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Walt Whitman to Ellen M. O'Connor, 23 November [1874]

Dear Nelly,

Your late letter reached me, enclosing the piece from the Academy.2

I have been worse than usual for a week—very pronounced swimming spells & dizziness in the head, with sometimes deathly faintness & great prostration—(twice I thought serious)—am sitting up to-day & yesterday—havn't been out—now this is the ninth day—continuous qualmishness & headache—doctor thinks however it is all substantially a stomach & liver business—he comes every day—does not seem to be alarmed—I am taking mild powders of mercury for the liver—& drops composed of bromides of potash & ammonia—

There is death all around me here—Two yesterday of persons I know—I send you a piece by me from the paper here3—the young man alluded to was much like one of my most cherished soldier cases in the Hospitals ten years since. He lived on the next block, & I was with him a great deal—& at death.

Nelly, I just send you, (although one or two items confidential, sort o') Mrs. Price's last letter to me, two days since—read it, & destroy it—I also send Mrs. Davis's, she (Mrs. P​ ) sent me, as you are interested in her—

I shall get better, & shall come on to Washington yet—on a brief visit—Tell Charles Eldridge I shall write to him this week—My brother & sister & Eddy here are well—My sister at Burlington, Vt. was as usual at last acc't​ s—also Jeff & his girls at St. Louis—As I write I am sitting here in my big chair alone (alone muchly,) in the parlor by the window—It is a rainy darkish day here—the wind south & mild—


If Pete Doyle comes up to see you, read him this letter—also give him the printed slip to read—


  • 1.

    This letter's envelope bears the address, "Mrs. E. M. O'Connor, | 1015 O street, n. 11th n. w. | Washington, | D.C." It is postmarked: "Camden | No(?)| 23 | (?) ."

    The year is confirmed by the succeeding notes.

  • 2. The Academy of October 10, 1874 contained George Saintsbury's favorable review of Leaves of Grass (398–400). [back]
  • 3. "Death of a Fireman," a tribute to a Camden fireman named William Alcott, appeared in the Camden New Republic on November 14, 1874. Henry Lummis Bonsall, the editor of this newspaper, was one of Whitman's Camden friends; see Gay Wilson Allen, The Solitary Singer (New York: Macmillan, 1955), 461. [back]
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