Letter from Charlotte Cushman to Helen Hunt Jackson, July 28, 1869

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Letter from Charlotte Cushman to Helen Hunt Jackson, July 28, 1869


Cushman, Charlotte Saunders, 1816-1876
Jackson, Helen Hunt
Stebbins, Emma, 1815-1882
Social Events--Travels
Gender Norms


Charlotte Cushman suffers from anxiety alsu due to the prospect that she may have to undergo surgery in Edinburgh with James Simpson.
She describes her brother as a "sweet tender womanly natured creature not fit to be a man" who "believes in his heart" that Charlotte gives "too much of [...] herself away in writing & so fights against it."
In case Helen Hunt wants to visit Charlotte, the latter informs her about the living expenses.
Eventually, Charlotte tells Helen that she aims at travelling through Germany once she is in better health. Charlotte is with Emma Stebbins.

For transcripts, please visit Colorado College.


Cushman, Charlotte Saunders, 1816-1876






Letter Item Type Metadata


whether I get to finish a letter to you today or [a day week?], it must be commenced, or you will never get one. Much as I think of you & about you, it will do you no personal good, give you no satisfaction, unless you get some outward and & [sic] visible sign of the mind & spiritual grace. "so this day of all" as is, "do I take my pen in hand to inform you" - that I think I am a thorough good for nothing person & that you would do well to give no more faith to me, just think of me as any other [fellow?]" - or a [dear?] tho lonely[?] woman that "stoops to fol-ly [sic] & finds too late that men betray! You had better believe that I am fallible [?] & capricious & not to be depended upon, & [?] why you find an occasional gleam of humanity in the shape of a letter from me, you will be only agreeably disappointed. Take my word for it, those people are more than right who don't ----- so far with a stub pen but now might quickly lose these points & get to be blots before the end of my letter [illegible] will it for I cannot write any more to you [illegible] that mortal [illegible]. I was on my way to say don't [rest of first page of letter is too faint to decipher. Next section begins on back of first page of folded letter.]

... & they will spring up some day. Your sweet & welcome letter of 11", came to me safely & duly & ought to have been answered before, but I have been labouring under a miserable anxiety which has almost taken the life out of me & left me good for nothing. In spite of that however, I have written a great deal, for I have a great deal to write, of one kind & another. I only wish I could turn it to some good account, for I dissipate my life in the most stupid letter writing & I use such a lot of words to express my meanings, for I lack concentrativeness [sic] of expression, though I possess that of feeling, that my writing is very often a labour. I have been anxious to get off answers to a great many American letters before my brother should join me here, he is a sweet tender womanly natured creature not fit to be a man, who loves me & believes in his heart that I give too much of myself away in writing, & so fights against it & I wanted to get as many of my debts paid as possible before he should come to me, so this has driven me much. & you, dear soul, have been kept waiting, and now where are you, up in the air in a German Schloss? I hope so, for it will do you good, oh why are you not here, in this dear old place when if you had come, when I did, I could have made things so easy for you, & where you would have [got?] health & strength to do any thing, this winter coming, & now, even now, you ought to do it. You don't know the good you could get. In the height of the season, which is now, lodgings are dearer than in Sept., Oct. & Nov. which 3 months by the bye are much better for the treatment than the warmer months, but in September if you wanted to come & would be satisfied with lodgings which were simple comfortable you can get for 10 dollars gold per week "a sitting room & two or three bedrooms, with cooking attendance & kitchen fire, [linen?] & plate & all you would have to do, would be to tell the landlady what you would have for your dinner & the hour, & it would be cooked & brought up to you, admirably cooked & served, & you would be virtually at housekeeping, which is the charm of living in England. Your living would cost you just what you would eat. Mutton & beef bill about $2 gold a week, chickens cost 62 ½ cents each (gold)--when I tell you the prices of things, it is always gold, bread a penny (2 cents) [roll?] & a [6?] cent loaf is enough for two people in a day. Eggs & butter as they are in Rome, but oh! so good, in fact the living is about the same as Rome & [Kustikewise?]. Then the doctors fees are 2 pounds a week, he finding your bathtubs & the large bathing places to which you go, for douche, swimming sitz, vapors, & the baths. After a time you can make an arrangement that you see him only once a week & pay him a [pension?]. This he does for literary people! There is also an admirable boarding house here, where you pay $12 ½ (gold) per week, & everything is found you, but you pay $2.00 extra a week for a [sitting?] room. The food is admirable, the company most excellent, & you may have just a little of it as you choose without any offence. I wish I knew you would come. I would look you up a place & get you all sorts of information. There is down on the place a farm house where you can have accommodations which is charming. The hills of Malvern will give you help, dear, as they have done to many others before. Five times have I found such here, as I could never have found elsewhere, & it is this, which makes me wish that you should come here. The expense of the journey is the only difference because you must live wherever you may be, & the living here is not so much more expensive than anywhere else to make it a matter of consideration. I will have a talk with the Dr. about you & Miss Calhoun, & see what he says. And when I tell you that he will not forbid your working or writing, unless your disease springs just from that & that on no light [ground?] will he interfere with anything you must do but will build you up to enable you to do that. You must believe me. I believe I do as much writing a day as three or four hours. I write an hour and a half in the morning from 11 to 12 ½ , having given my breakfast time to digest, by reading from breakfast time to 11. Then at 12 ½ , I go to my bath, which with the short walk attendant upon this (always, if you are able to walk, if not, your bath is so accommodated that you need not walk) and then I dine from 1 ½ to 2m & after dinner I sit & read until about 4 o'clock when I commence writing & work until 6, when my back woman comes in & warns me that my sitz bath is ready. You never get more than a sitz bath in your own rooms in the afternoon, & after that you [take?] a walk of 15 minutes just to agitate your blood, & then comes tea ( or cocoa) & you should go to bed, at 9 ½ , for you are waked at 6, for your morning bath. The water treatment is not pursued with the vengeance & rigour that was used two years ago, & your baths are given to you as you can best bear them. Dr. Sully is as [dear?] as a man can be, & as sweet & good as a man should be.

Sara Clarke & her folly have not yet arrived, but Mrs. Flowers at Stratford on Avon last week told me they were imminent. I don't suppose I shall do more than meet her in the road, & one of the delights of this place is that your treatments give you an excuse for anything , [or?] for looking anyhow! I will tell her what you say about the letter, if I see her. I had a sweet letter from Annie [?] the other day, in which she told me of having heard of [me?] at Albano, through the Stearnses. Send my love to those dear good fellows. I hope they will be coming to Rome next winter.

I shall be very quiet next winter in Rome for many reasons. I have a trouble [near?] my heart, in an indurated gland in the left breast, which increases, I am sorry to say, & I have had an opinion which tells me that it must be operated upon. This, in itself, keeps me in a depressed & anxious state. I don't know whether it is a thing, which once removed might not come again, however it is so mischievous in its character, that I am made to think it necessary that it should be removed. When this may be necessary I know not but my heart sinks as I think that I may perhaps be carrying my own death warrant. Yet, after all, who does not carry this. It may be that I shall go up to Edinburgh to Dr.[?] James Simpson to have this attended to if I do, it is uncertain when I may be able to get away en route to Rome. If I get well enough to go back, I want very much to go to Frankfurt, Berlin, Dresden, Nuremberg to Munich, & then to Venice en route to Rome, if it is not too late. In May next, God willing, I shall go home to American to remain a [twelve?] month or more! But all this is for your self dear--& I may have to change my course many [times?]. Let me hear from you at your best leisure, tell me what you are going to do, & when & how you are. We don't know where Mrs. Gordon is, or the [Trelawneys?]. Give them our united love if you see them. Miss Stebbins sends [love?] to you, & hopes you are better & stronger every day. Bless you dear, for your lovely little poems. This last is as sweet as summer. Believe me ever with [true?] affection, Your
Charlotte Cushman.


Cushman, Charlotte Saunders, 1816-1876


Jackson, Helen Hunt, 1830-1885


Great-Malvern, Manchester England [?]

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Cushman, Charlotte Saunders, 1816-1876, “Letter from Charlotte Cushman to Helen Hunt Jackson, July 28, 1869,” Archival Gossip Collection, accessed September 28, 2023, https://www.archivalgossip.com/collection/items/show/431.

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