Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Peter Doyle, 25–26 August [1870]

Date: August 25–26, 1870

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01527

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), 2:107–108. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Zachary King, and Eric Conrad

August 25.

Dear son,

I will begin a letter for you to-day, & probably finish it to-morrow, & send it off, so that you will have it by or before Sunday. The heat is again upon us here, days—but the nights are pleasant. It is now Thursday afternoon, between 3 and 4—& I am writing this in my room in Portland av. Pete, one month of my leave exactly is up to-day. I have been out quite a while to-day, over to New York, to the printing office, & seeing to one thing & another. It was sweaty work. On my way back, I went up in the pilot house & sailed across the river three times—a fine breeze blowing. Then home—took a bath—ate my dinner—& here I am all alone, most stript, taking things as cool as possible, & writing this letter.

Pete, your letter of 23d came yesterday, & the one written partly that night & partly 24th came this forenoon. Those are the only letters I have received since the one of 13th telling me the orders were for you to go to work next day, (Sunday.) I have been uneasy ever since to hear. The letter rec'd this morning gives me the first definite information how things have turned out. Dear son, I want you to try to cast aside all irritating thoughts & recollections, & preserve a cheerful mind. That is the main part of getting along through the toil & battle of life—& it is a good deal habit.1

I was away a good part of last week, down the bay—went away each time early in the morning, & got home after dark. I am having quite jovial times. I went to Wallack's2 theatre one night lately with a friend who wanted to see a piece called "Fritz"3—a miserable, sickish piece. I was glad enough to get out in the open air away from such humbug. I am still feeling gay & hearty. I work several hours a day keeping things straight among the printers & founders, on my books. They are being cast in electrotype plates. I will tell you more about it when we meet. Well, Pete, I guess this will do for to-day. I think of sallying forth, soon as the sun gets pretty well down, & crossing to New York to loafe around two or three hours.

Friday afternoon August 26.

Well I went over to New York last evening—up town to see some friends—come home about 11—just in time to escape a thunder shower. It is splendid to-day—I have been over all day working, quite busy—& have just got home & had my dinner—it is now about 4—It is quite pleasant riding here in Brooklyn—we have large open cars—in good weather it is real lively—I quite enjoy it—

Pete, give my respects to Mr. & Mrs. Nash, & to your cousin—also to Jenny Murphy4—not forgetting the boys on the road—also Wash Milburn5—God bless you, & good bye for this time, my own dear loving boy.



1. Walt Whitman was disturbed by Doyle's mood swings; he raised similar concerns in his August 21, 1869 letter to Doyle. [back]

2. Here Walt Whitman refers to the second Wallack's Theatre on Broadway. The first Wallack's theater at Broadway and Broome Street was managed by James W. Wallack from 1852 to 1861. He built the second Wallack's Theatre in 1861, which prospered under his and then his nephew Lester Wallack's management until 1882, when yet another Wallack's Theatre was opened. [back]

3. J. K. Emmet appeared in Charles Gayler's Fritz, Our German Cousin at Wallack's Theatre from July 11 to September 10, 1870; see George Clinton Densmore Odell, Annals of the New York Stage (New York: Columbia University Press, 1927–1949), 8:564–565. [back]

4. Not identified. [back]

5. W. C. Milburn, either the son or the brother of Dr. J. P. Milburn, a druggist mentioned in Whitman's August 7–10, 1870 letter to Doyle. [back]


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