Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to William D. O'Connor, 29 October 1882

Date: October 29, 1882

Whitman Archive ID: nyp.00450

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), 3:312. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Kirsten Clawson, Nima Najafi Kianfar, Stefan Schöberlein, and Nicole Gray

Sunday Evn'g—Oct: 29 '82

Thanks for kind letter & the bit poem—like a real star-twinkle.2 I continue sick but move slowly toward recuperation. The liver begins to act. It has not been an engorgement or any thing like it. The basic situation I take to be this—that just now the liver is the seat of, & concentrates, that markedly defective enervation which my paralysis of '73 to '7 &c. has left me for life. The doctor comes every day—(old school, but receptive & progressive—believes more in drugs & medicines than I do, but so far his diagnosis seems thorough, & his doses are justified by results)—About that Heywood, Boston, arrest, mustn't there be some mistake?3 The Chainey affair certainly settled the U. S. mail part—but the Mass: statutes on printed "indecency" are sweepingly stringent I believe. Do you know that Rand & Avery refused to print an edition of L of G. for me, after the Osgood row?—afraid of indictment—Where is Charley Eldridge's address?

Walt Whitman


1. This letter is addressed: Wm D O'Connor | Life Saving Service Bureau | Treasury | Washington | D C. It is postmarked: Camden | Oct | 29 | 6 PM / N.J.; Washington, Recd. | Oct | 30 | 4 30 AM | 1882 | 2. [back]

2. O'Connor included in his letter of October 27 an extract from a newspaper entitled "L'Etranger," a poem not too unlike Whitman's own statements about adhesiveness (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Monday, March 11, 1889, 323). [back]

3. Ezra H. Heywood (1829–1893), a radical reformer and an advocate of free love, was arrested on October 26, 1881, because he printed "To a Common Prostitute" and "A Woman Waits for Me" in The Word and attempted to mail the journals. On October 27, 1882, O'Connor noted a newspaper report of Heywood's arrest: "I don't like Heywood's ways, and I don't like the Free-Love theories at all, but he has his rights, which these devils trample on" (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Monday, March 11, 1889). See also the letter from Whitman to O'Connor of November 12, 1882[back]


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