Letter from Charlotte Cushman to Helen Hunt, Aug 18, 1871

Dublin Core

Title

Letter from Charlotte Cushman to Helen Hunt, Aug 18, 1871

Subject

Cushman, Charlotte Saunders, 1816-1876
Jackson, Helen Hunt
Arts--Literature
Criticism
Journalists/Writers
Gender Norms
Social Events--Travels

Description

Cushman encourages Helen Hunt's work as a poet and critic and talks about "American men" who do not "understand or appreciate beauty".
She has decided to take on the role of Queen Katherine in New York in September, adding that it is an "easy part to act, comparatively".

Transcripts courtesy of Nancy Knipe, Colorado College.

Creator

Cushman, Charlotte Saunders, 1816-1876

Date

1871-08-18

Type

Reference

Letter Item Type Metadata

Text

Carina mia,
What will you say that I have so long delayed writing to you since receiving your sweet & friendly letter of the 10th, with its tender & sweet enclosure? I don’t know [underlined] what you will say, but you would forgive me if you knew how more & more full every day becomes in Newport, how impossible duty at any distance, becomes, how the immediate, [?] present [underlined], seized, held, grabbed, clutched, clawed, demanded, asked, begged, entreated & coaxed me, until I was not only no longer mistress of my soul, or my time, but I began to stammer in my speech life was such a hurry, that I could not find time to think & talk too—so, while I was trying [underlined] to think, speech stammered, & never before to slip from under my controul [sic], when to my rescue, came these dear good people, whom I wish you [underlined] knew -- & who reminded me of my [Escape?] here, & yesterday morning, in the middle of the second [delay?] we left Newport, & never so help me, if I can find strength to get out of Newport, will I ever be found in it, again, in July, or August, “And this is my conclusion,” I have done absolutely nothing, have seen nobody worth seeing, or that I wanted to see. I have been dribbling [underlined] away my time, & have shamefully nothing to show for it. Except trembling hands, which can’t even hold my pen straight enough to spell correctly & a disordered stomach & weak driveling ideas! Now, what do you think of me, am I a person it befits to sit in judgment on any thing? No, I am not, my ideas are not worth a ha’penny, my opinions of any body or anything is good for nobody or no thing! What will you that I do or say. If I call people names, under this phase, I am not responsible, but I declare with what intellect that is left in me, that ‘the old Bell’ is exquisitely full of grace, sentiment & feeling. That there are some of the verses as good as anything you ever wrote. It is not, as a whole, as high & grand, as ‘the Funeral March’ which places you on the very highest rank of good [last six words underlined], & I care not who says to the contrary. But then, who ever did or whoever can write always, Equally? Take any of our more modern poets & ask if they [underlined] are always Equal: & see, if some of our American men would not take the whole value [the last three words underlined] out of their poems, [by?] their criticism. Ah dear, you must get a master of form [underlined], if you want a true critic, & I don’t believe any of our American men know how to criticize your poems because they are so full of feeling, as well as grace & beauty! I don’t think American men understand or appreciate beauty, save through the senses! Why should you [underlined] who are able to criticize [sic] other peoples thoughts, as only a woman can [underlined] criticize, be subject to any mention unless the very highest, & then, dear, another thing, if we criticized all our children, how we should hate them! You must create, & then believing in your things, yourself, trust them to the world. Another thing dear, one must work for all [underlined] the world. You want a world of readers who do not care to comprehend Browning Swinburn, Tennyson, who want just the sweet bit of tired verses that comes through this homely ‘old Bell,’ & who would find help, comfort & sympathy in it, which they could not find, in anything more high or grand! So take comfort dear, print & print without trusting to any Eye or judgment but yr [sic] own. Some minds are nothing if not critical, some, who have been honoured by a submission to their judgment, would find their vanity a little mortified at anything’s having been printed without their opinions having been asked. Your mentor is the gayest of the gay at Newport, dining & drinking [precious?] wines, until one begins to drink after all, all men are alike, so far! At all sorts of parties, picnics, breakfasts, matinees, soirees, receptions, etc. etc. until one really wonders when the martyrdom begins! –Oh--- I saw your sweet friend Mrs. Pell, looking lovely in a pretty little striped morning gown, with a pink in her cheek & a diamond in her eye. She is very sweet! Dear when did you write the Funeral March. The mentor did not remember when or when he had seen it, but hunted it up & sent it to me, at my earnest request Emma Stebbins brought me some sweet little poems from the Independent lately, of which when I have more time I will write to you. I saw my Dr., in Boston yesterday who says if I go on as well the next month as I have done this last month, I may act, & I shall commence with Queen Katherine in New York on the 25’ of Sept. It is an easy part to act, comparatively [underlined], & I shall see by that whether I can act anythin[g] else. Goodbye dear. God bless you. I have been hoping I might get to Bethlehem for a week, on the 5” of Sept. What do you think of the chances. How long will it take me to get there & what time do I start from Boston & how, please tell me thou bird, thou singing bird, come down from your swinging bough & talk to me in prose of “ways & means” of times & tides. Emma Stebbins is in great delight over ‘the Funeral March’ & she knows more of poetry than I do, & she says [underlined] the old Bell is beautiful & tender & graceful!
Ever believe me Carina Mia Your faithful loving C.C.

Oh, I have not said one word about walk-in (which I heard is the right way to pronounce Joaking Miller. Bret Harte told me much about him. The other night. I will read more & then send it back. You were a dear to send it to me.

From

Cushman, Charlotte Saunders, 1816-1876

To

Jackson, Helen Hunt, 1830-1885

Location

De Blois’ Cottage,
Newport,
R.I.

Geocode (Latitude)

41.4899827

Geocode (Longitude)

-71.3137707

Annotations

for head of letter added by person who transcribed the letter:
[at head of letter:] Care of “Beach Bluff”
Addison Child [Esq.?] Swampscott, Mass

Provenance

Helen Hunt Jackson Papers, Part 2, Ms 0156, Box 1, Folder 17, letters from Charlotte Cushman to HH, 1871-75. Transcribed by Nancy Knipe, 2007, https://libraryweb.coloradocollege.edu/library/specialcollections/Manuscript/HHJ2-1-17.html. Accessed 30 March, 2020.

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Geolocation

Collection

Citation

Cushman, Charlotte Saunders, 1816-1876, “Letter from Charlotte Cushman to Helen Hunt, Aug 18, 1871,” Archival Gossip Collection, accessed July 15, 2024, https://archivalgossip.com/collection/items/show/261.

Output Formats