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Walt Whitman to Peter Doyle, 22 May [1874]

 loc.01632.001.jpg 1874 Dear Pete,

I hope you will be able to come, as you said in your last—If I knew when & where you would arrive in Philadelphia, I would try to meet you—As I wrote you before3 you must come to Market st. ferry Philadelphia, a mile and half, or 2 miles from RR depot, & cross over by boat to Federal st Camden—(The Phil.​ horse cars run Sundays—run down to foot of Market st—but the Camden ones do not—but it is not very far from the ferry in Camden.)


I am very much the same—My being disabled & want of Exercise for 16 months, (and many other wants too,) have saddled me with serious dyspepsia & what the doctor calls gastric catarrh, very obstinate, causing me really more suffering & pain than my paralysis—but though I have bad spells enough, thank God I also have middling good ones—& as I write this have just had my dinner, nice salt oysters, raw, fresh & am feeling quite comfortable—Dear son, I shall look for you


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 letter is addressed: Pete Doyle | M street South | bet 4½ & 6th | Washington | D. C. It is postmarked: Philadelphia | May | 22 | Pa. [back]
  • 2. The year is verified by the references to his catarrh, to "want of exercise for 16 months," and to Doyle's impending visit, which evidently took place a few days later (see the letter from Whitman to Doyle of May 29, 1874). [back]
  • 3. See the letter from Whitman to Doyle of March 23, 1874. [back]
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