Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Richard Maurice Bucke to Walt Whitman, 28 August 1888

Date: August 28, 1888

Whitman Archive ID: loc.07227

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 Aug 30, 1888," is in the hand of Horace Traubel.

Contributors to digital file: Jeannette Schollaert, Ian Faith, Caterina Bernardini, and Stephanie Blalock

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Superintendent's Office.1
London, Ont.,
28 Aug 1888

Many thanks for your note of 26th enclosing frontispiece and leaf from Lippencott —it must be mighty slow for you staying in one room all the time—I think they ought to fit up the two downstairs rooms for you and have you there—you could sit by the window and see out would be more in the world—do you not think you would like it better? it would be no trouble to make the change—just put all the furniture you needed in those two rooms and live in them day & night—then why not have a low easy carraige call round for you occationally on good days and drive a mile or two? It would not be much but it would make a change—I would let the horse & buggy go and arrange for the easy carriage (hire it) in their place—I wish I could better attend to such things—perhaps I will be after a while if the meter turns out as we expect— I wish you would show this letter to Horace2 and authorise him to move in the matters mentioned or at all events consult him on the points raised—yes, H. is first class, I do not know what we should have done without him—all well here.

Your friend
RM Bucke

Richard Maurice Bucke (1837–1902) was a Canadian physician and psychiatrist who grew close to Whitman after reading Leaves of Grass in 1867 (and later memorizing it) and meeting the poet in Camden a decade later. Even before meeting Whitman, Bucke claimed in 1872 that a reading of Leaves of Grass led him to experience "cosmic consciousness" and an overwhelming sense of epiphany. Bucke became the poet's first biographer with Walt Whitman (Philadelphia: David McKay, 1883), and he later served as one of his medical advisors and literary executors. For more on the relationship of Bucke and Whitman, see Howard Nelson, "Bucke, Richard Maurice," 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 | USA. It is postmarked: LONDON | PM | AU 28 | 88 | CANADA. [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 late 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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