Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Ellen M. O'Connor to Walt Whitman, 19 January 1865

Date: January 19, 1865

Whitman Archive ID: loc.00654

Source: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 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.

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Joshua Ware, Vanessa Steinroetter, and Nicole Gray

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Washington, D. C.
Jan'y. 19th 1865.

Dear Walt,—

I1 am rejoiced at the prospect of your being in Washington once more, & it seems that at last there really is a good chance of it. I saw your letter to Mr. Ashton which he got yesterday, telling him that you should probably be here about the 24th.

William got your letter last week, and we were all glad that you felt like coming to try the position in the Interior. It will be so good to see you once more. Before Charley Eldridge left for Boston he thought of speaking to Mr. McManus to make him promise to let you have his room at the same price he had it, which was very low for a good room; but the uncertainty about your coming was so great then that I doubt if he spoke to McManus, but if you should think it best to have him do so, I know he would write to him for you. Charley hoped that you would come before he left, but the order came to go, & at last they had to pack up & go very suddenly, two weeks to-morrow it will be. We miss him very much, it seemed as if all were gone when he left,—we had not at all got used to living without you, & never should for that matter, but Charley was our daily visitor, & was a member of the family almost, since you & he left we have no one.

Before you come, I wish you would call on the Howells if you find it convenient & if you do remember me to them please. I miss them very much, there seems to have been a breaking up of our friends & a scattering.

In your letter to William you spoke of Mrs. Davis being at Mrs. Price's. I have been meaning ever since to visit her. If you see her please tell her I will soon. I am glad that Mrs. Price is better, remember me to her with love.

Dear Walt I cannot tell you how deeply I sympathize with you all in your anxiety about your brother George. I have hoped that you would get some good news from him, and I pray that you may soon. It must be very wearing to your good mother. My heart is torn and my sympathies roused as never by anything before at the way our prisoners are treated.

I am very sorry to hear that you have been sick, what was it? any return of the old trouble? I hoped that you were really well now, but you will have to keep away from the hospitals for some time I think.

I was very glad of your letter of December 4th which I intended then to answer at once, but I have let the time slip by till now, though I have thought & spoken of you daily. I am very sure that never a day passes that you are not spoken of by us, & by Charley when he was here. I am glad to know that you too, think of us.

Your letter to William about your books interested us deeply, be sure to bring your perfect copy of "Drum-taps" won't you? You know that I never had the reading of any of those poems, though you meant that I should.

I long to see you, & we shall be very glad to have you here once more.

We are all very well, I am much better than I was last winter, my summer at the sea-shore & the sea-bathing has done wonders for me. It was a good investment every way.

Mrs. Johnson Arnold's wife has a boy three weeks old, both are well.

I have no news to tell you. Our friends are well, & I trust ere this, that you are so too.

William would send love if he new that I was writing,—Jeannie is out playing & as usual, her voice is the loudest. She is learning to read words of two & three letters.

Remember me to your mother. I hope that she & all are well at home, the babies too.

Good bye—
With love—


1. For a time Whitman lived with William D. and Ellen O'Connor, who, with Eldridge and later Burroughs, were to be his close associates during the early Washington years. William D. O'Connor (1832–1889) was the author of Harrington, an abolition novel published by Thayer & Eldridge in 1860. Ellen "Nelly" O'Connor, William's wife, had a close personal relationship with Whitman. In 1872 Whitman would walk out on a debate with William over the Fifteenth Amendment, which Whitman opposed and O'Connor supported. Ellen defended Whitman's opinion, and in response William established a separate residence. The correspondence between Whitman and Ellen is almost as voluminous as the poet's correspondence with William. For more on Whitman's relationship with the O'Connors see O'Connor, William Douglas (1832–1889)[back]


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