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Walt Whitman to Peter Doyle, 14 June [1872]

 loc.01735.001.jpg1872 Dear son,

I got home all right Saturday night—& have been having quite a good time. There is nothing very new—Mother is well as usual. I shall print my College Poem in a small book—it will be small—& is intended as the beginning of a larger one1—I am having it set up at the printing office—will send you one in ten or twelve days.


Pete, how are you getting along—I suppose on 142 the same as when I was there—I see by the papers that the head men have mostly migrated from Washington, & that it is said to be hot & dull enough there3

—Do you see any thing of Mr. Tasistro? I rec'd the letter he sent to the office for me—I am writing this in the house in Portland av—we are having a showery afternoon—

—Good bye, my darling boy—& I will try to write again soon, (& a more interesting letter)—


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. In the preface to this small pamphlet Whitman clearly states that he had completed Leaves of Grass and was about to start a new work—a clear indication, in Gay Wilson Allen's words, that "he is not sure of his new literary intentions" (Walt Whitman Handbook [Chicago: Packard and Company, 1946], 202). [back]
  • 2. The number of Pete's car. [back]
  • 3. On June 12 an article in the New York Times entitled "The Deserted Capital" noted the absence of the President and congressmen from Washington: "The transition is at once from scenes of busy excitement to dull times and hot weather." [back]
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