Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Charles W. Eldridge to Walt Whitman, 11 February 1887

Date: February 11, 1887

Whitman Archive ID: loc.06063

Source: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. . The transcription presented here is derived from Whitman and Burroughs—Comrades, ed. Clara Barrus (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1931), 262–263. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Stephanie Blalock, Stefan Schöberlein, and Ian Faith

Pasadena, California
February 11, 1887

Dear Walt,

William1 and I are here at Dr. Channing's2 home. I brought William out here from Washington in the hope that the climate might arrest the progress of his disease. It was a serious undertaking to bring so sick a man three thousand miles on a railroad train, and he was much exhausted when he arrived. He has hardly recovered from the effect of the journey as yet. In fact, he is worse that he has ever been. Can walk very little without the assistance of a friendly arm. If any improvement is to be achieved, it must come hereafter.

This is a garden of fruit and flowers. . . .

William and I received here (forwarded from Washington) letters from Mr. Lovering,3 M.C., relative to your hospital services. William was unable to answer, much to his regret, but I did the best I could on my own account. Hope for a favorable result. . . .

He [O'Connor] has received an indefinite leave of absence from the Treasury Department with pay. He says he will write you as soon as he can. He sends much love, and so do I. Sorry to hear from the newspapers that your health is so feeble. Wish you could come out here and get strong.

As ever, faithfully yours
Charles W. Eldridge

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, 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)."


1. 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). [back]

2. William F. Channing (1820–1901), son of William Ellery Channing, and also Ellen O'Connor's brother-in-law, was by training a doctor, but devoted most of his life to scientific experiments. With Moses G. Farmer, he perfected the first fire-alarm system. He was the author of Notes on the Medical Applications of Electricity (Boston: Daniel Davis, Jr., and Joseph M. Wightman, 1849). Ellen O'Connor visited him frequently in Providence, Rhode Island, and Whitman stayed at his home in October, 1868. [back]

3. Henry Bacon Lovering (1841–1911) held several political positions at state and federal levels. Lovering represented Massachusetts' sixth district in the U.S. House of Representatives between 1883 and 1887, and was appointed as the United States Marshal for Massachusetts by President Grover Cleveland in 1888. He later served as the United States Pension Agent at Boston between 1894 and 1898. Lovering was involved in efforts to get Whitman a government pension in recognition of his Civil War hospital service. [back]


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