Letter from Charlotte Cushman to Mary Cushman, April 17, 1845

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Letter from Charlotte Cushman to Mary Cushman, April 17, 1845


The letter discusses an incident of "beastly conduct of a woman" who Charlotte once defended and called her "intimate friend." Charlotte fears being "implicated by any misrepresentation of hers." Charlotte hopes that her mother's "account was a little exaggerated" and that "it was not in reality so bad as represented." Without further specifying the content of the gossip being publicly circulated about her, Cushman mentions that Rosalie Sully is affected by the scandal as well which left Rosalie worried and upset.
The Princess Theatre is now considered to be equal to the Haymarket due to Macready's engagement there. Cushman strives to find a job offer for her sister Susan, which is facilitated by Cushman's success in England. Cushman is proud of being so successful and tells her mother about the "circle of acquaintances" of hers that she will be able to introduce Susan to. She invites Susan, her son Edwin, and her mother to come to England to her.
Charlotte describes Ben Brewster (who is a friend of Edwin Forrest) as an honest man despite some quarrels of the past. He is in charge of financial investments in the US on behalf of Cushman. Apparently, he is also her lawyer to defend her against "slanders."


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


LoC, CCP 1: 26-27





Letter Item Type Metadata


[26] Dear Mother

Charles's letter of the 5th of March I recd. one day last week. & was glad to hear that you were all so well. & that things +++ looking so comfortably. I was congratulating myself upon the charming letter I should receive by the steamer in reply to mine. which told of my success. when the letter did arrive but bringing me the horrid intelligence of the beastly conduct of a woman whom we hear so often quarreled about before & let me now talk of the opportunity of saying that I never before in my life believed her a guilty woman. now I recal [sic] all that I have ever said. & only hope I shall be forgiven for the trouble & grief I have caused others. in remaining so firm[?] to what was so unworthy. I imagine from a remark of Susan's. "this last recurrence has brought the harm[?] of Cushman so before the public" there is merely more said than you have written to me. but I hope to God not. it is enough to know that I have been her intimate friend & defended her through thick & thin & besides that. that I know +++ (w) so well. without having any thing said. likely to implicate me in +++ disgusting mess. & I shall pray Charles when he arrives – if this is anything which will worry me. to keep it to himself for I give you my word. I have during the last three days & nights been as +++  distracted as you can imagine the fear that I might be implicated by any misrepresentation of hers has so haunted me. that I have not been able to rid myself of it. & I have not closed my eyes. for three nights I look like a ghost. & wish to God. The beast had died. instead of doing what she has. But I hope you [sic] account was a little exaggerated. I pray that it was not in reality so bad as represented

[26 reverse] My letter from Rose Sully was expressed in strong feelings of indignation at the conduct & I am sure they are thoroughly horrified. but even her letter has filled me with alarm for she is so distressed in here fears. that the woman may invent some "frendish[?] lie". to implicate me altogether it is a frightful mess. & I thank God. I am away from it. what could I do any way. if I was there. & yet I seem to be away so powerless with nobody at home. to give the +++ to gross accusations however I must hope for the best. & now to other matters. I am delighted with Charley's promptness in coming to me. but wish he had come by a London packet. however it is perhaps as well. I have been very much alarmed for we have had a dreadful N. E. gate which must have been in Charley's teeth. I hope to God he will get safe to me. Susan's plaid. I wrote to Glasgow for as I could not get the particular [inserted] plaid in London & hope it will be on board the steamer on Saturday morning for Healey to take with this. if not it will come by the 1st[?] of May which will be soon enough. for you cannot use it untill [sic] autumn. For +++, there are no comedies doing. I should send if there were. but I hope there will be no occasion to send many more. I shall be able by the next steamer to have a positive offer to send to Susan which she can accept or not as she will. but at all events. London is the place for her & she will do well mark my words. & so much better than at home that she will bless the day she came. I am sure that hereafter we shall be very happy together. she shall find that I am not the wretch I have been represented & I will try to show her. that despite every thing I have & do still love her. I am to see Webster of the Haymarket on Monday. & will endeavour to make an arrangement for her then. & if not advantageous. why then at the Princess's. which is a beautiful theatre. & now that the 2 great theatres are done up — it stands upon a par with the Haymarket. especially. as Macready is coming to act there. I continue to be most successful. for time. in the old world continues to smile upon me. I am making hosts of friends. & shall be able to take Susan into such a delightful circle of acquaintances I cant [sic] tell you now of all the people I know & have met. but will in my

[27] next letter. for I have been so dreadfully engaged at rehearsals of the new play. & lately. That I have not had time to write. —I dont [sic] know what has been done with the money. I sent to Phila by the last steamer of all. but suppose it has been placed in the +++ hands – but I dont [sic] want it to remain so, if it is I will enclose an order for you to receive it. & go with it to Ben Brewster. he is, although he has been the cause of a good deal of unhappiness to me. a very honest upright man & can attend to my business very well. I had rather my money was invested at home than here. & he can do it for me — besides. I want some person to send my letters to. & to get my letters from. & he can do this — better than any person I know. he is too tenacious of his reputation not to be honest & upright with me. & I am willing to trust to him. Will you see him about this. see if he will be willing as a friend to undertake this trust & do the best he can for me. if so. you place the money in his hands. & I will get time to get an account from the +++ of how we stand about my money in his hands. & so render me some sort of an accoumt of what I have. I shall +++ to him from time to time. & he may +++ as he deems wisest — I will trust it all to him! Do just what I told you! — I want you to send my portrait. down to Sully's. as soon as you receive this. & the music of Antigone. I dont [sic] suppose it will be done & I have promised to lend it to Blanche. I am so glad Sue has had a little money put by. but she can do something better than that here now that I have succeeded so well: With regard to her coming — you would be compelled to come with her. Edwin can be educated better & cheaper here in every way it will be advantagious. & I can hereafter tell you. what I should want done with the things perhaps. if Phillips is going to be married & live away from his uncle's he might take some of the things. Susan speaks of giving up a certainty for an uncertainty — I would not have her do that for the world I would not let her come here. unless she knew what she was to come upon. The +++ +++. are all prices from $40. to $200. Therefore I can give no guess what you ought to give for the quality at Levy's – I find but little difference in the price of those things here & in America! beat them down & you may as will get them there. Blue or white. Equally fashionable for the centris[?]. The goods that come to America are as good & as cheap & as pretty as here. so  get all the dresses you can & have them made handsomely. It is very difficult to

[27 reverse top] get a dress made decently here. have them made low in the neck, with capes for high in the neck. & with sleeves to take out & leave short, at dinner you [inserted] always. have to be dressed low in the neck. & at the theatre. short sleeves. On Saturday I play Julia in the Hunchback. for the 1st time & shall make a hit in it. I have read a letter from. Grattan. E. Miller. & half a dozen people in N.Y. congratulating me. the Americans here are as proud of me as they can be — the Everetts & all! I have acted Mrs Haller. 10 nights. Rosalind 8. Beatrice 4 &. &. I have acted a geater number of nights than any American has ever done. I send you some papers but I dont [sic] buy them now. They are too expensive, & I must look out. I have lots of applications to +++ people to act. I was in hoper to have sent you sooe lithographs of me. but they are not done. The next steamer will bring them. Mrs Everett ordered a dozen of them. of the Publisher. & so did Mr Bates. to send to their friends. I shall be getting so proud nobody will know me. I enclose you a letter which I want you to send Jane with to Sully's. & give into nobodys hand but

[27 reverse bottom] Miss Rose. dont [sic] forget! In case of Susans [sic] coming to England. John Perry[?] would to a capital person to get you all over very cheap. for he it was that got over for $50. by a London Packet. which will be the best way for you all to come. however of that, more hereafter. at all events, if Sue dont [sic] like it here it can do her no harm

[27 reverse right] to act in London. Even if she goes back. which she wont [sic] England is the only market for beauty. I am free from my cough thank God. but am very poorly. This last trouble has brought me down almost to death. & in my distress I almost prayed for it

[26 written across the page/horizontal lines] Monday Morning. I have just recd. a letter from Manchester there there was not time to send to Glasgow for the plaid for Susan & it was bought in Manchester it has cost a little more but that difference I will pay. 8/6 is the original price which in our money is 17/ I wish you would go to Ben Brewster for me. & tell him it is my wish. that my most special desire. that if any vile slanders should be whispered against me in this beastly trouble that he would as my counsel push it to the last +++ — & send a letter to the person whoever it may be threatening them with a suit for defamation — & to says for me publickly [sic] that such are my advices to him — I know that in this case. having so stood by the woman. which I am now most thoroughly & heartily ashamed of. I must suffer in the worlds [sic] opinion. but I will not feeling clear as I do. allow myself to suffer in the opinion of those. whose esteem is worth the having I think this will be the most effectual means of putting an end to any thing which may be said against me. Tell me also. that after my brother arrives I shall then know more & I will write to him by the next steamer but wish +++ to do this now.

[26 reverse, written across the page] with regard to his being Forrests [sic] friend. I dont [sic] care it is not nescessary [sic] in being his friend to be my enemy. & I have other reasons. than those I have told you for wishing my affairs in his hands. Tell him that I place entire confidence in his ability to do the best with my money for me. & though I do not look to sending a great deal home. This year I do look to sending a little fortune next years & shall trust to him[?] to invest it for me. I must now close for I am late. dont [sic] forget the +++ 

[26 written across the page, at the top] Ephraim Miller wrote me word that Mary Babbit. was very ill with water on the chest. & that aunt Charlotte was very well the Salem people that are also delighted with my success. Give my very best love to Susan. & darling Bub[?] —   does not know how very very much his aunty wants to see him or how much she loves him — Fred tells a story about  the money but get it pray do if you can. little by little God bless you. dear mother we shall be together again & happy yet. Your aff' daughter



Cushman, Charlotte Saunders, 1816-1876


Cushman, Mary Eliza Babbitt, 1793-1865


London, UK

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“Letter from Charlotte Cushman to Mary Cushman, April 17, 1845,” Archival Gossip Collection, accessed March 1, 2021, https://archivalgossip.com/collection/items/show/425.

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