Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Richard Maurice Bucke, 25 July 1888

Date: July 25, 1888

Source: The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 4:192. 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.07647

Contributors to digital file: Blake Bronson-Bartlett, Ryan Furlong, Ian Faith, and Stephanie Blalock




Camden
Wednesday PM July 25 '881

Weather perfect continued—they say yesterday was fearfully hot, but I didn't mind it—the hours rather dull but ab't as usual & no setback. Nov: Boughs2 copy done—the three letters from Rhys,3 Miss Bates,4 & our old Japanee friend5 I will enclose6—(don't want them back)—

If any gaps of the proof pages up to 104 exist, mention it & I will remit—Keep my room yet—am sitting now (& in four fifths time day) in the capacious ratan-seated arm chair—my condition of feebleness & locomotive capacity is fearful—the brain works ab't as before—& muscle & grip of arms (especially right) strong & glib perhaps as ever—


Walt Whitman


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. This letter is addressed to: Dr R M Bucke | Asylum | London | Ontario | Canada. It is postmarked: Camden, N.J. | Jul 25 | 8 PM | 88. [back]

2. Whitman's November Boughs was published in October 1888 by Philadelphia publisher David McKay. For more information on the book, see James E. Barcus Jr., "November Boughs [1888]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

3. Ernest Percival Rhys (1859–1946) was a British author and editor; he founded the Everyman's Library series of inexpensive reprintings of popular works. He included a volume of Whitman's poems in the Canterbury Poets series and two volumes of Whitman's prose in the Camelot series for Walter Scott publishers. For more information about Rhys, see Joel Myerson, "Rhys, Ernest Percival (1859–1946)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

4. Charlotte Fiske Bates (1838–1916) was a poet and editor. She published Risks and Other Poems (1879), a collection of around 120 poems, and she edited the Cambridge Book of Poetry and Song (1882). She contributed to numerous magazines and worked as an instructor in English at the Salisbury School for Young Ladies. She later married M. Adolphe Rogé. [back]

5. C. Sadakichi Hartmann (ca. 1867–1944) was an art historian and early critic of photography as an art form. He visited Whitman in Camden in the 1880s and published his conversations with the poet in 1895. Generally unpopular with other supporters of the poet, he was known during his years in Greenwich Village as the "King of Bohemia." For more information about Hartmann, see John F. Roche, "Hartmann, C. Sadakichi (ca. 1867–1944)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

6. See Ernest Rhys's letter of July 9–10, 1888. Charlotte Fiske Bates wrote a laudatory letter on July 19, 1888: ". . . In one sense, no other writer of any age, has, in his work, laid so far-reaching and sympathetic a grasp on the heart of the future as you have done." The "Japanee friend," C. Sadakichi Hartmann, on July 24, 1888, reported his return from abroad. [back]


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