Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to William D. O'Connor, 29 October 1882

Date: October 29, 1882

Source: The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 3:312. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Location: The Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, New York Public Library

Whitman Archive ID: nyp.00450

Contributors to digital file: Kirsten Clawson, Nima Najafi Kianfar, Stefan Schöberlein, and Nicole Gray

Sunday Evn'g—Oct: 29 '82

Thanks for kind letter & the bit poem—like a real star-twinkle.2 I continue sick but move slowly toward recuperation. The liver begins to act. It has not been an engorgement or any thing like it. The basic situation I take to be this—that just now the liver is the seat of, & concentrates, that markedly defective enervation which my paralysis of '73 to '7 &c. has left me for life. The doctor comes every day—(old school, but receptive & progressive—believes more in drugs & medicines than I do, but so far his diagnosis seems thorough, & his doses are justified by results)—About that Heywood, Boston, arrest, mustn't there be some mistake?3 The Chainey affair certainly settled the U. S. mail part—but the Mass: statutes on printed "indecency" are sweepingly stringent I believe. Do you know that Rand & Avery refused to print an edition of L of G. for me, after the Osgood row?—afraid of indictment—Where is Charley Eldridge's address?

Walt Whitman


1. This letter is addressed: Wm D O'Connor | Life Saving Service Bureau | Treasury | Washington | D C. It is postmarked: Camden | Oct | 29 | 6 PM / N.J.; Washington, Recd. | Oct | 30 | 4 30 AM | 1882 | 2. [back]

2. O'Connor included in his letter of October 27 an extract from a newspaper entitled "L'Etranger," a poem not too unlike Whitman's own statements about adhesiveness (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden [Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1953], 4:323). [back]

3. Ezra H. Heywood (1829–1893), a radical reformer and an advocate of free love, was arrested on October 26, because he printed "To a Common Prostitute" and "A Woman Waits for Me" in The Word and attempted to mail the journals. On October 27 O'Connor noted a newspaper report of Heywood's arrest: "I don't like Heywood's ways, and I don't like the Free-Love theories at all, but he has his rights, which these devils trample on" (Traubel, 4:323). See also the letter from Whitman to O'Connor of November 12, 1882[back]


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