Skip to main content

Walt Whitman to Peter Doyle, 2 September 1870

Dear Pete,

I received your welcome letter of Aug. 27th—and also 31st, enclosing Ned Stewarts2—When you write tell Ned I am here in Brooklyn, loafing around—& that I send my love. Pete, there is nothing particular to write about this time—pretty much the same story—every day out on the bay awhile, or going down to Coney Island beach—and every day from two to four or five hours in the printing office—I still keep well & hearty, & the weather is fine—warm through the middle of the day, & cool mornings & nights—

I fall in with quite a good many of my acquaintances of years ago3—the young fellows, (now not so young)—that I knew intimately here before the war—some are dead—& some have got married—& some have grown rich—one of the latter I was up with yesterday & last night—he has a big house on Fifth avenue—I was there to dinner (dinner at 8 p. m.!)—every thing in the loudest sort of style, with wines, silver, nigger waiters, &c. &c. &c. But my friend is just one of the manliest, jovialest best sort of fellows—no airs—& just the one to suit you & me—no women in the house—he is single—he wants me to make my home there—I shall not do that, but shall go there very frequently—the dinners & good wines are attractive—then there is a fine library.

Well, Pete, I am on the second month of my furlough—to think it is almost six weeks since we parted there that night—My dear loving boy, how much I want to see you—it seems a long while—I have rec'd a good letter from Mr. O'Connor,4 & also one from John Rowland5 who is in the office for me. Nothing new in office—Well, Pete, about half our separation is over—the next six weeks will soon pass away—indeed it may be only four, as John Rowland told me he might wish to go away—

Good bye for the present, my loving son, & give my respects to any of the boys that ask about me.



  • 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 | 2 | 6:30 P.M." [back]
  • 2. Probably Edward C. Stewart, who wrote to Whitman on February 25, 1870. Walt Whitman also referred to him in an address book (Thomas Biggs Harned Collection of Walt Whitman, The Library of Congress, Notebook #109). [back]
  • 3. Walt Whitman referred to the "Fred Gray association"; see Whitman's March 19–20, 1863 letter to Nathaniel Bloom and John F. S. Gray. According to the New York Directory of 1870–1871, Charles H. Russell lived at 417 Fifth Avenue. Russell's occupation was not cited, and he was not listed in the following year. [back]
  • 4. Not extant. [back]
  • 5. A clerk in the Attorney General's office, who substituted for Whitman while he was on leave. (Rowland is also mentioned in Whitman's January 29, 1867 letter to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman.) On September 24, 1870, Rowland received through A. J. Falls $50, "on account, for service as substitute for Walt Whitman." A later receipt, dated October 18, 1870, and prepared by Walt Whitman himself after his return to Washington, read: "Received from W. W. seventy dollars additional, making One hundred & twenty dollars—in full of all demands" (Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). [back]
Back to top