Daniel Holmes's Journal History of a Young Lady (1848-1851)

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Daniel Holmes's Journal History of a Young Lady (1848-1851)


Gender Norms
Relationships-- Intimate--Same-sex
Cushman, Charlotte Saunders, 1816-1876
Hays, Matilda Mary, 1820-1897
Actors and Actresses--US American
Intimacy--As topic


The following information is provided by the Boston Athenaeum:
"Journal describing his life as a merchant in New Orleans, and his young family, particularly the development of his first daughter, Georgine, and the birth, illness, and death of his second daughter, Lillie. Traveling extensively for business through the eastern U.S. and western Europe, Holmes is an avid theater-goer and describes in detail musical, operatic, and theatrical performances in many cities and provinces a remarkable look at mid-century stage culture. Politics and social issues are also raised in the journal.
Contents: 1848 June, travel from New Orleans to Cincinnati, Niagara Falls, New York and Long Branch to Boston. 1849 June, back in Boston, Bostonians concerned with "slavery and anti capital punishment;" he discusses a lecture that he missed by William Wells Brown, mentions the execution of Washington Goode, and discusses Fanny Kemble and her recent book; on to Halifax, Liverpool, London, Paris, Belfast, Glasgow, Manchester. Aug. 8, he recounts a frightening dream and describes a royal procession through Dublin. 1850 Feb., back in New Orleans, Holmes describes Charlotte Cushman in a variety of roles at the St. Charles Theatre. March, a cholera epidemic. March 31, the death of John C. Calhoun lamented. April 21, quotes the 1822 petition of Peter Harris, a Catawba Indian, to the South Carolina legislature. Oct. 20, family reading books by Irving, Hawthorne, and Boswell's Life of Johnson. Oct. 27, death of John J. McDonough, emancipation of his slaves and bequests to schools and hospitals. Nov.. 4, purchases two paintings, copies after Correggio and Carracci. Dec., illness, death and burial of infant daughter. 1851 Jan. 29, Charlotte Cushman and Miss Hays guests of the family. Feb. 10, Jenny Lind's concerts. April, business trip to Europe, via New York and Boston, on board the Cambria. June, in London, visits Crystal Palace Exhibition, Royal Opera House, sees French actress Rachel perform at the St. James Theatre; in Paris, attends the Opera to hear Alboni in "Norma." Diary ends with Holmes in Lyon."

The journal covers the time from 1848 June 8-1851 July 17. The journal entries of interests are from January, February, and March 1851. The first journal entry dates Jan 29, 1851, in which the author remembers Cushman and Hays being their guests on Jan 26, 1851. He comments on Cushman's (repeated) farewell performances, and gives her advice in terms of which performances may (not) further her career.
The author also mentions other actors and performances he witnessed.


Boston Athanaeum


Boston Athenaeum, Mss., .S477 .a, 10½ Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108





Diary (Entry) Item Type Metadata


On the 26th inst Miss Cushman the most celebrated[?] of living actrices [sic], was our guest, she was accompanied by Miss Hays a young lady who for the last two or three years has been her inseparable companion was like wise with us also Mrs Wapler[?] This was a real treat to have all these pesons [sic] at once with us Miss Cushman possesses and [sic] admirable mind well balanced, strong judgements--which gives a tone to her manner and conversation rarely to be met with in Ladies, Miss Hays who has some pretentions to literary celebrity is a curious compound of assumed excentricity and strong prejudicies [sic]--her great model is George Sand not morally it is to be hoped yet she admires or properly reverences[?] that "bold bad woman"
Feb 9" 1851
Yesterday, Eliza and I went down to +++ Miss Cushman farewell -- although adieu would better express the parting, she is going to +++ on a professional tour and most probably will be back by the end of this month, or at furtherst by the +++ of next month, I promised Miss Hays to +++ a copy pf Miss +++ Louis XIV, and note it for her by the time of her return [...] we found at the Room of Miss Cushman, Mr Beecher who is in treaty with Miss C-- to play an engagement at the +++, Heaven save the mosk[?]-- but if I had a word of counsel to give her it would be to cut the whole crowd -- the She cannot expect to add to her fame, her laurels will not, not, do not +++ the +++ efforts of this abortion[?] to rejuvinate them, I had given this society an existence of two years they are now yawning into their third they drag along slowly and I doubt not a few more months and they will be +++ to the tomb of the Capulets.
Feby 22nd Miss Cushman returned from her brief trip to mobile and commenced her engagements at the +++, when she spoke to me in relation to the subject of her performance[?] I spoke against it, for to say truly I always had a prejudice against these amateur performances[?]
The play was the stranger and the house[?] was exceedingy bear, I felt much mortified for poor Miss Cushman but she plaid[?, sic] with her world spirit
Feb 24 Miss Cushman 2nd night at the +++ The house was tolerably filled and yet even when full it is but a fraction to what she is in the habit of getting abroad
March 1st 1851
Miss Cushman plays her last night in New Orleans, her last?-- so she says and I doubt not she says truly, she has accumulated a very respectable Independence and why not set down and enjoy it poor woman sixteen years of toil, sixteen years of wearing labour would make any one right for rest
[...] Miss C-an as she always is in "Meg Merriles" terrible -- and they ended her last appearance -- I went behind the scenes to present her with two bouquets from our Lady folks


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“Daniel Holmes's Journal History of a Young Lady (1848-1851),” Archival Gossip Collection, accessed March 30, 2023, https://archivalgossip.com/collection/items/show/635.

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