Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to William D. O'Connor, 28 October 1887

Date: October 28, 1887

Source: The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 4:129. 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.00572

Contributors to digital file: Ryan Furlong, Stefan Schöberlein, Caterina Bernardini, and Stephanie Blalock




Camden1
Oct 28 '87

Ab't the same as usual with me—Few or no visitors—have been reading Pepys2 & Lewes's Goethe papers3—A letter from John Burroughs4 yesterday—he inquires particularly for you—he is at West Park again—I have just written to C W E[ldridge]5 & sent him a bundle of papers. My canary is singing loud & fast, as I write—Cloudy half-dripping weather, promising cold—clear skies I think before night—as I sit here by the window—


Walt Whitman


Correspondent:
William Douglas O'Connor (1832–1889) was the author of the grand and grandiloquent Whitman pamphlet "The Good Gray Poet," published in 1866 (a digital version of the pamphlet is available at "The Good Gray Poet: A Vindication"). For more on Whitman's relationship with O'Connor, see Deshae E. Lott, "O'Connor, William Douglas (1832–1889)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).

Notes:

1. This letter is endorsed: "Answ'd Nov 25/87." It is addressed: Wm D O'Connor | Life Saving Service | Washington D C. It is postmarked: Camden, N.J. | Oct (?) 8 | 4 30 PM | 87; Washington, Rec'd. | Oct | 28 | 10 PM | 1887 | 1. [back]

2. Samuel Pepys (1633–1703) was the author of the well-known diary of a decade of his life (1660–1669), which remained unpublished until 1825; an expanded edition was published in 1875-1879. [back]

3. George Henry Lewes (1817–1878) published his much-admired Life of Goethe in 1864. [back]

4. The naturalist John Burroughs (1837–1921) met Whitman on the streets of Washington, D.C., in 1864. After returning to Brooklyn in 1864, Whitman commenced what was to become a lifelong correspondence with Burroughs. Burroughs was magnetically drawn to Whitman. However, the correspondence between the two men is, as Burroughs acknowledged, curiously "matter-of-fact." Burroughs would write several books involving or devoted to Whitman's work: Notes on Walt Whitman, as Poet and Person (1867), Birds and Poets (1877), Whitman, A Study (1896), and Accepting the Universe (1924). For more on Whitman's relationship with Burroughs, see Carmine Sarracino, "Burroughs, John [1837–1921] and Ursula [1836–1917]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

5. Charles W. Eldridge (1837–1903) was one half of the Boston-based abolitionist publishing firm Thayer and Eldridge, who issued the 1860 edition of Leaves of Grass. In December 1862, on his way to find his injured brother George in Fredericksburg, Virginia, Walt Whitman stopped in Washington and encountered Eldridge, who had become a clerk in the office of the army paymaster, Major Lyman Hapgood. Eldridge eventually obtained a desk for Whitman in Hapgood's office. For more on Whitman's relationship with Thayer and Eldridge, see David Breckenridge Donlon, "Thayer, William Wilde (1829–1896) and Charles W. Eldridge (1837–1903)." [back]


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