Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Fred Vaughan to Walt Whitman, 21 May 1860

Date: May 21, 1860

Whitman Archive ID: loc.00573

Source: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 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.

Contributors to digital file: Alex Kinnaman, Elizabeth Lorang, Blake Bronson-Bartlett, Heidi Bean, Kathryn Kruger, Nick Krauter, and Kevin McMullen

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New York
May 21st 1860

Dear Walt,

I received your note this a.m. and I was very very much pleased to hear from you. I am right glad to hear your mission to Boston has terminated so successfully.1 I hope to God it may be not only a success as regards its typography, appearance and real worth, but also pecuniarily a success. For you know, "A well filled pocket, now & then, is relished by the best of men."2 Walt, I hope you will be home soon. I want to see you very much indeed. I have never thought more frequently about you than during the time you have been in Boston. Make it your business to call and see me as soon as you arrive in New York, and we can make an appointment to pass some hours together. As I have much, very much to talk to you about. Robt and Mrs. Cooper3 send their love, Yours truly, Fred.

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."


1. Charley Shively writes that "Whitman went to Boston in the spring of 1860 to proofread and put the final touches on the third edition of Leaves of Grass." See Calamus Lovers: Walt Whitman's Working-Class Camerados. (San Francisco: Gay Sunshine Press, 1987), 40. [back]

2. Vaughan plays here with the popular proverb "A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men" (anonymous). [back]

3. Robert "Bob" Cooper and Mrs. Cooper—possibly Robert's mother—were Vaughan's roommates after Vaughan left Whitman's Classon Avenue apartment. [back]


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