Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Peter Doyle, 23 February 1872

Date: February 23, 1872

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01542

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 notes: The annotations, "1871," "1872," and "'72," are in an unknown hand.

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

page image
image 1
page image
image 2
page image
image 3
page image
image 4

Friday noon,
Feb. 23.

Dear son,

Your letter rec'd this morning, speaks of the mild weather there—but it has been & remains very cold here—so much so that I don't go around half as much as I would like. My cold hangs on, though not so bad as at first. The state of the weather, & my cold, &c. have rather blocked me from having my usual enjoyment here, so far—but I expect to make up for it by and by.

Dear son, I see you are off1—I take it by your letter that you are feeling well in health, and having as good a time as the law allows—I wish we could be together there, some of these moonlight nights—but here it is too cold for comfort—(the water pipes here froze again last night, causing trouble)—I go out a couple of hours middle of the day, but keep in nights—

—I have got the new edition of my book under way,—& it will be satisfactory I think—It will be in one volume, & will make a better appearance than any of the former ones—Do you go up to the debates in the Senate—I see by the papers they are having high times—Senator Schurz appears to come out ahead of them all—he is a real good speaker—I enjoy the way he shakes them up, (very much like a first-class terrier in a pit, with a lot of rats)2

Pete, I send you $10 enclosed, as you may need it—Should you want more, you write, as I have plenty—I am writing this up in my back room, home—have had a nice breakfast of hot potatoes & first-rate Oregon salmon—with the best coffee thats made—home-made bread, & sweet butter—every thing tip-top—get along well enough—you must try to do the same—so good bye, for this time, my own loving boy—


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. Doyle was temporarily out of work. [back]

2. Senator Carl Schurz (1829–1906), of Missouri, alleged that since the U.S. had violated its neutrality in the 1870 war by selling arms to French agents, Germany could bring claims for damages against the American government. Schurz's opponents charged that he had falsified documents. The New York Times on February 23 declared: "Schurz was the greatest toady any President ever had until he failed to get all the offices he wanted, and then he turned round and became a 'patriot' and a 'reformer.'" [back]


Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Matt Cohen, Ed Folsom, & Kenneth M. Price, editors.