Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Moncure D. Conway, 22 April 1870

Date: April 22, 1870

Whitman Archive ID: col.00002

Source: Moncure Daniel Conway Papers 1847–1907, Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, New York, N.Y. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 2:96–97. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Kenneth M. Price, Alex Kinnaman, Kathryn Kruger, Elizabeth Lorang, Zachary King, Eric Conrad, and Kevin McMullen

Attorney General's Office,
April 22, 1870.

Dear Mr. Conway,

I send (in the mail for printed matter,) same time as this, duplicate printed copies of a poem I have written, "Passage to India," in which I endeavor to celebrate in my own way, the modern engineering masterpieces, the Pacific Railroad & the Suez Canal—in fact the great modern material practical energy & works—& then make of them as heights & apices whereby to reach freest, widest, loftiest spiritual fields. But you will see what I have written. It will make from 12 to 14, 15, or 16 ordinary pages.

Can I take the liberty of asking you to seek to dispose of the piece, if eligible, to some London magazine? It will not be printed here in any magazine—I reserve the right to print it in future book. The price, time, selection of magazine, and in fact all the points of that sort, I leave absolutely to you—1

My address remains as before at this office & city. Nothing new or very different with my affairs. I remain in good health & spirits.

With love, as ever,
Walt Whitman

Moncure Daniel Conway (1832–1907) was an American abolitionist, minister, and frequent correspondent with Walt Whitman. Conway often acted as Whitman's agent and occasional public relations man in England. For more on Conway, see Philip W. Leon, "Conway, Moncure Daniel (1832–1907)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


1. Moncure Conway acted as Walt Whitman's agent in England. He was not able to sell the poem to an English journal. Burroughs observed in the second edition of his Notes on Walt Whitman as a Poet and Person (1871): "The manuscript of 'Passage to India' was refused by the monthly magazines successively in New York, Boston, San Francisco, and London" (123). [back]


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