Kate Sanborn's Memories and Anecdotes (1915)

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Kate Sanborn's Memories and Anecdotes (1915)


Hosmer, Harriet Goodhue, 1830-1908
Cushman, Charlotte Saunders, 1816-1876
Browning, Elizabeth Barrett, 1806-1861
Lippincott, Sara Jane (pseudonym: Grace Greenwood), 1832-1904
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Prominent author Kate Sanborn (The Wit of Women, 1885) recollects a meeting with Harriet Hosmer in her memoirs. Together they reminisce about Hosmer’s friendships with the Brownings, Grace Greenwood, and Charlotte Cushman.


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Sanborn, Kate, 1839-1917





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[S. 171-173]: I called once on Miss Hosmer, who then was living with relatives in Watertown, Massachusetts, her old home ; the house where she was born and where she did her first modelling. Recently reading in Miss Whiting's record of Kate Field's life, of Miss Hosmer as a universal favourite in Rome, a dearly loved friend of the Brownings, and associated with the literary and artistic coterie there, a living part of that memorable group, most of whom are gone, I longed to look in her eyes, to shake her hand, to listen to her conversation. Everyone knows of her achievements as a sculptor.After waiting a few minutes, into the room tripped a merry-faced, bright-eyed little lady, all animation and cordiaHty as she said: "It is your fault that I am a little slovv in coming down, for I was engrossed in one of your own books, too much interested to remember to dress."
The question asked soon brought a flow of delightful recollection of Charlotte Cushman, Frances Power Cobbe, Grace Greenwood, Kate Field, and the Brownings. "Yes," she said, "I dined with them all one winter; they were lovely friends." She asked if we would like to see some autograph letters of theirs. One which seemed specially characteristic of Robert Browning was written on the thinnest of paper in the finest hand, difficult to decipher. And on the flap of the envelope was a long message from his wife. Each letter was addressed to "My dearest Hattie," and ended, "Yours most affectionately." There was one most comical impromptu sent to her by Browning, from some country house where there was a house party. They were greatly grieved at her failure to appear, and each name was twisted into a rhyme at the end of a line. Sir Roderick Murchison, for instance, was run in thus:
As welcome as to cow is fodder-rick
Would be your presence to Sir Roderick.

A poor pun started another vein. "You must hear some of Miss Cobbe's puns," said Miss Hosmer, and they were so daringly, glaring bad, as to be very good. When lame from a sprain, she was announced by a pompous butler at a reception as "Miss Cobble." "No, Miss Hobble," was her instant correction. She weighed nearly three hundred pounds and, one day, complaining of a pain in the small of her back her brother exclaimed "O Frances, where is the small of your back?" Miss Hosmer regarded Grace Greenwood (Mrs. Lippincott) as one of the best raconteurs and wittiest women she had known. She was with her at some museum where an immense antique drinking cup was exhibited, large enough for a sitz bath. "A goblet for a Titan," said Harriet. "And the one who drained it would be a tight un," said Grace. She thought the best thing ever said about seasickness was from Kate Field, who, after a tempestuous trip, said: "Lemonade is the only satisfactory drink on a sea voyage; it tastes as well coming up as going down." The last years of this brilliant and beloved woman were devoted to futile attempts to solve the problem of Perpetual Motion. I wish she had given us her memories instead.


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Sanborn, Kate, 1839-1917, “Kate Sanborn's Memories and Anecdotes (1915),” Archival Gossip Collection, accessed March 4, 2024, https://archivalgossip.com/collection/items/show/232.

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