Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Richard Maurice Bucke to Walt Whitman, 16 November 1888

Date: November 16, 1888

Editorial note: The annotation, "Letter written by Dr. Bucke to Walt Whitman You might put this in Vol 3 With WW in Camden," is in the hand of Horace Traubel.

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.

Notes for this letter were derived from The Letters of Dr. Richard Maurice Bucke to Walt Whitman, ed. Artem Lozynsky (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1977).

Location: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Whitman Archive ID: loc.07270

Contributors to digital file: Alex Ashland, Stefan Schöberlein, Caterina Bernardini, and Stephanie Blalock



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Superintendent's Office.
ASYLUM FOR THE INSANE
LONDON.
ONTARIO
London, Ont.,
16 Nov 1888

Your card of 13th also newspaper and "Galaxy" article1 came to hand yesterday they were all most welcome. Of course I had the "Galaxy" article (have had it for years) but was glad to have another copy. All quiet here, no word from Wm Gurd,2 it begins to smell wintry, ground is white with snow this morning but not very cold yet. I see they have had it 12 below zero at Calgary—nice cool country that.

Shall write soon again, shall surely here from Gurd before long now


R M Bucke


Correspondent:
Richard Maurice Bucke (1837–1902) was a Canadian physician and psychiatrist who grew close to Whitman after reading Leaves of Grass in 1867 (and later memorizing it) and meeting the poet in Camden a decade later. Even before meeting Whitman, Bucke claimed in 1872 that a reading of Leaves of Grass led him to experience "cosmic consciousness" and an overwhelming sense of epiphany. Bucke became the poet's first biographer with Walt Whitman (Philadelphia: David McKay, 1883), and he later served as one of his medical advisors and literary executors. For more on the relationship of Bucke and Whitman, see Howard Nelson, "Bucke, Richard Maurice," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).

Notes:

1. Whitman sent Bucke a set of galley proofs of John Burrough's "Walt Whitman and his Drum Taps," which appeared in The Galaxy (December 1, 1866), 606–615 (see Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, November 13, 1888). [back]

2. William John Gurd (1845–1903) was Richard Maurice Bucke's brother-in-law, with whom he was designing a gas and fluid meter to be patented in Canada and sold in England. Bucke believed the meter would be worth "millions of dollars," while Whitman remained skeptical, sometimes to Bucke's annoyance. In a March 18, 1888, letter to William D. O'Connor, Whitman wrote, "The practical outset of the meter enterprise collapsed at the last moment for the want of capital investors." For additional information, see Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Sunday, March 17, 1889, Monday, March 18, 1889, Friday, March 22, 1889, and Wednesday, April 3, 1889.  [back]


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