Pictures & Sound

Gallery of Images

Date: Around 1869
Place: Washington, D.C.
Photographer: M. P. Rice
Note: The first extant photo of Whitman with anyone else, here Peter Doyle, Whitman's close friend and companion in Washington. Doyle was a horsecar driver and met Whitman one stormy night in 1865 when Whitman, looking (as Doyle said) "like an old sea-captain," remained the only passenger on Doyle's car. They were inseparable for the next eight years. Whitman once dated this photo 1865. In 1889, Whitman had a remarkable talk with Horace Traubel and Thomas Harned about the photo; Traubel recalls the conversation: "I picked up a picture from the box by the fire: a Washington picture: W. and Peter Doyle photoed together: a rather remarkable composition: Doyle with a sickly smile on his face: W. lovingly serene: the two looking at each other rather stagily, almost sheepishly. W. had written on this picture, at the top: 'Washington D.C. 1865—”Walt Whitman & his rebel soldier friend Pete Doyle.' W. laughed heartily the instant I put my hands on it (I had seen it often before)—”Harned mimicked Doyle, W. retorting: 'Never mind, the expression on my face atones for all that is lacking in his. What do I look like there? Is it seriosity?' Harned suggested: 'Fondness, and Doyle should be a girl'—”but W. shook his head, laughing again: 'No—”don't be too hard on it: that is my rebel friend, you know,' &c. Then again: 'Tom, you would like Pete—”love him: and you, too, Horace: you especially, Horace—”you and Pete would get to be great chums. I found everybody in Washington who knew Pete loving him: so that fond expression, as you call it, Tom, has very good cause for being: Pete is a master character.' I said: 'One of your powerful uneducated persons, Walt, eh?' W. quickly: 'Just that: a rare man: knowing nothing of books, knowing everything of life: a great big hearty full-blooded everyday divinely generous working man: a hail fellow well met—”a little too fond maybe of his beer, now and then, and of the women: maybe, maybe: but for the most part the salt of the earth. Most literary men, as you know, are the kind of men a hearty man would not go far to see: but Pete fascinates you by the very earthiness of his nobility. O yes, you fellows will know him: you, Horace, must particularly make it your point to come in relations with him: you will know him—”both of you—”and then you will understand that what I say is wholly true and yet is short of the truth.'" For an 1868 portrait of Doyle also taken by M. P. Rice, see Ed Folsom, "1868 Photograph of Peter Doyle," Walt Whitman Quarterly Review, 4 (Spring 1987), 38 and back cover.
Type: Print
Credit: Ohio Wesleyan University, Bayley Collection
ID: 033

Image 033


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