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William Michael Rossetti to Walt Whitman, 17 August [1877]

 loc.03621.005_large.jpg Dear Whitman,

This day I have obtained a P.O. order for £4.12. payable to you.1 The order (as you are aware) does not pass thro' my own hands.

Of the £4.12, half is the money of Mr. Cozens, to whom you have already sent the books. The other half is from a new subscriber, Jas. Anderson Rose,2 11 Salisbury St., London, W.C.—He is a solicitor of some note, once Under-Sheriff of London, brother of an Alderman  loc.03621.006_large.jpg who has been Lord Mayor; is besides a great collector of engravings & other works of artistic (or literary) interest. He does not know your writings, but seems sincerely desirous of making some acquaintance with them.

Wd.​ you kindly tell Mrs. Gilchrist3 that I have by me a letter of hers (undated) wh.​ was presented to me a month or so ago by a Mr. Carpenter4—who paid two long visits at my house, & whom I liked much, obtaining from him numerous details that interested me extremely regarding yourself & the Gilchrists. I wd loc.03621.007_large.jpg have written to Mrs. G before now, but for incessant occupations, & in the last 2 mos.​ much anxiety regarding my brother's state of health. He was lately in a bad way, requiring a severe surgical operation; &, tho​ that went off rightly, he does not rally adequately, & I feel by no means confident as to the final result. One great object has been to get him out of town to some suitable seaside house: I am in hopes that today this will be accomplished, more or less well. Please also tell Mrs. G that a son was born to me on 28 Feb: he & the little girl (tho​ the boy did at one time alarm us much) go on well, & are  loc.03621.008_large.jpg at present with their mamma at Gorleston near Yarmouth.

With all affection to you & the Gilchrist family, Ever truly yours, Wm. Rossetti.

I shd​ have said that the £4.12. was the only money now actually in my hands on your account. Have not heard from Dowden5 since I wrote you last.

Excuse this hurried & scrappy note.


  • 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 Frederick 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. James Anderson Rose (1819–1890) was a solicitor and collector. William Michael Rosetti wrote to Lucy Rossetti on February 26, 1886: "Rose talked to me a goodish deal about his books. It seems he has a library of some 10,000 volumes, and has just had them catalogued at a cost of £100 or so...Rose says he is solicitor to the Globe and Morning Post, as well as the Standard (of which last I knew), and has even had something to do for the Daily News lately: he must I think have well-filled pockets" (James Perrin Warren, Walt Whitman's Language Experiment, [College Station, PA: Penn State Press, 1990], 130 n4). [back]
  • 3. Anne Burrows Gilchrist (1828–1885) was the author of one of the first significant pieces of criticism on Leaves of Grass, titled "A Woman's Estimate of Walt Whitman (From Late Letters by an English Lady to W. M. Rossetti)," The Radical 7 (May 1870), 345–59. Gilchrist's long correspondence with Whitman indicates that she had fallen in love with the poet after reading his work; when the pair met in 1876 when she moved to Philadelphia, Whitman never fully returned her affection, although their friendship deepened after that meeting. For more information on their relationship, see Marion Walker Alcaro, "Gilchrist, Anne Burrows (1828–1885)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]
  • 4. Edward Carpenter (1844–1929) was an English writer and Whitman disciple. Like many other young disillusioned Englishmen, he deemed Whitman a prophetic spokesman of an ideal state cemented in the bonds of brotherhood. Carpenter—a socialist philosopher who in his book Civilisation, Its Cause and Cure posited civilization as a "disease" with a lifespan of approximately one thousand years before human society cured itself—became an advocate for same-sex love and a contributing early founder of Britain's Labour Party. On July 12, 1874, he wrote for the first time to Whitman: "Because you have, as it were, given me a ground for the love of men I thank you continually in my heart . . . . For you have made men to be not ashamed of the noblest instinct of their nature." For further discussion of Carpenter, see Arnie Kantrowitz, "Carpenter, Edward [1844–1929]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]
  • 5. 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, 299). 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]
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