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Walt Whitman to Peter Doyle, 10 April [1874]

 loc.01646.001.jpg 1873 or '4 Dear Pete, 74

Nothing very new or different in my condition, or any thing else—have hardly been doing as well since I last wrote, as before—but still hope to pull up.—Rec'd your letter last Monday, & the Herald.

Not much of a letter this time, my loving boy—as I dont seem to be able to write much—though, as I sit here, I am not feeling any worse than usual. Ashton has lost his little child; died last Thursday.2 I have just rec'd two letters from Mrs. O'Connor. How does all go with you? Pete, darling, shan't I send you a little money?

Walt  loc.01646.002.jpg

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 postcard is addressed: Pete Doyle, | M street South, | bet 4½ & 6th | Washington | D. C. It is postmarked: Camden | Apr | 10 | N.J. [back]
  • 2. Kitty Ashton, who was nineteen months old, died on April 8. The child mentioned in the letter from Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman of August 30–31, 1868, must also have died. [back]
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