Whitman, Walt. Letter to Nathaniel Bloom. 1863. 141-143.
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This letter from Walt Whitman to Nat Bloom was sent on September 5, 1863.
To Nathaniel Bloom,
Washington|September 5, 1863
I wish you were here if only to enjoy the bright and beautiful weather we are having here now for about two weeks-then it is sufficiently cool, & the air buoyant & inspiriting-dear friend, how long it is since we have seen each other, since those pleasant meetings & those hot spiced rums & suppers & our dear friends Gray & Chauncey, & Russell, & Fritschy too, (who for a while at first used to sit so silent,) & Perkins & our friend Raymond-how long it seems-how much I enjoyed it all. What a differ- ence it is with me here-I tell you, Nat, my evenings are frequently spent in scenes that make a terrible difference-for I am still a hospital visitor, there has not passed a day for months (or at least not more than two) that I have not been among the sick & wounded, either in hospitals or down in camp-occasionally here I spend the evenings in hospital-the experience is a profound one, beyond all else, & touches me personally, egotistically, in unprecedented ways-I mean the way often the amputated, sick, sometimes dying soldiers cling & cleave to me as it were as a man overboard to a plank, & the perfect content they have if I will remain with them, sit on the side of the cot awhile, some youngsters often, & caress them &c.-It is delicious to be the object of so much love & reliance, & to do them such good, soothe & pacify torments of wounds &c-You will doubtless see in what I have said the reason I continue so long in this kind of life-as I am entirely on my own hook too.
Life goes however quite well with me here-I work a few hours a day at copying &c, occasionally write a newspaper letter, & make enough money to pay my expenses-I have a little room, & live a sort of German or Parisian student life-always get my breakfast in my room, (have a little spirit lamp) & rub on free & happy enough, untrammeled by business, for I make what little employment I have suit my moods-walk quite a good deal, & in this weather the rich & splendid environs of Washington are an unfailing fountain to me-go down the river, or off into Virginia once in a while-All around US here are forts, by the score-great ambulance & teamsters' camps &c-these I go to-same have little hospitals, I visit, &c &c-
Dear Nat, your good & friendly letter came safe, & was indeed welcome-I had not thought you had forgotten me, but I wondered why you did not write-What comfort you must take out there in the country. by the river-I have read your letter many times, as I do from all my dear friends & boys there in New York-Perkins lately wrote me a first-rate letter, & I will reply to it soon-I wish to see you all very much-I wish you to give my love to Fritschy, & Fred Gray-I desire both to write to me-Nat, you also, my dear comrade, & tell me all about the boys & everything, all the little items are so good-should Charles Russell visit New York, I wish you to say to him I send him my love-I wish you the same to Perk, & to Kinsley & Ben Knower-so good bye, my comrade, till we meet, & God bless you, dear friend-
address me care Major Hapgood, Paymaster U S A, cor 15th & F Washington D C-