Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Richard Maurice Bucke to Walt Whitman, 6 April 1889

Date: April 6, 1889

Whitman Archive ID: loc.07293

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: Alex Ashland, Breanna Himschoot, and Stephanie Blalock

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Superintendent's Office.
for the Insane
London, Ont.,
6 April 1889

I have had the Inspector here since thursday evening—he went East (to Toronto) this morning. All quiet again and nobody hurt—This morning I got the little bundle of papers (Aug. 87)1 from you, many thanks. We have had another fall of snow yesterday and last night, quite a lot came down, several inches. It is now (under the influence of quite a warm sun) departing as rapidly as it came, by tomorrow evening (if the weather keeps as now) it will be all gone. I am still reading Brockden Brown2 and he interests me a good deal, more than I had expected. No letters from any of our friends and no news. I trust you are easier—I wish I could in any way make you more comfortable, perhaps by & by I shall be able

Your friend
R M 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. Artem Lozynsky, editor of The Letters of Dr. Richard Maurice Bucke to Walt Whitman, writes that he was "unable to identify 'the little bundle of papers'" (120). [back]

2. Charles Brockden Brown (1771–1810) was an American writer who authored novels, short stories, and essays. His novels include Wieland (1798) and Edgar Huntly; or, Memoirs of a Sleep-Walker (1799). [back]


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