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Walt Whitman to Peter Doyle, 27 December 1876

 loc.01673.001.jpg Dear son

The money came all right, & I will keep it for the present, & use it for myself,—but only to return it at some future time, when I am flush. Nothing very new with me. I still feel pretty well, for me, (& considering the past four years.) Who knows? May be after this winter, I shall feel well enough to come on to Washington & make out several weeks—& we'll have a good time together, my loving son—(no more long walks, to be sure—but we can be happy other ways)

—Beautiful, mild, sunny, thawing afternoon to-day & I have been out a little—down to see a poor young man, an oysterman, Jim Davis, very low with consumption, took him some stew'd​ chicken for his  loc.01673.002.jpg dinner—then went to a nice reading room & library we have here, very handy—then home to my own dinner stew'd​ chicken & nice roast potatoes—& now (2½) up stairs in my room writing this, & feeling very fair—

O Pete, you get that arm chair (with the broken arm) I left at Mrs Nash's,1—perhaps the broken arm is still there, if so get it put on—then take the chair home for you as a new year's present, & for your mother to sit in, & you afterwards—you know I used the chair for a year, & if I recollect right, it is a good strong one, though plain—I am glad to hear what you wrote about your mother—Every thing about fellows' old mothers is interesting to me—

—Give my love to Mr & Mrs Nash—

Your loving 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. Mr. and Mrs. Nash were old Washington friends of Whitman and Doyle. The poet stayed at their home in 1875 (see Whitman's November 9, 1875 letter to Ellen O'Connor). [back]
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