Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: William D. O'Connor to Walt Whitman, 19 August 1882

Date: August 19, 1882

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03063

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 Oct 16 & 17 1888," is in the hand of Horace Traubel.

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

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Washington, D.C.1
August 19, 1882.

Dear Walt:

I got your card of the 6th, and duly the new edition of the book arrived, for which I am much obliged. I have now all the editions, except the second, which I hope to possess some day.

The weather has been until yesterday so fearfully oppressive that I have unwittingly delayed acknowledging the book, having been almost sick with the heat. I sent a blast against Comstock, to the Tribune on Friday, apropos of his threats in that paper of the 6th, which I suppose you saw. They may not print it, or they may tomorrow. Whitelaw Reid being away, is against me. We shall see. The article is brief, but a scorcher. I debated before sending it, holding your interests in consideration, but concluded that Comstock means mischief, and thought prudent to make him feel the talon as a warning. If he meddles with your book in New York, I will do my utmost in all directions to have him removed from his Post Office Agency, and I think I can raise a tempest that will darken him forever, if I try.

It is splendid, the way the Rees Welch edition sells. I am delighted.

Much obliged for your interest about the Florio Montaigne. I only asked because I saw Welsh dealt in old books. There has been a boom in Montaigne of late years, and it is not so easy to get hold of the earlier editions now. I have been re-reading him lately. It is immense. I can hardly doubt that Bacon is the true author—the book so fits into his scheme. That chapter, "On Some Verses in Virgil", is tremendous, and backs you greatly.

I thought Gilder of the Critic was a friend of yours. His taking up for that miserable Chadwick against me, misrepresenting and falsifying my argumentation, was anything but friendly.

The Unitarian Index did a rascally thing lately in reprinting Chadwick's letter verbatim, without my reply. Dr. Channing went up to Boston and saw Underwood, the editor, and gave him a piece of his mind (the Dr. thinks it "a crushing reply."). Underwood excused himself for not printing my answer on the ground that it was too "personal"!!!!! When you remember how Chad. assailed me as a liar, you will appreciate this delicious reason! Upon hearing of it, I wrote Underwood a note in which I gave him cantharides, or as the Long Island boys say, "hell under the shirt". To which he rejoined in a whining letter, saying he meant to do me no injustice, and would print a reply from me to Chadwick if I would write him one, and make it short! In conclusion, he begged me to remember that his paper was "small". To which I had a mind to answer, "Very." But I have not again written him, being quite satisfied with letting him know what I thought of his fair-play.

Dr. Bucke has written me about his book. Can anything be done to make Rees Welsh publish it? I wish it could be done. Now is the time, when public interest has been awakened, and persecution is yet possible.

That is a sick article of Gordon's you sent me. But we'll have something to say on that point yet.

Goodbye. I hope to hear that the third edition is already called for!

Walt Whitman

P.S. I have a card from John Burroughs on his return.

I was sorry to see the item in the Tribune of the 15th, saying that your book had been proscribed by Trinity College, Dublin, through the efforts of one Galbraith, described as a Fellow of the College, and a damned low fellow too, I should say. The news made me fear the possible effect here. Strange that I cannot find the alleged letter to Marston in any of the Boston papers. It was in Dublin, either at this College or the University, that Tyrrell lectured on you, glorifying the book they now proscribe. "So runs the world away."



1. Whitman wrote a series of numbers on the back of the envelope that accompanied this letter. [back]


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