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Walt Whitman to Peter Doyle, 1 May [1874]

 loc.01631.001.jpg 1874 Dear Pete,

I have been out halting around for a walk, as it is quite pleasant today—But I believe I have overdone the matter, as I have a pretty bad feeling the last hour or two both in the head & left side,—& as I sit here writing,—So your limited express seems to be a real success—if it keeps up as well as it has begun I have no doubt it will increase, & be patronised, & become a permanent institution—(I had got the idea, somehow, at first, that the same crew went through from Wash.​ to New York, & so was  loc.01631.002.jpgsome in hopes of seeing you in Philadelphia)—

No change in my condition or prospects—the young man, Walter Godey, still works as my substitute in the Solicitor's office—I havn't had any word from Eldridge in two months, nor from Mrs. O'Connor in some time—(have you been up there?) Do you see Hinton or Tasistro?—My sister has just called me to my dinner—so I will close for this time.

Your old Walt

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 and the letter from Whitman to Ellen M. O'Connor of May 1, 1874, were obviously written on the same day. The allusion to the Ashtons, who had recently lost a child (see the letter from Whitman to Doyle of April 10, 1874), conclusively establishes the year. [back]
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