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Alfred, Lord Tennyson to Walt Whitman, 12 July 1871

My dear Sir:1

Mr. Cyril Flower wrote to me some time ago to inform me that he had brought your books with him from America, a gift from you, and that they were lying in my London chambers; Whereupon I wrote back to him, begging him to bring them himself to me at my country house, and I have been accordingly, always expecting to see him, but he never came, being detained by law business in town. I have now just called at my London lodgings, and found them on the table. I had previously met with several of your works and read them with interest and had made up my mind that you had a large and lovable nature. I discovered great "go" in your writings and am not surprised at the hold they have taken on your fellow country men.2

Wishing you all success and prosperity, and with all thanks for your kind gift which I should have acknowledged earlier, had I received it sooner, I remain

Ever yours, very truly, A Tennyson

I trust that if you visit England, you will grant me the pleasure of receiving and entertaining you under my own roof.


  • 1. This was Tennyson's first letter to Walt Whitman. 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; for Flower, see Whitman's letter of February 2, 1872). According to Walt Whitman's reply on April 27, 1872, Tennyson wrote a second letter on September 22, 1871, also apparently lost. [back]
  • 2. Sylvester Baxter reported that in April, 1881, Walt Whitman had informed Trowbridge and himself of his discouragement about his "poetic mission" at the time Tennyson's letter arrived. See Rufus A. Coleman, "Trowbridge and Whitman," PMLA, 62 (1948), 268. [back]
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