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Walt Whitman to Peter Doyle, 24 October [1873]

 loc.01756.001.jpg 1873 Dear son Pete,

I am still doing as well as when I last wrote—I have many alternations, but upon the whole have no reason to complain of the last ten days. My head has some bad spells, & a touch or more nearly every day, & my locomotion is still as clumsy as ever—but for all that I am happy in not having any of those spasms of three weeks since, & indeed I have glimpses again of my real self—have had two or three such, of an hour or two each—which I felt very encouraging. Your letter came Tuesday, & I wrote you a few lines on a postal card, which I suppose you rec'd next day. I went to Tommy Osler's, the young RR man's funeral last Sunday—it was near here—poor fellow, he used always to stop a minute at the window, & talk off hand & cheerful—Pete he often made me think of you, dear son—he was your age & size—he was an only son—I go out now about every day, my strength is certainly improving—shall go out this afternoon—


About an hour ago the big Adams Express wagon drove up to the door, with a box for me—it was 2 doz 2 lb cans of fresh Oregon salmon from St. Louis, from my brother Jeff—I am very fond of it for breakfast, can eat it every day—(My appetite is pretty fair, but I must have just the things I want, cant eat any others)—Pete your description of the old Evangelical Alliance fellows, as if they had just walked out of Noah's Ark, made me laugh heartily—you just hit it—

I have just got a long letter from Mrs. O'Connor—she is in Massachusetts—returns to Washington in November—How are Mr. & Mrs. Nash, & Ed, & all—give them my love—tell Ed I shall yet want him to build me that small house—I send my love to Wash Milburn—I am writing this up in my room, 3 o'clock, pleasant weather, sun shining, window open—I am feeling quite fair to-day.

Good bye for this time, my loving boy. 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).

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