Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Peter Doyle, 10 September 1869

Date: September 10, 1869

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01522

Source: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 2:87–88. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Kenneth M. Price, Elizabeth Lorang, Zachary King, and Eric Conrad

Friday afternoon, Sept. 10, 1869.

Dear Pete—dear son,

I have received your letter of the 8th to-day—all your letters have come safe—four altogether. This is the third I have sent you (besides that one by Adams' Express, Aug. 23d.)1

Pete, you say my sickness must be worse than I described in my letters—& ask me to write precisely how I am. No, dearest boy, I wrote just as it really was. But, Pete, you will now be truly happy to learn that I am feeling all right, & have been mainly so for the last four days—& have had no bad spells all that time. Yesterday I thought I felt as strong & well as ever in my life—in fact real young & jolly. I loafed around New York most all day—had a first-rate good time. All along Broadway hundreds of rich flags & streamers at half-mast for Gen. Rawlins'2 funeral—From the tall buildings, they waved out in a stiff west wind all across Broadway—late in the afternoon I rode up from the Battery to look at them, as the sun struck through them—I thought I had never seen any thing so curious & beautiful—On all the shipping, ferry boats, public buildings &c. flags at half mast too. This is the style here. No black drapery, for mourning—only thousands of flags at half mast, on the water as well as land—for any big bug's funeral.

To-day I am all right too. It is now towards 3—Mother & I have just had our dinner, (my mammy's own cooking mostly.) I have been out all the forenoon knocking around—the water is my favorite recreation—I could spend two or three hours every day of my life here, & never get tired—Some of the pilots are dear personal friends of mine—some, when we meet, we kiss each other (I am an exception to all their customs with others)—some of their boys have grown up since I have known them, & they too know me & are very friendly.

Pete, the fourth week of my vacation is most ended. I shall return the middle of next week.

Give my love to Johnny Lee3—let him read this letter, & then return it to you. Dear Jack, I rec'd your affectionate letter of Sept. 5th.

Pete, I have seen Tom Haslett4—he is well—he is working extra on Broadway & 42d st. RR. He does not think of going home till Christmas. Jimmy Foy5 has not got work yet.

I suppose you got "Kenilworth" I sent.

Well, boy, I shall now take a bath, dress myself & go out, cross the river, put this letter in the p. o. & then ramble & ride around the City, awhile, as I think we are going to have a fine evening & moonlight &c.

Good bye, dear son—We will soon be together again.



1. Apparently lost. It probably contained the money order mentioned in Whitman's August 21, 1869 letter to Doyle. [back]

2. General John Aaron Rawlins (1831–1869) was Grant's aide-de-camp during the Civil War and Secretary of War in 1869. [back]

3. Probably a laborer or a conductor. The 1869 Directory listed, however, a number of John Lees. [back]

4. Perhaps Whitman intended to write "Hassett," the Washington conductor mentioned in his September 25, 1869 letter to Doyle. [back]

5. A railroad worker, cited in one of Whitman's address books (Thomas Biggs Harned Collection of Walt Whitman, The Library of Congress, Notebook #109). [back]


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