Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to William D. O'Connor, 11 May 1870

Date: May 11, 1870

Whitman Archive ID: nyp.00292

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), 2:98–99. 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

May 11, 18701

Dear William,

My hand has been pretty bad, but looks more encouraging to-day. I don't think there is anything very serious, but it has caused me much suffering, since I have been here. If the "Radical" has come, send me a copy immediately.2 Address to No 101 Portland avenue, opposite Arsenal. Mother is well as usual. We both send love to you and Nellie. I expect to be back next Monday.

Walt Whitman
By AHP.3


1. This letter's envelope bears the address, "William D. O'Connor, | Light House Board | Treasury Dep't, | Washington | D.C." It is postmarked, "Brooklyn N. Y. | May | 11." [back]

2. Anne Gilchrist's "A Woman's Estimate of Walt Whitman" appeared in the May issue of the Boston Radical, 7 (1870), 345–359, reprinted in In Re Walt Whitman (1893), ed. Horace L. Traubel, Richard Maurice Bucke, and Thomas B. Harned, 41–55, and The Letters of Anne Gilchrist and Walt Whitman, ed. Thomas B. Harned [New York: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1918], 3–22. In an undated letter, probably written early in June 1870, Louisa Van Velsor Whitman commented: "that Lady seems to understand your writing better than ever any one did before as if she could see right through you. she must be a highly educated woman" (The Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library). On June 13, 1870, Charles Heyde wrote of the article: "Yet you percieve , even the praise she bestows [i?]s qualified with the general recoil, which all natures of true human sensibility experience, at your (mistaken) barbarism. The louse and the maggot know as much about procreation as you do, and when you unveil and denude yourself, you descend to the level of the dog, with the bitch, merely."

Since O'Connor promised William Michael Rossetti to have Mrs. Gilchrist's essay "fitly given to the world" (Herbert Harlakenden Gilchrist, Anne Gilchrist: Her Life and Writings [New York: Scribner & Welford, 1887], 187), he probably arranged for its publication in the Radical, which was printed in Boston by Samuel H. Morse, and which included among its contributors at least two of Walt Whitman's friends, Conway and Alcott; see Frank Luther Mott, History of American Magazines (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1957), 3:78. The former co-editor of the journal, Joseph B. Marvin, was now a clerk in the Treasury Department and was acquainted with Walt Whitman; Marvin is mentioned in Whitman's December 11, 1874 letter to John Burroughs. [back]

3. Abby H. Price wrote this letter and Walt Whitman's May 11, 1870 letter to Walbridge A. Field. [back]


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