Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Richard Maurice Bucke [and Horace Traubel], 27 October 1890

Date: October 27, 1890

Whitman Archive ID: loc.07847

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.

Notes for this letter were derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller, 6 vols. (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), and supplemented, updated, or created by Whitman Archive staff as appropriate.

Editorial note: The annotation, "see notes Oct. 29 1890," is in the hand of Horace Traubel.

Contributors to digital file: Blake Bronson-Bartlett, Ian Faith, Zainab Saleh, Breanna Himschoot, and Stephanie Blalock



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Camden1
PM Oct: 27 '90

Every thing going as usual—well—rather cool here—pass'd a fair night—H's letter rec'd2—thanks—Harrison Morris3 has been over to see me a very pleasant visit—bro't "The American" 25th with piece "Walt Wh: & Ingersoll"4—I sit here as usual writing this—Warry5 is down stairs practising on his fiddle—the steam puffing of the cars sounds f'm Bridge av: n w wind—I have oysters (good) & roast apples & graham br'd to eat—


Walt Whitman


Correspondent:
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. Bucke 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). Horace L. Traubel (1858–1919), an American essayist, poet, and magazine publisher, is best remembered as the literary executor and biographer of Walt Whitman. During the mid-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).

Notes:

1. This letter is addressed: Dr Bucke | Asylum | London | Ontario | Canada. It is postmarked: Camden, N.J. | Oct 27 | 3 PM | 90, B | A.M. OC | 29. [back]

2. The only extant letter that Traubel wrote to Whitman during his jaunt to Canada with Bucke between October 22–29 is dated October 27. [back]

3. Harrison Smith Morris (1856–1948) was a businessman and man of letters. Traubel published Morris's translation of French critic Gabriel Sarrazin's essay "Walt Whitman" in the tribute collection In Re Walt Whitman, eds. Horace Traubel, Richard Maurice Bucke, and Thomas B. Harned [Philadelphia: McKay, 1893], 159–194. Morris also wrote a biography of the poet, Walt Whitman: A Brief Biography with Reminiscences (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1929). [back]

4. Robert "Bob" Green Ingersoll (1833–1899) was a Civil War veteran and an orator of the post-Civil War era, known for his support of agnosticism. Ingersoll was a friend of Whitman, who considered Ingersoll the greatest orator of his time. Whitman said to Traubel, "It should not be surprising that I am drawn to Ingersoll, for he is Leaves of Grass. He lives, embodies, the individuality I preach. I see in Bob the noblest specimen—American-flavored—pure out of the soil, spreading, giving, demanding light" (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Wednesday, March 25, 1891). The feeling was mutual. Upon Whitman's death in 1892, Ingersoll delivered the eulogy at the poet's funeral. The eulogy was published to great acclaim and is considered a classic panegyric (see Phyllis Theroux, The Book of Eulogies [New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997], 30). [back]

5. Frank Warren Fritzinger (1867–1899), known as "Warry," took Edward Wilkins's place as Whitman's nurse, beginning in October 1889. Fritzinger and his brother Harry were the sons of Henry Whireman Fritzinger (about 1828–1881), a former sea captain who went blind, and Almira E. Fritzinger. Following Henry Sr.'s death, Warren and his brother—having lost both parents—became wards of Mary O. Davis, Whitman's housekeeper, who had also taken care of the sea captain and who inherited part of his estate. [back]


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