Letter from Charlotte Cushman to Grace Greenwood, June 15, 1854

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Letter from Charlotte Cushman to Grace Greenwood, June 15, 1854


Actors and Actresses--US American
Hays, Matilda Mary, 1820-1897
Mercer, Sallie
Lippincott, Sara Jane (pseudonym: Grace Greenwood), 1832-1904
Intimacy--As Source
Cushman, Charlotte Saunders, 1816-1876
Relationships-- Intimate--Same-sex
Hosmer, Harriet Goodhue, 1830-1908
Social Events--Travels
Intimacy--As topic


Charlotte Cushman tells Grace Greenwood about the change of her reputation after performing the role of Queern Katherine. She touches upon the heartbreak that she suffered from because Matilda Hays left her in London to be with Harriet Hosmer in Rome in October 1853. However, Hays came back to her in February 1854 and since then Cushman has been very happy. Cushman tells Greenwood that the intimate knowledge she shares here is for Greenwood's "eye alone."




Cushman, Charlotte Saunders, 1816-1876


DMR, Charlotte Cushman Correspondence, Box 1





Letter Item Type Metadata


[page 1]
you will long +++ this dear Grace +++ sit me down in your bad looks. & truly should I deserve it had I no good reason to give you for my long silence. but to one who knows what it is to labour professionally & socially there needs no apology for not indulging in friendly correspondence I have, through the kindness of Mr +++ received fom time to time your friendly little notes & thank you for them now as I did when I recd them. but I have not found the moment when I could tell you so by letter. And now. I cannot tell you half. I would if we were setting side by side for though on my own field with my own weapons. I will but "tremblingly inhabit" —yet with my[?] five[?] I am always sure to carry 'a white feather'. When I encounters to wights as you have proved yourself to +++   write, dear Grace, & was never gifted in that way. but I can talk — not well but oh what a quantity if I were in Philadelphia at this moment I could tell you of much suffering. much, very much happening much grateful pride. much professional and what is better ++++ social success, much labour much fatigue.— much peace & much contentment — which I have experienced since I saw you last. I could tell you that I was greatly disappointed at not seeing you before you sailed. I could show you your last note to me before you sailed, telling me that it was so uncertain what hour you should be in Liverpool that you would write to me again. so that I might know which time to come to the Waterloo to see you

[page 2] the night before you sailed. How I watched & waited so as not to miss you. how no letter came & I hurried into town & then down to the landing step so as to beg to get on board to see you. how they refused +++ +++sion. how I spoke to a strange gentleman & got him to bring my parcel & a hurried word written on a card while standing in my hopeless despair upon the landing stage — how I did not hear any thing of or from you until by chance I heard at Dr Laurier[?] that you we married. how shortly after that I had a note from you scolding me for a seeming neglect which was your own fault. How ill I was at Malvern for three months there alone +++ Sallie under the water treatment hoping that my throat would get well. How Miss Hays left England & went to Rome to Miss Hosmer in Oct. How I nearly broke my heart if not +++. How l suddenly determined that there was something higher & grander than this & my old religion of labour fell upon me like a soft & +++ cloud & "work!" "work!" "work!" was the mystic word which was to open this rock which was meant to crush me. How I came to London & made an engagement. Then went down to Liverpool for the holidays. to get up my strength for my work! now I did it. how I returned to London & opened an engag" at the Haymarket in "Bianca" the part which nine years before I had made my first appearance in, how greatly successful I was & get through the influence (worthily or unworthily possessed who can tell.) of the keans[?] upon the theatrical entries[?] I was not +++ much beyond at a +++ success

[page 3] through power of will intense strength & power but no feathers[?]. no womanliness". Then I was so successful as poor "Meg" that my engagement which was made for 12 nights was extended 40. but this part gave me little opportunity of showing "womanliness or pathos". at best an opportunity came through the non success of Mr Chorleys beautiful play which I will send you a copy of when if go back to England, & which was worthy of the fate it would have met had it been any body's play but Chorleys [sic], — if my acting Queen Katherine which crowned all I had ever done in the way of artistic excellence in the opinion of the critics. & I was immediately accorded the highest place on the rolls of histronic fame at once was "womanly. +++ pathetic & gentle." & this not by one but by all. There I could tell +++   Tuesday evening receptions which for +++    & fashionable people friends. quite threw one  +++ into the shade. I was gratified by being sought out by those who were not only fashionable but clever people. Painters, poets, scholars, composers singers, artists of all kinds honoured me & seemed very happy themselves. I was staying with +++ the Bray-shers whom circumstances which I cannot of explain had seemed to throw me upon. & truly kind were they to me. Doing every thing in the power of mortals to heal my wounds. Whatever their object may have been & wheather they had any but simple kindness. God knows. but they were kind. +++ with them. my +++ were more knowingly conducted than one Roman one & they received[?]

[page 4] my friends as their own. at last in Feby. Miss Hays came back. very miserable, very sorrowful, very ill & suffering. very indignant to find that her friend had almost seemed to take her place. very penitent & wretched. having found & had the generosity to confess her mistake in having left me. but proud +++   that she had been almost driven to it by her friend Mrs Braysher[?] who all this time had been kind & lobing to me. This has of course caused a breach between Mrs B. & Miss Hays — but I am proud to say notwithstanding all she has made me suffer I can still believe in Miss Hays now that she has found her mistake & in a  short time, now, we shall be together again. Never again perhaps to be what she once was to my [sic]. but still perhaps. better for us both that I am not to dependent upon her & that she has tried others. I believe from Miss Blagdens letters +++ has passed a very miserable winter in +++ when she returned & the wonderful improvement which has taken place since she hoped that time might bring us together again. I can believe how much she has suffered. at all events I can never suffer so much again. God knows there is no need, for no human being could know all the tortures to which I was subjected while in Rome — for no one saw but our two ssters — however. to no one should I write of these things as I have written to you. You saw me under this suffering. & have the right of a friend to know how I have come out & when I tell you I am happier than I have been in years. That I am now in Paris where I have been four weeks with a young friend from Liverpool. That I am enjoying every moment of my life in quiet happy communion with one of the most

[page 5] exquisite notions[?], I ever know in woman that we are taking Paris & its +++ quietly & that I am going on in my own way you will not wonder that I am as happy as the day is long. I have left behind her in England waiting my return to contribute to my happiness for the next two months in the Isle +++ +++ when[?] I am going to stay. my two pretty +++ +++ which are also exquisite horses.— my almost thorough bred saddle horse who puts his under lip down to his breast & very nearly flies along the road if I will let him. The prettiest Park +++ which I +++ myself. not a little one. but a very elegant affair. my blood hound "Boy" the most gentle loving creature that ever was seen. my Scotch terrier "+++". & Miss Hays. who waits[?] +++ +++ +++ chances of pleasure & happiness +++   pain. do they not dear friend! +++ +++ I +++ begin[?] if I were seated by your side in Philadelphia[?] I could tell you of these things but now, I +++   as the man in the play says "you must go uninformed to your grave". All that I have told you of myself & my affairs, is for your eye alone. & I should be pieved [sic] if I thought any one would ever know the contents of this letter further than that I am very happy & prosperous. That Miss Hays went to Rome for the winter but by the time this reaches you will have rejoined me again better & happier! — And now for the business part of your letter which absolutely requires an answer. Mr Cushman has regularly bothered me. about this "biographical sketch" I have told him I have no power over the sketch Mrs Howitt did. but further than that I have not time or inclination to do any thing further.

[page 6] a few years ago I made a promise to a dear friend that I would give to no one else particulars from which something of the sort might be made. I feel myself bound by this promise & feel that you would wish me to respect it so far as to feel it impossible that I should give these particulars to anyone else. in writing my merely recounting the incident of my first visit to England, as a matter of conversation is nothing but to give these particulars in writing would I think be wrong. Therefore you shall pardon me & not think me unkind. Present my kindest regards to Mr Lippincott & assure him how much I esteem his opinon of me but as yet I am not able to promise when I shall come again to the states. I shall most likely +++ +++ in London during this +++ winter & after that +++ +++ surely upon what course I may take +++ +++ that I have written you this long long letter you will confess that I have done something towards paying+++ +++ to you & will believe me
Ever your affectionate friend
Charlotte Cushman
+++ Vaughan is coming to England I believe very soon +++ is now in Florence — or by the last advices was going there. Sallie desires to be most kindly remembered to you & thanks you very much for the trouble you took with her box.


Cushman, Charlotte Saunders, 1816-1876


Lippincott, Sara Jane (pseudonym: Grace Greenwood), 1832-1904


Hotel Bedford, Rue de l'Arcade, Paris, France

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Cushman, Charlotte Saunders, 1816-1876, “Letter from Charlotte Cushman to Grace Greenwood, June 15, 1854,” Archival Gossip Collection, accessed June 25, 2024, https://www.archivalgossip.com/collection/items/show/423.

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