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Walt Whitman to Peter Doyle, 6 October [1868]

Dear Pete,

There is nothing special with me to write to you about. The time slips away mighty quick. It seems but a day or two since I left Wash, yet I am now on the fourth week of my furlough. Last night was about the greatest political show I ever saw, even in New York—a grand Democratic meeting & torch-light processions. I was out in the midst of them, to see the sights. I always enjoy seeing the city let loose, and on the rampage, as it was last night to the fullest extent. I cannot begin to tell you how the Democrats showed themselves by thousands & tens of thousands. The whole city was lit up with torches. Cannons were fired all night in various parts of the city. As I was on my way home in a 2d av. car between 12 & 1 o'clock we got blocked in by a great part of the returning procession. Of course we had to just stand & take it. I enjoyed it hugely from the front platform. They were nearly an hour passing us, streaming both sides. In the procession were all sorts of objects, models of ships, forty or fifty feet long, full-manned, cars of liberty with women, &c &c. The ranks spread across the street, & every body carried a blazing torch. Fireworks were going off in every direction. The sky was full of big balloons, letting off rockets & Roman candles, 'way up among the stars. The excitement, the rush, & the endless torches, gave me great pleasure. Ever & anon, the cannon, some near some distant. I heard them long after I got to bed. It sounded like a distant engagement. I send you the Herald with a sort of account of the show, but it doesn't do half justice to it.2 The speeches were of no account at all.

I suppose you got a letter & paper from me Saturday, Oct 3. I rec'd your welcome letter of Oct 1,3 also the Star.4 I read Mr. Noyes5 western letters with pleasure. So you have something new in RR—new officers & rules. The RR business here is very different. They go through these long routes on the rush—no mercy to cattle. The 3d av. RR. lost 36 horses in one day last summer, one of those hot days. We are having pleasant weather just now, seems like Indian summer. So long, dear Pete. From your loving comrade.


  • 1. This draft letter is endorsed, "6th letter." [back]
  • 2. Doyle concurred in Walt Whitman's opinion in his letter of October 9, 1868: "i think your description of the Procession beats theirs all to pieces." The article in the Herald was lengthy (almost a page and one-half) but factual and colorless: "It were an unending task to describe in detail this monster procession." [back]
  • 3. See Doyle's letter of October 1, 1868. [back]
  • 4. The first draft of the conclusion to this letter read: "I remain well, work a little, & loafe around a good deal, sometimes on the river, or occasionally on Broadway, or take a ride on top of the stage, &c. Well, Pete, that is all this time from… For life your loving comrade. So long—Your loving comrade." [back]
  • 5. Crosby Stuart Noyes (1825–1908) was editor of the Washington Star from 1867 until his death. On September 30, 1868, his newspaper printed his account of "Chicago." [back]
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