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Walt Whitman to Henry Hurt, 2 October [1868]

Dear friend Harry Hurt,2

I thought I would just drop you a line for yourself—but no doubt you keep fully posted about me by my letters to Pete, as I am willing you or any of my particular friends who wish to, should read them. (He knows who I would be willing should read them—I leave it to him)—Harry, you would much enjoy going round N. Y. with me, if it were possible, & then how much I should like having you with me. This great city, with all its crowds, & splendor, & Broadway fashion, & women, & amusements, & the river & bay, & shipping, & the many magnificent new buildings, & Central Park & 5th Avenue, & the endless processions of private vehicles & the finest teams I ever saw, for miles long of a fine afternoon—altogether they make up a show that I can richly spend a month in enjoying—for a change from my Washington life. I sometimes think I am the particular man who enjoys the show of all these things in N. Y. more than any other mortal—as if it was all got up just for me to observe & study. Harry, I wish when you see Ben. Thompson, conductor, you would say I sent him my love, & have not forgot him. Let him read this letter. I send him a newspaper, the N. Y. Clipper. I have marked the piece about the Five Points.3 I went down there myself just for fun, three nights ago, with a friend of mine, a policeman, & that account in the Clipper is a very good description—only not half rank enough. I wish you to tell John Towers, conductor, I sent him my love, & we will see each other again one of these days. I send him a Clipper also with an acc't of the Five Points—Harry, you let one of them lend you the paper, & read the acc't—it will amuse you—I was there two hours—it was instructive but disgusting—I saw one of the handsomest white girls there I ever saw, only about 18—blacks & white are all intermingled—


  • 1. This draft letter is endorsed (by R. M. Bucke?), "'68." [back]
  • 2. Henry Hurt, like Doyle, worked for the Washington and Georgetown Railroad Company. Hurt's reply to this letter on October 5, 1868, written on the company's stationery, had the self-conscious stiltedness of a clerk: "I am pleased to Know that you are enjoying your leave of absence so much; may you continue to do so until you return. Your favor of 2d inst. to me, and papers for others were duly received, and I am requested by the recipients to return their thanks for the same." According to the Washington Chronicle of January 15, 1874, at that time he was the treasurer of the company. [back]
  • 3. The October 3, 1868, issue of the Clipper contained Paul Preston's article "On the 'Five Points,'" part of a series entitled "Reminiscences of a Man about Town." Preston recalled the depravities of the inhabitants, the mixture of races, and the squalid bars and brothels in this "plague spot," which surrounded the intersection of Worth, Park, and Baxter streets in lower Manhattan. [back]
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