Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to William Michael Rossetti, 10 September 1876

Date: September 10, 1876

Source: The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 3:59–60. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Location: The Walt Whitman Collection, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Whitman Archive ID: tex.00346

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Ashley Lawson, Zachary King, Eric Conrad, and Nicole Gray




Camden, New Jersey—U S America
Sept 10, '76

Dear friend1,

I wrote to you three [or] four days ago,2 by which you must have recd partial list. The list on the other sheet will more fully show you what books I have sent, comprising I believe all the names & remitting subscribers you have sent me—Your two (principal) remittances £28.4 (April 19) and £45.9.6. (June 20) were accompanied with lists of subscribers' am'ts & addresses—the names on which lists & addresses I have carefully followed & sent to. I hope & think I have not missed any. If you discover or know of any so missed, pray notify me at once.

Looking over the pretty voluminous correspondence & extracts you have sent me so kindly, the last six months, there appear to be a number of other names, both men's & women's, mentioned, or writing themselves, as ordering the books in letters to you. But of course I have exclusively confined myself to the names & addresses specified in the lists accompanying your remittance–letters, above alluded to. I have been somewhat exercised about those other names.

Prof Atkinson3
" Armstrong4
A G B5
G L Cathcart6
Mrs. Deschamps7
J D8
Lady Hardy9
Harold Littledale
C W S10
Dr Todhunter11

☞ Nothing has been sent to any of these

(D G Rossetti12
C A Howell
J T Nettleship13 for self & others
H G Dakyns14
Herbert Herkomer15
Roden Noel16
A C Swinburne17
G W Foote18
Cicely Marston19
& several others

—but know no other course than to confine myself to sending to the addresses on your remittance lists only—which I have done. Any errors or oversights will be gladly & promptly corrected on information. I have now plenty of Books, & orders will be complied with promptly. The delay of the last two months in getting ready my second instalment of the 1876 Edition, has annoyed me much—but it is past—& I have as I believe forwarded now every British paid subscriber his or her books, (duplicate sets are yet to go to three or four)—A parcel of 17 Vols. has gone by Express to Robt Buchanan20 to subscribers, sent through him to me— Prof. Dowden's21 4 sets specified in your list have been sent to his subscribers to their addresses, & Mr. Conway's 3 sets (ordered in his letter to me) to theirs22—It is now some weeks since I have heard from you. I want to hear about Mrs. Gilchrist.23


Walt Whitman


Notes:

1. William Michael Rossetti (1829–1915), brother of Dante Gabriel and Christina Rossetti, was an English editor and a champion of Whitman's work. In 1868 Rossetti edited Whitman's Poems, selected from the 1867 Leaves of Grass. Whitman referred to Rossetti's edition as a "horrible dismemberment of my book" in his August 12, 1871, letter to F.S. Ellis. Nonetheless, the edition provided a major boost to Whitman's reputation, and Rossetti would remain a staunch supporter for the rest of Whitman's life, drawing in subscribers to the 1876 Leaves of Grass and fundraising for Whitman in England. For more on Whitman's relationship with Rossetti, see Sherwood Smith, "Rossetti, William Michael (1829–1915)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

2. Walt Whitman probably meant the letter of September 1, 1876[back]

3. Probably Robert Atkinson (1839–1908), professor of romance languages at Trinity College, Dublin. [back]

4. Probably Edward Armstrong (1846– 1928), English historian and lecturer at Oxford. [back]

5. Perhaps A. C. de Burgh, to whom Walt Whitman sent two volumes on September 7, 1876, in care of T. W. H. Rolleston in Dublin; the entry, however, was later deleted (Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). [back]

6. Probably the son of Sir George Cathcart (1749–1854). [back]

7. Perhaps Chrissie Deschamps, mentioned in Whitman's November 4, 1873 letter to Daniel G. Gillette. [back]

8. Probably Edward Dowden's clergyman brother, John (see Whitman's January 18, 1872 letter to Edward Dowden). [back]

9. Walt Whitman sent the 1876 set to Lady Hardy in London on October 24, 1876 (Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). She was probably the wife of Herbert Hardy, first Baron Cozens-Hardy (1838–1920), an English judge. [back]

10. Walt Whitman sent two volumes to C. W. Sheppard at Horsham, England, on September 6, 1876 (Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). [back]

11. Dowden characterized Dr. John Todhunter (1839–1916) as "a man of science, & a mystic—a Quaker." Todhunter later held a chair in English literature at Alexandria College in Dublin, and wrote Study of Shelley (1880), in which he termed Shelley, Hugo, and Walt Whitman the three poets of democracy. See Harold Blodgett, Walt Whitman in England (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1934), 180. [back]

12. Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828–1882), brother of Christina and William Michael Rossetti, was an English poet, translator, and painter. His highly stylized portraits of women influenced the development of the Symbolist movement in Europe. His brother William Michael Rossetti was one of Whitman's most influential European editors and supporters. [back]

13. See also Whitman's September 1, 1876 to William Michael Rossetti. Walt Whitman sent two books to John Trivett Nettleship on October 24, 1876 (Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). [back]

14. Walt Whitman mailed two volumes to Dakyns at Clifton College, Bristol, on October 24, 1876 (Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). [back]

15. Sir Hubert von Herkomer (1849–1914), a Bavarian painter who resided in England and was professor of Fine Arts at Oxford from 1885 to 1894. He was correctly cited as "Hubert" in the draft of this letter as well as in Whitman's Commonplace Book, in which Whitman noted forwarding two volumes on October 24, 1876 (Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). [back]

16. A poet and the author of a critical notice of Walt Whitman in Dark Blue in 1871 (see Whitman's January 30, 1872 letter to Rossetti). Noel was hurt because Richard Maurice Bucke did not include the essay in his biography; see Noel's letters to Walt Whitman of March 30, 1886 and May 16, 1886[back]

17. Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837–1909) was a British poet, critic, playwright, and novelist. He was also one of Whitman's earliest English admirers. At the conclusion of William Blake: A Critical Essay (1868), 300–303, Swinburne pointed out similarities between Whitman and Blake, and praised "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking" and "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd," which he termed "the most sweet and sonorous nocturn ever chanted in the church of the world." His famous lyric "To Walt Whitman in America" is included in Songs before Sunrise (1871). For the story of Swinburne's veneration of Whitman and his later recantation, see two essays by Terry L. Meyers, "Swinburne and Whitman: Further Evidence," Walt Whitman Quarterly Review 14 (Summer 1996), 1–11 and "A Note on Swinburne and Whitman," WWQR 21 (Summer 2003), 38–39. [back]

18. George William Foote (1850–1915), a freethinker, was the author of many pamphlets attacking Christianity. Foote did not forward £3 to Walt Whitman. Rossetti mentioned on August 17, 1877, that he had called the failure to pay to Foote's attention. On February 12, 1878, Whitman cited a letter from Foote, who promised to send the sum, which he alleged had been stolen by an employee (Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). After the entry the poet later wrote "fraud." [back]

19. The sister of Philip Bourke Marston (for Marston, see Whitman's September 7, 1876 letter to Marston). [back]

20. See Whitman's September 4, 1876 letter to Buchanan. [back]

21. Edward Dowden (1843–1913), professor of English literature at the University of Dublin, was one of the first to critically appreciate Whitman's poetry, particularly abroad, and was primarily responsible for Whitman's popularity among students in Dublin. In July 1871, Dowden penned a glowing review of Whitman's work in the Westminster Review entitled "The Poetry of Democracy: Walt Whitman," in which Dowden described Whitman as "a man unlike any of his predecessors . . . Bard of America, and Bard of democracy." In 1888 Whitman observed to Traubel: "Dowden is a book-man: but he is also and more particularly a man-man: I guess that is where we connect" (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Sunday, June 10, 1888). For more, see Philip W. Leon, "Dowden, Edward (1843–1913)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

22. Conway's letter to Walt Whitman is not extant; see also Whitman's September 5, 1876 letter to Conway. Whitman had received £6 from Conway on June 12, 1876 (Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). [back]

23. Gilchrist arrived in Philadelphia on September 10, 1876 (Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). [back]


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