Letter from Charlotte Cushman to Rosalie Sully [?], Nov 9, [1845]

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Letter from Charlotte Cushman to Rosalie Sully [?], Nov 9, [1845]


Actors and Actresses
Artists--Painters--US American
Cushman, Charlotte Saunders, 1816-1876
Relationships-- Intimate--Same-sex
Sully, Rosalie, 1818-1847


Cushman describes how strenuous her latest performance of Fazio has been as she had to contend with a "cold audience" and the lacking performance of a fellow actor. But Rosalie's note, which she kept hidden "next her heart" during the play, gave her comfort and, despite these odds, Cushman's strength earned her an enthusiastic applause.
Cushman recounts how her acquaintance with Rosalie has blossomed into admiration and love. Rosalie's "expression of [her] affection makes [Cushman] happier than [...] the love of any human being."
Cushman assures Rosalie that she respects her occupation and urges her to invest more time in studying piano playing, praising her intellect as well as her eloquence.


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


Cushman, Charlotte Saunders, 1816-1876


LoC, CCP 7: 2287-2291





Letter Item Type Metadata


[2287] Sunday.
My sweet friend.
What an earnest joy possessed me. at the sight of your dear note. which I recd last night. just as I was going on the stage for Bianca. I hastily placed it next my heart. & went to my work rejoicing. That I should be able to commence with you. after I had done! My patience. though tollrably [sic] will +++ by circumstances. in all cases else. failed me then. & after my first scene. I ushered to my room & broke the seal of your note. glanced my eyes hastily over it. Saw that you were well. That you held me in your heart. That I had found my way to where I wished to be placed [?] & then placed it where I had taken it from to remain quietly. until I had accomplished my most difficult task.

[2287 reverse] you will see what a comfort it must have been to me. when I could find time or +++ even to break the seal. when I tell you. that from any representations. I was led to expect a cold audience I felt I had to work harder, on this very account to warm them. I knew I had to struggle against great disadvantages. in the opinions of the friends of those. who have become established favourites (& this is ever most difficult work). I found from my rehearsal that I had nothing earthly to hope for from those around me. the company very miserable & the gentleman (Heaven [?] save the mark!) who was to act Fazio. not only in better ignorance of his part. but apparently indifferent. whether he knew it or not. my only hope was in my own strength. which sooth to say. was indeed but little. for I had been wretchedly ill all the night & day before & hardly ate in

[2288] fact to prosecute my journey to Scotland. you may conceive my distress when I found in the third act. my strength. as it were failing me! However by absolute driving [?]. I was. enabled to accomplish my task. but was taken up more dead than alive at the end. & But led [inserted] out before the curtain to receive the most enthusiastic greeting. I ever +++ in my life. either they forget all their coldness. or they have been unjustly accused: but. all "this comes too near the praising of myself" as Shakespeare Says. I was led to tell you. all this. That I might show to you. My positive happiness. when all was over. & I was upon my sofa. in my dressing room. unable to stand up to be undressed. I pressed my hand upon my heart to assure myself your dear note was safe. & there drew it forth. to comfort Me. in my weariness. & indeed it did comfort me. & sent joy to my weary set

[2288 reverse] The consciousness of possessing your love sits crested in light upon my heart. & your ingenious expression of your affection [?] makes me happier than you would believe the love of any human being. is much. but [?] to me a young affection. like yours. is the most heart subduing thing in the world I covet it most earnestly. & prize it most dearly. & of infinite service will it be to [?] me. I do not mean to let you think for a moment. That I have not found love before. no. no - but it is this very finding & proving weak. of older & more [?] worldly hearts. That makes me sicken with disgust & exclaim there is no +++ in us. "In this morbid state. fearing [illegible, crossed out] all [?] [inserted] & trusting none. I chanced (was it chance [?] to the will of the great Ruler. who +++ to us. Eva. what is for one food). upon for your ingenious frank. face. mirror'd

[2289] to me your heart & I found what I had wanted. a something that would lean to me. for love (that I could place trust in). & believe me. you have not poured your "ocean into a +++". I will be truly & fondly Yours. Do you now understand. Now you can bring good to my heart! By showing to me that in spite of the many worthless. there are those who are pure & good. whose hearts are capable of failing & who may be depended on. - I have lived much in the world. I have even studied human nature more than books. This enables me to portray strong characters as I do. in My profession. & also enables me to meet my fellows upon a proper footing. but alas. The bloom has been taken off my own heart. The souls [sic] pure trusting has been lost. something beautiful has gone from myself in the painful knowledge & power I have acquired of reading the hearts of others. believe me

[2289 reverse] it is a wretched study. & brings much unhappiness to the unfortunate student. so. do I prize your love. because I believe it true & pure. You gave me but few opportunities of looking into your dear eyes. for they were far too often. cast down but enough to show me into your heart where I saw myself. a guest as then. but gradually approaching to [inserted]. a nearer & dearer relation. I believe in your love for me. New found as it is. & have every confidence in its continuation. & you shall find each day. your fear of losing me. grow less. in the proofs. I shall strive to give you of my growing attachment. Young as it is as yet. my love. came to you full grown. is strong and earnest. twenty years. shall make it older. but not less youthfully ardent. You call it generosity in me leaving you to tell me what you would of yourself: not so! I told you I already knew. all

[2290] I wished to know — knowing more. could not alter me. I should be "still the same". But I know all you have told me of your circumstances. before I spoke to you You will believe. in what I have told you of my own character & study. That I would not recklessly waste my feeling. I knew you before I saw you in my room: & when you ask me if I shall despise you for yr [your] employment. you little know. The admiration you have excited in me, by yr capabilities. & I love you all the better for not despising them yourself: How many there are who have a horror of my profession. yet I love dearly. The very hard work. the very +++. in it — which has made me what I am. despise labour. of any kind? I honour it. & only despise those who do not find sufficient virtue. in it to admire! you did not love me when you asked me if I would despise you

[2290 reverse] for it! But you must find little time for practising music. a hard & labour demanding vocation. I have tried it myself. Therefore am fully grateful to speak of it. Have you calculated the time it must take to get you for a teacher. & are you able to give your whole heart to it. for indeed it demands it. Your gentleness of disposition. will do much for you in it. for oh. it requires more patience than brains but you have brains of no ordinary kind that seem to me chained into a narrow compass over a piano. How very many with no earthly capacity. Mere machines automatons. rise to Eminence as +++ & teachers [?] of the piano. it seems to me. Ever as a waste of Gods [sic] greatest gifts. intellect [?] It is not alone poetry. That you write your notes. yr letters. are mature & free from girlishness. or mawkish sentiment. You write as freshly as you think. & you thoughts [?] are as genuine & fresh as yr expressions.

[2291] & I could almost grieve [?] over[?] those circumstances. which have given you more confidence in this. Than in yr other gifts. would not the time spent upon the study of the piano, - under an able master, - prove of more serious benefit to you. spent in the study of the poetic art? I ask this. perhaps in ignorance of your views. or opinion of yourself. you promise me your ideas upon this some other time. let it be soon. Your verses to me. are sweetly pretty & I esteem them as you would have me. in every way. I thank you for your free & public expressions of admiration. but there is one lie in your last note which brings more joy to my heart than any thing else you could say. "were my pen quite unrestrained. This letter wd [would] be little else than reiterated [?] [inserted] – expressions of my love".

[2291 reverse] Oh. ever let your pen say what your heart [?] prompts. & you will make me happy I must manage to see more of you in securing this - or endeavouring so to do I have written to day to make an arrangement to come to Sheffield. for a day or two on my way to London. If I can effect [sic] this. I will let you know. I hope I may be successful. if so I shall once more see the colour of yr [?] sweet eyes. & hear your love from your own lips. I am compelled to have this & have many more things to say to you but I will have them until I hear from you again. Dont [sic] let it be long +++. & trust me, dear one, through all time I am fondly faithfully
Your own


Cushman, Charlotte Saunders, 1816-1876


Sully, Rosalie, 1818-1847


55 Princess Street, Edinburgh, UK

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Cushman, Charlotte Saunders, 1816-1876, “Letter from Charlotte Cushman to Rosalie Sully [?], Nov 9, [1845],” Archival Gossip Collection, accessed May 19, 2024, https://archivalgossip.com/collection/items/show/929.

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