Diary Entry by Anne H. Brewster about the Breakup of Charlotte Cushman and Matilda Hays
The complete diary entry for June 5, 1876 is 24 pages long and details the time Harriet Hosmer and Anne H. Brewster spent together. The last eight pages (transcribed here) recount, how Hosmer witnessed the passionate breakup of Charlotte Cushman and Matilda Hays in 1857.
Diary (Entry) Item Type Metadata
[...] In the sunset when we were returning home talked of poor Charlotte Cushman and laughed over some of her curious droll ways and droller social life as it was about twenty years ago. She had her always a female companion with whom she quarreled when she did not reign as tyrant. There was a certain Matilda Hayes [sic] who held this difficult position with her for a few years and C.C. & her fought like cat and dog. They use to throw brushes and combs at each other. At last one of their tussles took place before witnesses and they had to separate – Hattie said she was present. She had dined or lunched with Miss C. that day and way lying on the sofa after the meal taking a nap in the salon. It was an unceremonious visit; Hattie was very intimate with Miss C. & Miss H. She had heard whispers of private fisticuffs between the two women but she hardly credited the stories & counted them as gossip. She had a great respect for Miss C. & also a great admiration for Miss Hayes.
Miss Hayes was dependent in a great measure on Miss C. about the time the final scene took place Miss H. was very jealous of a new friendship Miss C. had formed. Miss Stebbins had come to Rome and miss C had taken a great fancy to her. Miss H. foolishly grew fiercely jealous and there were numerous disturbances Sallie the maid said about this matter.
After Hattie had fallen into a dose on the day I speak of she was aroused by a noise and awakening saw Miss H. attacking Miss C with her fist and Miss C. defending herself it appears Miss C. began to write a note on some business matter Miss H. thought it was a not to this new object of affection and grew mad with jealousy. She taxed C with it and insisted upon seeing the note. C would not say to whom she was writing and refused indignantly to show the note. When Miss Hayes tried to get it Miss C. cooly put the note into her mouth!
Then the H. woman beside herself with rage swore she’d make C swallow it. There was a Miss Gill sitting by also a guest who saw the preliminaries of the battle while Hattie was asleep.
Hattie says it was the most disgusting sight she ever witnessed equal to two drunken washwomen. They fought like two gladiators. Miss C got decidedly the worst of the fight. Miss H. pursued her from the salon into the dining room and chairs and tables and clothing + C flaw about together. Hattie at last thoroughly awakened and thoroughly disgusted went to the combatants and said to Miss H who was decidedly the victorious amazon “Come Max I think we have had enough of his, its [sic] about time to stop.”
The H woman turned on her “Damn you” she cried like a fisherwoman “You had better not meddle with my affair”
Hattie could not stand the sights and sounds any longer so she went off, left the room and the house and returned home Her apt was very near.
An hour or so afterward Miss H. came to Hattie very penitent and weeping bitterly. She begged Hatties [sic] pardon most humbly for having addressed her so coarsely. Hattie told her frankly that while she was willing to pardon her she could never forget the revolting scene and the repulsive vulgar words. She told Miss H she was completely disillusioned and never wished to see her again. The H woman implored her to look over it and forget as well as to forgive But Hattie said her disgust was unsurmountable & the H woman left her. Hattie never saw her again. Two days after she left Rome. She was very violent against C.C. threatened to bring a suit against her for damages resulting from a broken literary career – she alleged she had sacrificed a certain position to serve C.C. and C had to buy her off with some small sum a thousand or two dollars.
Some year after Hatty was at Malvern Miss H. heard she was there and wrote asking Hattie to appoint a place and time of meeting in London. Hattie die not answer her letter and has never heard of her since.
Hattie did not seem to feel any disgust against C.C.. Of course Miss H was in the wrong and behaved like a beast, but surely part of the blame rested on C.C. for allowing such a scene to occur. It could not have taken place if C.C. had acted with proper dignity during their previous intercourse. They were women over 40 years of age! and both were persons of nice intellectual culture and good social association.
After that Miss Stebbins came to live with C.C. Miss S. is a soft gentle quite ladylike woman, a good woman too She yielded to C.C. kindly: the friendship and intercourse lasted unbroken until C.C.s death and was a great comfort to both – a benefit to C.C. most certainly I think for she grew to be more of a lady – But C.C. let out the tiger in other ways she was bitter and ?? and full of hate towards many person.Poor poor woman! How she suffered those last years. She had every thing her fondest wildest ambition had craved position, reputation, great wealth, but ravaged devoured by a cruel malady – poor poor Charlotte Cushman!