In Whitman's Hand


About this Item

Title: wooding at night

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: Between 1848 and 1887

Whitman Archive ID: duk.00790

Source: Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. Transcribed from digital images of the original. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of manuscripts, see our statement of editorial policy.

Editorial note: This manuscript chronicles part of Whitman's return journey from New Orleans in 1848. The descriptions in this manuscript of the "[l]ong monotonous stretch of the Mississippi" and the "[p]ainful effect of the excessive flatness of the country" found their way, in an altered form, into "New Orleans in 1848," an article that appeared in the New Orleans Picayune on January 25, 1887. The article was later reprinted in November Boughs. The manuscript therefore can be dated conclusively to between 1848 and 1887, but the handwriting and sketchiness of the notes—perhaps the result of on-the-spot notetaking—would suggest a date early in that range.

Notes written on manuscript: On leaf 1 recto, in unknown hand: "(9"; on leaf 1 verso, in unknown hand: "9"; on leaf 2 recto, in unknown hand: "10"

Contributors to digital file: Nicole Gray, Kirsten Clawson, Janel Cayer, Kenneth M. Price, and Brett Barney

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wooding at night—the 20 deck hands at work briskly as bees—in going up the river the flat-boat loaded with wood was attached to the side of our steamer and taken along with us, until the wood was transferred—

Spectacle of the men lying around in groups in the forward part of the lower deck at night—some asleep some conversing—glare of the fire upon them—Some emigrants on their way "up country"—young fellow and his stout young German wife.—Gruffness of the mate to the boat hands—(Life, lot, appearance, characteristics, pay, recklessness, premature deaths, etc etc of the western boat-hands.)

Expressions of the mate.—"Step-along, my bullies!" Come, bullies, hop, now! hop now!"

Mixture of passengers.—A couple of those respectable old gentlemen who are sent to "great" Conventions.—Our two were on the

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way to Philadelphia?—At the place where we took one of them up (describe his appearance, his silver mounted cane etc,) he had about two-score hands to shake, and as many "good-byes" to utter.—

"Now, ^Uncle Daniel, you must nominate Clay," said one.—

"Taylor, Uncle Dan" sang out another

(Had there been time, we should no doubt have had an argument; but western steamboats, like wind and tide, wait for no man, on certain occasions; and this was one of them.—(Describe this old gentleman['s?] manner on the boat his kid gloves.)

The other convention man, seemed to be generally known too.—he was called "Doctor"; wore a white cravat; was deaf, tall, apparently rheumatic, and [slept?] most of the passage—except about meal

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Cookery of the boats bad—raw strong coffee—too much grease—haste of the people to get to the table—would rush in and seize their chairs, ready to spring into their places the moment the bell rang.—

Long monotonous stretch of the Mississippi—Planter's dwellings surrounded with their hamlets of negro huts—groves of negro men women and children in the fields, hoeing the young cotton

Our competition, or race, with the "Grand Turk"—continued from day to day.—Deceptiveness of the steamboat officers as to time of starting, etc.—Gallantry toward the females—Painful effect of the excessive flatness of the country.—

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