Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Peter Doyle, 29 September [1868]

Date: September 29, 1868

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01584

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), 2:50–51. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

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

Sept 29.1

Dear boy Pete,

It is splendid here to-day, & I am feeling first-rate. We have had quite a dark & rainy spell—but now the prospect is good weather, clear sky, bright sun, coolish, & no dust. I shall spend an hour or two on the river to-day. Your letter of 27th,2 Sunday, came this morning. Also two Stars, 25th & 26, the latter with Hinton's speech, the other containing an item about me.3 The previous Star arrived with your note of 23d, written just as you were going to see the Black Crook4—& next morning another Star came. Peter, you are a good boy, & shall have your reward in Heaven, if not on earth.5

Now how about that cold? I see you went to work Saturday. You seem to be under the weather more than I thought. Dear comrade, I hope this will find you all right & well as ever. I suppose you are working this week. Yesterday I spent most of the day in Brooklyn helping the folks to finish up the moving business. Got through just after dark. I have not been to any amusements yet. Somehow I dont seem to care about them,6 & I go around enough during the day. There is considerable political excitement here—banners swung across the streets almost every block, & big transparences in front of the different headquarters. I have seen several splendid torch-light processions, & outdoor meetings, &c. Of course the great majority in New York & Brooklyn is for Seymour & Blair.7

To Jim Sorrell:8 Dear Jimmy: You may not understand it, what that lady said about the bedfellow business, but it's all right9 & regular—besides, I guess you understand it well enough. Jimmy, dear boy, I wish you was here with me—we could have such good times. I send you my love—& to Charley10 the same—Mention how Charley's young one is getting along—

I will now bid you good bye for this time, my loving friend, & God bless you, dear comrade, & keep you all right. I will write a line to No. 6,11 & will speak to the other boys in my next.


1. This draft letter is endorsed, "4th letter." At the top of letter, Whitman struck out the sentence, "To me they tell every thing." [back]

2. Doyle's chatty letter of September 27, 1868 was filled with references to his comrades: "Walt you cant think [how] much pleasure i derive from our letters. it seems to me Very often that you are With me and that i am Speaking to you." [back]

3. The Star on September 26, 1868, reported that Hinton spoke on women's rights before the Universal Franchise Association. On the preceding day the newspaper contained a report on the payment Walt Whitman received from the Broadway Magazine: "It is needless to add that no other poet, except Tennyson, commands such a price in England." The Washington Daily Morning Chronicle on September 26, 1868, also noted that Walt Whitman had received "fifty pounds in gold." According to his letter of October 9, 1868, O'Connor had inserted the item in the Star: "It made a great sensation in Washington, and your stock went up enormously." [back]

4. The Black Crook opened at the National Theatre in Washington on September 7, 1868, and ran until September 26, 1868. The play, produced according to the advertisements at a cost of $20,000, included a Parisian ballet and "Transformation Scenes, Incantation Scenes, Cascade Scenes of Real Water, Amazonian Armor." [back]

5. Originally Walt Whitman wrote: "Dear Pete, every word you write is most welcome. I suppose you got a letter from me last Saturday, as I sent one the day before." [back]

6. Walt Whitman deleted: "just to go by myself." [back]

7. Whitman refers to Horatio Seymour (1810–1886), former governor of New York, and Montgomery Blair (1813–1883), Postmaster General in Lincoln's administration. [back]

8. Doyle wrote on September 27, 1868: "Jim Sorrill Sends his love & best respects & says he is alive & kicking but the most thing that he dont understand is that young Lady that said you make such a good bed fellow." [back]

9. Walt Whitman at this point excised: "to a dot—Jimmy dear boy, Jim." [back]

10. Sorrell's brother. [back]

11. The conductor or driver on car 6. [back]


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.