Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: James W. Wallace to Walt Whitman, 8 March 1892

Date: March 8, 1892

Whitman Archive ID: loc.04841

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: Cristin Noonan, Amanda J. Axley, Erel Michaelis, and Stephanie Blalock

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Anderton, nr Chorley.
Lancashire, England1
8 March 1892

Dear Walt,

Horace's2 last letter (February 25th) is the most hopeful & cheering letter we have received since last December. We eagerly await the next mail. But whatever news it brings—better or worse, joyful or sad—our dearest love & our heart's best wishes go out to you continually.3

An exquisitely beautiful moonlight night outside. I am anxious to get out into it, & to walk briskly along the country lanes & field paths.—I shall think of you all the time, & shall believe—in presence of the inexpressibly beautiful night, solemn & tender—that all is well with you in life or in death & that infinite love is about you in all.

Our love to you always. How deep & tender I cannot say. God bless you

Your loving

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 Street | Camden | New Jersey. | U.S. America It is postmarked: Bolton | 32 | MR 9 | 92; | New York | MAR | 19 | 92; B | 92; [illegible] | All; Camden | MAR 20 | 130PM | 92 | Rec'd. [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. 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]


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