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Walt Whitman to Peter Doyle, 2 October [1868]

Dear boy and Comrade2

You say it is a pleasure to you to get my letters—well, boy, it is a real pleasure to me to write to you—I just write off-hand, whatever comes up, and, as I said before, mostly about myself & my own doings. [There have been some] tremendous fires—the one [in] Brooklyn—eight or ten first-class steam engines3—Tell Harry on No 11,4 he would see quite a change in the Fire Dep't.5 Pete, if you see Pittsburgh either tell him the following, or let him have this letter, & then return it to you. Write how David Stevens6 is, & write how he is getting along.7

I have more than I can attend to here. I find myself surrounded by friends, many old ones, some new ones, some young & attractive, & plenty of invitations & amusements. I have received an invitation from a gentleman & wife, friends of mine, at Providence, R. I.,8 and shall go there & spend a few days latter part of October. How about the cold? I hope it is well. Dear Pete, with all my kind friends here & invitations, &c., though I love them all, & gratefully reciprocate their kindness, I finally turn to you, & think of you there.9

Well, I guess I have written enough for this time. Dear Pete, I will now bid you good bye for the present. Take care of yourself, & God bless you, my loving comrade. I will write again soon.


  • 1.

    This draft letter is endorsed, "5th letter | Oct 2. | To Pittsburgh | To Harry Hurt."

    "Pittsburgh" was an alias for Lewis Wraymond, with whom Walt Whitman corresponded on October 2, 1868. For Hurt, see Walt Whitman's October 2, 1868 letter to Henry Hurt.

  • 2. Since this draft consists of scraps of paper pasted together, with vague directions to transpose passages, the text as here given is of necessity conjectural. [back]
  • 3. On October 2, 1868, the New York Times reported that there had been five fires in stables during the week. A fire on October 1, 1868, in the stables of Teunis G. Bergen, a Brooklyn official and U.S. Representative acquainted with Walt Whitman, had caused damage estimated at $1,000 (see Walt Whitman to "Tunis G. Bergen," January 15, 1849, in Edwin Haviland Miller, ed., The Correspondence [New York: New York University Pres, 1961–1977], 1:37). [back]
  • 4. On September 27, 1868, Doyle informed Walt Whitman that Harry wanted information about the New York Fire Department. [back]
  • 5. After this sentence appeared two notes which Walt Whitman apparently planned to expand in the letter: "Political meeting, at Cooper Institute—the great Hall, mostly under ground—conductor—pistol incident in Brooklyn." [back]
  • 6. A driver. In an entry dated September 7, 1874, in an address book (Thomas Biggs Harned Collection of Walt Whitman, The Library of Congress, Notebook #108), Whitman recorded a visit from Stevens, who was at that time a driver in Philadelphia. [back]
  • 7. The latter part of this sentence originally read: "& remember me particular. He is a young man…" [back]
  • 8. Walt Whitman accepted William Francis Channing's offer to visit Providence in Whitman's September 27, 1868 letter to Channing. [back]
  • 9. What was evidently to be the next sentence was stricken: "I wish we could be together on the last trip this evening, & have an hour with each other afterward as usual." Walt Whitman also excised the following: "Political excitement—banners stretched across the streets, &c—processions—" [back]
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