Skip to main content

Walt Whitman to William D. O'Connor, 26 July [1871]

Dear William O'Connor,

I take it by the enclosed from Rossetti1 that he has sent me the Westminster by mail to Washington, & that it is now there, probably in the A. G. office. You go down & see, & get it to read. (May be in p. o.)

Mother's health is about reëstablished if nothing unfavorable occurs.2 I shall return to Washington early next week. I start this afternoon for New Haven for one day only—an emergency—an artist friend of mine is very low there with consumption—is in fact dying—& has expressed the most earnest wish to see me3—We have been, & are, having a cold easterly rain storm here—I enclose, on loan, the last two photos of my most sweetly philosophic & fascinating self—(for you to gaze upon till I return)—

The Swinburne Hilliard article has been copied in the World,4 Home Journal, &c. &c.

Not a word of the Westminster article5—The ungodly, (sorely tried,) will of course endeavor to ignore it, & leave it entirely unmentioned & uncommented on, if possible—but that will not be possible—It is a powerful essay—I have been reading it over carefully a second time—It strikes the true chords—even the name "The Poetry of Democracy" &c—is it not pregnant? from your loving old



  • 1. Whitman responded personally to William Michael Rossetti on July 28, 1871. [back]
  • 2. Probably because of Louisa Van Velsor Whitman's health, Jeff and his family visited her in the fall; Martha visited her mother-in-law in the spring or early summer. Martha and her children went to Camden to see George's wife Louisa, whom he had married on April 14, 1871. On October 10, 1871, Louisa Van Velsor Whitman wrote to Walt Whitman: "george and loo and Jeff insists on my breaking up houskeeping. they dident only insist but almost commanded me. i told them i should remain here this winter (if i lived). they none of them want edd, walter, and they would soon get tired of paying his board and we aint much expence to any but you, walter dear, for any thing but houseroom." [back]
  • 3. Charles Hine, a painter to whom Whitman wrote on May 9, 1868. On August 4, 1871 Hine's wife informed Whitman of her husband's death: "I think after your visit to him that his hold on life seemed to give way and his yearnings were all accomplished." Mrs. Hine, who visited Louisa Van Velsor Whitman on August 22, 1871, thought it "strange" that Whitman did not write. According to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman's letter of September 30, 1871, Mrs. Hine had received a "donation" from Walt Whitman. Whitman also wrote of Charles Hine's illness in his July 28, 1871 letter to Peter Doyle. [back]
  • 4. The New York World of July 24, 1871, reprinted Lucy Fountain's article, "An Evening with Swinburne" (retitled "Swinburne at Home") from the August Galaxy, 12 (1871), 231–234, in which Swinburne's favorable comments on Whitman were reported. The reference to Hilliard is unclear, although Hilliear was perhaps the real name of the author. [back]
  • 5. An unsigned article by Edward Dowden (a professor of English literature at the University of Dublin; see also Whitman's August 22, 1871 letter to Dowden) in the Westminster Review, 96 (July 1871), 33–68. Whitman wrote glowingly about the piece in his July 14, 1871 letter to William O'Connor. [back]
Back to top