Letter from Charlotte Cushman to Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, July 23, 1869

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Letter from Charlotte Cushman to Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, July 23, 1869


Lippincott, Sara Jane (pseudonym: Grace Greenwood), 1832-1904
Cushman, Charlotte Saunders, 1816-1876


Cushman tells Peabody about the discovery of a lump in her breast, her anxieties, and treatment after consulting several doctors. Cushman is afraid that her public image may suffer if she cannot pursue her social duties, such as responding to the many letters that she receives.


Massachusetts Historical Society


Cushman, Charlotte Saunders, 1816-1876


MHS, Horace Mann Papers III, Ms. N-1620, Reel 38.





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[page 1] When I look at your long. sweet. closely written letter of the 16” May which met me on my arrival in England the 14" of June. my heart & my conscience hurt me. I have thought of you often & much. I have purposed often writing to you. but I have been prevented. and in this country of letter writers. every day brings its load of letters which have to be answered. or your character suffers as "an American. who dont [sic] know any better". & thus I have been prevented from writing. Besides dearly beloved friend. I have a "carking care" near my heart. which has made me unfit to write. you will say what trouble now! will she

[page 2] never "be done!" It would seem not for now that the troubles of feeling seem to have passed. Those of actual bodily painfulness begin. About three weeks before I left Rome I began to feel a lump in my left breast. about the size of a small nut. I took advice upon it & was sent by my good Doctor to Krankenheil Bavaria. to try if the waters would disperse it. but I became too nervous about it to consent to go there & came on to Paris — where I thought to get some o+++ which would bring me relief. but I could not. It was too incipient to pronounce upon with certainty. & I came on to London always with a dread which kept me from sleeping. I did not seek any advice in London — but thought I would take the advice of my Paris Dr. to get to the country somewhere. where I could

[page 3] get good air & food & try to recover the tone[?] of my nerves! Here I remain came on the [last three words inserted] 21" of June. & putting myself under Dr Gully's care began a mild water treatment wh. I have continued to pursue. After I had been here about 3 weeks. having occasion to go to London on business took[?] +++ of the opportunity & went to see the great surgeon Mr Paget who. after a careful examination. Told me that there was no cure for it. but "cutting it out". and that "the sooner it was done the better". You may imagine the state of nervousness this put me in. I could not stand. He said it was not a thing to be done tomorrow. or the next day or next week. but would have to be done ultimately. & I must watch carefully that I did not leave it too long!! I can hardly describe to you how I feel. The earth seemed cut from under me! My brother was not satisfied with this opinion & begged me to go with him to a Mr Moon[?]

[page 4] +++ These matters, his +++ study. He told me that I must try a lotion which he would give me. for a month or six weeks. & after that time he could better tell me whether Mr Pagets [sic] opinion must be carried out. So I came back here. This was on the 9" inst & I have[?] been[?] keeping the breast covered with a compress of Lead[?] water. ever since. I do not know whether it has grown since then. it has not decreased. and +++ very much larger than it was when I first discovered it. about the 9" of May. This. dear friend. is the trouble I have been living under. & this is why I have been[?] good for nothing especially writing letters. You will forgive me. I am sure. & be very sorry for the cause. wh. you will keep to yourself. only saying. if you hear any one blame me for negligence +++  not well & not able to write. When I am better I will do better. but I have so much writing to do. & especially +++ I am

[page 1, added vertically] he comes to England? Poor Mrs +++ my heart aches for her. Will you for her my kindest regards. and now dear soul. I must say Good bye. All my family send kindest love to you. & You know how truly & affectionately I am your attached friend

Charlotte Cushman

Sara Clarke & Mrs Foley are coming here for water treatment for the latter.


Cushman, Charlotte Saunders, 1816-1876


Peabody, Elizabeth Palmer, 1804-1894


Knolsford Lodge, Great Malvern, Worcestershire, UK

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Cushman, Charlotte Saunders, 1816-1876, “Letter from Charlotte Cushman to Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, July 23, 1869,” Archival Gossip Collection, accessed March 4, 2024, https://archivalgossip.com/collection/items/show/905.

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