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Walt Whitman to Louisa Orr Whitman, 6 July [1881]

Dear Sister Lou

There is nothing very new & I suppose George has written to you, as he returned about 6 p m yesterday all right—but I thought I would drop a line1

Of course the shooting of President Garfield2 is the general subject, & has depressed me much, but for the last twenty four hours, his case is so much more favorable—We had the most horrible celebration here I ever knew, commenced at dark Sunday night, continued all night & of course next day, ruffians yelling, crackers, and all the old guns & pistols of all Jersey, with all the bad elements of humanity completely let loose & making the most infernal din possible to conceive for over thirty hours without a moments intermission—Over in Philadelphia perfectly quiet, (all the bad stuff probably came over here)—very hot indeed here the last four days, & continues still—I am standing it well—I take my meals at Mrs Wroth's3 & find it a very good place—it was a good move, my going there—Mrs W is very kind—Tip has been all right & has had his meals regular—a little off his feed & off his bark this morning, I suppose from the great heat, & folks away—Arthur Stanley lives now over at the Chevaliers, with his new wife4—his little boy bro't​ me over a nice piece of wedding cake Sunday which I took down to Alice Wroth5

The house is all right so far—I try to keep as cool as I can—what with bathing & ventilation, & of course you will find some litter when you come back—

I send some Ledgers—I am writing this in the dining room, by open window—George was writing early forenoon, but has gone out—Tip has commenced a good barking at last (11½ oclock) after being quiet all the forenoon—I was afraid something was the matter with him—

I am busy five or six hours yet every day with the copy of my book—hard work to get it in the shape I want it.

As I finish it is after noon & very hot & oppressive—Love to you & all—tell little Amy6 I have not forgotten her, & that I am going to give Tip a nice sweet coffee-cake for his dinner—George has just returned—



  • 1. Louisa Orr Whitman left for Connecticut on July 2 (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). [back]
  • 2. Whitman knew Garfield when he was in Washington (see the letter from Walt Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman of January 29, 1864). Later in the year he wrote "The Sobbing of the Bells," which appeared in the Boston Daily Globe on September 27, and was included in The Poets' Tribute to Garfield (1881), 71. See also Poet-Lore, 10 (1898), 618. [back]
  • 3. Beginning July 2, Whitman took his meals with Caroline Wroth, the wife of a Philadelphia importer who lived at 319 Stevens Street, Camden (Whitman's Commonplace Book). [back]
  • 4. Arthur Stanley was an oilcloth painter; according to "A Child's Memories of the Whitmans" by Amy Haslam Dowe (see "Amy H. Dowe and Walt Whitman," Walt Whitman Review 13 [September 1967], 73–79), some old ladies, the Chevaliers, lived across the street from Whitman. [back]
  • 5. Caroline Wroth's daughter. [back]
  • 6. Louisa's niece, Amy Dowe (see the letter from Whitman to Anne Gilchrist of March 27, 1879). [back]
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