Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to James W. Wallace, 14 March 1891

Date: March 14, 1891

Whitman Archive ID: loc.07896

Source: Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. The transcription presented here is derived from The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 5:175–176. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

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

Camden N J—U S America1
March 14 Evn'g '91

First, thanks for y'r affectionate fervid letter of 3d wh' I have read twice & absorb'd2—dont expect much of the little 2d annex3—it is very brief & most of it you have seen already—then it is bro't out in sickness & g't depression—Sorry I have no cheery or favorable news to send of physique—am up and abt to eat a bite of supper—

Walt Whitman

James William Wallace (1853–1926), of Bolton, England, was an architect and great admirer of Whitman. Wallace, along with Dr. John Johnston (1852–1927), a physician in Bolton, founded the "Bolton College" of English admirers of the poet. Johnston and Wallace corresponded with Whitman and with Horace Traubel and other members of the Whitman circle in the United States, and they separately visited the poet and published memoirs of their trips in John Johnston and James William Wallace, Visits to Walt Whitman in 1890–1891 by Two Lancashire Friends (London: Allen and Unwin, 1917). For more information on Wallace, see Larry D. Griffin, "Wallace, James William (1853–1926)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


1. This postal card is addressed: J W Wallace | Anderton near Chorley | Lancashire | England. It is postmarked: Cam(?) | Mar 14 | 8 PM | 91. [back]

2. Wallace wrote on March 6, not March 3: "In the centuries to come, when your renown—'the renown of personal endearment'—is fully established, men will comfort themselves by the memory of the loving poet and saviour, who, in his prime, sang such a strong brave song of gladness and love an faith, and who, in the pain and weakness of declining age, 'kept up the lilt' of his previous song in unquestioning acceptance, unconquerable faith and tender love." See the letter from Wallace to Whitman of March 6, 1891. [back]

3. Thirty-one poems from Whitman's book Good-Bye My Fancy (1891) were later printed as "Good-Bye my Fancy 2d Annex" to Leaves of Grass (1891–1892), the last edition of Leaves of Grass published before Whitman's death in March 1892. For more information see Donald Barlow Stauffer, "'Good-Bye my Fancy' (Second Annex) (1891)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]


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