Skip to main content

Walt Whitman to Peter Doyle, 18 June [1872]

 loc.01736.001.jpg 1872 Dear Pete,

I am having a better time here than I had my last visit.—The weather is very pleasant—pretty hot during the middle of the day, but mornings & nights perfect—No moonlight walks out beyond Uniontown here—but I go on the river, & cross to & fro in the pilot house. Last night was beautiful—Saturday I spent at Coney Island—went in swimming—


Mother is only middling—has some pretty bad spells with rheumatism—will break up here, & go with my brother George, to Camden, N. J. in September.

I suppose you got a letter from me last Saturday, as I wrote you the day before. Pete, dear son, if you should want any of your money, send me word. It is either $120 (or $130, I am not sure—but I have a memorandum in my desk at Washington)—I am feeling real well, & hope you are too, my loving boy.


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).

Back to top