A Love Letter to Peter Doyle from Walt Whitman
PostedFebruary 02, 2010
Brooklyn, NY, Saturday evening, Aug. 21, 1869
I have been very sick the last three days—I don't know what to call it—it makes me prostrated and deadly weak, and little use of my limbs. I have thought of you, my darling boy, very much of the time.
I have not been out of the house since the first day after my arrival. I had a pleasant journey through on the cars Wednesday afternoon and night—felt quite well then. My mother and folks are well. We are in our new house—we occupy part and rent out part. I have a nice room, where I now sit writing this. It is the latter part of the afternoon. I feel better the last hour or so. It has been extremely hot here the last two days—I see it has been so in Washington too. I hope I shall get out soon—I hanker to get out doors, and down the bay.
And now dear Pete for yourself. How is it with you, dearest boy—and is there anything different with the face? Dear Pete, you must forgive me for being so cold the last day and evening. I was unspeakably shocked and repelled from you by that talk and proposition of yours—you know what—there by the fountain. It seemed indeed to me, (for I will talk out plain to you, dearest comrade) that the one I loved, and who had always been so manly and sensible, was gone, and a fool and intentional suicide stood in his place. I spoke so sternly and cutting. (Though I see now that my words might have appeared to have a certain other meaning, which I didn't dream of—insulting to you, never for one moment in my thoughts.)
But will say no more of this—for I know such thoughts must have come when you was not yourself but in a moment of derangement,—and have passed away like a bad dream. Dearest boy I have not a doubt but you will get well and entirely well—and we will one day look back on these drawbacks and sufferings as things long past. The extreme cases of that malady, (as I told you before) are persons that have very deeply diseased blood so they have no foundation to build on—you are of healthy stock, with a sound constitution and good blood—and I know it is impossible for it to continue long.
My darling, if you are not well when I come back I will get a good room or two in some quiet place, and we will live together and devote ourselves altogether to the job of curing you, and making you stronger and healthier than ever. I have had this in my mind before but never broached it to you. I could go on with my work in the Attorney General's office just the same—and we would see that your mother should have a small sum every week to keep the pot a-boiling at home.
Dear comrade, I think of you very often. My love for you is indestructible, and since that night and morning has returned more than before. Dear Pete, dear son, my darling boy, my young and loving brother, don't let the devil put such thoughts in your mind again—wickedness unspeakable—death and disgrace here, and hell's agonies hereafter—Then what would it be afterward to the mother? What to me?—Pete, I send you some money by Adams' Express—you use it, dearest son, and when it is gone you have some more, for I have plenty. I will write again before long—give my love to Johnny Lee, my dear darling boy. I love him truly—(let him read these three last lines)—Dear Pete, remember—