Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Peter Doyle, 15–16 September 1870

Date: September 15–16, 1870

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01532

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), 2:111–112. 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

September 15, 1870.1

Dear Pete,

Your letters of 10th and 12th have come safe, & are welcome—dear son, I see you are hard at work & appear to be in lively spirits—I am glad to hear you practice with the Arithmetic—I wish you to try & do a little with it every day—practice makes perfect—you will see how soon & how clear it will all come to you—If you have the Geography or Atlas, look into that a little too—one needs to have an idea of the world too.

I am concerned to hear of the death of Amos Dye—poor Amos—he was one of the first (I don't know but the very first) of the railroad men there I got acquainted with, & rode with—Pete, if there is any further subscription for Mrs. Dye, I authorize you to put me down for $5—I will either send the money, or give it to her when I return—

I shall return in about three weeks. I am now in the eighth week of my furlough—it is seven weeks last Tuesday night since we parted there at the corner of 7th street. Well, Pete, dear loving boy, I must now close for to-day.


late Friday afternoon Sept. 16.

Dear son, I have time to add only a few words, in order to put it in the mail this evening—I am working a while every day at my printing yet—but I go around considerable—still go out in the bay—& enjoy myself among my friends here—& in riding around, &c—The weather is very fine, both days & nights. I don't know whether I told you how I stand now about the war—suffice it to say, that as things have gone on, & as the case stands, I find myself now far more for the French than I ever was for the Prussians2

Then I propose to take my first drink with you when I return, in celebrations of the pegging out of the Pope & all his gang of Cardinals & priests—& the entry of Victor Emanuel3 into Rome, & making it the capital of the great independent Italian nation.4

Good bye till next time, darling boy.



1. This piece of correspondence is addressed, "Peter Doyle | Conductor, | Office | Wash. & Georgetown City RR. Co. | Washington, | D. C." It is postmarked: "New-York | Sep | 16(?)| (?)." [back]

2. In his September 6, 1870 letter to Doyle, Whitman expressed support for the Prussian cause, labeling Louis Napoleon "the meanest scoundrel . . . that ever sat on a throne." In the New York Evening Mail on October 27, 1870, the Washington correspondent reported: "At the commencement of the present war in Europe [Walt Whitman] was strongly German, but is now the ardent friend of the French, and enthusiastically supports them and their Republic" (Charles I. Glicksberg, Walt Whitman and the Civil War [Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1933], 116n). Note also "O Star of France." [back]

3. The New York Times of September 15, 1870, reported that the Papal troops were evacuating various towns and Papal states. On September 21, 1870, the forces of Italian King Victor Emanuel II (1820–1878) entered Rome without bloodshed, after "the Pope forbade any resistance." Victor Emanuel, whose reign had been marked by wars of Italian unification, established the capital of the newly unified Italy at Rome on July 2, 1871. [back]

4. The New York Times of September 15, 1870 reported that the Papal troops were evacuating various towns and Papal states. On September 21, 1870, the forces of Victor Emmanuel entered Rome without bloodshed, after "the Pope forbade any resistance." [back]


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