Skip to main content

Thomas Dixon to Walt Whitman, 27 July 1871

 loc.01452.001.jpg 15. SUNDERLAND STREET. Dear Sir

I see from the Westminster Review of our Country, that you have issued a new Edition of your Poems. I want to know if the new Poems are to be purchased separate. I would fain make my own Copy complete to the present times, so would thank you for a line giving me some particulars respecting the new Poems so that I may know how to order them from by Bookseller.—


I note that in them you have been in New York lately and that its ways and people don't please you. even these changes in people are precisely of that character that I thought you had already expected such and in fact are of the greatest feature in your Poems to me, was your acknowledgement of the existence of such peoples, and also your indication how such peoples originated in such States as your States. Now the question to me is this. Can these people help themselves being that which they are? Does not the artificial Life in all large Towns create and breed such people? You who have seen & may write almost all People,  loc.01452.003.jpg and have watched the growth of these changes seems to consider all such changes as inevitable, and that also is marked too in your Poems. So I pray you someday give us a clear estimate on this question of Life. What Life is the best for People? A Town one with every so called comfort, and Art and Luxury? But why need I ask when I see now before my minds eye several passages in your Poems that answer all the questions and that too in an emphatic way. yet I like yourself still keep putting the Questions to all I Know and to myself whenever I wander in the Streets or mix with those that Farm the lands or till There. Well over and above all I often have been wondering how the Books I sent you turned  loc.01452.004.jpg out as you read them, how did the curious Book on Indian Philosophy? answer the yearning you seem to have to know something about them, how did the Life of Bewich or Carlyle please you, to it make you feel an interest in these men? How did the Indian Theists utterance with its mixture of Western ideas meet your own thoughts on his Themes. How did Mazzinis small but yet great Book tally with your own teachings of your own people. There was so much representative ideas in these small Books that I yearn to know how it all appeared to you, and if it was to you the truth it seems to have been to me in thus sending to you, as my feeling was they would be as dear to you also.


Since last I wrote you again as war and even Revolution once more been tried in France in the attempt to found a new Social State the Dream it seems to me of Humanity in all Ages. There is not a Literature I have read that some such a Social State was not foreshadowed by some of its great Men in their writings. And also how sorrowful to write after all the bloodshed this noble idea is still a Dream, except in as far as your Land proves it not so, by the few noble and successful associations that seems to grow and flourish in same portions of your great Country—  loc.01452.006.jpg proving the idea is no dream but a veritable Truth awaiting the full growth of Humanity in all its true fulness for the fulfillment of such a truly noble form of Social Life for all Peoples!!—true comrades men and women such as you sing in your Poems. there again you see I find fresh spirit for my dream in your own work and that our latest utterance of hope for us in Human Life. I know that all these months of horror will have been often pondered over so wonder if in these ponderings speech or written thought has been made thereon.

Yours Thankfully, Thos. Dixon
Back to top