Letter from Charlotte Cushman to Emma Crow Cushman, Jan 22, 1864

Dublin Core


Letter from Charlotte Cushman to Emma Crow Cushman, Jan 22, 1864


Cushman, Charlotte Saunders, 1816-1876
Stebbins, Emma, 1815-1882
Cushman, Edwin "Ned" Charles, 1838-1909
Cushman, Emma Crow, 1839-1920
Political Affairs
Relationships-- Intimate--Same-sex
Hosmer, Harriet Goodhue, 1830-1908
Mercer, Sallie
Intimacy--As topic
Intimacy--As Source


Charlotte calls herself a "Mum" and Emma her "daughter" in this letter. She is criticizing Longfellow and critiquing the January issue of the Atlantic. Among other issues, Cushman is discussing "war" and "peace" democrats, the administration, Harriet Hosmer and her influence on Wayman Crow, Ned's health issues with his eyes, and her house being under construction.
A large part of her long letter, she devotes to social duties, letters of introduction brought up to her, parties to attend to, and how she is repeatedly being interrupted in her writing. Charlotte calls herself a "merry bachelor" and describes the dress she was wearing to a party. She advises Emma to be careful with her sister Mary who might use supposedly intimate knowledge against her.
Mr. King, "minister" and ambassador, is characterized as lacking the social knowledge, fortune, and ambition to thrive in Rome's society. Cushman defends Mrs. King and is sorry for her being trapped in an unhappy marriage. By telling Emma about social issues, Charlotte recurrently refers to respectability, social norms of dressing and behavior, and explicitly discusses social hierarchy and how important it is to converse with people of the same or higher rank. Additionally, Mrs. King talks to Cushman about quite private matters, which Charlotte frames as "childlike faith."


Library of Congress, Charlotte Cushman Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.


Cushman, Charlotte Saunders, 1816-1876


LoC, CCP 2, 618-621





Letter Item Type Metadata


[618] "Another six days work is done another (Friday) is begun
Return my soul. Enjoy the rest!" & & (see[?] Dr Watts!) "Come morning with a daughter, blest."  might carry out the +++ & rhyme. but. "blest." does not quite signify what I would convey. "blessed daughter". I mean. for are you not my daughter, & am I not blessed in having such an[?] one? A whole week has passed & again. I am at my writing table talking by "word of pew" to my darlings across the sea. The dear ones who occupy so much of very thoughts & my affections. How are they? what are they doing. Thinking, feeling! Do they love me. best in the world! Do they want me as I want them. do they think they have the best "Mum" — as I think I have the dearest children in the world. I hope so. Else there is love lost between us. No wonder if it should be in the long distance between us — & yet. we are not common people. we have a specialty for adhering — we have! & once loving — we love always. is it not so? I can answer for one. & you for two others! & so. all is well! no time — no distance — no intimacy can make us love each other less. of course we have each of us strong individualities. Else we should be good for nothing particularly or generally. we cannot sacrifice these, even to each other, without struggles & contests. but which ever side conquers — or does not conquer the love & admiration for each other continues the same unchanged. unchangable. & so. my conclusion is that we are very happy people. & having only one large cause for disquiet — big[?] — separation — we should try to be as content as circumstances will let us be for the time being, finding one compensation in the large love & faith which we have in each others[?] few people are so blessed in their relations — for people have so many causes & reasons for being thankful

[618 reverse] what have I been doing since I wrote to you. just the same routine of work. visits &. On Saturday, I gave a little party for Mary & Mrs Gordon Dexter of Boston. a bride who has been here on a visit to her new mother & brother in law. she was Miss Amory of Boston. & I want you to know her. for she is hand some [sic] & rather admires your aunty, which will be something  +++ with you. Mary sent word she was too tired[?] with packing — as she left on Sunday. & could not come. However we had one party — notwithstanding & a very pleasant one it was. — The King minister [last three words inserted] The Dunda[?], Lippincotts[?] of Phila. The +++ Murrays of N. Y. Hows of N.Y. Tiltons & Mrs Garland. Mrs Fields sister. & the Dexters. & some young Englishmen who brought me introductions from Mrs Gaskill we had a jolly time. — On Sunday. I did not go to church but staid [sic] at home & read the +++ Cantos of Longfellows Dante in the Jany no — of the Atlantic. How beautiful they are — & how thoroughly they impress you as being faithful. & here is a simple +++ in the language & ideas — which must be of Dante. & no commoner mind. This — seems to me to be Longfellows [sic] +++ vocation. an interpreter. not a creator. He is a graceful & accomplished scholar a charming +++ of bills of rhyme. a pretty +++ a purely sentimental thinker & feeler. but his place is a +++ of thoughts of poets. from one language to another. He lacks the grandeur. to which even the poorest. god made poets. reach, without study. but oh how rare it is. to find God made poets +++ — is the largest master of the language the most consummate weigher of the value of word &the most accomplished versifyer — which the English language now has. He is a poet! per se he could not in my mind, render[?] a translation of Dante — because he could not be impartial & give the full of value of our language into another
He thinks in English. speaks & feels in English. but

[619] the accomplished scholar. Thinks in all languages. & not being impressed by his maker to one speech and language. alone — is capable of interpreting each fairly, & there[?], we have a translation of Dantes [sic] Paradise. which I do not believe has ever been equaled[?] I am so thankful for this — not reading it in the original. You would say then. "How can you know that this is the best in the world". I can only answer! my instincts tell me this is so! There is a something — in these words. which carry me to the height upon wh. I concern +++ to be placed. and no other translator I ever saw. have had the power to do this  the Jany number of the Atlantic. is a rich one. Do you not think so? Gail Hamiltons [sic] article is good! Have you seen it! 'She[?] planting of the apple Tree' by Bryant is also good. save for the last two or three lines — which trouble me with the selfassertion
Have you seen the letters of the different people to the New England Dinner. Holmes' was characteristic & +++ fine. and have you seen +++ Phillips [sic] speech in the in New York. on the Presidents [sic]  proclamation — all good! — all things at home seem working together for food. I find the Peace Democrats who +++ talking on the subject of sending commissioners to Richmond to talk of +++. are  on the question. by the +++ from Kentucky. to vote the full prosecution of the war & support to the administration. The administration speaker elected. all things seem easy. & the only way the Peace +++ have been allowed any share off the sports — is by changing their names to Conservative war Democrats. I dont [sic] know how there can be such a combination — as conservative War Democrat[?] it is either Peace or War. & no half way stage of action. but '+++' does not mean reason or sense or justice or equity or law — but only policy.

[619 reverse] Well aunty & what did you do on Monday. Went for a ride with Hattie. & in the evening to see +++ +++ & then Mrs +++ both of them have been ill! or Tuesday — we had a grand Bachelor Ball. at the +++ to which your aunty went in canonicals. That is — The most beautiful white silk dress +++ with +++  black lace flowers — which were waiting for me in Paris. on my arrival. I had a hair dresser. & looked stunning, I assure you. It was very brilliant & did not go until 10 1/2 & came home at 1 1/2: Your England was out for the night. & danced until the small hours. the supper was splendid & all went off well. Your aunty was a very merry Bachelor! — On Monday. we were at a +++ party at the  — 78 — Tilton[?] — on Thurdas [sic, Thursday?] another ride on horseback oh I have such beautiful horses for you both now English horses. That go like winking[?]. splendid house & as good as beautiful! My guy which took to +++ away has been subdued capitally. & now work very well. my poor barouche has not seen the daylight yet — but I hope it may come out as good as new. last night then was a grand ball at Lady Stafford[?] to which I went & had a jolly time. Today I have been making calls. & looking after rooms at the different hotels for [Miller] Bridge & his family, but without avail. not an apartment to be had for[?] love or money. & talking of apartments. I ought to describe mine for you. shall I. I wish you could see the new rooms how nice they are & how +++ everything looks in them — ah — I am called +++
Goodbye for to day.
Saturday — I had a nice dine[?] yesterday with in my +++ the new horse goes beautifully now ever since his +++ away polic. I wonder if my description of that will frighten you as it did Sally & aunt Em [Emma Stebbins]. I hope not for it is all over now. before you could get my letter

[620] The horse is now splendidly behaved. I only wish you could +++ after them. They are the handsomest horses in Rome & with the two wolf skins which this awful weather has rendered nescessary [sic]. we look very stylish I assure you. — Since I began this I have been interrupted six or seven times & obliged to attend to many different matters as a prime +++. perhaps most — So you must now wonder at a +++ letter today — I have so many things to attend to — & Saturday is always a busy day for settling matters. so that I find it difficult to get steadily to my writing — I must tell you — in +++ that I have almost as much care +++ for Mrs King. the ministers wife — as if I were ambassadress myself — She is a very nice +++ woman. ladylike & modest in the extreme. but she has a honor of any show or dress. & here she ought to dress. for all the ambassadors +++ dress immensely — they consider that they represent their +++ or power, & dress accordingly — that being the only way they can demonstrate this splendor or position. so you may imagine what with a narrow purse. a +++ conscience with regard to living beyond salary — which is all their income & ask an insane[?] dread of dressing unbecomingly. She is doing very miserable — she is suffering very much from the cold & chilblains so that she almost +++ with them. +++ +++ King is no help to her at all. he has lived[?] a western editor for 15 years — at Milwaukee has had splendid opportunities of making fortunes but +++ done out of them by his easy going trust in every one — he has no ambition — no care for society & much +++ hiring & associating with the Burridges[?] & +++ & people beneath him —  which always betrays the lack of selfrespect & dignity & moral worth (show me a mans intimates — & I will tell you what that man is, if I never saw him. There are some men who would rather +++ in hell than serve in heaven

[620 reverse] but gradually those men sink in the social scale & then true value appears. I bless my mother for one element in[?] my nature — or rather my grandmother — ambition
I cannot endure the society of people beneath me in position or character or ability. & hate to have satellites of an inferior caliber. So +++ King will never take a position here among the best. because he is content with something inferior. It makes me all sorry for her. for she is refined sensitive & proud
If our Generals have all been made of such stuff as +++ King. I dont [sic] wonder we have won so few victories
No man can win victories — if he has inferior people for his associates — is it not true? — so — I have a good deal of care for & in Mrs King. who trusts to me with a sort of Childlike faith. & confesses all her privances. Do you know she had even to look after +++ Kings [sic] corked hat & sword for his presentation, he had come away from New York & left them! He is a weak man, +++ first & foremost by his having her to do every thing — & letting all fortune slip out of his fingers — he is a +++ man as evidenced in wanting inferior people as his associates — who will minister to his egotism & vanity
This gives me a good deal to do in that quarter. Then my house is not yet finished which keeps me a good deal occupied at least in thought & that eats up time a good deal. Then my correspondence which is no joke. Darling your letter of the 22d 25' Dec. which came last week on Thursday. already a week old. must be responded to. You tell me with anxiety of dear Neds [sic] eye — being no better — but rather worse. indeed I dont [sic] wonder it makes you unhappy. It makes me just wretched. He was such a good looking fellow & this eye of his makes him look dreadfully — his face becomes like a mask with it. I fear

[621] he is indulging in stimulants if it is getting worse — & if so he cannot hope to get on. however. it is useless +++ to +++ — he has job to live his own life — only I do not think we have any right to make others unhappy in our doing so: I understand what you said about Mary — she has "this dangerous gift of mimicry[?]" as you term it — but you have all of you the same. & all of you indulge in it — even of your nearest & dearest. Mary has less heart. consequently less discretion[?]. I hope I did not say anything of which she could make fun[?] to give you uneasiness. but if I did — it is only the "commending of the poisoned chalice to your own lips" is it not so. & dont [sic] you. on reading this vow in your heart that you will never make +++ or mistake any one anymore again & wont [last three words inserted] you immediately go & do it. as if you had never found[?] such a resolve[?]. — I have — from time to time — read such portions of your letters to me — [illegble, crossed out] as were +++ — to Mary — she seemed very thankful to have the information. but she may +++ it to account against both of us — as she is capable. She has not written to any one since she left here & we hardly know when she is returning — we presume not very soon now! — I read with pleasure of your little family gathering. & presume[?] you gave your father pleasure in it. This is well & will be returned to you. You tell me you are well & happy! — This is the dearest thing you could tell me. as you know. & I thank God for all his goodness to you & to me, in you! You were contemplating a childrens [sic] party. so that you dont [sic] over do yourself — this is a sweet thing to do. but I wonder your mother dont [sic] +++ it — for Isabelle & you undertake the entertainment. would it not be better or more appropriate. as Isabelle & Wayman give the excuse or reason for it. Oh. I have had just the very sweetest little picture sent me by Mrs Swift of Cuchicoo! a photo — coloured. you never saw

[621 reverse] any thing on this earth so sweet. I wish you would write to her No. 24 +++ 32d Street New York. tell her the state of delight I am in at its receipt. & beg her to +++ you one! You never saw anything so lovely! Mrs +++ Swift is the name. I am sure she will send you +++ — was I not a monster to write to you at Xmas +++ never thank you for your pretty Xmas gift. I have used it then times with buckwheat cakes. & at other times as a pie knife. Thank you a thousand times for the thought[?] did not I give you a Xmas gift — yet the picture must stand to you in that light. Your father says your house is beautiful. & much improved by the works of +++ I have given you. I am pleased that he likes them[?] & that you find pleasure in them. I am delighted with the idea of having an +++ — but dont [sic] work your dear fingers to the bone over them. I believe more vital strength is knitted[?] into +++ wool work.  +++ shows a +++ — I had rather perish with cow then have you give away a moment of strength in doing this kind of work for me dearly as I love the work of your hands. — I am a little in doubt whether your father & mother will come abroad. Mary spoke  its being absolutely nescessary [sic] that Robert should +++ at home in August. whether it is Robert or Mary dont [sic] know — but if the latter. do you suppose your mother would want to be away from America? or would this not interfere with your fathers movements
Hattie talks of going to America in August. This would[?] influence your fathers — perhaps! Did I tell you I recd a letter from Col Hamilton.  letter cannot be found which I worried +++ to get written[?] is it not too bad. & I have to bring my brain to write it all over again. — I see by the paper that you have had awfully cold weather in St Louis. & skating on the +++ as Ned skated yet. we have had awful weather here. I +++ felt such cold. it is like a knife! — I was so pleased to hear of all your pretty presents & Neds too. but best of all to me was to hear that Ned was better in his +++

[620 written across the page] that you are well & happy. God keep you so very darling Ned told me I was to pick up some +++ for you I have found one such a beauty much larger than Marys & beautiful. My man is looking for another so Ned must sell his picture[?] to Mr Randall to pay for them mind[?] now — you make him do it for that will make your earrings very cheap I can tell you
God bless you my darlings — much love to all your belongings — kiss my boy for me & love him & "much" for your ever fondly loving
Ladie Auntie


Cushman, Charlotte Saunders, 1816-1876


Cushman, Emma Crow, 1839-1920


Rome, Italy

Geocode (Latitude)


Geocode (Longitude)



Unfortunately, tape was used to stick the letter pages to blank pages in the folder, which impacts readability of the words at the end of lines on some pages.

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Cushman, Charlotte Saunders, 1816-1876, “Letter from Charlotte Cushman to Emma Crow Cushman, Jan 22, 1864,” Archival Gossip Collection, accessed May 28, 2023, https://www.archivalgossip.com/collection/items/show/388.

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