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Walt Whitman to Peter Doyle, 17 October [1868]

Dear Pete,

According to announcement in my last, I have made a movement & change of base, from tumultuous, close-packed, world-like N. Y., to this half-rural, brisk, handsome, New England, third-class town. I came on here last Thursday. I came as guest of Thomas Davis, formerly M. C. from this city—arrived between 8 and 9 o'clock at night—found his carriage at the depot waiting for me—at the house (a sort of castle built of stone, on fine grounds, a mile & a half from the town) a hearty welcome from his hospitable wife, & a family of young ladies & children—a hot supper, a tip-top room &c. &c.—so you see, Pete, your old man is in clover. I have since been round the city & suburbs considerably. I am going down to Newport before I return. Invitations &c. are numerous. I am, in fact, already dividing myself between two hospitalities, part of the time with Mr. & Mrs. Davis, and part with Dr. & Mrs. Channing, old acquaintances of mine in another part of the city. I stopt last night at the house of the latter. It is on a high & pleasant hill at the side of the city, which it entirely overlooks. From the window of my room, I can look down across the city, the river, and off miles upon miles in the distance. The woods are a real spectacle, colored with all the rich colors of autumn. Yesterday it was beautiful & balmy beyond description, like the finest Indian summer. I wandered around, partly walking, partly in a carriage, a good part of the day. To-day there is an entire change of scene—As I sit writing this—what do you think, Pete?—great flakes of snow are falling, quite a thick flurry—sometimes the wind blows gusts—in fact a real snow storm has been going on all the forenoon, though without the look or feeling of actual winter as the grass & foliage are autumnal, & the cold is not severe yet. Still it [is] disagreeable & wet & damp & prevents me from going out. So I will make it up by writing a couple of letters—one to mother,2 & one to you, telling you about things. Providence is a handsome city of about 70,000 inhabitants—has numerous manufactories in full operation—every thing looks lively. From the house up here, I can hear almost any time, night or day, the sound of factory bells & the steam whistles of locomotives half a mile distant. Then the lights at night seen from here make a curious exhibition. At both places I stop, we have plenty of ripe fresh fruit and lots of flowers. Pete, I could now send you a bouquet every morning, far better than I used to, of much choicer flowers.

And how are you getting along, dearest comrade? I hope you are well, & that every thing is going on right with you. I have not heard from you for a good while, it seems.3 I suppose you got my last letter, 14th, from N. Y. I expect to return to N. Y. about the 22d. Should you feel to write after receiving this, you might direct to 331 East 55th st. as before. I am well as usual. I am luxuriating on excellent grapes. I wish I could send you a basket. At both places I stop they have vineyards, & the grapes are very good & plenty this year. Last night, when I went up at 11 o'clock to my room, I took up three great bunches, each as big as my fist, & sat down and eat them before I turned in. I like to eat them this way, & it agrees with me. It is quite a change here from my associations & surroundings either in Washington or New York. Evenings & meal times I find myself thrown amidst a mild, pleasant society, really intellectual, composed largely of educated women, some young, some not so young, every thing refined & polite, not disposed to small talk, conversing in earnest on profound subjects, but with a moderate rather slow tone, & in a kind & conciliatory manner—delighting in this sort of conversation, & spending their evenings till late in it. I take a hand in, for a change. I find it entertaining, as I say, for novelty's sake, for a week or two—but I know very well that would be enough for me. It is all first-rate, good & smart, but too constrained & bookish for a free old hawk like me. I send you my love, dear Pete. So long. Will write from N. Y. soon as I return there.


P.S. Just after 12 o'clock—noon—as I am just finishing, the storm lightens up—I am sure I see a bit of blue sky in the clouds—yes, the sun is certainly breaking out.


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