- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 381] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Saturday, December 27, 1890

     5:50 P.M. In at W.'s on my way home. Found him very comfortable—looking well—reporting himself so-so. Had written postals this evening to Rhys, Bucke, Bonsall, Smith. "I sent off the four Melbourne books. Yes, sent it by Adams. He told me that I must prepay, which I did. And would you think it? $7.50! It is big, but I did not murmur. There seems to be some contract between them and the Wells & Fargo people in Australian goods. And now, will they go all right? That is our next question. It is a happy incident all through—an aside in our career—and may help these Melbourne fellows along. And I was willing for that to let all my profit go—and more if it was necessary."

     Alluded to his Long Island sister: "She married a mechanic named Van Nostrand—I do not hear from her often: she is old, sickly—younger than me, but now frail. In the beginning she was vigorous enough, as we all were—but rheumatism has sapped her. And do you know, Horace, I often sit here and wonder why I am exempt from rheumatism—for both our parents had it, and the children more or less—but except for the slightest incidental hints of it, I do not know what it is." The "Australian experience" had "aroused" in him anew the "idea of human solidarity"—which was essentially "Leaves of Grass," and to leave which out would destroy these poems. Spoke earnestly of this, in tone eloquent and strong.

     I said afterwards, referring again to his family, "You will drag them all to immortality." This made him laugh though he said nothing in direct reply to it—only instancing the story of Fortunatus and "the fool-choice" of wealth when wisdom was near—

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 382] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
and recounting inimitably (looking straight at me) the rebuke—as he put it, "You choose this dross, this lie, when I offered you all the wealth of the heavens"—gesturing with great energy and saying to me— "I wish I really could repeat the lines—they are noble—have my entire admiration and respect."

     I stopped in at Parry's—ordered the man over to measure W.'s head Monday. W. "pleased," he said, "with the prospect of having—of going out in by and by—a new spring hat. Even Warren will be proud of it."

     As I was about to leave, he said, "You might take this along with you—to read when you have time: it is worth knowing"—reaching to lounge and taking from it a big yellow envelope, tied with pink tape, in which he had written in his large hand:

Dr. Bucke's
Travels, Work and Experiences
30 to 36 yr's ago (1854 onward)
in a letter from him to an uncle
in England (amputation of feet 1858)
(Berry & Norwich Post England
newspaper July 13 1880)

     When I got home found the following letter from Bucke:

25 Dec 1890

My dear Horace

I have yours of the 22nd. I had a fall last evening and dislocated my left shoulder (it was the right arm last time, three months ago). I got a doctor, and had it reduced, and am doing as well as can be expected. Hope to be over at the office tomorrow or next day. Tell W. and tell him not to worry for the matter is not serious.

I had a line from Harned today. He speaks of W. as being "in bad shape this winter"; but it is a great relief anyway to know that his kidneys are all right.

Affectionately yours

RM Bucke

     Wrote him at once.


Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Matt Cohen, Ed Folsom, & Kenneth M. Price, editors.