Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: James W. Wallace and Dr. John Johnston to Walt Whitman, 31 May 1891

Date: May 31, 1891

Whitman Archive ID: loc.04714

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.

Editorial notes: The annotation, "From 12 or 15 friends and readers in Lancashire, Eng:," is in the hand of Walt Whitman. The annotation, "Cable Cable," is in an unknown hand. The annotation, "see notes June 12 1891," is in the hand of Horace Traubel.

Contributors to digital file: Cristin Noonan, Amanda J. Axley, Erel Michaelis, and Stephanie Blalock

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Form No. 11
This Company TRANSMITS and DELIVERS messages only on conditions limiting its liability, which have been assented to by the sender of the following message. Errors can be guarded against only be repeating a message back to the sending station for comparison, and the company will not hold itself liable for errors or delays in transmission or delivery of Unrepeated Messages, beyond the amount of tolls paid thereon, nor in any case where the claim is not presented in writing within sixty days after the message is filed with the Company for transmission.
This is an UNREPEATED MESSAGE, and is delivered by the request of the sender, under the conditions named above.
THOS. T. ECKERT, General Manager. NORVIN GREEN, President.
CHECK 9 Bolton
May 31 1891
To Whitman
Camden NJ

Joy shipmate Joy2

Johnston Wallace friends

James William Wallace (1853–1926), of Bolton, England, was an architect and great admirer of Whitman. Wallace, along with Dr. John Johnston (1852–1927), a physician in Bolton, 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).


1. This telegram was sent to Whitman by Wallace, Johnston, and the "Bolton College" of English admirers of the poet in honor of Whitman's seventy-second and last birthday on May 31, 1891. Two lines have been drawn in black ink from the top of the telegram, ending just below Whitman's address. A horizontal line has been drawn in black ink across the telegram beneath "Camden NJ," and in the signature of "Johnston Wallace friends," each word has a slanting line drawn through it in black ink. [back]

2. The message is a reference to Whitman's poem "Joy, Shipmate, Joy!." [back]


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