Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: James W. Wallace to Walt Whitman, 22 May 1891

Date: May 22, 1891

Whitman Archive ID: loc.04710

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: Ryan Furlong, Cristin Noonan, Breanna Himschoot, and Stephanie Blalock



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Anderton, near Chorley.
Lancashire, England.
22 May. 1891
a.m.

My dear Walt Whitman,

Your most kind letter of May 9th & 10th to hand.1 It affects me profoundly that you should have written at all under such circumstances of "deadly lassitude & weakness"—& I thank you with a heart full of gratitude & love.

I cherish the hope that your long spell of weakness may be partly due to the season, & that as the year advances your strength may in some measure return, & "the waters come in again." Our loving hopes & prayers are with you.

Copies of the "N E Magazine" have come from Traubel;2 & last night I had the long looked for pleasure of reading his article.3—I am delighted with it—even beyond anticipation mainly, of course, because of its new information about you, but also because of its admirable workmanship, & its covert glimpses & unconscious portraiture (in part) of Traubel himself. Every lover of yours owes him a debt of gratitude for his long devotion to you, & every thing goes to shew that in himself he merits our warm affection & regard, & to heighten them. And they are especially due from us, to whom he has shown such cordial & genereous comradeship.

Our Bolton holidays at Whitsuntide (for 3 days) begin this morning, & thousands have gone away by excursion trains to different parts of the country. The weather, however, has been very unfavourable all week—changeable, very cold at times, & showery. I have decided to spend the holiday quietly at home, & Sam Hodgkinson,4 one of the friends,5 who is just recovering from "la grippe" is coming here to stay with me (Expect him in a few minutes). Doubtless Johnston,6 too, will run over when his professional practice permits.

The sun is breaking through the clouds & I am hoping for a fine day.—

With continual thoughts of you, & a heart full of loving wishes

Yours affectionately
J.W. Wallace

P.S. S.H. joins me in love to you.


Correspondent:
James William Wallace (1853–1926), of Bolton, England, was an architect and great admirer of Whitman. Along with John Johnston (1852–1927), 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. See Whitman's letter to Wallace of May 9-10, 1891[back]

2. Horace L. Traubel (1858–1919) was an American essayist, poet, and magazine publisher. He is best remembered as the literary executor, biographer, and self-fashioned "spirit child" of Walt Whitman. During the mid-1880s and until Whitman's death in 1892, Traubel visited the poet virtually every day and took thorough notes of their conversations, which he later transcribed and published in three large volumes entitled With Walt Whitman in Camden (1906, 1908, & 1914). After his death, Traubel left behind enough manuscripts for six more volumes of the series, the final two of which were published in 1996. For more on Traubel, see Ed Folsom, "Traubel, Horace L. [1858–1919],"Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

3. Wallace is referring to Horace Traubel's article "Walt Whitman at Date," which was published in the New England Magazine 4 (May 1891), 275–292. [back]

4. Sam Hodgkinson, a hosiery manufacturer, was a friend of both Wallace and the Bolton physician Dr. John Johnston (Johnston and Wallace, Visits to Walt Whitman in 1890–1891 by Two Lancashire Friends [London : G. Allen & Unwin, ltd., 1918], 104). [back]

5. Wallace is referring to the "Bolton College," a group of English admirers of Whitman, that he and the English physician Dr. John Johnston co-founded. [back]

6. Dr. John Johnston (1852–1927) of Annan, Dumfriesshire, Scotland, was a physician, photographer, and avid cyclist. Johnston was trained in Edinburgh and served as a hospital surgeon in West Bromwich for two years before moving to Bolton, England, in 1876. Johnston worked as a general practitioner in Bolton and as an instructor of ambulance classes for the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railways. He served at Whalley Military Hospital during World War One and became Medical Superintendent of Townley's Hospital in 1917 (John Anson, "Bolton's Illustrious Doctor Johnston—a man of many talents," Bolton News [March 28, 2021]; Paul Salveson, Moorlands, Memories, and reflections: A Centenary Celebration of Allen Clarke's Moorlands and Memories [Lancashire Loominary, 2020]). Johnston, along 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 (1852–1927)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]


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