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Walt Whitman to Peter Doyle, 31 October [1873]

1873 1874 or 5 Dear boy Pete,

My condition remains about the same—I don't get ahead any to notice—but I hold my own, as favorable as I have stated in my late letters, & am free yet from the very confused spells of the head & spasms of three weeks ago. Besides I think upon the whole, my general strength is the best it has been yet—for an interval every now & then it certainly is. All very encouraging—(But my disease seems to have such ups & downs I have learned to fear to make calculations, almost.) The weather here is fine—cool mornings & nights, indeed quite cold at times—but the bulk of the day perfect—I think the cool weather season is beneficial to me. I am sitting here writing this with one of the windows wide open, & the afternoon sun streaming in. I got a letter this morning from Mr. Eldridge that he  loc.01757.002.jpg had paid Godey, my substitute, the money I sent on for his October pay.—

Washington must be looking pleasant this fall. Write me how you are fixed, and I like to hear all the particulars about your work, on the RR.

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

It is now a little after 2—I have had my dinner, beefsteak & potatos​ —pumpkin pie & a cup of tea—Don't you think that is doing very well?—It is a glorious afternoon & I am going down to take a trip once or twice across the Delaware in the ferry boat. It makes a pleasant little trip as the river here is most as wide as the Potomac from 7th st. wharf—has two little islands in the middle, which sometimes we steer between, & sometimes go round—Then these nights Pete—last night I was out, came home about 8—the moon shining bright as silver—I thought of our old walks, dear son.

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 | Oct | 31 | N.J. [back]
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