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Walt Whitman to Peter Doyle, 18–20 June [1873]

 loc.01741.001.jpg 1873 Dear Pete,

It has been a good move of me coming here, as I am pleasantly situated, have two rooms on 2d floor, with north & south windows, so I can have the breeze through—I can have what I wish in the grub line—have plenty of good strawberries—& my brother & sister are very kind—It is very quiet, & I feel like going in for getting  loc.01741.002.jpg well—There is not much change so far—but I feel comparatively comfortable since I have been here—& better satisfied2

My brother is full of work (inspecting pipe, manufactured here at the foundries for Water Works, & Sewers, northern cities)—he is in splendid health,—a great stout fellow—weighs more than I do—he is building a handsome new house here, to be done latter part of August—


Thursday, 19th

Nothing very new—I have had some bad feeling in the head yesterday afternoon & this morning—but it will pass over, no doubt—It is warm weather here, days, but pleasant nights so far—Pete, when you get the Star save it & send to me—you can send two in a wrapper with a one cent stamp, (I enclose some, for fear you havn't any)

Friday, 20th

Pretty hot weather here & needs rain badly—I am about the same—feel pretty well for a  loc.01741.004.jpg while, & then have a bad spell—have distress in the head at times, but keep up a good heart—or at any rate try to—Give my respects to all inquiring friends—tell them I expect to return to Washington in about a couple of months—tell me who you meet, & every little thing, & who asks about me, &c. as it will interest me—

—I have made a raise of some new summer clothes, real nice—thin black pants & vest, a blue flannel suit, & some white vests—Love to Wash Milburn—let him read this letter if he wishes—Write how you are getting along—

good bye, dear son, 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. This letter is addressed: Peter Doyle | M street south, | bet 4½ & 6th | Washington, D. C. It is postmarked: Camden, N.J. | 20. [back]
  • 2. Whitman's description of life in George's home is in sharp contrast with the querulous letters of his mother in the six months preceding her death. [back]
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