Transcript of Letter from Emma Stebbins to Sidney Lanier, Jan 11, [1876]

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Transcript of Letter from Emma Stebbins to Sidney Lanier, Jan 11, [1876]


Stebbins, Emma, 1815-1882
Lanier, Sidney, 1842-1881
Cushman, Charlotte Saunders, 1816-1876
Intimacy--As topic
Social Events--Misc.
Relationships-- Intimate--Same-sex


Emma Stebbins confesses to Lanier that she felt helpless due to Cushman's illness progression but her state of health seems to be improving.
This impression soon proved to be deceptive as Charlotte Cushman dies in February 1876.
Stebbins describes her group of friends and acquaintances as a "select circle."
She mentions a secret that was passed on to the press since Lanier was not careful enough when talking about it. Unfortunately, Emma does not specify any details. Stebbins tells Lanier about the future work of taking notes for Cushman's autobiography.
Transcripts by Jennie Lorenz


Library of Congress, Charlotte Cushman Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.


Stebbins, Emma, 1815-1882


LoC, JLP 2





Letter Item Type Metadata


[page 1]
Dear S. L.
I ask you a thousand times pardon for my dely in acknowledging your kind and sweet letter, as well as in giving your news  of C.C. which you may be well anxious for. – We have had very trying times – This battery [Lorenz unsure here] of chemicals to which she has been and is subjected seems to be growing more & more furious as it reaches its culmination and as she is less & less able to bear it.  This little incarnate will who has us body & soul in his hands, goes on like fate itself, and in much different grounds from anything/ one has ever known before – that I have ceased to have an opinion  of say black is black & two & two make four – He says 'all is right'.  when to our uninstructed vision – all is as wrong as it can be  there is nothing for it – but submission - and such faith as the Lord will vouchsafe us - I say 'soul' above advisably - for he pretends to act directly upon the ego which I take it is the soul – is what  the Germans call the '+++' — that part of us from  which all that is best in us comes – he tells us of a case, when he has absolutely created an artist! - what do you think of that? C. has been so poorly that I have not liked to ask her for the note of introduction upon solicit – today, I hope/ to get it - to enclose in this for she seems better and brighter than she has been for two weeks–  God grant thy gleam of sunshine may shine brighter and brighter to the perfect day!  The Dr. thinks this morning that he has passed the culminating point after which we shall be in the ascending scale again. It is well you have cautioned us about the 'Cantata' – for what more natural than that should mention to a special friend, here – a fact so honourable to you - and we fraught with so many +++ results? –  I believe it has been already mentioned – but only once to Miss Sever[?] – to whom C always reads your letters - and how can you/ wonder when you write such pretty things? This time she insisted on my reading to her mine[?] also – so the Cantata - has sounded a few notes in advance. –  your lovely sonnets to C- have given her great delight and generally delighted our select circle. I didn't know anyone upon whom the mantle of those courtly, gallant, chivalic Elizabethan fellons seems to have more certainly fallen. We also have seen the slip you enclose - which is going the round of the papers you had better be careful how you whisper a 

[page 2] secret ever to your flute - if you dont [sic] want it to get into the newspapers  No, there have been no more autobiographic notes – the sweet  lively/ soul, has been too much occupied struggling with its own anguish! - and even at the best of times she finds it tedious to dwell upon mere personal matters – except on specially sympathetic occasions – When we get in the ascending scale once  more - then I shall stand — notebook in hand getting material for the sweetest life to put in print —  that ever was written! —  I am not a bit patriotic – I don't take the slightest interest in the Centennial —  I consider these great shows – Thoroughly inartisitic but a slight stirring of the old chords comes with the idea of your Cantata, can't you– 'take' [told:] 'take' [inserted] a little on the score of honour – highmindedness – political honesty - judicial integrity - and all the rest of these musty old virtues – seemingly out of date?/ but  I suppose it would not do - you will have to sound[?] the chord thats [sic] set for you – poor [Lorenz unsure here] dear! –  Now I want to ask you a question, which you must candidly answer – you remember that at C's request I sent out your two chief +++ to a mutual friend of ours in London - an intimate of Swinbourne's [Lorenz unsure here] – asking that they might be shown to him, with a view to future contingencies. Well, I have an answer from this friend – the poems were shown to Swinburne, and she sends +++ an extract  from a letter - in which he gives his opinion of theirs[?] - it is English - it emanates from one of a clique who welcome Joachin [sic?] Miller/ and call Walt Whitman our 'one great poet'.—  You perhaps may perel prefer to get all opinion and hold them for what they are worth.  I suppose an artist should stand ready to profit by all minds winds that cane - favourable or unfavorable– shall I send you this extract? C  joins me in love & hearty good wishes – I hope the letter of introductions will arrive in time Yours ever faithfully. 

[Friend doubtless was Madame Venture[?].]  Envelope addressed:  "Sydney Lanier, Esq.  66 Centre St.  Baltimore, Ml.  


Stebbins, Emma, 1815-1882


Lanier, Sidney, 1842-1881


Parker House, Boston, MA, US

Geocode (Latitude)


Geocode (Longitude)


Location (Recipient)

66 Centre Street, Baltimore, MD, US

Geocode Recipient (Latitude)


Geocode Recipient (Longitude)



Lorenz recurrently marked and annotated her own transcripts; "1876" had been added by the archivists

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Stebbins, Emma, 1815-1882, “Transcript of Letter from Emma Stebbins to Sidney Lanier, Jan 11, [1876],” Archival Gossip Collection, accessed June 15, 2024,

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