Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Richard Maurice Bucke to Walt Whitman, [10 February] 1888

Date: [February 10], 1888

Whitman Archive ID: nyp.00726

Source: The Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, New York Public Library. The transcription presented here is derived from Richard Maurice Bucke, The Letters of Dr. Richard Maurice Bucke to Walt Whitman, ed. Artem Lozynsky (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1977), 34. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Related item: Bucke wrote this letter on the back of Whitman's February 11, 1888, letter to William Sloane Kennedy and John Burroughs. Artem Lozynsky notes that "[o]nly the last page of Bucke's letter is extant, and it is written on the printed stationery of the 'Ocean View Hotel'" (The Letters of Dr. Richard Maurice Bucke [Detriot: Wayne State University Press, 1977], 34n1). See nyp.00699.

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

[St. Augustine Fla., 188]
[10 February 1888?]

The climate here is wonderfull [/] weather like June, I was troubled a little by Mosquitos last night, today is rather unpleasantly warm, still they speak of it as "winter" [/] the air is bright and sparkling—the house looks out over the bay and you see the ocean in the distance, a lovely place—I shall stay here two or three weeks, shall write again—let me have a line when the spirit moves you

Your friend
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).


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