Title: Edward Dowden to Walt Whitman, 5 September 1871
Date: September 5, 1871
Source: 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.
Location: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839-1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Whitman Archive ID: loc.01489
Contributors to digital file: Kenneth M. Price, Elizabeth Lorang, and Beverley Rilett
Sept. 5, 1871
My dear Sir,
It was very kind of you to send me the photographs of yourself, which I value much. I had previously received one, carte de visite size, from Mr. Rossetti, in which you wear your hat. These I like better, though I liked that.
I will name some of your friends on this side of the water whom I know myself. I wish I could make it appear how various these natures are which have come into relation with you. There is my brother (a clergyman) who finds his truth halved between John H. Newman (of Oxford celebrity) & you. There is Todhunter, (a doctor a man of science, & a mystic,—a Quaker), he has had a wish to write on the subject of your poems, & may perhaps accomplish it. There is O'Grady (a barrister, an ardent nature, much interested in social & political principles), he overflows with two authors, Carlyle & yourself. There is Cross (a clergyman, the most sterling piece of manhood I know) he has I daresay taken you in more thoroughly than any of us, in proportion to his own soundness & integrity of nature. There is Tyrell whom I named before (a fellow of Trinity College, an excellent Greek scholar). There is a woman of most fine character & powerful intellect, Miss West, (daughter of the Dean of St. Patrick's, Dublin). She, I hope, will at some time write & publish the impression your writings have made upon her, as she is at present about to do in the case of Robert Browning. Then I know three painters in London, all men of decided genius, who care very much for all you do—Yeats, Ellis (who has, I believe, in M.S. some study of your poems, which at some time may come to be printed)—& Nettleship whom Rossetti knows, & who has published a book on R. Browning. I have been told that Nettleship at one time when "Leaves of Grass" was out of print & scarce, parted with his last guinea or two to buy a copy.
All I have named, (& I myself may be included) are young, & may, I think, be fairly taken to represent ideas in literature which are becoming, or which will become, dominant.
One think strikes me about every one who cares for what you write—while your attraction is most absolute, & the impression you make as powerful as that of any teacher or vates, you do not rob the mind of its independence, or divert it from its true direction,—you make no slaves, however many lovers.
Very truly yours
Should you care to carry out a half intention you had of writing to me direct to 50, Wellington Road, Dublin.