Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to William D. O'Connor, 29 March [1883]

Date: March 29, 1883

Whitman Archive ID: nyp.00486

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), 3:335. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

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

March 29

Yours just rec'd—The printers are very slow—but will be coming along in a day [or] two—have a sudden rush—the American reprint "Encyclopædia Brittanica"—I send you by express a little package of books—the three Vols. of my own writing you keep—& give away, or do what you are a mind to with2—The Elze? book3—(have you run foul of it before? I guess not)—I send to while away unoccupied hours—keep it as long as you stay in Providence—then return it to me here.


Your 27th M[arch] letter has pleased me well—as all your letters do—Wm, let me know how the Heywood affair gets on, or turns out, as you hear from it—We (I and McKay) have been somewhat at a loss what to do in it—whether to send on some money ($20 or so)—or whether to remain entirely aloof & silent (& send no money)—I finally concluded on the latter—& I am quite clear that is the right course for me—mainly because it satisfies me best, upon the whole4—What you say about Mrs Spofford's say lubricates my soul like precious ointment5


1. This letter is endorsed: "Answ'd April 1/83." It is addressed: Wm D O'Connor | Care Dr W F Channing | 98 Congdon Street | Providence | Rhode Island. It is postmarked: Philadelphia | Mar | 29 | 5(?) PM | Pa.; Providence | Mar | 30 | 6 AM | R.I. [back]

2. In his reply on April 1, O'Connor informed Whitman that he had given copies of Leaves of Grass and Specimen Days to the Channings (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Tuesday, September 4th, 1888, 258). [back]

3. O'Connor was thoroughly acquainted with the writings of Karl Elze (1821–1889), whom he termed "a perfect Bismarck philistine" (Traubel, Tuesday, September 4th, 1888, 259). Probably Whitman sent Elze's Essays on Shakespeare (1874). The question mark after Elze in the text is Whitman's. [back]

4. See the letter from Whitman to O'Connor of October 29, 1882. Though O'Connor considered Heywood "a stupendous jackass," as he wrote in his letter of March 27, he was anxious to have him acquitted (Traubel, Friday, January 18, 1889, 566). On April 1 he approved of Whitman's course of inaction (Traubel, Tuesday, September 4th, 1888, 260). [back]

5. On March 27 O'Connor reported that Harriet Prescott Spofford (1835–1921), novelist and poet, considered Whitman "the only poet that ever lived who has done justice to woman" (Traubel, Friday, January 18, 1889, 564). [back]


Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Matt Cohen, Ed Folsom, & Kenneth M. Price, editors.