Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: William D. O'Connor to Walt Whitman, 21 December 1886

Date: December 21, 1886

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03321

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: Alex Ashland, Stefan Schöberlein, Nicole Gray, Ian Faith, and Stephanie Blalock

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Washington, D.C.
December 21, 1886.

Dear Walt

I enclose the two books by express, and will write you later. You need not return them until called for, if at all.1 Charley Eldridge sent them to me,2 I don't know yet whether as a gift or a loan. So take your time at them.

I find on carefully reading the "Quarterly," that I should greatly qualify my first impression of its merits. Still, it is good, and its source gives it weight, and great significance.

I am badly off today, so excuse crudity and brevity. I hope you'll have a comfortable Christmas.

W D O'Connor

Walt Whitman.

William Douglas O'Connor (1832–1889) was the author of the grand and grandiloquent Whitman pamphlet The Good Gray Poet: A Vindication, published in 1866. 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).


1. It is unclear what books O'Connor included with his letter, but one appears to be "the New Zealand professor's book" that O'Connor described in his letter to Whitman of December 10, 1886. The "professor" is likely John Macmillan Brown (1845–1935) of New Zealand's Canterbury College, who visited Whitman in 1884. It is unclear what the title of the publication is but it was apparently reviewed in London's The Nation in the early 1880s. [back]

2. Charles W. Eldridge was one half of the Boston-based abolitionist publishing firm Thayer and Eldridge, who put out 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 and eventually obtained a desk for Whitman in the office of Major Lyman Hapgood, the army paymaster. For more on Whitman's relationship with Thayer and Eldridge see "Thayer, William Wilde (1829–1896) and Charles W. Eldridge (1837–1903)." [back]


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