Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: James W. Wallace to Walt Whitman, 15 October 1890

Date: October 15, 1890

Whitman Archive ID: loc.04960

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: Kirby Little, Ian Faith, Breanna Himschoot, and Stephanie Blalock



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Anderton, near Chorley
Lancashire, England.
15. Oct.br 1890

Dear Walt Whitman,

Your kind post-card of Sept. 30th1 recd on the 11th inst, and the pocket-book copy of L. of G.2 received this morning. Many thanks.

I am glad to hear of the visit from John Burroughs,3 which I know would be a very great pleasure to you both. He told Dr J.4 that he wished very much that he could persuade you to live near him.

Dr Johnston tells me that a friend of ours, & a school-fellow of mine,—Fred Wild5—is likely to call upon you. He has been spending a little time in Canada, & wrote home that he would return by New York, & would probably go on to Camden to see you. Dr J. sent you a telegram to that effect last week. I understand, however, that he is likely to have left America before this reaches you. I spent 3 days in Yorkshire last week—so ending my holiday.—I am by no means so much recruited in health as I expected, but hope to improve gradually as time goes on.

The weather here is broken—two or three days of fair weather alternating with a few days of rain. Fairly warm so far, getting colder at nights.

Looking through some old papers the other day I came across a cutting from the "Sunday Chronicle" dated Feb 27th 1887. Probably you have not seen it, and I think I will enclose it. It is of very slight value but is interesting because of its source—the S. C. having a large circulation amongst the working classes here & being very radical & heterodox in character.—It pays you the left-handed compliment of professing to employ a "Walt Whitman Junior" on its staff, whose verses often appear but do no credit to the name!

Dr Johnston seems in good health now & very busy.

I hope that the "grippe" has now left you, &, with love & best wishes always, remain

Yours affectionately
J. W. Wallace


Correspondent:
James William Wallace (1853–1926), of Bolton, England, was an architect and great admirer of Whitman. Along with John Johnston (d. 1918), 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 postcard to Wallace of September 30, 1890[back]

2. The poet had the special pocket-book edition printed in honor of his 70th birthday, May 31, 1889, through special arrangement with Frederick Oldach. Only 300 copies were printed, and Whitman signed the title page of each one. The volume also included the annex Sands at Seventy and his essay A Backward Glance O'er Traveled Roads. See Whitman's May 16, 1889, letter to Oldach. For more information on the book see Ed Folsom, Whitman Making Books/Books Making Whitman: A Catalog and Commentary[back]

3. The naturalist John Burroughs (1837–1921) met Whitman on the streets of Washington, D.C., in 1864. After returning to Brooklyn in 1864, Whitman commenced what was to become a lifelong correspondence with Burroughs. Burroughs was magnetically drawn to Whitman. However, the correspondence between the two men is, as Burroughs acknowledged, curiously "matter-of-fact." Burroughs would write several books involving or devoted to Whitman's work: Notes on Walt Whitman, as Poet and Person (1867), Birds and Poets (1877), Whitman, A Study (1896), and Accepting the Universe (1924). For more on Whitman's relationship with Burroughs, see Carmine Sarracino, "Burroughs, John [1837–1921] and Ursula [1836–1917]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

4. Dr. John Johnston (d. 1918) was a physician from Bolton, England, who, 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 (d.1918)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

5. Fred Wild, a cotton waste merchant, was a member of the "Bolton College" of Whitman admirers, and was also affiliated with the Labour Church, an organization whose socialist politics and working-class ideals were often informed by Whitman's work. [back]


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