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Richard Maurice Bucke to Walt Whitman, 3 December 1889


I was greatly relieved and pleased to get from you this morning "The Post"2 of 29 reporting that you had been downstairs on 28 to a dinner of "Roast Turkey & Plum Pudding"

I gave my 6th Lecture to the students yesterday—Two more will (I think) finish the course.

Nothing new from Willy Gurd.3 He ought to be in Waterbury Conn. this week making official tests in the gas works there. I expect him here within two weeks.

All well and quiet here. Sleighing gone Mild, sloppy weather. I am longing for frost and snow

Love to you R M Bucke  20051227_0077.jpg

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. Whitman drew a line in ink through Bucke's letter; the line extends from the top left to the bottom right of the page. [back]
  • 2. Bucke is referring to the Camden Post. [back]
  • 3. William John Gurd (1845–1903) was Richard Maurice Bucke's brother-in-law, with whom he was designing a gas and fluid meter to be patented in Canada and sold in England. Bucke believed the meter would be worth "millions of dollars," while Whitman remained skeptical, sometimes to Bucke's annoyance. In a March 18, 1888, letter to William D. O'Connor, Whitman wrote, "The practical outset of the meter enterprise collapsed at the last moment for the want of capital investors." For additional information, see Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Sunday, March 17, 1889, Monday, March 18, 1889, Friday, March 22, 1889, and Wednesday, April 3, 1889. [back]
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