Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Peter Doyle, [1874?]

Date: 1874

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01654

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 note: The annotation, "1875 or '6," 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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431 Stevens st.
cor West.
N. Jersey.
Friday—2 p.m.1

Dear Pete,

Nothing special to write you, about myself, or any thing else, this week. Your letter & the Herald came last Monday. The time goes very tedious with me—& yet I think I am getting better, (but don't know for sure.)—Still have frequent bad spells.

—I stopt at the W. Philadelphia depot, Market street, two or three evenings ago, in the general passengers' room, to rest, about 10 minutes. Then took the car for Market st. ferry, (a mile and a half, or three quarters) & over to Camden, home.—I get desperate at staying in,—not a human soul for cheer, or sociability or fun—& this continued week after week & month after month—

So you met Johnny Saunders, in Baltimore, & he is flourishing. If you see him again, tell him to write to me,—he is a young man I always loved.

½ past 2—I have just had a nice oyster stew for my dinner—it is blustering weather, partly clear, partly cloudy, & one or two little flirts of snow to-day. I send you a paper or two, but nothing in them. I will try to stop in Philadelphia & find that little dictionary I promised you—

So long, my loving son,

Your old

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. The only clue to the date is the reference to the dictionary, which Whitman mentioned in his letter to Doyle of January 2, 1874. April 3, 1874, is a possibility since it is the only Friday in the early part of the year for which there is no extant letter or card. There is an envelope in the Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., with the following postmarks: Camden | Apr | 3 | N.J.; Carrier | 4 | Ap(?) | 8 AM. [back]


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