Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Peter Doyle, 26–27 March [1874]

Date: March 26–27, 1874

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01645

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, "1874," and "March 26 1874," are in an unknown hand.

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

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431 Stevens st.1
cor West.
Camden, N. Jersey.
Thursday afternoon 2½

—I have just had my dinner—roast beef, lima beans, graham-bread & sweet butter, with a cup of tea, & some stewed cranberries—eat quite a good dinner, & enjoyed it all. I still consider myself getting along very well. O if this only holds out, & keeps on favorably, even if ever so moderate & slow—But I seem to have so many of these gleams that delude me into thinking I am on the way to recovery, but soon cloud over again, & let me back as bad as ever—But every time I feel pretty easy, I still keep thinking, now I am certainly going to get much better this time

Pete your short letter came to-day, written on the cars—dear son, come whenever you can—As I said on my postal card, if you were here this week, you would find me more like myself, (with the exception of walking) than I have been for fourteen months—whether it will continue or not, God only knows—but we will hope for the best. As I sit here writing to you to day, it appears to me every way hopeful, & likely that we shall yet have good times. Every thing is quiet—rather lonesome. My little dog is stretched out on the rug at full length, snoozing. He hardly lets me go a step without being close at my heels—follows me in my slow walks, & stops or turns just as I do. We have had a most windy blustering March, but it is pleasanter & milder yesterday & to-day—(I saw the new moon over my right shoulder a week ago,—of course a sure sign of good luck)—Will finish the letter & send it to-morrow.

Friday—March 27—noon.

Pleasant & bright weather—have been out on the side walk in front, once or twice, with my shawl around me—walk slow & quite feeble—have some spells of bad head-ache—Went by the West Philadelphia depot yesterday afternoon, in the Market st. horse-cars—saw plenty of RR men & conductors, about the place, lounging & waiting their time—thought if I could only see you among them—As I sit here writing I can see the trains of the Camden & Amboy, in full view, some 40 or 50 rods off—makes it quite lively—As I write I am feeling pretty comfortable, & am going out awhile after I finish this—but had a bad night last night. Hope this will find you all right—good bye for this time, dear son.


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: Pete Doyle, | M street South | bet 4½ & 6th | Washington | D. C. It is postmarked: Camden | (?) | 27 | N.J. [back]


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