Letter from Charlotte Cushman to Helen Hunt Jackson, Jan 10, 1870

Dublin Core


Letter from Charlotte Cushman to Helen Hunt Jackson, Jan 10, 1870


Cushman, Charlotte Saunders, 1816-1876
Cushman, Emma Crow, 1839-1920
Jackson, Helen Hunt
Stebbins, Emma, 1815-1882
Lippincott, Sara Jane (pseudonym: Grace Greenwood), 1832-1904
Social Events--Travels
Mercer, Sallie
United States--New York City
Gender Norms


Charlotte Cushman criticizes the "looseness" of New York's divorce law and concept of marriage.
Helen Hunt is going back to the US and leaving England. Charlotte shares her thoughts on feeling homesick. Emma Stebbins is with Cushman but not in good health.
Without further explaining the reason, Cushman states that Grace Greenwood is "poisoned with regard to" Charlotte and Helen as well.

Transcripts courtesy of Nancy Knipe, Colorado College.


Cushman, Charlotte Saunders, 1816-1876






Letter Item Type Metadata


so you are going home. I am so sorry, for it seems to me your friend requires you less than before, though why I dare to say so, knowing nothing of your relations, I know not. But it is only an impression. I am troubled for you & for her. Why should she have married now. If strong enough to stand by Mrs. McFarland so far alone, why weaken herself, by showing to the world that she must take a husband to hold her up, after taking so strong a position. Besides, I do not hear very fine things of this Mr Runkell. His reasons & Mrs. Calhoun's reasons further not marrying before were potent, & will go on into her future life, as sure as - a man is a man! And you must not not [sic] be put, by his apparent generosity in proposing that you should come & live with them - into a position which may give him excuses, by & by, for this or that action or [right?]. However, I know so little I have no right to council you, only the position you are [?] to is always dangerous, and these are exceptional people!

I don't understand Dr. Sully's not liking you & don't believe it. I have not written to him a word about you since I left England. I put you right with him, and thought & left him to your mercies. I knew him for a little stolid English man, spoiled by all his patients, & thought he might do you good. I am grieved that he has not done so, & that the treatment has seemed to fail with you-perhaps you had reached a crisis & after you leave you will be better. I pray God you may. You have been bold, I think to risk a mid winter passage but sometimes these are the very best-a sea voyage is not to be calculated upon, or reasoned by analogy. Capn Cook is a nice fellow & you must remember me to him, & tell him I consign you his care. You poor dear, out on the ocean, seeking a rest for the sake of your foot. Well, you will find it, & I have confidence that your dear instincts will lead you to the right place to rest it.

Your letter is like you in every way, as clear as it can be. How I wish I could see you & fold you to my heart before you set out on this voyage, but I must do so as I do, earnestly, in the spirit & pray God help & bless you in every way. I shall (D.V.) sail for America in July sometime. You will write me as soon as you arrive & tell me all you find & how things are going with these poor people, & where you are going to live, & where a letter will find you, & every thing you can send me about yourself, & make some arrangements for our meeting next Summer, for you must never go out of my world any more. What will you do at home? Will you write? If so, send me every scrap to put into my sweet book, which I cannot tell you how dearly I prize, and send me every thing which appears in print that is there about this unfortunate affair. I am so sorry for the poor woman who has so suffered for so long, but having taken this yoke, she should have worn it, & let the comfort which this other man could afford her - wait. If she had worked for her support, she could have continued to do so, & lived her life for an example, if nothing more. But I am more sorry for Mrs. Calhoun & more sorry for you whom I love. If this would only prevent future facilities for divorces I should be pleased! For I think it one of the evils of our system if women saw more suffering in these bonds, they would be in less hurry to take them upon themselves. The looseness of our New York morality is something too awful to me & makes me sick. I see in marriage there is just a license to prostitution. It does not seem to me to be so bad any where else in the country, if it is, then they at least have the decency to hide their dirt which the New Yorkers seem careless how they expose. I don't see how they can do any thing with McFarland for is not [Sickly?] our minister to Spain? Perhaps they will send McFarland on some mission. Genl. Grant's administration seems to me venal enough for anything!

Dear as to leaving Malvern, you are right. I only wish Rome had been kinder to you and then you could have come to me, and not your sister, your friend call out for you. You are right to go wherever you feel your largest duties. No one can decide for you. You yourself must decide for yourself. I know how homesick one can be in England. I was & for my first four months there when I was seeking my fortune, cried myself to sleep every night, & my poor Sallie was my only comfort. You will find no good anywhere if you are homesick, so go home. I wish I could see you, for I am not able to write without feeling such dreadful feverish flushes. The weather is again bad. I am keeping pretty well if I do not exert myself. Emma Stebbins is still very poorly & I am anxious about her. Ah how I shall want to see you when you are on the water & I cannot. But you will write to me often will you not. Now God bless you dear heart & keep you better & stronger, & make you well and happy. May you have a good passage & find all things at home better than you now see them. God be with you dear. All here send love to you. I have not seen Sara Clarke since I came. She is poisoned dear with regard to me, & to you also, I fear, [?having missed us?] shall live in spite. Believe me ever, though in a distracted hurry, Your loving

Charlotte Cushman


Cushman, Charlotte Saunders, 1816-1876


Jackson, Helen Hunt, 1830-1885


38 Via Gregoriana, Rome, Italy

Geocode (Latitude)


Geocode (Longitude)


Social Bookmarking




Cushman, Charlotte Saunders, 1816-1876, “Letter from Charlotte Cushman to Helen Hunt Jackson, Jan 10, 1870,” Archival Gossip Collection, accessed April 22, 2024, https://www.archivalgossip.com/collection/items/show/440.

Output Formats