Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: James W. Wallace to Walt Whitman, 28 January 1892

Date: January 28, 1892

Whitman Archive ID: loc.04833

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 note: The annotation, "see notes Feb. 8 1892," is in the hand of Horace Traubel.

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

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Anderton, near Chorley.
Lancashire, England1
28. Jan 1892

Dear Walt,

I cannot tell you how glad I am to write to you again with some confidence that you will be able to read it yourself. I only pray that you may recover sufficient strength to enjoy some measure of comfort & ease.2

The last 2 days have been a happy joyful release from the heavy cares & anxieties of several weeks past. Do not think us thoughtless or inconsiderate, or altogether selfish that we welcome your partial recovery with so great a joy. The world has seemed to us, during your illness, half emptied of its warmth & love. We have learned, in bitterness & grief, how much the love between us means & how deep it goes. And it is an immense joy to us to find that it is to be ours still.

The last mail brought letters from Traubel3 which were the first to give us solid grounds of hope. And it astonishes me to find how gladdening & vitalizing is the joyous sense of release—as of a long & heavy load removed. May God bless you & give you comfort & strength.

Horace has been marvellously good to us, as well as to you. Daily & faithfully he sends us bulletins of your condition, and under trying circumstance & heavy press of affairs steadfastly shows us loving kindess like a brother's. I cannot thank him or respond to his kindness as he deserves. Perhaps you, whom he loves & reveres as we do beyond all others, will thank him for us? That will please him best of all.

I will not write much now, but I am very happy in the prospect of writing again. My dearest love to you. & my most fervent prayers & good wishes are yours always.


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 letter is addressed: Walt Whitman,|328, Mickle St | Camden | New Jersey. | U.S. America It is postmarked: BOLTON | 32 | JA30 | 92; NEW YORK | [illegible] | 92; A | 92; PAID | E | All; CAMDEN, N.J. | FEB8 | 4PM | 92 | REC'D. There is a second Camden, N.J. postmark that is almost entirely illegible. [back]

2. On December 17, 1891, Whitman had come down with a chill and was suffering from congestion in his right lung. Although the poet's condition did improve in January 1892, he would never recover. He was confined to his bed, and his physicians, Dr. Daniel Longaker of Philadelphia and Dr. Alexander McAlister of Camden, provided care during his final illness. Whitman died on March 26, 1892. [back]

3. 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]


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