Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: William D. O'Connor to Walt Whitman, 20 July 1882

Date: July 20, 1882

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03062

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.

Editorial note: The annotation, "see notes July 29 1888 | also July 30," is in the hand of Horace Traubel.

Contributors to digital file: Stefan Schoeberlein, Kirsten Clawson, Eder Jaramillo, and Nicole Gray

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Washington, D.C.
July 20, 1882.

Dear Walt:

I just have your postal of the 19th, announcing the first edition out and gone in a day! Hooray! Come on, Vice Society!

I am rejoiced. Rees Welsh & Co ought to have printed more, but no matter. If they manage right now, they can secure a prodigious sale. The main thing is not to be afraid, but to face persecution. The thunderstorm mounts against the wind.

Comstock is here, probably merely on Post Office business, he being a special agent. If he is moving against your book, I shall hear of it. But the Department is in his way, as he will find. He ought to be pitched out of the public service. It is a disgrace to the Government that they should employ this vile maggot bred from carrion—this rat of the cloaca—this lump of devil's-dung. I just want a square chance—a clear sight—to embalm him in a letter. Properly shown up, he would be bounced.

I have a bad dose in preparation for Tobey. There has been some delay, work presses me so much, together with the load of the dog day weather, and I have been really quite ill for a week with a severe cold. I wish I could go North for a while to recover.

I got the Press you sent with the Rev. Mr. Morrow's remarks, which I had already seen in the Tribune. He is a pearl among clergymen, and I feel grateful to him. I heard a story once how the brilliant Douglas Jerrold astonished an evening party in London by a constant fire of jeu de mots for hours, which continued until every person in the room, man or woman, had been the subject of a jest or epigram, always splendid and nearly always tart. Finally, when the admired wit was leaving, every eye fixed upon him, every ear bent to hear whatever he might utter, Charles Knight, the historian, whose sweetness of nature made him loved by all, standing near the door, said to him with a smile, "You've said something this evening about everyone here except me, Douglas; have you nothing to say about me?" "Yes," replied Jerrold, tenderly pressing his hand as he went away, "Good Knight"! I feel like imitating this wit, and saying, not in parting but in welcome, to our new friend, "Good Morrow."

I have an immensely cordial letter from Dr. Channing, who says he is going to write to you.

Send me one of the new edition when you can.

W. D. O'Connor.
Walt Whitman.


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