Letter from Anne Brewster to Mary Howell, Dec 4, 1864
Brewster mentions her correspondence with Charlotte Cushman. Cushman writes about the birth of Emma Crow Cushman's son and has repeatedly invited Brewster to visit her in Rome. At the moment, Cushman resides in England.
Brewster mentions a critic who is "full of the keen tranchant epigrammatic criticism boom of the press."
At the end of the letter, Brewster writes about her negotiation with Ticknor & Fields and laments that Howell talked to her cousin Frank about this issue: "I only intended to have you & Mr Peacock know if for reasons which I supposed would be evident to you."
Letter Item Type Metadata
[page 1] Well my darling
are you tired of this long silence between us! So am I and here I come to sit down at the little feet and look up into the beautiful eyes of the one who has been for so many years my dear dear friend. What am I doing all these long weeks, days, & hours away from my little library and solitary work season?—sowing the moments with that which shall grow up to crowns & scepters as Jeremy Taylor or some such old worthy says? Heaven knows – This I know I am enjoying myself in the lap of the completest leisure – I only taste sparingly of pleasure even for somehow I can no longer gulp down great heating draughts of it as I used to—Mr How said the other evening as we were returning from a delightful symposium
[page 2] we had had in his exquisite rooms— "Now when will you come in to some concerts-" and I had to say "Never" I have put aside his courtesies of that nature with many a skilful excuse but at last resolved to face the real wih truth for himself & myself—A crowd wearies me beyond measure. I am stronger & better in health than I have been for years but ever before has my nervous sensitiveness been so painfully delicate – I cannot even bring myself to face a party of strangers even agreeable ones—I have made these kind persons. Mr How & his family entertain me (+++ us) [bracket inserted] alone – Now don't think I have grown fanciful & affected. I am simply growing old that is the solemn fact and with years has come the wisdom of knowing how to spare myself from the draning exhausting effects of undue excitement especially that which result from the enjoyment of
[page 3] keen & painful art especially to organizations like ours. I love a little society just a little, but if that society demand too much of me I must give it up for I can only receive & take so much—to a certain point it is bliss beyond that, mortal anguish I had a nice long letter from C.C. a fortnight ago—She sends dear love to you and to Mrs Siers[?]. She says she has sympathized deeply with Mrs Siers[?] in her trouble and would have written to her had she known where to address her — She wished you would write to "them" (meaning I suppose herself & Miss Stebbins) Her letter is delicious– Her nephew's wife has lately given birth to a son (in Oct:) and C.C. says she has taken grand rank by brevet – she is a grandmother without any of the preliminary pas—Is not her "improper pun" as she calls it very like her? Altogether the letter was delightful – She reiterates her oft repeated tempting invitation of the bedroom & sitting room looking over to St. Peters awaiting me in Rome. asks when
[page 4] you are going to see her but says nothing of coming to America – She is in England now. with her mother her nephew & his family – she has been there all summer Miss Stebbins and her sister from New York have been with her all summer also I wrote to her in reply among other nice things are account of your charming Newport season how La Farge fell in love with you & made you sit for a St Cecilia and added that she might expect to see you & Mrs Siers[?] in Rome before me. That you were both restless & moving, were talking of journeying all the while, intended going to Niagara in March, to Majorca next, and then Romeward to Rome would follow as a natural consequence I have just been reading +++ Art Idea" he speaks in the most laudatory terms of La Farge—he says his (La F) [bracket inserted] landscapes are gems of imaginative suggestion – he takes up where Turner left off & has more inspirational fervor & intenseness than any other American
[page 5] artist – Have you ever read any of Sarve's/Tarve’s[?] books! He is a sharp cutting materiatistic critic. His chapters on asthetics are devoid of poetry of feeling & expression, but when he touches on art & artists of his own time he is very knowing truthful & clever. He is full of the keen tranchant epigrammatic criticism boom of the press & the review not of the litrary & the Studio – He has learned all or most [last two words inserted] that he knows from intercourse with men more than with [last three words inserted] not books — he is a fatiguing writer—he writes as [inserted] on the edge of a train or a Hoeys[?] fast Steam press – there is no repose, or, calm in him as in continental critics – just as you are preparing to dissent from some crude American notion on asthetics [sic] which he utters boldy with a [inserted] true Yankee-know-as-much-as-any-body style [inserted] he silences you with a passage full of sterling sense and originality. His notions on Catholic art betrary the total absence of early
[page 6] classical culture—he has evidently entered the great Cathedral of Art as ignorant of its symbolisms and deep meaning, as as [sic] a Baptist or Methodist layman is of the vital significance of Catholic rites & ceremonies – he has studied Art from the surface downward or rather inward while the classic student starts from the heart and work outward—But he is worth reading so get his books—His summary of American artists is very useful, and very just—He finds fault with the naturalistic tendency of our great artists and is himself for a critic just the same are you having May in December as we are! such lovely weather! and such delicious solitary walks as I take! I can browse by the till side & in the pine wood, walk six & eight mile & return home fresh & buoyant while three hours with Mr How & his family crammed to broken
[page 7] over flowing with music, sparkling talk, delicious & dainty soupers fine pictures & all that send me home jaded & worn out. This atmosphere is delighful. bracing & invigorating to me—is it not strange? I shall never pine for society or its en-joyments again when I am back home
How mercifully we are fitted for our stations and how beautifully we adapt ourselves to all changes! Here am I, who in my youth doted on Vanity Fair pleasures. I could rise early go to bed late – drink from the fountain's centre (not from the brim or the goblet—,) without fatique – reverses came circumstances enjoined comparative [inserted] solitude, my senses were deprived of almost [inserted] every asthetical [sic] emotion and. I was thrown on my own resources & those which I could gain from books [last seven words inserted] for mental & spiritual aliment see how soon my nature has adapted itself to the difference – my kaleidscope being broken I sat myself down to construct new
[page 8] illusions out of the silken [inserted] rags & broken crystals when I am taken back to fresh perfect kaleidscopes I shrink away from their brilliant forms & hues and feel a secret hankering for the wrecks which comforted me in first sorrowful hours Dear, this is the blessed effect of "years that bring the philosophic mind"—not that like the poet I have lost any sense of radiance or gladness" there is the same splendour in the grass & glory in the flower" & the cloud that gather round the setting sun" take no sober colouring to me – There is the same "celestial light" the same "glory on the earth" that robed it in those other times but the unrest, the looking before & after, the pining for what is not all this is gone thank God I have not replied to any part of your last letter yet & here at the end I must say a few words—I am sorry you told Frank any thing about my Ticknor
[page 9] & Fields negociation [sic]. I only intended to have you & Mr Peacock know if for reasons which I supposed would be evident to you
Poor Frank! what would he say if he knew that you do not like "expansive men" for a more expansive man than Consin Frank does not live. Now I like expansive men that is when they know something – Mr How resembles trank in his naive expansiveness for it is so pleasantly toned down by culture & as-sociations with truly refined persons in youth. His expansiveness as you call it is not raw & unformed—indeed he reminds me in many things in many characteristics of cousin Frank— The great charm in such young [inserted] men is their firmness of principle— I do not feel anxious about Frank especially— he may remain
[page 10] ummarried these an years & he will then take to Miss S. as pure & loyal a heart as he gave her at one & twenty. such men are never +++ by the world the trail of the serpent may pass over them & leave no +++ trace of sin—Untrue bad women can never harm them—Frank's armor is his honest thought And simple truth his upmost skill" as Wotton sung of his Happy Man. I don't think as I used to of men—I believe more in their good when they are good & I think the man who needs safeguards and checks is not worth the care – I would never waste care or tear again on a man if I had my life to go over. I am a true fatalish on the subject if a man is to go to the devil he will go—but there are "the elect" & in them sex [inserted] I believe in them [last two words inserted]
Good Bye write when you can or when in you feel like it—I received the MS: many thanks. Nan sends love– Remember me to Mrs Siers[?]. With dear love your old friend