Title: William Michael Rossetti to Walt Whitman, 9 January 1870
Date: January 9, 1870
Source: Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.
Location: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Whitman Archive ID: loc.01880
Contributors to digital file: Kenneth M. Price, Elizabeth Lorang, Ashley Lawson, and Kathryn Kruger
56 Euston Sq.
9 Jany. /70
Dear Mr. Whitman,
I was exceedingly pleased at receiving your recent letter, & the photograph wh. followed it immediately afterwards. I admire the photograph very much; rather grudge its having the hat on & so cutting one out of the full portraiture of your face, but have little doubt, allowing for this detail, it brings me very near your external aspect. May I be allowed to send you, as a very meagre requital, the enclosed likeness of myself.
I gave your letter, & the second copy of your portrait, to the lady you refer to, & need scarcely say how truly delighted she was. She has asked me to say that you cd. not have devised for her a more welcome pleasure, & that she feels grateful to me for having sent to America the extracts from what she had written, since they have been a satisfaction to you. She also begs leave, with much deference, to offer a practical suggestion:—that if you see no reason against it, the new edition might be issued in 2 vols., lettered, not vols. 1 & 2, but 1st series & 2nd series, so that they cd. be priced & sold separated when so desired. She adds: "This simple expedient wd., I think, overcome a serious difficulty. Those who are not able to receive aright all Mr. Whitman has written might, to their own infinite gain, have what they can receive, & grow by means of that food to be capable of the whole perhaps; while he wd. stand as unflinchingly as hitherto by what he has written. I know I am glad that your selections were put into my hands first, so that I was lifted up by them to stand firm on higher ground than I had ever stood on before, & furnished with a golden key before approaching the rest of the poems." She also, as a hearty admirer of your original Preface, hopes that that may re-appear—either whole, or such portions as have not since been used in other forms.
I know, by a letter from O'Connor, that, since you wrote, you have seen the further observations of this lady wh. I sent over in Nov.—I replied to O'Connor the other day also, still more recently, took the liberty of posting to you a little essay of mine, written for one of our literary societies, on "Italian Courtesy books" of the Middle Ages. Some of the extracts I have translated in it may, I hope, be found not without their charm & value. I wrote to Conway giving him your cordial message: probably you know that he was not long ago in Russia. Also I heard the other day from a man I am much attached to, Stillman, of his having re-encountered you in Washington. As he told you, there is a chance—not as yet more than a chance—that I may make my way over the Atlantic for a brief glimpse of America in the summer. If so, how great a delight it will be to me to see & know you need not, I hope, be stated in words.
Perhaps before that I shall have received here the new edition you refer to—another deep draught of satisfaction.
I cd run on a great deal further on these & other topics; but shd have to come to a close at last somewhere, & may perhaps as well do so now.
Yours in reverence & love,
W. M. Rossetti