December 4 1864
My dear friend
Your letter of November 30 came safe, & was truly welcome—if you have seen Mrs Howells2 she has told you that I intend returning to Washington this winter—I do not know how soon, but I shall come, almost certainly—Then Charles Eldridge is to be transferred to Boston—I am indeed sorry, on my own account, & yours & Williams, for he will be missed by us all, I believe more than he thinks for3—
We are all well as usual. Mother remains well, & in pretty good spirits, better than I would have expected—My brother George still remains a prisoner—as near as we can judge he is at Columbia, S C—we have had no word from him4—
About my book nothing particular to tell—I shall print it myself—also my new edition of Leaves of Grass—Most likely shall do it in the way we have talked of, namely by subscription—I feel that it is best for me to print my books myself, (notwithstanding some very good objections to that course, but the reasons in favor are far stronger)5—
Dear Nelly, you & William have neither of you any idea how I daily & nightly bear you in mind & in love too—I did not know myself that you both had taken such deep root in my heart—few attachments wear & last through life, but ours must—
Good bye, dear Nelly, & good bye, dear William, & God bless you both—
The text presented here is derived from Jerome M. Loving, ed., The Civil War Letters of George Washington Whitman (Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1975). For a detailed description of discrepancies between this electronic edition and the print source, see our statement of editorial policy.
A manuscript of this letter, dated December 4, 1864, is held in the Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection, New York Public Library.
For more information on the letters of George Washington Whitman, see Jerome M. Loving's introduction to the print edition.
1. Endorsed: "Ans'd." Address: "Mrs Ellen M O'Connor | 400 L st corner of 14th | Washington | D C." Postmark: "New York | Oct | 8." (Back)
3. Although Eldridge did not depart until January, Ellen O'Connor feared further changes in the little Washington group of Whitman admirers. On November 30, 1864, she wrote to Whitman: "Every evening we talk of you, & wish you were here, & almost every evening we read from Leaves of Grass, read & admire. I don't believe, dear Walt, that you have in all the world, two heartier lovers & appreciators than William & Charley." (Back)
5. On August 13, 1864, William O'Connor admitted "many misgivings about your plan of getting out the book yourself. I want it to have a large sale, as I think it well might, and I am afraid that this sort of private publication will keep it from being known or accessible to any considerable number of people." See also Whitman's letter to William D. O'Connor from May 12, 1867 (Edwin Haviland Miller, ed., Walt Whitman: The Correspondence, [New York: New York University Press, 1961–77], 1:329–330). (Back)