Title: William D. O'Connor to Walt Whitman, 29 June 1882
Date: June 29, 1882
Source: Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.
Location: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Whitman Archive ID: loc.03048
Contributors to digital file: Stefan Schoeberlein, Nima Najafi Kianfar, Eder Jaramillo, and Nicole Gray
June 29, 1882.
'Rah! I have yours of yesterday. It is just delightful to know you have a publisher, or rather publishers, though I have felt sure from the turn things have taken within two or three days, that you will not want for publication. I am sure there is going to be a big row.
Rees, Welsh & Co. promise well. Only be sure your contracts are in form. Will it be advisable to have a long contract? You may have a better offer yet. I hope Rees, Welsh & Co only have life. If they take advantage of the present uproar, and advertise you on the crest of this wave, they may secure a great sale. A publisher with money, ardently believing in your book, "fresh, vehement and true," as Thomas Davis says the Irish guard were at Fontenoy, devoted to your interest, and on the qui vive to turn everything to swell the fame of his venture, might effect a sale which would be tremendous.
I am delighted at your prospect.
I earnestly hope they will print Bucke's book also. It will help. I wrote for him, in a whirl of bitter work and many cares, a long helter-skelter sort of an introduction, for my old pamphlet, which he was to print as an appendix. He thought my prolegomena good, and I was sorry I could not make it better, but if Rees, Welsh & Co. publish his book, I will strive to refurbish my contribution and make it better.
Dr. Channing wrote me from Providence a fortnight ago, in great indignation at what had been done to you, and proposed to reprint "The Good Gray Poet" in Boston at his expense. I explained (did I tell you this?) that I had promised the republication to Bucke and could not in honor take it away from him. Besides, I felt it would not be as timely as I could wish. The thing for a pamphlet will be my letters upon Oliver Stevens and company, when we get to a stopping point, which will be some time during the summer. I propose to print them under the caption, "The Suppression of Leaves of Grass," and they will make a good tender or pilot-fish to your publishers' venture.
After long cogitation, I have concluded, from internal evidence, and feel that I can't be mistaken, that "Sigma" is simply Stoddard, and I am going to answer him now and give him hell. The way I shall manage it, I think you will approve. The rationale of his infamous communication, is to give a basis through the vilest calumniation, to the tottering action of Oliver Stevens and Marston. I mean to point out this fact, and exterminate his effort, announcing that I do so simply as preliminary to the arraignment of Marston, who has thus far escaped scourging, but shall presently know the meaning of the word knout. Then I shall go for Marston.
Also Tobey, the Boston postmaster. He shall have a sample of the Day of Judgment. When I heard that George Chainey's lecture on you had been suppressed, I at once wrote to him and got the facts by telegraph. Then I went to see Col. Ingersoll, and we had a red-hot time over the outrage, and arranged for a session with the Postmaster General on the subject. Today, we have seen him, and Ingersoll was magnificent. The Postmaster had, however, heard nothing of the matter (you will understand this chenanigan when you read the accompanying copy of a letter I have just received from Chainey) and said Chainey must write him a letter. So we telegraph to Chainey accordingly, and this afternoon Ingersoll will concoct a letter to the P.M. General, with my assistance, and we will put in a copy of this letter of Chainey's. I think we can manage Howe, which will score heavily for us in the game.
I'll keep you posted. Pretty soon, I will have a petition started in Boston for the removal of Tobey; also Marston and Stevens. This will make Rome howl. Even if we can't effect the ruin of these scoundrels, it will make a prodigious uproar to roll up several thousand signatures against their retention, and meanwhile I will subject them to the noble art of composition, and my pen will blacken them forever.
Depend upon it, we are going to have music. I hope I shall see everything the press has. I saw the Boston Sunday Herald, with your rendition poem printed with splendid effect. Shall watch the Boston papers. Charley was going up to Boston, and would have made me an exhaustive report on the roots of the matter, but unluckily has been ordered to Memphis. Too bad!
W. D. O'C.