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Walt Whitman to Peter Doyle, 10 July [1874]

 loc.01649.001.jpg Dear, dear son,

I am still here—still suffering pretty badly—have great distress in my head, & an almost steady pain in left side—but my worst troubles let up on me part of the time—the evenings are my best times—& somehow I still keep up in spirit, &, (the same old story,) expect to get better.

I have been discharged from my clerkship in the Solicitor's office, Treasury, by the new Solicitor, Mr. Wilson.

—I think of laying up here in Camden. I have bought a cheap lot—& think of putting up a little two or three room house for myself.1 My darling son, you must not be unhappy about me—I hope & trust things may work so that we can yet be with each other, at least from  loc.01649.002.jpg time to time—& meanwhile we must adapt ourselves to circumstances. You keep on, & try to do right, & live the same square life you always have, & maintain as cheerful a heart as possible—& as for the way things finally turn out, leave that to the Almighty—

—Pete I shall want you or Mr. Eldridge to see to the sending on here of my boxes at Dr. Whites.2—I will write further about it—I have not heard any thing from Eldridge, or Mrs. O'Connor, or any of the Washington folk for quite a long time. Have you been up to see Mrs. O'C. Pete didn't you get my last Saturday's postal card? I wrote you one. I got yours last Monday—Did you get the Camden paper with my College piece in?3 I sent one.

—Very hot here yesterday & today.—I don't fret at all about being discharged—it is just as well—I wonder it didnt​ come before—How are your folks at home—your dear mother & all—write about all, & about Mr. & Mrs. Nash, Wash Milburn, & the RR boys—

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. On May 26 Thomas A. Wilson had offered Whitman a lot on Royden Street for $450 (Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). [back]
  • 2. According to a letter dated July 29, Isabella A. White, Whitman's landlady (see the letter from Whitman to Charles Eldridge of October 13, 1873), had written, evidently early in July, about the rent due for his room. His reply is not extant. On the 29th Mrs. White offered to purchase Whitman's bedstead and certain other effects. Whitman had not settled his account when Mrs. White wrote again on October 6 and offered him a credit of $10 for his furnishings against a balance of $38. [back]
  • 3. "Song of the Universal" appeared in the Camden New Republic on June 20. [back]
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