Title: Walt Whitman to Peter Doyle, [20 February 1874]
Date: February 20, 1874
Editorial notes: The annotations, "1874 or '5," and "Feb 20–1874," are in an unknown hand.
Source: Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.
Notes for this letter were derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller, 6 vols. (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977).
Location: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Whitman Archive ID: loc.01641
Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Kathryn Kruger, Zachary King, Eric Conrad, Alex Kinnaman, and Nicole Gray
Well Pete, dear son, I have just had my dinner (stewed chicken & onions—good,) & here I sit again in the same old chair, in the parlor, writing my weekly screed to you—Nothing to brag of, this week—have passed a disagreeable week—mainly, I suppose, from a bad, bad cold in the head—have suffered badly from it, every way—but keep up and around—& shall get through with it, when the time comes—
Have not written any for publication the past fortnight—have not felt at all like writing—My Weekly Graphic pieces are about concluded—(the next week's, the 6th number, ends them—I am just reading the last proof to-day.)—I have a poem3 in the March Harper—as I believe I mentioned in my last. (I am told that I have colored it with thoughts of myself—very likely)
—Pete, I rec'd your letter last Monday—& Herald—
—I have not sent you any papers or books lately—but will, again—As I sit here, concluding this, I am feeling quite comfortable. Take care of yourself my darling boy—
Pete as I am a little in extra funds to-day, I enclose you $5—thinking (like Mrs. Toodles' coffin) it "might perhaps come in use, somehow"—
Peter Doyle (1843–1907) was one of Walt Whitman's closest comrades and lovers, and their friendship spanned nearly thirty years. The two met in 1865 when the twenty-one-year-old Doyle drove the forty-five-year-old Whitman by horsecar. Despite his status as a veteran of the Confederate Army, Doyle's uneducated, youthful nature appealed to Whitman. Although Whitman's stroke in 1873 and subsequent move from Washington to Camden limited the time the two could spend together, their relationship rekindled in the mid-1880s after Doyle moved to Philadelphia and visited nearby Camden frequently. After Whitman's death, Doyle permitted Richard Maurice Bucke to publish the letters Whitman had sent him. For more on Doyle and his relationship with Whitman, see Martin G. Murray, "Doyle, Peter."
1. This letter is addressed: Pete Doyle, | M street South, | bet 4½ & 6th, | Washington, D. C. It is postmarked: Camden | Feb | 20 | N.J. [back]
2. The allusions to his published works, in addition to the envelope, confirm the date assigned by the executors. [back]
3. "Prayer of Columbus." [back]