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Walt Whitman to Peter Doyle, 28 [November 1873]

 loc.01624.001.jpg 1873 Nov. Dear Son Pete,

Here I sit again by the heater in the parlor, writing my weekly letter—I have just had my dinner, some cold turkey & glass of Missouri wine &c.—had been out to the P.O. some five or six squares distant—but have to take my time—Am still getting along very satisfactorily (for I am now satisfied with things not being very bad with me)—& my strength is undoubtedly better, which, I hope will in time bring improvement in my walking, & in my head, &c &c—

—The letter you spoke of about Penn. av. in the paper was not by me—In the Graphic of Tuesday last, Nov.​ 25, they print a portrait of my beautiful phiz. & a criticism on my books, one  loc.01624.002.jpgof the best & friendliest I have seen yet1—if you can get one in Wash.​ you will like it—if not you may see it at Graphic office, in Wash​ —I have not rec'd any.—Also Monday's, Nov.​ 24, Graphic prints my letter about the Capitol2—Your letter came Tuesday—As I said before, you seem to have done what was unavoidable in the Rives muss—but I have a horror of bar room fracases & fights—& I know you have too—As a general thing, I don't think it necessary to resent the insults of drunkards or fools, (unless there is something unavoidable in the case)—

—Did you get the Scottish Chiefs3 I sent? Good bye, my dear, loving boy—I am doing quite well—I hope this will find you feeling well in health & jolly in spirits.


Pete I will probably send the shirts early next week by express

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 picture and "Matador's" review (excerpted by Richard Maurice Bucke in Walt Whitman [Philadelphia: David McKay, 1883], 209–210) occupied an entire page in the New York Daily Graphic; an editorial in the same issue added biographical details, probably supplied by Whitman, and announced the forthcoming publication of an edition of Leaves of Grass. [back]
  • 2. "Halls of Gold and Lilac." [back]
  • 3. The Scottish Chiefs; A Romance by the English novelist Jane Porter (1776–1850) was published in 1810; it relates the fortunes of the Scottish patriot William Wallace. [back]
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