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Walt Whitman to Peter Doyle, 5 November [1875]

 loc.01677.001.jpg Dear Son,

I think I shall try to come on to Wash​ next Monday, in the noon train from here, W. Phil​ (limited Express)—Am feeling about the same—(bad enough at times—but sort o' getting used to it.)


As I understand it, the train I speak of goes in to your Depot, 6th st.—must get in some time before dark—2


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. The executors dated this letter 1877. However, November 8 was on Monday in 1875 (see the letter from Whitman to Doyle of November 3, 1875). On November 3 Whitman had promised Doyle definite word about his plans by Saturday; this letter was sent on Friday, November 5. [back]
  • 2. Doyle replied on November 7 that he would meet Whitman at the depot on the following day, and that Mr. and Mrs. Nash "told me to tell you to come on and they would do the best they Could to make your Visit pleasant." [back]
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