome little volume of "Florence Percy's Poems,"2 & $5 for a Christmas present. Sent it to-day. Poor Han—I suppose every such thing does her so much good—

Don't you believe that fool Heyde lately wrote a long letter to Mr. Raymond,3 editor of the N. Y. Times—in it he said "Walt was a good fellow enoughbut"—& then he went on to run down Leaves of Grass, like the rest of 'em—

The way I know is, Wm. O'Connor was invited by Raymond to come & see him—& he told O'Connor he had received a number of letters about that piece in the Times of Dec. 2, which I sent you. He said they all praised the piece, & thanked him (Raymond) for printing it, except one he got from a fellow in Vermont who called himself Walt Whitman's relation—a brother in law, he believed—quite a good deal of stuff. Raymond seemed to think the man was either crazy or a fool, & he treated the letter with contempt.

I dont want you to write any thing about it, to Han, of course—only if she was here, we would tell her. The puppy thought I suppose that he could get his letter printed, & injure me & my book.

We are likely to have a pleasant day for Christmas—when I next write I will tell you about the dinner—I must inform you that I have had a present of a beautiful knife, a real Rogers' steel, to-day from the Attorney General—Mother, $2 is for Nance4—you can give it to her in money, or any way you like—

Well, dear mother, this is Christmas eve, & I am writing it in the office by gas light, so as it will be ready to go to-morrow—I have not heard since from Mrs. Grayson. Good night, mother dear.



  • 1. On December 21, 1866, Jeff had sent $31 collected from employees at the Water Works: "Hope you wont be disappointed in the smallness of the amount." Evidently Walt Whitman had also written to William E. Worthen for funds (see Whitman's letter to his brother Jeff of May 23, 1864 ), since Jeff noted that he had "sent letter to Worthen." See also Whitman's letter of December 29, 1866, and "Letter from Walt Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, 1 January 1867" (Edwin Haviland Miller, ed., The Correspondence [New York: New York University Press, 1961–69], 1:305). [back]
  • 2. Elizabeth Chase Allen (1832–1911), one of the favorite nineteenth-century household poets, used the pseudonym Florence Percy. Poems, published in 1866 by Ticknor and Fields, includes her most famous poem, "Rock Me to Sleep." She married John Burroughs's friend, E. M. Allen, in October, 1866; she heartily disliked Walt Whitman (Clara Barrus, Whitman and Burroughs—Comrades [Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1931], 12). Hannah acknowledged receipt of the book in her letter to her mother on March 20, 1867 (Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, Duke University Rare Books, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library). [back]
  • 3. Henry Jarvis Raymond (1820–1869) established the New York Daily Times on September 18, 1851. Raymond termed The Good Gray Poet "the most brilliant monograph in our literature" (Barrus, Whitman and Burroughs, 35), and he published O'Connor's review of Leaves of Grass on December 2, 1866 (see Whitman's letter to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman of December 4, 1866). Raymond later asked O'Connor to write for the Times; see the letter from Whitman to his mother of April 16, 1867. [back]
  • 4. Andrew's wife. [back]
Back to top