Transcripts of Letters from Emma Stebbins to Sidney Lanier, July 27 + Sept 4, 1876
Emma Stebbins asked the publisher Mr. Osgood for time to work on the biography since she is suffering from health issues. She mentions Emma Cushman's "voluminous correspondence" with Charlotte Cushman and how personal letters require "careful gleaning" before including them in the memoir. As opposed to rumor or gossip, Stebbins suggests that "the public wants facts."
In her letter of September 1876, Stebbins laments that Lanier rescinded the contract with Osgood in the meantime. She shows some disappointment in Lanier's reaction here since she explained her reasons for not being able to comply with the conditions due to health problems and only asked for more time to finish the project. However, she plans on reimbursing Lanier.
Transcripts by Jennie Lorenz
CreditLibrary of Congress, Charlotte Cushman Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Letter Item Type Metadata
[page 1] (Johns Hopkins Libr.) Lenox, July 27/'76
My dear Lanier–
I did not think it necessary to send Mr Osgood any answer, or to refer further to the mattr [sic], until I could do so with some assurance of my ability to meet the requirements of the contract? I simply asked for time to lie in the oars, until I could feel bettr [sic]–and all my way more clearly, to which proposition he very promptly acceded. If you reflect you will see that your proposition, puts the whole question again exactly where it was before. If you go on under the terms—we are committed to the book— is the publishers and to the public—and that is just what I have felt it imperatively necessary to postpone— I am heartily grieved that this is so because I wish most earnestly to reconcile your needs with my own if possible. but with the discouragements I labour undr [sic]—I cannot in justice to the publishrs [sic]—and to her dear and sacred memory go on.— Even Mrs. Cushman—to whose voluminous correspondence with her Aunt I trusted for much help—writes me now that as far as she has been able to go—the letters are so purely personal & private—that she cannot find anything suitable for the public—and she could not think of putting them into any other hands—My own letters are all of a very recent period—when we left Rome—I destroyed quantities of letters—not being able to carry them about with me— and not then realizing they prospective value, but even these were of the same personal character, which requires very careful gleaning—Undr [sic] such conditions, the look seem to me, more & more one which requires time to shape it into anything suitable and worthy, and I could not be content with anything else—In a life of Miss C.—the public/ will want facts more than anything else, and facts we have not got. There is therefore nothing for it—but a wait. I am sorry to hear you have not been well I trust the beneficient change in the temprature [sic]—may help you—I
[page 2] am myself a shade better – but good for very little. Yours ever faithfully
You know how ready I shall be to serve you in any way I can. [Address: WestChestr, Penn] Hyde Park.
My dear Lanier—
I have left your lettr [sic] too long unacknowledged— bet you have been only the more on my mind. You cannot believe it is easy for me not to trouble my mind about a mattr [sic] where my action has been the discomfiture disadvantage of a friend.— A letter from Osgood&co—containing a copy of your note to them, and their answer, informs me that you have rescinded the contract—I cannot wondr [sic] at it—and ye dregrel it, because all I asked for was postponement—and that they were quite willing to grant. They have behaved well in the mattr [sic]—and are still anxious to have the publication of the book, whenever it may be ready. You may not credit me, but I do still hope to have the book prepared—only it must be done with deliberation and I must see my way clear before me—and I must feel strongr [sic] & bettr [sic] With regard to the pecuniary mattr [sic], I am making and shall make every effort in my power to reimburse you— this has been one cause of my delay in writing— It grieves me much to know you have been ill—I trust this will find you bettr [sic]—the summer has been a fearfully trying me—I thought I should not get through it. I am now about starting with my boys for Ithaca to place them at the University—and aftr [sic] that my mind will be much relieved. I hear no news yet from Newport. there is unaccountable delay and we are all very anxious My sisters send their best regards. Yours ever faithfully
We are returning to NY. +++ the end of Sept. address not yet fixed—as we are leaving No. 37 West 37th St.—
I will let you know what spot we fix upon [Envelope: addressed to] Westchestr. Penn. Forwarded to] 1921 Walnut Street Philadelphia, Pa.