Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Richard Maurice Bucke to Walt Whitman, 6 February 1891

Date: February 6, 1891

Whitman Archive ID: loc.08112

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 2/9/91," is in the hand of Horace Traubel.

Contributors to digital file: Cristin Noonan, Zainab Saleh, Stephanie Blalock, and Andrew David King

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Medical Superintendent's
6 Feb 1891

Your welcome card of 3d2 came to hand yesterday afternoon. You seem to be holding your own but no more. As spring opens, soon now, I look for you to pick up a little. I ought to have sent you word each day while I was sick but having told you that I should be all right in a couple of days I took it for granted you would accept that as positive and be quite easy. I am well again, go my round, &c & as usual—feel first rate too—good appetite, sleep well, &c. Yes, I flatter myself I have an A.I. Constitution and am about as little likely to break down as any one of your numerous acquaintanaces—be this as it may I must try and live for awhile yet for I have quite3 a little, I should like to do before I go

Love to you always
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. This letter is addressed: Walt Whitman | 328 Mickle Street | Camden | New Jersey | U.S.A. It is postmarked: LONDON | PM | FE 6 | 91 | CANADA; CAMDEN, N.J. | FEB | 8 | 4PM | 1891 | REC'D. [back]

2. See Whitman's letter to Bucke of February 3, 1891[back]

3. At this point in the letter, Bucke runs out of space at the bottom right-hand corner of the first recto page and finishes in red ink along the page's upper margin. [back]


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