This letter from Fred Vaughan to Walt Whitman was sent on November 16, 1874.
I promised to write to you a week ago Sunday evening and did not do it. — I have no apology to offer. —Years ago Dear Walt — (and looking back over the tombstones it seems centuries)—Father used to tell me I was lazy. Mother denied it—and in latter years—(but 0’ my friend still looking over tombstones). —I used to tell your Mother you was lazy and she denied it. —You have assented yourself. I have confirmed my Father. —0, Walt, what recollections will crowd upon us both individually and in company from the above. To me the home so long long past—the brother—sisters—the sea—the return—New York, the Stage box—Broadway. —Walt—the Press—the Railroad. Marriage. Express—Babies—trouble, Rum, more trouble—more Rum
—estrangement from you. More Rum. —Good intentions, sobriety. Misunderstanding and more Rum. Up and down, down and up. The innate manly nature of myself at times getting the best of it and at other times entirely submerged. Now praying now cursing. —Yet ever hoping — and even now my friend after loosing my hold of the highest rung of the ladder of fortune I ever reached and dropping slowly but surely from rung to rung until I have almost reached the bottom, I still hope — From causes too numerous and complex to explain except verbally, I found myself in June last in Brooklyn possesed of a wife and four boys — ages 12—9—4 years — and one of 8 months — no money, no credit—no friends of a/c and no furniture—Well, I am writing with my own pen, ink and paper on my own table, in a hired room, warmed by my own fire and lighted by my own oil—my wife sleeping on a bed near me and the Boys in an adjoining room. —
I have just got through supper after a hard days work and have to
start again in the morning at 7 o’clock and am glad of it. —I am living on Atlantic ave one door above Classon ave and have been down past our old home several times this summer taking Freddie with me. —
There is never a day passes but what I think of you. So much have
you left to be remembered by a Broadway stage — a Fulton ferry boat, a bale of cotton on the dock. The “Brooklyn Daily Times” —a ship loading or unloading at the wharf. — a poor man fallen from the roof of a new building, a woman & child suffocated by smoke in a burning tenement house. All—all to me speak of thee Dear Walt. —Seeing them my friend the part thou occupiest in my spiritual nature — I feel assured you will forgive my remissness of me in writing — My love my Walt—is with you always. —
I earnestly pray God that he may see fit to assuage your sufferings
and in due time restore your wonted health and strength owing to “impecuniosity” (The first time I ever seen that word was in a letter from R.W. Emerson to you while we were living in Classon Aye, excusing himself as I now do). I cannot promise to come and see you soon. But, Walt should you become seriously ill, promise to telegraph to me immediately.
My Father is dead. Brother Burke is dead. I have not heard from Mother in to months. —My wife is faithful-loving-honest, true. and one you could dearly love. Ever yours, — Fred. — Walt — please do not criticize my grammer, nor phraseology — it was written too heartfelt to alter. Fred.