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Walt Whitman to Peter Doyle, 19 December [1873]

 loc.01627.001.jpg 1873 Dear boy Pete,

Well, I am sitting here in the parlor again writing my weekly letter—as I write, the rain is pouring & it is a thick & dark day enough—I am feeling pretty bad, but it seems to be mostly from a severe cold in the head—anyhow I am having one of my bad spells, of which I have gone through so many—had a bad night last night—but have eat my breakfast this morning, & have no doubt I shall feel better before many days. Pete, I rec'd your letter & the Herald last Monday all right. Did Mr & Mrs. Nash get the 3 Graphics I sent them?—

I have been out most every day the past week, & been across the river to Philadelphia—it has been a very pleasant week, & I have enjoyed sailing across the Delaware, & the splendid sunsets most every evening—it is my greatest enjoyment—


—Pete, all you write about folks & things in Washington is interesting to me—it will be read, every thing you scratch down, as I sit here a great deal of the time, (& time is dull & lonesome, at the best)—

My pieces I have written (I believe I mentioned about it,) have not yet appeared in the Magazine1—but the money has been paid me for them, & they are in type, & I have read the proofs—I will either send them to you, when printed, or send you word, so you can get them yourself—Did I send you both my letters about the Capitol in the Graphic?2—I believe I did, but if not I can yet—I send you to-day's Phil.Press—nothing special in it—Well, good bye for this time, dear loving boy,


Pete, how about running on here to see me for a day or two?—Couldn't you come, convenient, say latter part of next week? If you can, I will fix the time—

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. "Song of the Redwood-Tree" and "Prayer of Columbus." [back]
  • 2. "Halls of Gold and Lilac" and "Silver and Salmon-Tint." [back]
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