Letter from E. B. Fisher to Charlotte Cushman, Oct 7, 1836

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Letter from E. B. Fisher to Charlotte Cushman, Oct 7, 1836


Fisher asks Charlotte Cushman to refrain from contacting him again. He expresses a firmly rooted disappointment in and aversion to society ("a scandal loving world"). Fisher touches upon an issue of Cushman being involved ("intimacy") with the "deceitful" Miss Waring, supposedly the actress Anne Duff Waring. The incident made Fisher distrust Cushman and caused him to break all ties with him. He describes the public opinion as an "engine before which all must bow" that he is afraid of.


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


Fisher, E. Burke, ca. 1799-1863


LoC, CCP 11: 3310





Letter Item Type Metadata


[3310 part 1]
My dear Friend
When I say that you are the only friend I possess in this great city of two
hundred thousand I wish to be understood literally, and yet although I feel
this to be the case as regards my conduct towards you, yet I do not for one mo-
ment +++ the opinion that there exists one common principle, which in your case
Can lead now to entertain other than the sentiments of worldly feeling towards me. That this
is the case is in my mind as irrevocable and settled +++, and, it would require an
unusual degree of sophisticy[?] to bear away that +++ - Nor do I reprise[?] at this there
is a philosophy +++ in the most +++ moments is my discursive range of thought
which sustains present morbidity of imagination from utter misery, in examination of the
materials of which society is formed. and when I investigate the mockery of lip pro-
fession and the +++ of all to +++ I cannot hope that my experience will
shadow forth cases of honesty in friendship, which no one has ever been so fortunate
as to encounter. From the very bottom of my soul do I +++ the honesty[?] of the
past that friendship is but a name and although Miss Cushman may in after
times say the tribute of a passing thought to her quondam acquaintance, yet I
am not so blind as to believe that the next moment of caprice - or the incidents of the
hour will not check this tide of remembrance[?], and cause a smile at the jolly[?], +++
than a kindly feeling for the devotion of +++ who never addresses hers (he hurts/ for
the last time. There is a crack +++ enthusiasm a leaning to the +++, rather than
the reality of life in my character which makes me  a +++ +++ the sincerity
of my +++, and +++ this arises +++ springs of bitterness, which change to
seas of fire, and molt[?] in my brain with fearful +++ +++ desecrate & destroy -
I love not mankind, and would willingly expatriate myself from +++
which +++ me wretched, I ask not friendship, I can not for +++, and
it with the expression of my neat sentiments that I now prefer a request, singular
in its expression, but sincere in the originating principle, that henceforth we be as strangers
to each other- I would prefer not being brought within range of society, more than
I am obliged to be through necessity - Let me indulge in my feelings, thoughts & dreams
+++ I +++ not the goood will of any. I love not any intrusion in my
peculiarities - I have it not in my power to +++ you if I would for my interest
is but trifling - I have willing feelings to do all in my power to aid you but I dislike
the trouble - I would not turn on my hee[?l] to avoid a bullet, and I would not lift up my


[3310 part 2] finger to save mankind from external damnation - I am +++ myself, and envy the
world its hollow pleasures and so purely selfish am I, that if a penny would feed the
hungry or clothe the +++ I could not give it - You may call this a +++ principle
but I care not what may be your +++ I would as soon gain your contempt as
your esteem, and when I say you I willingly include the whole human family - The
curse of existence swallows up all minor feelings, and though I was a beggar starving
and despised I would have exactly the same respect for myself, and pursue the same
course hating the human +++ and denying its honesty - I have but few things to
care for, +++ and it is for then alone I wear the happings of society. There are those
so intimately interwoven with my +++ affection, that once the darkest night of my
misanthropy wears the +++ of peace and for when the forms of the few beings[?] who
really love[?] me come upon the wings of fancy, and crest upon my heart – And I
do love them with an intensity of devotion proportioned to say hatred of all +++ – But
when I reflect that they are but six in a community of an hundred millions, and
that all save that little circle are hollow hearted capricious, deceitful, dishonest &
ready to slay all honour, it is not to be wondered that I am sad very sad indeed
I am not saving, +++ thinking as I always do and before Heaven. I record here the belief
that apart from the love a mother bears her child or a sister extends to her brother
there is not one, not one redeeming principle in the breast of any of the creatures to
whom God has given the remblance of angels, but +++ them devils +++
If therefore you do not believe me sincere in my professions you must hold me to be
an unprincipled liar, and if you do credit any assertions, you will readily yield
to my wish that from this time we remain, unknown to each, forget that we have
once met, my folly & my existence, and you will confer upon me a favour[?] which
should you ever require my services, and pray God, you never may, will be a passport
to the ready tendering of my +++ energies to aid you in your plans -


[3310 reverse part 1] All this you may say savours or the savings of a fool - It may be so, but I hug the folly
to my bossom and enjoy more selfish happiness in the delision, if delusion it be, than you
or any of the moths who flutter round the paper of friendship, and feed the fire that
eventually consumes you. I do not however hold these +++ with a wish to withdraw
myself from +++, you the means of +++ an idle hour when the world allows
you to enjoy one and as a proof of my sincerity - If you will inform me, through
your brother of your address in Albany. I shall from time to time. send you such
reading matter as may in my opinion prove suitable for your Percival[?] - My
selfishness does not preclude the courtesies of life
 And now permit me to assume a character. which I know will elicit your
anger yet I can not; for your feelings towards me may pain me but cannot
make me more truly miserable than I already am. – the expose is given, with
the purest motive, and although you may hold it impertinent. I feel my
self +++ from the charge– what benefit can you desire from an intimacy with
Miss Waring[?] You already know sufficient of her past characher to judge
pretty accurately that her present cannot be of a character to warrant your
approbation, or entitle her to your regards. - so your feelings towards her founded
upon the belief that she has +++ from the pool of pollution without its +++
+++ +++ having rushed the soul, and can +++ the redeeming principle –
Woman once infamous but rarely recovers, the mind of the sex is like a minor
which once shattered. may never be rendered whole. Then is no medicine in your
sex no half way stages of feeling, no reflections upon consequences. no patching
up of tainted reputations. Once swervinng from the paths of I. rectitude, and the
avenue to virtue is forever closed by the obduracy of the culprit, and the woman +++
a calypso, lost to Honour. reputation & the dictates of Virtue. Nor is this all
Public opinion. that omnipotent engine before which all must bow, sets its +++
+++ upon the woman who has sumed, and is too apt so associate the suppon[?]
with the supported. and suspicion throw its framing waves[?] upon the innocent sym
pathizer with another's +++. I know you answer, and although I admire that not
that glorious trait in your character which leads you to despise the world's doings, yet
reflect that you are but a woman, and defenseless against the +++ of +++
Proud, noble minded & secure in your own answering integrity, you should yet be


[3310 reverse part 2]way of the withering malice of an unfeeling world, and by a course of conduct as guard
ed as the abbess of St. Agnes prevent the blighting impertinence of a scandal loving
world. Miss Waring[?] cannot have one trait that you can +++ - She is below
you, par immeasurably below you, she is deceitful, you are too lofty to stoop to dissim
ulation, - She has no ambition, you are as aspiring as Genius ever is – she pan
ders to the petty rules of a petty profession, you I +++ the lord of the green room
and must despise the trade. He what then can you assimulate - In nothing![?]
and will you stoop from your lofty +++ to +++ the friend of such a thing
remember Miss Medina. What guarantee had you of her sincerity? The word of
a woman, +++ dyed in
and the consequence was – such as might have been
expected -  yet there were reasons for believing that Miss W. might prove more
trustworthy than the other Can. for she had the wealth of the mind, which even in the
most abandoned heart, asserts its sways and governs with a certain empire, the
other has not, –
do you admit my argument, or are you angry with me?
The latter I expect– Well, be it so, and although such prone the cases to your own
heart I leave the +++ of any motives - You dare not convict me of a Evil[?]
feel intention to insult you - I know I am discoursing with one, who posses
ses strong and lightly cultivated powers of discrimination, but you are too apt to
judge mankind by the purity of your own heart +++, alas! They should be
viewed with doubt and fear - I may be wrong in my estimate of human +++
rity, and worldly honour, - I am a depraved, miserable vagabond, but I fear me
that but few of my fellows are better, and your sex may not claim entire
exemption – With this expression of my opinion, I close [both words inserted] and it would afford me much plea
sure to learn that what I have said has had the effect +++ not that I wish
to arrogate to myself a mentor's night, nor do I care what course you pursue further
than that in looking on human nature, I +++ do not wish to see the +++ & talented
becoming the tools of such a creature as she is, who I have alluded to more discursively
than my opinion of her would allow, was it not for the original +++ in +++

Miss Charlotte Cushman


Fisher, E. Burke, ca. 1799-1863


Cushman, Charlotte Saunders, 1816-1876



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Fisher, E. Burke, ca. 1799-1863, “Letter from E. B. Fisher to Charlotte Cushman, Oct 7, 1836,” Archival Gossip Collection, accessed March 6, 2021, https://archivalgossip.com/collection/items/show/351.

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