Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Peter Doyle, 24–25 July [1873]

Date: July 24–25, 1873

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01745

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 note: The annotation, "1873," is in an unknown hand.

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

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Thursday noon
July 24.

Dear son Pete,

It is still the same old story with me—the best I can say is that I dont seem to get worse, even if I don't get better. Your letter came—and the Star, with the item about Tasistro. It must be very hot there in Washington, but you stand it better than most any one I know. I too never used to think any thing of heat or cold, from 20 to 50—but last summer I felt the heat severely, for the first time.

Pete, as I have told you several times, I still think I shall get over this, & we will be together again & have some good times—but for all that it is best for you to be prepared for something different—my strength cant stand the pull forever, & if continued must sooner or later give out—Now Pete don't begin to worry boy, or cry about me, for you havn't lost me yet, & I really don't think it is likely yet—but I thought it best to give a word of caution, if such a thing should be—

—I am quite comfortable here & have every thing I want—I went out at ½ past 5 yesterday afternoon, & rode in the cars here to the ferry, & crossed the Delaware from Camden to Philadelphia four or five times—very pleasant. To-day is burning hot, but I am feeling as well as usual.

Friday 25th—4 o'clock—Pretty hot again to-day here, but not so oppressive to bear as in Washington—I am feeling about as usual to-day—shall try to get out a few steps, after I send this—Good bye for this time dear loving 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).


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