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Walt Whitman to Peter Doyle, 3 September 1869

Dear Pete,

I thought I would write you a letter to-day, as you would be anxious to hear. I rec'd your letter of Aug. 24, & it was a great comfort to me. I have read it several times since—Dear Pete, I hope every thing is going on favorably with you. I think about you every day & every night. I do hope you are in good spirits & health. I want to hear about the face.1 I suppose you are working on the road.

There is nothing new or special in my affairs or doings. The weather is pleasant here—it is pretty cool & dry. My folks all continue well—mother first rate, & brothers ditto. I do not have such good luck. I have felt unwell most every day—some days not so bad. Besides I have those spells again, worse, last longer, sick enough, come sudden, dizzy, & sudden sweat—It is hard to tell exactly what is the matter, or what to do. The doctor says it is all from that hospital malaria, hospital poison absorbed in the system years ago—he thinks it better for me in Washington than here.

About one third of the time I feel pretty well. I have taken three or four of my favorite rides on Broadway. I believe I described them to you in my letters a year ago. I find many of my old friends, & new ones too, & am received with the same warm friendship & love as ever. Broadway is more crowded & gay than ever, & the women look finer, & the shops richer—then there are many new & splendid buildings, of marble or iron—they seem to almost reach the clouds, they are so tall—some of them cost millions of dollars.

Staging in N. Y. has been very poor this summer—9 or $10, even on the big Broadway lines—Railroading has also been slim. New York is all cut up with railroads—Brooklyn also—I have seen Jimmy Foy2—he was over to Brooklyn, looking for work on a road. He was well & hearty, & wished to be remembered to you. They pay $2½ on many of the roads here, & 2¼ on the rest. The work is pretty hard, but the hours not so long as in Washington.

There is all kinds of fun & sport here, by day & night—& lots of theatres & amusements in full blast. I have not been to any of them—have not been to see any of my particular women friends—though sent for, (the papers here have noticed my arrival)—have not been down to the sea-shore as I intended—In fact my jaunt this time has been a failure—Better luck next time—

Now Pete, dear, loving boy, I don't want you to worry about me—I shall come along all right. As it is, I have a good square appetite most of the time yet, good nights' sleep—& look about the same as usual, (which is, of course, lovely & fascinating beyond description.) Tell Johnny Lee3 I send him my love, & hope he is well & hearty. I think of him daily. I sent him a letter some time ago, which I suppose he rec'd about Aug. 26, & showed you4—but I have not had a word from him. Lend him this letter to read, as he will wish to hear about me.

God bless you, dear Pete, dear loving comrade, & Farewell till next time, my darling boy.


101 Portland av. opposite the Arsenal, Brooklyn, New York


  • 1. The skin eruption mentioned in Walt Whitman's August 21, 1869 letter to Doyle. [back]
  • 2. 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]
  • 3. Probably a laborer or a conductor. The 1869 Directory listed, however, a number of John Lees. [back]
  • 4. The letter is not known. [back]
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