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Walt Whitman to Peter Doyle, 29 August [1873?]

 loc.01659.001.jpg My dear son,

Your letter came all right last Monday, & the papers. Send me the Herald to-morrow, (with one blue stamp on) you needn't mind the other Sunday papers—I send you Harper's magazine for September—I am still holding my own—gain a little strength, & am certainly improving though very slowly—both head & leg are bad enough, but general feeling is much better, most of the time—

I have sent Philadelphia papers once or twice & may again—there is nothing in them, but I thought you would know I was still around—The weather here is pleasant, & cool enough, favorable to me—I get out a little every day—am going out when I finish this—Cannot write much to-day—am having a bad head ache all day—still I feel in good heart.

So long, Pete, dear boy, Walt  loc.01659.002.jpg 1875?

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. Though, admittedly, there is little concrete information in this letter to aid in establishing the year, the executors' assignment of this letter to 1875 seems questionable for the following reasons: in a letter to Doyle of August 22, 1873, Whitman also asked for a copy of the Sunday Herald; he expected this letter to arrive in Washington on Saturday, August 30—"Send me the Herald to-morrow"; and in 1875 he invariably gave his Camden street address in the headings of his letters. [back]
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