Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to William D. O'Connor, 23 August 1869

Date: August 23, 1869

Whitman Archive ID: nyp.00290

Source: The Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, New York Public Library. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 2:85–86. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Kenneth M. Price, Elizabeth Lorang, Zachary King, and Eric Conrad

August 23, 1869.

Dear William O'Connor:

I was very ill after my arrival here—& made worse by the heat—but have recovered1—& to-day, Monday, feel about the same as formerly. Mother is well, & sends her love to you all—mother asked a great deal about Nelly, and also about Jenny—

My brother George is remarkably well & robust this summer—he was out in all the excessive heat of the three latter days of last week, & came home every evening to his supper, unflagging, & full of strength & fun—I quite envied & admired him—especially as I felt deathly weak—indeed despicable—but, as before said, I think I am all right again now—

I have not been out yet—havn't heard any news of special interest, literary or other—havn't seen Mrs. Price—but shall begin to explore, this week—& will report in my next—

Dear Nelly, I had an unusually pleasant journey that afternoon & evening in the cars—felt quite well—enjoyed my lunch, the cold tea, &c—got in at Jersey City a few minutes after 10, not a bit tired—Nothing very new from my sisters Mat or Hannah—Eddy is as usual—

Jenny, my darling, I must not forget to put in a line for you too, & send my love—

William,2 do you see how Mrs. Stowe & the Atlanticites are getting cuffed & smitten front & rear, anent of the Byron resurrectionism? The papers are all having articles about it—& all condemn the Atlantic article.3


My address is 101 Portland av. opp. Arsenal Brooklyn, New York.


1. In his September 3, 1869 letter to Peter Doyle, however, Whitman wrote that he was still "unwell most every day—some days not so bad." [back]

2. Someone, probably William D. O'Connor, placed a large asterisk over this paragraph. [back]

3. Harriet Beecher Stowe entered the Byron controversy with a vigorous article in the Atlantic Monthly, 24 (September 1869), 295–313. "The True Story of Lady Byron's Life" was based on an interview and some notes that Lady Byron, critically ill at the time, gave to her in 1856. She attacked the biographical studies of Thomas Moore and Countess Guiccioli, and almost deified "the most remarkable woman that England has produced in the century."

Though O'Connor's reply to Whitman is lost, he expressed his opinion of the article with his usual vigor to William Michael Rossetti on August 28, 1869: "One would fancy Mrs Stowe demented to issue this old foul romance, without one scrap of evidence, and pregnable on every side" (Rossetti Papers [New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1903], 460).  [back]


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