Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Peter Doyle, 13 February [1874]

Date: February 13, 1874

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01640

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.
N. Jersey,
Feb. 13, 2½ p.m.

Dear Pete,

Here I am yet, in my big chair in the parlor—I am up & around, but not very well—I am having a return, (though not so severe,) of those old blurs that used to trouble me—have had a succession of them all day to day so far—begun yesterday—but I have no doubt they will pass over. It is cloudy & sulky here to-day, partially thawing—& is raining now—I have been out, managed to walk round the block, but had to return—did not feel well. Pete there is nothing new—I got your last letter—have rec'd letters from Mrs. O'Connor—

I have no doubt I shall feel better—my sickness comes & goes—& my relief spells the same—I shall probably have to stay in the rest of the day & evening—which is very dull & stupid for me—in fact quite dismal—But I must not write what will make you blue—would rather cheer you up—I am still continuing the pieces in the Weekly Graphic1—(will be ended with one or two more)—expect to have a piece2 in next Harper, (March) but am not certain—

Just as I close, the carrier has tapped at the window—he brings me a letter from Boston,3 & in it a check paying a debt due me a long time, & which I had quite given up—which puts me in better spirits—good bye for present, my dear loving son—

Your 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. "'Tis But Ten Years Since." [back]

2. "Prayer of Columbus." [back]

3. Probably a payment from William H. Piper, Boston bookseller, a debt which Whitman had authorized Asa K. Butts to collect; see the draft letter from Whitman to Butts of February 4, 1874[back]


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