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Walt Whitman to William D. O'Connor, 4 October 1868

Dear friend,

I suppose you received my letter of September 25.2 The letters to me from A. G. office, (I suppose sent by you,) have probably all come right. I have received some five or six. Please continue to send them the same way. If the envelopes run out, please prepare some more, same form. When you write, tell me what news in the A. G. office. Is Ashton3 well? Is he running the office? Say to him I sent my love—& that, here north, as it seems to me, the Grant & Colfax tide is rising higher & higher every day.

Did you see John Swinton's warm ¶ about my illustrious self in N. Y. Times, 1st instant?4 Give my best love to John Burroughs, & show him this note to read. J. B., dear friend, I wish I could have you here, if only just to take a ride with me for once up & down Broadway, on top a stage, of a fine afternoon.5

I send my love to Charles Eldridge—By a wretched oversight on my part I missed an appointment with him at Fifth Av. Hotel, when he passed through New York.

William, I shall send Freiligrath a small package, containing a copy of L. of G. with John's Notes, a Good Gray Poet &c. in a couple of days from here, by the European Express. I wish, if you feel like it, you would prepare a letter to F. F. to go by mail—following the package.6

Nelly, my dear friend, I send you my best love—in which my mother joins me—We are all well. Half my leave has already expired—& the other half will be soon over.

Affectionately Walt.


  • 1. This letter's envelope bears the address, "William D. O'Connor, | Light House Bureau, | Treasury Department, | Washington, | D.C." It is postmarked: "New York | Oct | 4 | 1:30 PM." [back]
  • 2. Walt Whitman's letter to William D. and Ellen M. O'Connor was actually dated September 27, 1868. [back]
  • 3. J. Hubley Ashton, the assistant Attorney General, actively interested himself in Walt Whitman's affairs, and obtained a position for the poet in his office after the Harlan fracas. [back]
  • 4. In the draft letter after this sentence appeared the following: "John seems lately possest with L. of G. as with a demon. I have found two or three others—a Mr. Norton, of Boston, is one. He is an educated man, a Boston metaphysical thinker." Walt Whitman also interpolated in the draft: "Tell Charles Eldridge." [back]
  • 5. The draft letter ends at this point. However, above the salutation appeared the following: "ask about the office—Ashton—has Andy Kerr returned —my new desk." Kerr, a clerk in Walt Whitman's office, probably had gone to Pittsburgh; see address book (Thomas Biggs Harned Collection of Walt Whitman, The Library of Congress, Notebook #108). [back]
  • 6. For Freiligrath, see Walt Whitman's letters of September 27, 1868 to the O'Connors and of January 26, 1869. Again, as with William Michael Rossetti (in Whitman's January 1868 letter), O'Connor was to act as Whitman's emissary. On December 2, 1868, in a letter to his daughter, Freiligrath joyfully noted receipt of a thirty-two page letter from O'Connor as well as the books Whitman mentioned in this letter: "Der Schreiber ist natürlich ein enthusiastischer Verehrer des sonderbaren Kauzes" (Ferdinand Freiligrath, Ida Melos Freiligrath, and Luise Freiligrath Wiens, Freiligrath-Briefe [Stuttgart: J.G. Cotta'sche Buchhandlung Nachfolger, 1910], 167–168). According to one of Walt Whitman's address books (Thomas Biggs Harned Collection of Walt Whitman, The Library of Congress, Notebook #109), the package was sent to Freiligrath on November 11, 1868. [back]
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