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Walt Whitman to William D. O'Connor, 14 April [1883]

My dear friend

I wish you would apply to the Librarian of Congress's office for the copyright at once—take it out of course in your own name—send the enclosed printed title page—& ask for a certificate—it is $1—(50¢ for entry & 50 for cert[ificate].)2

Every thing is going on well—but slowly with the book. It will be out last of the month. I shall send you an earliest copy or two. The publisher McKay told me to say to you that you can have at half price ($1) whatever number of copies you want "for personal or literary use"—Dr Bucke is absent from London on official business—(though I believe it is about time for him to return)—At last accounts John Burroughs was home in Delaware county, recuperating in the maple sugar woods—he was better—

Do you see in the Heywood trial, the Judge peremptorily ruled out the L of G​ slips part of the indictment—(which ruling out "was received with applause") & H was afterwards on the remaining part or parts acquitted. So A[nthony] C[omstock] retires with his tail intensely curved inwards.3 I am just starting for two or three days down in my Jersey woods retreat.


The Doctor took a decided dislike to having the Latin motto on title page—so at his request I left it out—(I partly coincided with him)4


  • 1. This letter is endorsed: "Answ'd April 17/83." It is addressed: Wm D O'Connor | Life Saving Service | Treasury | Washington | D C. It is postmarked: Philadelphia | Pa. | Apr 14 83 | 1 PM; Washington, Recd. | Apr | 15 | 4 30 AM | 1883 | 2. [back]
  • 2. On February 19 Richard Maurice Bucke wrote to O'Connor: "If you do not object we are going to copyright the book in America in your name as we cannot in mine—Shall of course copyright in own name in England" (The Library of Congress, Washington D.C.). [back]
  • 3. O'Connor was vehement in his denunciation of Comstock on April 17: "He ought to be crushed, signally, publicly, in the interest of free letters and the rights of thought; he ought to be nailed up, like a skunk to a barn-door, as an example to deter. . . . It is nothing less than a public—national—infamy, that an infamous dog like this, convicted of such practices—a decoy duck, a dirty stool pigeon—should be in the employ of the United States" (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Tuesday, February 5, 1889, 91). [back]
  • 4. The title page originally contained a quotation from Lucretius, the excision of which disappointed O'Connor. Whitman, however, fibbed, for on May 28 Bucke wrote: "I see now that you were right about the Latin motto (as about everything else)" (Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). [back]
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