Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Peter Doyle, 17 October [1868]

Date: October 17, 1868

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01591

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), 2:60–62. 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

Providence R. I.
October 17. 1

Dear Pete,

According to announcement in my last, I have made a movement & change of base, from tumultuous, close-packed, world-like N. Y., to this half-rural, brisk, handsome, New England, third-class town. I came on here last Thursday. I came as guest of Thomas Davis, formerly M. C. from this city—arrived between 8 and 9 o'clock at night—found his carriage at the depot waiting for me—at the house (a sort of castle built of stone, on fine grounds, a mile & a half from the town) a hearty welcome from his hospitable wife, & a family of young ladies & children—a hot supper, a tip-top room &c. &c.—so you see, Pete, your old man is in clover. I have since been round the city & suburbs considerably. I am going down to Newport before I return. Invitations &c. are numerous. I am, in fact, already dividing myself between two hospitalities, part of the time with Mr. & Mrs. Davis, and part with Dr. & Mrs. Channing, old acquaintances of mine in another part of the city. I stopt last night at the house of the latter. It is on a high & pleasant hill at the side of the city, which it entirely overlooks. From the window of my room, I can look down across the city, the river, and off miles upon miles in the distance. The woods are a real spectacle, colored with all the rich colors of autumn. Yesterday it was beautiful & balmy beyond description, like the finest Indian summer. I wandered around, partly walking, partly in a carriage, a good part of the day. To-day there is an entire change of scene—As I sit writing this—what do you think, Pete?—great flakes of snow are falling, quite a thick flurry—sometimes the wind blows gusts—in fact a real snow storm has been going on all the forenoon, though without the look or feeling of actual winter as the grass & foliage are autumnal, & the cold is not severe yet. Still it [is] disagreeable & wet & damp & prevents me from going out. So I will make it up by writing a couple of letters—one to mother,2 & one to you, telling you about things. Providence is a handsome city of about 70,000 inhabitants—has numerous manufactories in full operation—every thing looks lively. From the house up here, I can hear almost any time, night or day, the sound of factory bells & the steam whistles of locomotives half a mile distant. Then the lights at night seen from here make a curious exhibition. At both places I stop, we have plenty of ripe fresh fruit and lots of flowers. Pete, I could now send you a bouquet every morning, far better than I used to, of much choicer flowers.

And how are you getting along, dearest comrade? I hope you are well, & that every thing is going on right with you. I have not heard from you for a good while, it seems.3 I suppose you got my last letter, 14th, from N. Y. I expect to return to N. Y. about the 22d. Should you feel to write after receiving this, you might direct to 331 East 55th st. as before. I am well as usual. I am luxuriating on excellent grapes. I wish I could send you a basket. At both places I stop they have vineyards, & the grapes are very good & plenty this year. Last night, when I went up at 11 o'clock to my room, I took up three great bunches, each as big as my fist, & sat down and eat them before I turned in. I like to eat them this way, & it agrees with me. It is quite a change here from my associations & surroundings either in Washington or New York. Evenings & meal times I find myself thrown amidst a mild, pleasant society, really intellectual, composed largely of educated women, some young, some not so young, every thing refined & polite, not disposed to small talk, conversing in earnest on profound subjects, but with a moderate rather slow tone, & in a kind & conciliatory manner—delighting in this sort of conversation, & spending their evenings till late in it. I take a hand in, for a change. I find it entertaining, as I say, for novelty's sake, for a week or two—but I know very well that would be enough for me. It is all first-rate, good & smart, but too constrained & bookish for a free old hawk like me. I send you my love, dear Pete. So long. Will write from N. Y. soon as I return there.


P.S. Just after 12 o'clock—noon—as I am just finishing, the storm lightens up—I am sure I see a bit of blue sky in the clouds—yes, the sun is certainly breaking out.


1. This draft letter is endorsed, "9th letter." [back]

2. Apparently not extant. [back]

3. Doyle had written on October 14, 1868[back]


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