Letter from Charlotte Cushman to John Povey, Oct 17, 1847

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Letter from Charlotte Cushman to John Povey, Oct 17, 1847


Actors and Actresses--US American
Actors and Actresses--English
Cushman, Charlotte Saunders, 1816-1876
Macready, William Charles
Forrest, Edwin, 1806-1872


Cushman discusses financial issues, theaters as potentially attracting "vulgar" audiences, the future of the US-American and English drama, Macready's rivalry with Edwin Forrest, newspaper reviews of her performances ("Have them copied when they will do me good"), as well as her intention to make Povey her agent.


New York Public Library


Cushman, Charlotte Saunders, 1816-1876


NYPL, Players Club, Misc. Papers, Coll. 9069





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[page 1] Dear Friend It is so very long since I have written to you. that I am almost ashamed. I should be so — but that my excuse has been. a miserable illness for nearly seven months. & I have been so dispirited that I have felt little inclination to write to anybody. Knowing this you will pardon my long silence I am better though still far from well or strong. for even up to four weeks before acting I felt there was little chance for me even to get well. An entire nervous prostration & overwork had completely shattered me. but I am better & hope by great care to get on. Since our +++ for +++ I have been very hard at work Macbeth. the opening night was grand. the houses have been  very fine. but to  8" on Wednesday. The over flow[?] was tremendous I send you a notice from the Chronicle. & one from the Dispatch. Have them copied when they will do me good. & I shall feel obliged! The Haymarket is getting on grandly. with as bad a company. as you would find a day's march. +++ loss. will be severly felt. Mrs Nisbell[?] & Miss Fanist[?] with Ranger in one afterpiece[?]& the Kerleys[?]. in another. makes a good house. but this is not unexpensive. as "Brother Ben" will find.  The Adelphi[?] must continue to coin money. you cant [sic] keep the people away. but it is a vulgar place as you know. a certain audience

[page 2] will go there & those cant [sic] be kept away. They would go there & laugh at anything & this after all is the true thing we find tragedies enough at our own firesides & we ought to laugh at the Theater. Rory O'More. & stupid +++. which by constant repetition get loaded with the actors own jokes & so pass current. has been drawing fine houses for a long time. Celeste says it is the only respectable theater in London! Jullien with his converts is cramming[?] Lane nightly at +++ per head. +++ at the Surrey (the best property in England) is filling his pockets literally, a new comedy in which Miss Faucit plays a serious part, (by +++) comes out shortly. at the Haymarket. Maddox is about bringing out a new play for Macready & myself & then one for Susan & myself. I will send you newspapers for I may not be able always to write as I would wish the Lyceum under Vistris. & the Queens [sic] patronages opens on Monday. with a translation of La Boquetiere by Planche. & another translation. called the Light Dragoons but being strictly for their own company. will I fear but illy fit any other. She has a beautiful company. & will go on +++. She is a great artist in her way. & is +++ enough to get on any where. Macready told me he was very sorry. that he had not come to America this season. You seem to have no stars. so much the better for you. unless the gentle-

[page 3] manly Edwin". with his $3000 play. should sweep off the most of your income. But most likely he will go to the Broadway Theater. The Park was always too good. for him I very much wonder at his having a dinner given to him in America. for his private worth. after having behaved in such an ungentlemanly way by Macready! But there is no knowing what may be done! — I should fear there would be no stars to come to America in a long time now. The Kerleys[?]. Celeste Vestris. Macready &c are all so engaged for a length of time that you will be thrown upon your own resources. which will be much better for you. I am sure. America hereafter will be the only ground for the Drama. Here [inserted] It is dying out as fast as it possibly can. & by & bye. when we have [page damaged] states a drama of our own. & which we ought to have [page damaged] my word for it. There will be none in England. The Radicals of the Drama. have effected their own ends. but destroyed the main trunk of the +++. The axe has been laid at the root. & while two or three sickly branches are lingering on in a sort of isolated grandeur. the stem is dying fast! I see this more & more the longer I am here. Translations. & two or three act pieces are carrying the day. & while the English taste is so fast growing French. This must be the inevitable consequence. I purpose coming to America in August next. & shall begin to work in October. gallop through the country as fast as I can & make as much money as I can. I shall make you my agent. solely. & will make no engagements myself

[page 4] Ludlow & Smith have written to me regularly. but my answer has always been "you cannot afford to give me enough to induce me to come". I shall take your counsel as to my route. but I can act but 4 nights a week. & will play but 12 nights in  N.Y. Boston & Phila & then on as fast as I can to the South & west when I shall look for my harvest. A gentleman with +++ to me the other day asking me to let him make my engagements offering newspaper connexion [sic] as an inducement. but I must trust to you. Mr Gilbert a Boston actor is getting on very finely here. & fact making himself an immense favourite. although a Mr +++ was engaged first for the +++ men. Mr G. is stepping beyond him. Susan desires her kindest love to you. Send me newspapers. but be careful of the marginal writings. if discovered. Each line is £100 penalty. Remember me to all friends. & believe me Ever truly yours Charlotte Cushman Will you have the enclosed articles copied when they will be likely to do me good


Cushman, Charlotte Saunders, 1816-1876


1. Baker Street Portman Square, London, UK

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Cushman, Charlotte Saunders, 1816-1876, “Letter from Charlotte Cushman to John Povey, Oct 17, 1847,” Archival Gossip Collection, accessed June 25, 2024, https://www.archivalgossip.com/collection/items/show/936.

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