Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: James W. Wallace to Walt Whitman, 21 May 1889

Date: May 21, 1889

Whitman Archive ID: loc.04405

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

Contributors to digital file: Kirby Little, Caterina Bernardini, Ian Faith, and Stephanie Blalock



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14 Eagle St. Haulgh
Bolton
21 May/89.

Dear Walt Whitman,

Your two Bolton friends and admirers, J. Johnston1 & J. W. Wallace,2 again write in sending you their love and best wishes on your Birthday.

We are very thankful to have within our power the means of again communicating with you and of sending you a small token of our deep and continued reverence & affection.

Since our last letter your November Boughs3 has appeared—of which we each immediately procured a copy. And not the least of the pleasures it gave us was the admirable portrait of yourself on the frontispiece. Every line of the book has been carefully read—most of it again & again—& has increased the heavy debt we owe you. We feel, too, in reading its closing lines that besides your other great services to humanity, you, too, like Elias Hicks,4 like George Fox,5 have "laboured", and "made contributions" to, and, "best of all set an incarnated example" of, life spent in the constant "thought of God, merged in the thoughts of moral right and the immortality of identity."—But your contributions have been far greater, and of immeasurably wider scope than theirs, inasmuch as they go along with a vastly increased intellectual power and range, and are "consistent with the Hegelian formulas, and consistent with modern science." By these immense services in these our times, and especially in your contributions to the "thought of the immortality of identity," you have enrolled yourself for ever amongst those who, you justly say, are "dearest to humanity,"—and are inexpressibly dear to us.

We hope that the remainder of your life may be serene and calm, and cheered by the ardent love and gratitude of those who, like us, are so deeply indebted to you.

We each send you £5 which we should like you to expend in some visible token of our good will.

We also enclose 2 photos. 1st—one of J. Johnston—taken for presentation to the members of an ambulance class, of which he was the teacher, and who gave him the writing cabinet shown on the table. 2nd J. W. Wallace in his own little room, photographed by J. Johnston some months ago. It isn't a good portrait, but it may6


Correspondent:
James William Wallace (1853–1926), of Bolton, England, was an architect and great admirer of Whitman. Along with John Johnston (d. 1918), a physician from Bolton, he founded the "Bolton College" of English admirers of the poet. Johnston and Wallace corresponded with Whitman and with Horace Traubel and other members of the Whitman circle in the United States, and they separately visited the poet and published memoirs of their trips in John Johnston and James William Wallace, Visits to Walt Whitman in 1890–1891 by Two Lancashire Friends (London: Allen and Unwin, 1917). For more information on Wallace, see Larry D. Griffin, "Wallace, James William (1853–1926)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).

Notes:

1. John Johnston (d. 1918) was a physician from Bolton, England, who, with James W. Wallace, founded the "Bolton College" of English admirers of the poet. Johnston and Wallace corresponded with Whitman and with Horace Traubel and other members of the Whitman circle in the United States, and they separately visited the poet and published memoirs of their trips in John Johnston and James William Wallace, Visits to Walt Whitman in 1890–1891 by Two Lancashire Friends (London: Allen and Unwin, 1917). For more information on Johnston, see Larry D. Griffin, "Johnston, Dr. John (d.1918)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

2. James William Wallace (1853–1926), of Bolton, England, was an architect and great admirer of Whitman. Along with John Johnston (d. 1918), a physician from Bolton, he founded the "Bolton College" of English admirers of the poet. Johnston and Wallace corresponded with Whitman and with Horace Traubel and other members of the Whitman circle in the United States, and they separately visited the poet and published memoirs of their trips in John Johnston and James William Wallace, Visits to Walt Whitman in 1890–1891 by Two Lancashire Friends (London: Allen and Unwin, 1917). For more information on Wallace, see Larry D. Griffin, "Wallace, James William (1853–1926)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

3. 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]

4. Elias Hicks (1748–1830) was a traveling Quaker preacher and anti-slavery activist from Long Island, New York. For more on Hicks, see Henry Watson Wilbur, The Life and Labors of Elias Hicks (Philadelphia: Friends' General Conference Advancement Committee, 1910). [back]

5. George Fox (1624–1691), an English dissenter, was a founder of the Religious Society of Friends, a group that came to be known as Quakers. [back]

6. The final page(s) of this letter, including the remainder of the body, the closing, and the signature appear to be missing and may no longer be extant. [back]


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