Title: Fred Vaughan to Walt Whitman, 27 March 1860
Date: March 27, 1860
Source: Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.
Location: Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Whitman Archive ID: loc.00569
Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Brett Barney, Blake Bronson-Bartlett, Eric Conrad, Kathryn Kruger, and Nick Krauter
Walt, I1 received your kind letter the day after you mailed it, and immediately wrote you again. But finding some trouble in procuring a stamp I sent it down to Frank Moran to have him mail it for me. It appears Frank was taken ill that day, and oblidged to go home; and has not been out of the house since.—I did not find it out until today.—But of course my letter to you was not mailed, and now I have once more to reply to yours.—
I am glad you like Boston Walt, you know I have said much to you in praise both of the city and its people.—It is true the first is quite crooked, but it is generally clean, and the latter, though a little too straight-laced for such free thinkers as you and I, are a very hospitable, friendly, lot of folks.—You tell me Mr. Emmerson2 (one m to many I guess?) came to see you and was very kind.—I heard him lecture in Fr Chapins3 church on Friday evening last, on the subject of manners, and though very much pleased with the matter, I did not at all like his delivery . It appeared to me to be strained, and there was a certain hesitation in his speech and occasional repetition of words, that did not affect the hearer very well.—
But, Walt, when I looked upon the man, & thought that it was but a very few days before that he had been so kind and attentive to you, I assure you I did not think much of his bad delivery, but on the contrary my heart warmed towards him very much. I think he has that in him which makes men capable of strong friendships.—This theme he also touched on, and said that a man whose heart was filled with a warm, ever enduring not to be shaken by anything Friendship was one to be set on one side apart from other men, and almost to be worshipped as a saint.—There Walt, how do you like that? What do you think of them setting you & myself, and one or two others we know up in some public place, with an immense placard on our breasts, reading Sincere Freinds!!! Good doctrine that but I think the theory preferable to the practice.—I am glad very glad Walt to hear you are succeeding so well with your book.—I hope you will not forget the promise you made of sending me on some of the first proof sheets you have.—I am quite anxious to see them.—
There is nothing new here Walt. Everything remains about the same. I suppose of course you see the New York papers every day. Our streets are just about as dirty as ever, but the dirt is not allowed to remain long in one place, this March wind picks it up and scatters it with a perfect looseness in your eyes, ears, mouth, and nose. It penetrates to the house, covering the floor the furniture and even the beds in a manner not at all agreeable to persons who have any idea of cleanliness.—Monuments erected in mud to the honour of the street inspector have to be regularly wet down, or like riches, and birds they take to themselves wings and fly away.—I have an idea that "There is a better time coming" But so far have been unable to find any one who could satisfactorily fix the date. Robert is drinking Tea, Mrs Cooper is moving around the room as usual, ready to wait upon Bob even before he needs it.4 They both join me in wishes for the best success to you, and Mrs Cooper says if you will make love to her you had better do so personally the next time you call, as she cannot put much faith in a profession made in a letter to an outside party
Write me a good long letter Walt as I am anxious to hear from you.
1. Fred Vaughan was a young Irish stage driver with whom Whitman had an intense relationship during the late 1850's. For discussion of Vaughan's relationship with Whitman, see Jonathan Ned Katz, Love Stories: Sex between Men before Homosexuality (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001), 123–132; Charley Shively, Calamus Lovers: Walt Whitman's Working-Class Camerados (San Francisco: Gay Sunshine Press, 1987), 36–50; Ed Folsom and Kenneth M. Price, Re-Scripting Walt Whitman: An Introduction to His Life and Work, "Chapter 4: Intimate Script and the New American Bible: "Calamus" and the Making of the 1860 Leaves of Grass." [back]
2. Ralph Waldo Emerson (1809–1882) delivered a March 23, 1860, lecture on "Manners" in New York City. (For a brief discussion of Emerson's life and his relationship with Whitman, see "Emerson, Ralph Waldo [1809–1882].") [back]
3. Edwin Hubbel Chapin (1814–1880) was a widely popular Universalist minister, author, lecturer, and social reformer who belonged to the Fourth Universalist Society in New York City. [back]
4. Robert "Bob" Cooper and his mother were Vaughan's roommates after Vaughan left Whitman's Classon Avenue apartment. [back]