Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to William Ingram, 2 September 1889

Date: September 2, 1889

Whitman Archive ID: bou.00002

Source: The University of Colorado at Boulder Libraries, Special Collections Department. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 4:370–371. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Andrew David King, Marie Ernster, Erel Michaelis, and Stephanie Blalock

P M Sept: 2 '89

Respects & good-will & good luck to you, dear friends both—Nothing very new or different with me—I have just finished my early supper (I only eat two meals a day—no dinner)—mutton & rice broth, Graham bread & a cup of tea—relish'd all—

Rush1 was here to-day—his imprisonment over, & he goes right off to Concordville (is it?)—he looks well & was very thankful—had your names over & over again with thanks & blessings2

I am writing for pub'n a little still—have had a bad spell last week & before—one of my worst—but am now ab't as usual considering the steady downward trend—Dr Bucke3 is well—I enclose some pictures.

Walt Whitman

William Ingram, a Quaker, kept a tea store—William Ingram and Son Tea Dealers—in Philadelphia. Of Ingram, Whitman observed to Horace Traubel: "He is a man of the Thomas Paine stripe—full of benevolent impulses, of radicalism, of the desire to alleviate the sufferings of the world—especially the sufferings of prisoners in jails, who are his protégés" (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Sunday, May 20, 1888). Ingram and his wife visited the physician Richard Maurice Bucke and his family in Canada in 1890.


1. Little is known about George Rush, Jr. When William Ingram called on August 3, Whitman gave Ingram a copy of Specimen Days for Rush, who was then in prison in Bucks Country, Pennsylvania (Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). Ingram's letter of August 10, 1888 reported how gratified Rush was to receive the gift. [back]

2. Whitman wrote about Rush's visit in his Commonplace Book, noting, "Rush call'd—look'd well—was very thankful, eulogistic, full-hearted—is just out of prison, is just off to his parents in the country" (Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). [back]

3. 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]


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