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Walt Whitman to Peter Doyle, 2 January [1874]

 loc.01634.001.jpg 1874 '74? Dear boy,

I am about the same—consider myself improving, if any thing, though slowly enough—Pete I will get you the Dictionary, I will see about it soon. You spoke about the post of baggage master on the through New York train—& the appointment being in Philadelphia. Who appoints them? Tell me more fully about it in your next. I got your last letter, & several papers. To-day I have rec'd a letter from Charles Eldridge—We have had a long rainy & dark time here, but mild—no snow on the ground now—I go out—as I write, the trains are going by about 400 feet off, ringing & smoking—there are 20 a day in full view from here.


I send you a picture for your New Years.


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. We follow Edwin Haviland Miller's example in adopting the dates assigned by Whitman's executors to the correspondence addressed to Doyle in January (The Correspondence, 2:265). Miller notes that all except one of the letters were written on Fridays, and most of them referred to Doyle's search for another position on the railroad. [back]
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