Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Richard Maurice Bucke to Walt Whitman, 28 May 1883

Date: May 28, 1883

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: med.00709

Contributors to digital file: Stefan Schöberlein, Natalie O'Neal, and Nicole Gray



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Asylum for the Insane,
London,
28th May 1883

My dear Walt

I have had the book a couple of days and have looked through it, I believe it will do, and if it will the Editor will deserve more credit than the Author1—I am really surprised at the tact and judgement you have displayed in putting my rough M.S. into shape and I am more than satisfied with all you have done—I see now that you were right about the Latin motto2 (as about every thing else)—it is not in line with the book and is better out of it. I should like to know who will be the English Pubr and when the book will be published in England and when here? I suppose McKay will send me a statement (all in good time) showing my financial position as toward the vol.?

We are all well here, the season is backward, the leaves not fully out yet; indeed the oaks and even some of the maples and elms have scarcely begun to come out yet—however the asylum grounds look lovely, we have had a great deal of rain and the grass and the young leaves are exquisitely fresh and green

Affectionately Yours
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 made the following entry in his Commonplace Book for June 1, 1883: "Dr. Bucke's WW done at last,—all bound & ready—seems to look very well—to-day I enter on my sixty-fifth year—" (Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). [back]

2. See the partial letter from Bucke to Whitman of June 12, 1882. The title page of Walt Whitman originally featured a quotation from Lucretius, the excision of which disappointed O'Connor (see the letter from O'Connor to Whitman of April 17, 1883; see also Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden [1906–1996], 9 vols., Tuesday, February 5, 1889). [back]


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