Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Richard Maurice Bucke to Walt Whitman, 1 September 1891

Date: September 1, 1891

Whitman Archive ID: loc.08168

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 Sept. 3 1891," is in the hand of Horace Traubel.

Contributors to digital file: Cristin Noonan, Zainab Saleh, Stephanie Blalock, and Brandon James O'Neil

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300 miles east of N.Y.
Tuesday afternoon
1 Sept '91

As I shall soon see you,2 dear Walt, I shall not write much now. We expect to get landed tomorrow forenoon and I hope to reach Camden Friday evening or Saturday at latest. I want to see Mr Dane3 about meter matters in N.Y. and attend to a couple of other small matters there.

We have had a good passage—at present it is very hot and I fear we shall have a hot time in N.Y. I am well and trust to find you no worse than when I left

So long—With love
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 It is postmarked: NEW YORK | SEP 2 | 1130AM | C; CAMDEN, N.J. | SEP | 3 | 6AM | 18[91] | REC'D. [back]

2. At this time, Bucke was traveling back to the United States following two months abroad in England, where he had attempted to establish a foreign market for the gas and fluid meter he was building with his brother-in-law William Gurd. During this trip he also spent time with James W. Wallace and Dr. John Johnston, the co-founders of the Bolton College of Whitman admirers and visited the English poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson. [back]

3. Mr. Dane was a patent lawyer who was responsible for handling matters related to Bucke and Gurd's gas and fluid meter. [back]


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