Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Richard Maurice Bucke to Walt Whitman, 8 September 1888

Date: September 8, 1888

Whitman Archive ID: loc.07234

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 Sept. 10, '88," 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.,
8 Sept 1888

The weather has fallen into the sulks but I don't let that trouble me at all—just jog along and pay very little attention to it—It will come round all in good time and we shall have a grand fall yet I do not doubt. The hot weather must be about over even with you and the pleasant cool autumn days will surely revive you and cheer you up. I hope you will be able to get out a little in an easy carriage before the cold weather comes.

I fancy Herbert Gilchrist2 must be with you by this time—give him my kind regards and tell him I hope to see him in Philadelphia before long—i.e. if he makes any stay—I am in hopes he will take a run west and see the Asylum before he goes back to England. Yesterday was my wedding day—we are 23 years married3—getting to be quite old folk! We had some people in in the evening, had quite a pleasant time. Nothing new about the meter4—nothing much can be done until the patents are secured and this will take some weeks yet.

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 | U.S.A. It is postmarked: LONDON | PM | SP 8 | 88 | CANADA; CAMDEN, N.J. | SEP | 10 | 6AM | [illegible] | REC'D. [back]

2. Herbert Harlakenden Gilchrist (1857–1914), son of Alexander and Anne Gilchrist, was an English painter and editor of Anne Gilchrist: Her Life and Writings (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1887). For more information, see Marion Walker Alcaro, "Gilchrist, Herbert Harlakenden (1857–1914)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

3. Jessie Maria Gurd Bucke (1839–1926) grew up in Mooretown, Upper Canada. She was the daughter of William Gurd, an army officer from Ireland. Gurd married Richard Maurice Bucke in 1865. The couple had eight children. [back]

4. Bucke and his brother-in-law William John Gurd were designing a gas and fluid meter to be patented in Canada and sold in England. [back]


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