Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: John H. Johnston to Walt Whitman, 26 June 1880

Date: June 26, 1880

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: Charles Sixsmith Collection at the John Rylands Library, University of Manchester

Whitman Archive ID: man.00043

Contributors to digital file: Courtney Rebecca Lawton, Nima Najafi Kianfar, Eder Jaramillo, Nicole Gray, and Stefan Schöberlein



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J. H. JOHNSTON,
JEWELER,
150 Bowery, New York.
C. P. F.
DUPLICATE WEDDING PRESENTS,
S B. M. C.
(TRADE MARK COPYRIGHTED.)

June 26, 1880

Dear Walt,

I rec'd your Postal and am glad you are having such a good time.1

Hinton's wife died night before last. Poor fellow! he is in the depths, he loved her deeply, intensely, she arrived from London only a week ago yesterday, he wishes me to tell Dr Bucke2 that as soon as he can turn around he will "Write about Walt" have it appear in the Mail perhaps and will make it what the Dr needs.

Albert graduated all O.K. I question whether he gets to Camden this Summer. Tell the Dr. that with seven to support, I dont have much surplus to let them go on long journeys. Moreover I need him in the store with me, if I go to Colorado next month he will look after things here.

I will do my best to send the Dr something while I am on my vacation.

Give my love to him, and [commend?] me to his wife and little ones.

Alma3 and Calder are doing well. We go to [Equinunk?] a week from yesterday


JHJ


Notes:

1. John H. Johnston (1837–1919) was a New York jeweler and close friend of Whitman. Johnston was also a friend of Joaquin Miller (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden [New York: Mitchell Kennerley, 1915], 2:139). Whitman visited the Johnstons for the first time early in 1877. In 1888 he observed to Horace Traubel: "I count [Johnston] as in our inner circle, among the chosen few" (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Wednesday, October 3, 1888). See also Johnston's letter about Whitman, printed in Charles N. Elliot, Walt Whitman as Man, Poet and Friend (Boston: Richard G. Badger, 1915), 149–174. For more on Johnston, see Susan L. Roberson, "Johnston, John H. (1837–1919) and Alma Calder" Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

2. 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). [back]

3. Alma Calder Johnston was an author and the second wife of John H. Johnston. Her family owned a home and property in Equinunk, Pennsylvania. For more on the Johnstons, see Susan L. Roberson, "Johnston, John H. (1837–1919) and Alma Calder" (Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]


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