Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Cyril Flower to Walt Whitman, 16 July 1871

Date: July 16, 1871

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01617

Source: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 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.

Editorial notes: The annotation, "from Cyril Flower 1871," is in the hand of Walt Whitman. The annotation, "see notes 22 Sept 23 1888," is in the hand of Horace Traubel.

Contributors to digital file: Alex Kinnaman, Elizabeth Lorang, Beverley Rilett, Ashley Lawson, John Schwaninger, Caterina Bernardini, Marie Ernster, Cristin Noonan, Paige Wilkinson, Amanda J. Axley, and Stephanie Blalock

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Furze Down. Streatham
Surrey. SW.1
July. 16. 71.

Dear Mr. Whitman.

Tennyson2 writes to you this mail he lays upon me the blame of not having written to you sooner, & I am willing to bear it the fact is the books went to his London address & were not forwarded.3

Yours affectny ,
Cyril Flower

Cyril Flower (1843–1907) was an English barrister and a friend of Alfred, Lord Tennyson; see Harold Blodgett, Walt Whitman in England (1934), 128–129. According to the February 20, 1886 Solicitor's Journal, Flower was appointed a Lord of the Treasury (275). Flower served as a member of Parliament from 1880 to 1892, when he was given the title Baron Battersea (see the London Gazette (6 September 1892), 5090). According to Flower's April 23, 1871 letter, he met Whitman in Washington in December, 1870. He had later delivered some of Whitman's books to Tennyson, who "was much touched by your memory of him, and I told him of your deep regard for him." Flower wrote again on October 20, 1871: "When I read you or think of you . . . I feel that I hold in my hand clasped strong & tight & for security the great hand of a friend, a simple good fellow, a man who loves me & who is beautiful because he loves, & with the Consciousness of that I feel never alone—never sad."


1. This letter is addressed: Mr. Walt Whitman | Washington | D.C. | America. It is postmarked: London SW | 5 | JY 19 | 71; INSUFFICIENTLY PREPAID; CARRIER | JUL | 31 | 7 PM. [back]

2. Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892) succeeded William Wordsworth as poet laureate of Great Britain in 1850. The intense male friendship described in In Memoriam, which Tennyson wrote after the death of his friend Arthur Henry Hallam, possibly influenced Whitman's poetry. Whitman wrote to Tennyson in 1871 or late 1870, probably shortly after the visit of Cyril Flower in December, 1870, but the letter is not extant (see Thomas Donaldson, Walt Whitman the Man [New York: F. P. Harper, 1896], 223). Tennyson's first letter to Whitman is dated July 12, 1871. Although Tennyson extended an invitation for Whitman to visit England, Whitman never acted on the offer. [back]

3. In Cyril Flower's letter to Whitman of April 23, 1871, he wrote that he had mailed the latter's books to Alfred, Lord Tennyson. [back]


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