Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Richard Maurice Bucke to Walt Whitman, 26 June 1890

Date: June 26, 1890

Whitman Archive ID: loc.07352

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 note June 28 '90," is in the hand of Horace Traubel.

Contributors to digital file: Blake Bronson-Bartlett, Ian Faith, and Stephanie Blalock

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Superintendent's Office.
London, Ont.,1
26 June 1890

I have your card of 23d2 What's to hinder you writing a little piece from time to time even if you do not publish as written?3

All the weather prophets here told us we were to have a cool summer to make up for the warm or rather mild winter but so far we are having an extra sultry one. I have seldom seen such a prolonged hot spell in June as we have had lately. And it continues still—nights as well as days are hot.

We all keep fairly well however—the grounds are beautiful and the farm and garden looking well. Lots of strawberries these times.

W.J. Gurd4 has finished the model, hope to see him back here within three or four weeks.

No news. best wishes to you. So Long!

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: Lo [illegible] | AM | JU [illegible] | [illegible] | Canada. [back]

2. See Whitman's June 23, 1890 postal card to Bucke. [back]

3. Bucke is referring to "On, On the Same, Ye Jocund Twain!" Whitman told Bucke that he was submitting the poem to Century in his letter of May 12, 1890. Century rejected the poem. See Richard W. Gilder's May 14, 1890, rejection letter to Whitman. The poet expressed his "botheration" about the rejection in his June 5 and June 23 letters to Bucke. The poem was eventually published in Once a Week on June 9, 1891. [back]

4. William John Gurd (1845–1903) was Richard Maurice Bucke's brother-in-law, with whom he was designing a gas and fluid meter to be patented in Canada and sold in England. Bucke believed the meter would be worth "millions of dollars," while Whitman remained skeptical, sometimes to Bucke's annoyance. In a March 18, 1888, letter to William D. O'Connor, Whitman wrote, "The practical outset of the meter enterprise collapsed at the last moment for the want of capital investors." For additional information, see Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Sunday, March 17, 1889, Monday, March 18, 1889, Friday, March 22, 1889, and Wednesday, April 3, 1889. [back]


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