Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Peter Doyle, 9 January [1874]

Date: January 9, 1874

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01633

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.

Notes for this letter were created by Whitman Archive staff and/or were derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller, 6 vols. (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), and supplemented or updated by Whitman Archive staff.

Editorial notes: The annotations, "1874 or '5," and "74?," are 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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431 Stevens st.
cor West
Jan 9.

Well Pete, my dear loving boy, I have just come in from a 15 minutes walk outside, with my little dog—it is now ½ past 1 Friday afternoon—the bright sun shining, & the air & every thing as pleasant as one could wish—(after most a week of rainy, dark & disagreeable but warmish weather)—I have the same old story to tell,—& thankful enough to have nothing worse to communicate—it is probable I am really slowly gaining—though I have occasional bad spells yet.

Your letter was received—I was thinking whether something could not be done about getting the position of through baggage master—& feel inclined to try for you—(You know there is nothing of that sort done without trying)—Did you get the story "Rolling Stone,"1 I sent by P.O.?—I have had a visitor from New York this forenoon—an old acquaintance, a printer & foreman, I knew 20 years ago, very sickly & expecting to die, at that time—now quite lively & well, really jolly & magnetic, & good company & a good fellow, (like Parker Milburn)—I have an occasional visitor, but not many—Pete if you see any body coming to Phil. you think I would like to see, give 'em my address—I am glad to see most any one for a change—

Your old Walt

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. George Sand's A Rolling Stone was translated by Carroll Owen and published in 1871. [back]


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