Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Peter Doyle, 16 February 1872

Date: February 16, 1872

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01541

Source: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 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.

Editorial note: The annotation, "Saturday," is in an unknown hand.

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Kathryn Kruger, Zachary King, Eric Conrad, Alex Kinnaman, and Nicole Gray

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107 north Portland av.
Feb. 16, 1872.

Dear Pete,
Dear, dear son,

We are having a very cold spell here, the severest of the winter—freezes up the pipes through the house, & burst them yesterday, causing great trouble—I too have got a bad cold, my head all stopped—

—I came through all right last Saturday,2 on time—quite a pleasant trip—Mother is very well, full as well as usual—I am having quiet good times home here, with Mother—stay in the house more than usual, on account of the bitter cold, (but go out two or three hours during the day)—

I will only write this very short letter to you this time, but send you my love, my darling son—I think about you every day dear son—will write more, soon—here is a kiss for you dear loving son.


Pete, I am making out a poor scraggy letter to you this time—I feel pretty well, but don't seem to feel like writing—Good bye for to-day, my loving boy—

Your true Father & Comrade always

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 was a conductor in the horsecar where the forty-five-year-old Whitman was a passenger. 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," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


1. This letter is addressed: Peter Doyle | conductor, | [Of]fice Wash. & Georgetown City RR. | Washington, | D. C. It is postmarked: New York | Feb | 16 | (?) M. [back]

2. February 10. [back]


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