Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Ellen M. O'Connor, [8 March 1874]

Date: March 8, 1874

Whitman Archive ID: nyp.00330

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), 2:284–285. 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

431 Stevens st. / cor West. / Camden, / N. Jersey.
Sunday, noon.1

Dear Nelly,

I must first tell you what will please you best, namely that I [am] feeling decidedly better than usual this morning—I have spent an hour in the bath room, (quite my regular test,) & come out not only without any diminution of strength or elasticity—but an increase—& with a visit or descending upon me like of a long-absent feeling of physical ease & unconsciousness, which I will welcome as a precursor, even if [it] soon passes over (as it doubtless will)—but hope for return. For I suppose you know that my condition is very tantalizing in its fluctuations—Like today as I write—now the sun is out bright enough—& fifteen minutes since, I noticed from the window quite a flurry of snow—& cloudy—At any rate I am feeling again to-day one of the glimpses I had or was beginning to have last May, before mother died—am under its influence & benefit to-day—& you shall have the good of it, Nelly dear—as far as this note can give.

Poor, poor, Ada Clare—I have been inexpressibly shocked by the horrible & sudden close of her gay, easy, sunny free, loose, but not ungood life—I suppose you have seen about it, but I cut the enclosed from the Herald in case you have not2

Nelly, I rec'd your letter—I send W. Graphics of 21st & 28th as you request—The W. G. of 7th March is my last no.3—did you get it?—I rec'd Charley's letter—Love to you & all—I feel to-day as though we shall yet be together again & have better times than ever, Nelly dear.



1. For dating this letter, the reference to Ada Clare is conclusive. March 8 was on Sunday in 1874.

This letter is endorsed, "Ans'd." The letter's envelope bears the address, "Mrs. E. M. O'Connor, 1015 O street, near 11th N. W. | Washington, | D. C." It is postmarked: "Camden | (?) | 8 | N.J [back]

2. The clipping from the March 6, 1874 issue of the New York Herald is with the letter. Headed "A Sad Case of Hydrophobia," it recorded the death of the actress and author, Ada Clare (cited in Whitman's September 15, 1867 letter to William D. O'Connor), now Mrs. Ada Noyes, on March 4, 1874, as a result of a rabies infection she had developed five weeks earlier. [back]

3. The last three parts of "Tis But Ten Years Since." [back]


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