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Walt Whitman to William D. O'Connor, 11 June 1885

Answ'd July 27/85.1

The picture arrived this morning—it is a splendid piece of work & I feel sure a good likeness—At any rate it is that rare bird a perfect photo—& I am mighty glad to get it—it leans against the wall before me this moment with the Bacon—(I am ashamed to say never before acknowledged—but it is in my little sitting room & before my eyes every day—more than half the time is taken for Shakspere)3

I am about as well as usual in general health—full as well—but laid by with lameness—added to by a fall two months ago & turning my ankle in. I hear from Dr Bucke and John Burroughs—both well—Doctor busy as a bee—both vehement in hospitable invitations to me which I should be most glad to accept—but I find it best not to stray too far from my own chair & bed4—Mrs Gilchrist has a strong article abt L. of G. &c printed in the "To-day," cheap radical English magazine for June—I shall probably have some soon & will send you one—It is equal to the 1872 piece5

How are you? Any prospect of decapitation?6 How is Nelly? Give my best love & remembrances to her? I am comfortable here in my shanty. I suppose you get the papers & pieces I send—So long, dear friend—

W. W.

William Douglas O'Connor (1832–1889) was the author of the grand and grandiloquent Whitman pamphlet The Good Gray Poet: A Vindication, published in 1866. For more on Whitman's relationship with O'Connor, see Deshae E. Lott, "O'Connor, William Douglas (1832–1889)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


  • 1. This note is in O'Connor's hand. He replied on July 25. [back]
  • 2. This letter is addressed: Wm D O'Connor | Life Saving Service | Washington | D C. It is postmarked: Philadelphia | Pa. | Jun 11 85 | 7 30 PM; Washington, Rec'd. | Jun | 12 | 7 AM 1885 | 2. [back]
  • 3. O'Connor sent "the picture of Lord Bacon by Vandyke" on March 7. [back]
  • 4. On April 5 Richard Maurice Bucke insisted that Whitman spend the summer in Canada. [back]
  • 5. Whitman slipped: Anne Gilchrist's "An Englishwoman's Estimate of Walt Whitman" appeared in 1870 in The Radical (see the letter from Whitman to O'Connor of May 11, 1870). [back]
  • 6. O'Connor referred to the possibility of losing his governmental post in the Cleveland administration on February 1 and on July 25. [back]
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