Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to William Michael Rossetti, 5 May 1876

Date: May 5, 1876

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.

Notes for this letter were derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller, 6 vols. (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977).

Location: Manuscripts Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library, Princeton, N.J.

Whitman Archive ID: pri.00021

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Kathryn Kruger, Zachary King, Eric Conrad, and Nicole Gray

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431 Stevens st—cor West
Camden N Jersey U S America
May 5 '76

My dear friend,

Yours of April 191 both rec'd—with draft on Drexel & Co. for £28.4—most acceptable. The books, according to list sent, will now be prepared, packed, & sent, (together with your & Mrs. Gilchrist's copies, which have been waiting) probably to London express, of which I will advise you more explicitly by letter to follow this probably within two or three days.

I repeat what I have already written you—accept all subscriptions—all will be supplied, upon remittance—(I am already putting another small edition to press)2—the price will invariably be $10 the set—$5 each Vol. can be had separately, or together, as wanted—Each will contain portraits & my autograph. The Two, Leaves and Rivulets comprise my complete works (the latter Vol. as you see, includes Memoranda of the War as a constituent part.)

I do not approve of Mr Conway's letter of April 43—it was unneeded, hurtful to my case,4 & join'd with his allusions to the matter in his public American correspondence, an insult to Mr Buchanan, through me5—as such I decidedly resent & disavow it—Every point in B's March 11 letter to the News, is well taken, & true without exception—particularly all about the American critics, publishers, editors, "poets" &c—even what he says about my "impoverishment" is much, much nearer the truth than Mr Conways and Lord Houghton's rose-colored illusion varnish—if Mr C. instead of intellectual possessed sympathetic delicacy & insight (I don't think he possesses either) he could have divined better about me & my affairs, not only now here in Camden, but times past in the beginning.

I send my love & thanks to W B Scott6—I shall try to write a line to him, to C W Reynell, to J L Warren, to A G Dew-Smith,7 & one or two others, soon as I can. I heartily thank my good friends of the Secularist. I am glad you printed off, & furnish'd friends with copies of my letter of March 17—upon reading it in print, I find it exactly describes the situation, & my wishes—& I reëndorse it—(if you have any copies spare, send me two or three more in next paper you send.)

The drafting on Drexel & Co. the Philadelphia bankers, is perfectly convenient to me.

I am feeling pretty comfortable as I write—have been out a little nearly every day for a week—some days across the river here, the broad Delaware—This is one of my good mornings (it is now between 8 and 9) have finished my breakfast, coffee, Graham bread & mutton chop—good night's sleep, last night.—occupy myself two or three hours every day when not too ill, with my book business, letters, &c—also with the baby boy, my brother's 6 months infant, very fine & bright, (of course)—takes much of my time, & is a delightful diversion to me—the young one knows me so well, & is always happy when tended by me—

& so, my dear friend, good bye for this time—& God bless you & yours.
Walt Whitman


1. Rossetti's letter is not known, but the receipt of money is noted in Whitman's Commonplace Book. On April 4 Rossetti had written to Whitman to inquire whether Leaves of Grass was available at less than £1. Either Whitman's reply is not extant, or the second paragraph of this letter was intended as an answer. [back]

2. See the letter from Whitman to S. W. Green of May 4, 1876[back]

3. See the letter from Whitman to Rossetti of April 7, 1876[back]

4. Whitman did not recopy the following passage in his draft: "(in diplomacy as some one has said, the utterance markedly malapropos or ill-tempered is worse than the worst untruth)." [back]

5. Whitman did not include the following from the draft letter: "Buchanan stands to me as a fervid, affectionate & reverential friend and advocate." [back]

6. William Bell Scott (1811–1890), an English poet and painter, became acquainted with Leaves of Grass through Thomas Dixon; see the letter from Whitman to Dixon of June 30, 1870. Whitman sent the two 1876 volumes on May 18 and Memoranda During the War on June 14 or 15 (Whitman's Commonplace Book). [back]

7. For Reynell and Warren, see Whitman's letter to Rossetti of March 30, 1876. Whitman sent two volumes to Dew-Smith on May 19 (The Commonplace Book). [back]


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