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Walt Whitman to Edward Dowden, 2 May 1875

Edward Dowden, Dear friend,

Your kind letter of April 16 reach'd me yesterday—I find it full of animation & cheer, with items of news, &c. interesting to me, & only hope to get letters from you oftener. In my condition they are trebly welcome. My tedious prostration continues—primarily and mainly an obstinate & baffling cerebral affection, on which have been superinduced grave lesions of the stomach & liver, (from the enforced physical inaction of the last twenty-eight months)—Still I am up & dressed & around every day, go out, walk a little, (as I am crippled, left leg, quite badly) but eke out a jaunt with the horse cars, & the ferry boats on the noble river here, the Delaware—all quite handy—the solution of the problem of recovery, (even partial) is more or less uncertain, but of course I like to proceed on the supposition or assumption that I shall get better.

Yes, I shall, unless prevented, bring out a volume this summer, partly as my contribution to our National Centennial. It is to be called "Two Rivulets"—(i.e. two flowing chains of prose and verse, emanating the real and ideal) it will embody much that I had previously written & that you know, but about one third, as I guess, that is fresh. "Leaves of Grass," proper, will remain as it is identically—The new Vol. will have nearly or quite as much matter as L. of G. (It is a sort of omnibus, in which I have packed all the belated ones, since the outset of the Leaves.)1

As I was writing to John Burroughs to day, I have enclosed to him your letter of 16th.2 His address is, Esopus, Ulster Co. New York. He is there permanently, having built himself a stone cottage in a beautiful spot on the banks of the Hudson, 60 miles north of New York City. He comes to see me—was here, well, about three weeks ago. I heard from Tennyson last summer, had a good friendly letter from him.3 I have just had a long, capital & most kind letter from W. M. Rossetti. Thanks for the Shakspere—the first & second chapters I have read thoroughly—they are very live—I shall read it all & write to you—the Contemporary Review is rec'd—thanks—4

Walt Whitman

Thanks for Mr. Clifton's letter—best remembrances to Mrs. Dowden—not forgetting the dear little daughter & baby—


  • 1. An excerpt from this paragraph appeared on May 29, 1875, in the Academy, to which William Michael Rossetti contributed. The article began: "Walt Whitman writes to a correspondent. . . ." [back]
  • 2. See Whitman's May 2, 1875 letter to John Burroughs. [back]
  • 3. See Alfred, Lord Tennyson's July 8, 1874 letter to Whitman. [back]
  • 4. Dowden commented on this letter to his future (second) wife, Elizabeth D. West: "He writes very simply and affectionately and manfully." Dowden also had received about the same time a letter from Burroughs: "A deep alarm possesses Burroughs about Whitman's state of health (he says W. is so inexpressibly dear to him, the earth would seem hardly inhabitable without him.)" See Dowden's Fragments of Old Letters, E. D. to E. D. W., 1869–1892 (London: Dent, 1914), 130. [back]
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