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Walt Whitman to Peter Doyle, 30 January [1874]

 loc.01638.001.jpg 1874 1874 or '5 Dear Pete,

I am having another of my bad spells to-day—but it will pass over—I have had a pretty good time most of the week till last night—thought I was getting decidedly better—(& guess I am yet, & that this will pass over.)

Every thing goes on the same with me here. As I write this, I am sitting here alone as usual in the parlor by the heater—I have just been out, but it was so chilly & raw, I didn't venture off the block, but came back in 5 or 6 minutes—the air feels like snow.

The trains of the Camden & Amboy are going by on the track about 50 or 60 rods from here, puffing & blowing—often train after train, following each other—& locomotives singly, whisking & squealing, up the track & then down again—I often sit here & watch them long—& think of you.

I think I shall try again to get out, evening—sometimes it makes me feel better, after I get out in the open air, & move around a little

 loc.01638.002.jpg 1874

7:15 evening—Friday—

—I am writing this over in the Mercantile Library, 10th st. Phila.​ —I have felt better since 4 o'clock & have come out & crossed the river, & taken quite a ride up Market st. 2 miles in the Market st. cars. The cars are very nice, old style, cushioned, fare 7 cents—if you get a transfer you have to pay extra—the working hours are from 16½ to 18—they have the new alarm punch,—every fare or ticket,—rings a little bell every time you punch—I suppose you have seen it—they say it is quite a success, & they are introducing them in other cities—but it will get played out—

—Pete write how you are getting along—& all about the folks, every one I know—I am feeling as well as usual, as I finish this letter—Good bye for this time my loving son—


Dont you get discouraged at work—or on the road—I feel that we shall yet be together, & have good times just being with each other, no matter how poor

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 | Jan | 30 | 10 PM | Pa. [back]
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