Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: James W. Wallace to Walt Whitman, 15 March 1892

Date: March 15, 1892

Whitman Archive ID: loc.04844

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, and Stephanie Blalock

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Anderton, near Chorley.
Lancashire, England.1
15 March 1892

Dear Walt,

Just a line or two my dearest friend, my comrade & father, dearest of all to my soul, to express the triumph & joy & cheer with which I think of you & with which I receive tidings of you. Outwardly sad enough, but deep within my soul I know that all is well, & that our last words should be triumph & praise.2 Day by day I think of you with tenderest sympathy & love. If only I could come for a moment to your bedside & imprint upon your lips a long & loving kiss. Be it as if I were with you,3 & here upon the paper I send you one as a token of my dearest love


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 | 38 | MR 16 | 92; PAID | L | ALL; 92; [CAMDEN, N.J.] MAR24 | 6AM | 92 | REC'D. [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. Wallace is here quoting from the final line of Whitman's poem "Full of Life Now" from the "Calamus" cluster. [back]


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