Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Ellen M. O'Connor, 26 July [1873]

Date: July 26, 1873

Whitman Archive ID: nyp.00320

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), 2:229–230. 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, Kathryn Kruger, Zachary King, and Eric Conrad

322 Stevens st.
Camden, N.J.
Saturday after-
noon, July 26.1

Dear friend,

Your welcome letter reached me to-day. Yours from Washington of over two weeks since, also came safe. Since my letter of about three weeks since to Charles Eldridge—in which I wrote to you also2—I have not improved any—the distress in my head has not abated—some spells are very bad indeed—(but it fluctuates, some days, or parts of days, leaving me comparatively comfortable.) Nor can I walk any better—some of the time, not so well—My saving points are pretty good nights' rest, and a fair appetite, digestion, &c. Still I can see I am gradually being pulled, and, though I have not at all given up hope of eventual recovery, I do not shut my eyes to the other termination—

I am very comfortable here, as I believe I told you, occupying mother's former rooms, (a north & south one, second floor,) and with all her nice & homely furniture & bed & chairs—& living day & night in her memory & atmosphere.

We are having the hottest sort of weather here—in New York and Washington it must be terrible—but here I find I stand it quite well. I rec'd a note from John Burroughs telling me of his flitting visit to Newport & call on you. I have been waiting till I felt stronger, to go to Atlantic City (Jersey sea shore) or Long Island, but in my present condition feel it best to stay here—(Nelly, I don't feel as well as when you used to come there to White's)3—I shall be glad indeed to have Charles Eldridge come here & see me—& it will be a real disappointment if he does not—but I count on his coming without fail—I hope to get a letter from him soon.

I still manage to get out a little, towards evening—not always, but nearly every day—get to the ferry boat, & sail to & fro across the Delaware, occasionally—I had seen in the newspapers of William's appointment, & was truly pleased—I hear from Peter Doyle quite regularly—he is well, & working at his dangerous post on the Baltimore & Potomac RR—I miss him much—& I miss you too, Nelly—I am very lonesome here, (& yet I keep up very good heart)—

If Charles Eldridge is there, I send him my love, & the same to all—to your daughter Jeannie, (whom you do not mention) & to your sister & the Doctor,4 & all who in good will enquire for me—It is now between 3 and 4 Saturday afternoon—I am sitting here in mother's great arm chair—we have had a hot day—but a breeze is springing up—it is a shady quiet spot here—I shall try to hobble out soon though I am quite feeble.



1. This letter is endorsed, "Ans'd." Its envelope bears the address, "Mrs. E. M. O'Connor, | Care of Dr. W. F. Channing, | Newport, | R. I." Its postmark is indecipherable. [back]

2. Whitman refers to his July 7, 1873 letter to Charles Eldridge, in which Whitman addressed a paragraph to Ellen O'Connor, advising her to "take this letter the same is if written to you." [back]

3. Whitman stayed at the Whites' from March 1, 1871, until he left Washington. He had paid $236 in rent through June 10, 1873 (The Library of Congress #73). On November 28, 1873, Dr. George A. White, a chiropodist, acknowledged for his wife receipt of $28 "on account . . . for rent of room etc from May 1st/73" (Charles E. Feinberg Collection). Whitman gave up one room at the Whites' on June 10, 1873: "Kept the other at $2.50 a month" (The Library of Congress #68). See also Whitman's July 10, 1874 letter to Peter Doyle, in which Whitman left instructions for the delivery of his boxes from the Whites'. [back]

4. Ellen O'Connor's sister was Dr. William F. Channing's wife. [back]


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