Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: William D. O'Connor to Walt Whitman, 27 October 1882

Date: October 27, 1882

Whitman Archive ID: yal.00298

Source: Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. 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, Eder Jaramillo, and Nicole Gray

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October 27, 1882.

My dear Walt:

I snatch five minutes from writing up the wrecks. I had a horribly anxious and sleepless night on account of an item I saw in the Critic here, last evening as I rode up in the street cars, stating that you were dying. Although I suspected it was sensational, I had about as much distress as though it had been true, and was strongly tempted to telegraph you. This morning, however, the papers gave news more in accord with your card to me of the 25th, and I feel comforted.

In liver disorders, great and immediate relief has been experienced from electricity, and I seriously wish you would get some medical electrician (there are many such in Philadelphia) to apply the battery to you. I know of a case—a lady's—which was speedily cured by this means—the discharge being like coffee-grounds, ("thy liver, black with eating," says Eschylus,) after several eminent doctors had pronounced it hopeless—one, the great surgeon, Dr. Gross of Philadelphia, having spent a whole day in diagnosing, and declared it cancer of the stomach, and beyond remedy! But they were all wrong—it was an engorged liver, which the battery relieved instanter, and the lady is alive and well today.

I hope to soon hear that you are much better. But try the battery.

I have just been made to boil by a news item in this morning's Washington Post to the effect that Heywood has been arrested in Boston for sending extracts from Leaves of Grass through the mails. Can this be true? If so, the fight is re-beginning, when I thought it over. In the same paper, is printed Tyndall's unmeasured panegyric on Emerson at the unveiling of Carlyle's statue—Emerson who eulogized the book they hunt Heywood for advertising!

All this is damnable. 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.

—I must stop here. Isn't this bit beautiful—"The Stranger"—a French poet's?

W D O'Connor.

[From the French.]
He's gone.—So float the clouds above him,
So speed the waves upon their way.
Yet in my heart I hold and love him
for aye.

His eyes met mine,—one glance of greeting,—
Ah me, what life a look may give!
For since that moment fond, that meeting,
I live.


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