List of Correspondents

1874    1876
Sarah Orne Jewett Letters of 1875



SOJ to Theophilus Parsons

     South Berwick, 6 Jan. 1875

     Dear Prof. Parsons.

     I hoped to see you long ago or I should have written to thank you for your kind letter. I put off my Boston visits again, until after the holidays; but I have been ill and am just beginning to go out again. It was nothing serious, only I had a shocking 'cold' which, as usual left a cough behind it, and I always have to be careful. I hope it is not too late to wish you a happy New Year. At any rate I do so most heartily. I wish I could see you this afternoon and have a long talk, but I hope I shall see you before very long as I mean to go to Boston about the middle of the month, which is not far off now. I don't wish to go away until I am perfectly strong again. I shall be in a great hurry to get out to Cambridge I can tell you! -- Your letter was such a pleasure to me and I learned much from it as I always do -- but those things are to be talked about soon (I hope) so I will not write a long answer now. I only wished to tell you why I had been silent, though I'm sure you did not suspect that I ever forget you for even a day. And I wished to send you my good wishes for the new year. With much love

     Sarah.

     I am beginning to feel very grand for I was advertised among the "crack contributors" to the Independent. Isn't that a step ahead!*


Notes

"crack contributors"  Jewett refers to the Independent beginning to list her among its well-known contributors in advertising future issues.

The manuscript of this letter is held by Special Collections at Colby College.  It was transcribed in 1986 by curator Fraser Cocks, with some later corrections by an anonymous hand.  Further corrections, notes and annotations by Terry Heller, Coe College.




SOJ to Mellen Chamberlain

April 9, 1875

            I have been in Boston again since my long visit. It was last week and I only stayed two or three days. I went down to see Ristori and I enjoyed her most heartily. I saw her play Marie Antoinette and Mary Stuart.* The first play was almost unbearably sad and though I didn't take refuge in tears like my neighbors, I was a day or two "getting over it." I thought of you and Mrs. Chamberlain while I was in the city but I had little time and did not see half my friends.

            I was so glad to hear through Helen Bell* that you are "going abroad." I am sure you will enjoy it so much, and you may be certain that I send you my best wishes. I hope you will have a splendid time and that your plans may all come true, or else something better happen in their places. I hope to go some day myself, but the older I grow, the longer I am content to wait, for I wish to know more than I do now about what I am going to see. I am sorry that you will not be one of the party at "the Cove"* this summer. I shall miss you there, but "good times" rarely repeat themselves I find, and so I am always sorry to have any pleasure come to an end for though I hope for other good things, it is a little sad to have to say goodbye to any one good time in particular. I often think of: "In every end there is also a beginning."*  I associate it with "On the Heights"* but I have a doubt just now as I write whether I found it there or somewhere else.

            As for my collection of Autographs it grows slowly. Mrs. Waterston gave me a charming note of Mr. Longfellow's when I was in Boston and Miss Quincy* has promised to save some for me. I find that I grow more interested in them, and yet it is better fun to get them than it is to have them.

            I must say goodbye now. Please give my kindest regards to Mrs. Chamberlain. If the family knew I am writing they would add some messages I am sure. If you have time while you are gone I should be gladder than ever to hear from you. I went to the Atheneum [sic] the other day with Father and remembered our sojourn there with great pleasure. Father was much edified by my wisdom!

            With the best wishes for your journeys . . . 



Notes

Adelaide Ristori ... Marie Antoinette ... Mary Stuart:
    Adelaide Ristori (
1822-1906) was a distinguished Italian tragedienne.  Wikipedia show illustrations of Ristori in her roles as Marie Antoinette and Mary Stuart.

    Paolo Giacometti
(1816–1882) was an Italian dramatist.  In The World's Progress (1896),  William C. King says that Ristori first brought Giacometti's Marie Antionette  to New York in 1867.  She returned with this play and others to New York in 1875 for a nine-month tour of the United States.  A playbill from the Boston Globe Theatre indicates that she performed there in early April of 1875.

    Friedrich Schiller's Mary Stuart
is a verse tragedy telling the story of Mary, Queen of Scots. Link to text of the play.

Helen Bell:  Jewett knew two women named Helen Bell.  For Helen Choate Bell, see CorrespondentsIt seems more likely, however, that this mutual acquaintance of Jewett and Chamberlain would be the daughter of the politician, Charles H. Bell, Helen (Mrs. Harold North) Fowler (1848-1909).

"In every end there is also a beginning."  I associate it with "On the Heights"On the Heights (1865) is by Berthold Auerbach (1812-1882) and translated by Fanny Elizabeth Bunnett (c. 1832-1875).  Though there are passages in this text that connect with the sentiment of the widely quoted proverb Jewett remembers here, this quotation does not appear in Bunnett's translation. One might suspect that Jewett is remembering a line of Schiller's Mary Stuart, whose queen's motto was: "In my end is my beginning," but that line apparently does not appear in the play.

the Cove:  Summer home of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Bell at Little Boar's Head in North Hampton, NH.
 
Mrs. Waterston ... Mr. Longfellow's ... Miss Quincy:
    Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) was an American poet, perhaps best remembered for his long narrative poems such as The Song of Hiawatha (1855). He was probably the best-known and most respected American poet of the nineteenth century.  Jewett, through Annie Fields, eventually became friends with his daughter, Alice.
    Among Longfellow's correspondents was the Rev. Robert Cassie Waterston (1812-1893), who also corresponded with Ralph Waldo Emerson.  He was married to the poet Anna C. Quincy, daughter of Josiah Quincy III.
    The Quincy family was prominent in Boston in the 19th century; notable among Jewett's contemporaries and likely acquaintances was the lawyer poet Josiah Phillips Quincy (1829-1910) who became mayor of Boston (1895-1899).  It seems likely that the "Miss Quincy" who might give interesting autographs to Jewett in 1875 would be Eliza Susan Quincy (1798-1884), the artist and author, the oldest sister of Anna C. Quincy, but this is by no means certain.

Atheneum: Wikipedia says the Boston Athenaeum "is one of the oldest independent libraries in the United States. ...The institution was founded in 1807 by the Anthology Club of Boston, Massachusetts.It is located at 10 1/2 Beacon Street on Beacon Hill."

This letter, transcribed by John Alden, originally appeared in Boston Public Library Quarterly 9 (1957): 86-96.  It is reprinted here courtesy of the Trustees of the Boston Public Library/Rare Books.  Alden introduces this letter: 
            The friendship thus begun in 1874 was no mere summer's encounter, for in a letter of April 9 of the following year, written on her return from a visit to Boston, Miss Jewett refers to seeing Chamberlain on an earlier trip: he appears to have taken her to the Boston Athenaeum.* The actress who occasioned the recent trip was the famous Italian, Adelaide Ristori; the plays, Giacometti's Marie Antoinette and Schiller's Mary Stuart:
  Alden omits the salutations and signatures in his transcriptions.




William Dean Howells to SOJ

Editorial Office of
The Atlantic Monthly
The Riverside Press
Cambridge, Mass

                            May 21, 1875

Dear Miss Jewett:

    Your paper is perfectly charming.  You've worked in the old material skilfully and the new is good.  You've got an uncommon feeling for talk -- I hear your people.  And I have had a better laugh than I've enjoyed for many days at the lecture on [illegible] Manhood.*  But wasn't it too bad?  I feel as if I had delivered it.

                Yours truly

                       W. D. Howells


Notes

Manhood:  Jewett's "Deephaven Cronies" appeared in Atlantic Monthly (36:316-329), September 1875, and was collected (rearranged) in Deephaven (1877). In that sketch, the protagonists attend a lecture on "The Elements of True Manhood."

This text is from transcriptions from mixed repositories, Letters from Sarah Orne Jewett, 1875-1890, folder 63, Burton Trafton Jewett Research Collection. For more information about the individual transcription, contact the Maine Women Writers Collection. Notes by Terry Heller, Coe College.




SOJ to Mellen Chamberlain

 
May 30, 1875

            I think you were very kind to write to me so soon, and I enjoyed your letter exceedingly. I am so glad that your sight-seeing has begun so charmingly and your letter made me wish I could be in Killarney too. Though I am in no hurry to "go abroad" for I think the longer I wait, the more I shall enjoy it and besides, there is still so much to be seen and done at home. I am still a stranger to many charming things in this little country-town of mine and it is more beautiful this spring than ever before. I have been boating a great deal and I wish you could go with me "down river." The other night I took a basket with me and put ashore wherever I pleased -- for it was high tide -- and dug fern and columbine roots, and picked anemones and violets, and then, after it was too dark for that, I rowed up river a long distance and let my boat drift down again. There was a little of an exquisite sunset left, and the birds were going to sleep and the air was sweet with the smell of willows and wild cherry blossoms. I think it would all have been as pleasant to you as it was to me.

            I must tell you something about my work as well as my play, and first, I have finished a continuation of "The Shore-house"* which perhaps you remember. I worked very hard on it and was a little tired at the last, and expected a letter of criticism in two or three weeks, so it was "ever so nice" to have a note from Mr. Howells* in less than two days, beginning with "Your paper is perfectly charming" and saying also "You have an uncommon feeling for talk. I hear your people" -- and some other charming "remarks." So I was goodnatured for several days, and I was all the better pleased because I felt I had tried to earn the praise. I am getting on slowly now with some other sketches, but I have many interruptions and sometimes I am sadly puzzled, not liking to neglect either my writing or the other things and something must be crowded out. Gardening and driving with Father and studying and sewing and visitors cannot be put off or ignored oftentimes and so the writing has to wait -- and I often feel very sorry, for the ideas and plans that come into my head are like the dreams which are clear enough when one first wakes in the morning, but which are faded out and forgotten by noon.

            I am glad you liked the verses in the Atlantic.* I do not remember however, that you said you liked them! I suppose I guessed at it from your telling me that you read them over more than once. You are right in saying that somebody would read between the lines: they were written once when I was thinking of one of my "cronies" in Boston of whom I am very fond; but I have not confessed this to anybody but the person herself. I have innocently answered when people asked if they were for any one in particular, that they would do for several of my friends -- as the Pope sends encyclical letters to the bishops! It is somewhat true -- that answer, but not strictly, so you must keep the secret.

            What do you suppose I have for a bouquet on my desk? I have just looked up and saw them: a big bunch of dandelions. I'm so fond of them, and I believe on reflection, that there is no other flower I like so well. They bring back my childhood so vividly, if indeed I need to have it brought back, when it seems to me sometimes I never have lost it! It has been hard for me to get used to being grown up.

            I wonder if I have anything to tell you in the way of news? I never have very much to tell. My letters seem to be made up of chatter about myself. We are to have Helen and Persis Bell* here as soon as they are through with a fair which is to come off in Exeter. May Gilman* was here with another small cousin of mine two or three weeks ago, and I enjoyed her more than ever. We condoled with each other tenderly because you were not to be at the Cove, and I am sure we shall miss you very much indeed. I wonder where you are?   I think you must be somewhere in England and I hope you are enjoying yourself most heartily. Thank you again for writing to me for it was a real pleasure to hear from you. The family would wish to be remembered to you if they knew I was writing ...


  Notes

"The Shore-house":  "The Shore House" appeared in Atlantic Monthly (32:358-368), September 1873.  Jewett reworked it and incorporated it into Deephaven (1877).   The "continuation" was "Deephaven Cronies," which appeared in Atlantic in September 1875.

Mr. Howells:  William Dean Howells.  See Correspondents.

the verses in the Atlantic:   "Together" first appeared in Atlantic Monthly (35:590) May 1875.

Helen and Persis Bell: Sarah Almira Gilman (1827-1850), a Jewett relative from Caroline Perry Jewett's side of the family, had married the politician, Charles H. Bell  (1823 - 1893). Their daughter was Helen (Mrs. Harold North) Fowler (1848-1909). C. H. Bell's second wife, Mary E. Gray Bell (1826-1894), was the mother of Mary Persis (Mrs. Hollis Russell) Bailey (1864- ).  It appears that Mary Persis at least sometimes was called Persis.
     Bell built for his second wife a summer home, the Cove, in Little Boar's Head in North Hampton, NH.

May Gilman:  Presumably this is Mary Gilman, daughter of Mrs. Alice Dunlap Gilman.  See Correspondents.

This letter, transcribed by John Alden, originally appeared in Boston Public Library Quarterly 9 (1957): 86-96.  It is reprinted here courtesy of the Trustees of the Boston Public Library/Rare Books.  Alden omits the salutations and signatures in his transcriptions.



SOJ to Mellen Chamberlain

Summer 1875

John Alden says, "During their visit to 'The Cove' that summer the Jewett girls joined other guests in an omnibus letter to Chamberlain. Sarah's contribution was a poem referring to a relative, a Mrs. Willard, known as "Aunt Long."  She introduces her lines:

            I feel that you will deeply sympathize in the feelings I have tried to express in the enclosed Lament, and send it, thinking it will be more interesting than any other addition to this letter. I hope you are enjoying yourself particularly. We have missed you very much.

Whether or not Chamberlain's sense of humor was equal to the poem we shall never know.

 

A Lament

                        Tune, Hamburg.*

The tides creep slowly in and out,
            The sea winds blow; the wild birds call;
Oh sweet and bright the wild rose blooms –
            There is a shadow o'er them all.

Oh, what to us the rose's bloom?
            How can we care for sea-birds' song?
Through tears we watch the restless sea
            For absent is our dear Aunt Long.

We loved to sit upon the rocks;
            To watch the waves and dashing spray,
 But sigh, for she, who oft last year
            Was spattered with us, is away.

No more we raise our voices sweet
            To that melodious darkey tune,--
There's no Aunt Long to serenade,
            And useless is the fair new moon.

Her grave behavior; solemn looks;
            The hat she wore of ample size
Sweet reminiscences by scores,
            Fond memory shows to mournful eyes.

Oh, "Herring" wails and "Gusty" howls,
            And Mary fadeth like a leaf.
Persis and Sary, pale and thin
            No longer eat, for deepest grief.

The elders strive to hide their grief --
            Her namesake steals away to cry;
The afternoons are spent in tears,
            And unavailing misery.

Her call on Thursday only served
            To make our sadness still more deep.
It passed as quick as swallow's flight,
            Or pleasing vision seen in sleep.

The roses fade upon our cheeks,
            And hushed is mirthful shout and song.
We mourn beside the sad sea waves,
            The absence of our dear Aunt Long.



Notes

Aunt Long:  The identity of Aunt Long remains unknown.  Assistance is welcome.

Tune: Hamburg:  The hymn tune "Hamburg," is credited to Lowell Mason (1824).  Perhaps the most familiar hymn sung to this tune is "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" (1707) by Isaac Watts.

This letter, transcribed by John Alden, originally appeared in Boston Public Library Quarterly 9 (1957): 86-96.  It is reprinted here courtesy of the Trustees of the Boston Public Library/Rare Books.  Notes by Terry Heller, Coe College.  Alden omits the salutations and signatures in his transcriptions.



Horace Elisha Scudder to SOJ -- (5 August 1875)


My dear Miss Jewett

           I must obey my impulse to tell you how delighted I am with Deephaven Cronies in September Atlantic.  It is the real thing and I hope you will not mind what I or any one else may have said to the contrary, but go on writing in just this way, until you give us not another Cranford,* but something just as agreeable and just as idle.

          Do you ever come to Cambridge?  I wish we might see you here.  We being also Mrs. Scudder and the twins, / with minds, ma'am / who are now beginning their eighth month, small girls to whom I have just dedicated a child's book.*

          I left the firm at the beginning of the year and am given over to all manner of book and article and story making.

                                                                                                                   Ever sincerely yours

                                                                                                                             Horace E. Scudder

No. 3 Berkeley Street

          Cambridge 5 August 1875

Miss Sarah O. Jewett

Notes

Deephaven Cronies:  "Deephaven Cronies" appeared in Atlantic Monthly (36:316-329), September 1875. 

i>CranfordElizabeth Gaskell (1810 - 1865) was the British author of Cranford (1851-3), of which Wikipedia describes as a collection of sketches, "which sympathetically portray changing small town customs and values in mid Victorian England."

dedicated a child's book:  Scudder's Doings of the Bodley amily in Town and Country, published by Houghton & Co., in 1875, was dedicated to Ethel and Sylvia, the dedication including this verse:

    They came by night at the turn of the year:
    One was dark and one was fair,
    It would have been lonely for one to be here,
    So both came down the heavenly stair.

The manuscript of this letter is at the University of New England,  Maine Women Writers Collection,  Jewett Collection  correspondence corr041.-o-soj. 26.  Transcription and notes by Terry & Linda Heller, Coe College.



SOJ to Horace Scudder

     South Berwick, Maine
     August 12, 1875*

    My dear Mr. Scudder:

     Your kind note reached me yesterday, and I thank you most heartily for telling me that you liked "Deephaven Cronies."1 You have always been exceedingly helpful and kind to me and I assure you I am not disposed to be unmindful of it, or to forget how much interest you have shown in my work. I am so glad that the sketch pleases you and so glad that you cared to tell me so! I mean to do the best I can and I am growing more and more interested in my writing every week. I have not seen the sketch yet, but no doubt the magazine will be published in a few days.

     I should be very glad to see you again and I wish I knew Mrs. Scudder. When I am in Boston next winter I shall be glad to accept your kind invitation and shall certainly 'make a point' of calling at No. 3 Berkeley St.

     It is very pleasant to have your praise but I should be equally glad to be warned and reproved when you find occasion. I am glad you are writing again, as glad as I was sorry that you stopped.

     Yours most sincerely,

     Sarah O. Jewett


Cary's Note

     1Atlantic Monthly, XXXVI (September 1875), 316-329; collected in Deephaven.

Additional Notes

August 12, 1875:  Richard Cary dates this letter in 1873, but there seems to be ample internal evidence that it comes from 1875.  The most obvious point is that it seems a direct response to Scudder's letter of 5 August 1875.  Also, the letter refers to Mr. and Mrs. Scudder being established at Berkeley St. in Cambridge, though their marriage took place on 30 October 1873.  And the reference to "Deephaven Cronies," about to be published in August of 1875, also seems to point to this year for this letter.

This letter is edited and annotated by Richard Cary in Sarah Orne Jewett Letters; the ms. is held by Colby College Special Collections, Waterville, Maine.  Additional notes by Terry Heller, Coe College.





SOJ to Anna Laurens Dawes

South Berwick1
21 Dec. 1875

Dear Anna

    You see I keep to the fashion of our tender farewell and discard forever the formal “Miss.” I wish to tell you about the circular I promised you and which no doubt you have entirely forgotten. However I must try to keep my promise all the same! I mean the society for the encouragement of study at home*-- you remember we were talking about it one day? I wrote to my friend Ellen Mason2 to send me some circulars for you but though I have two letters since she has quite forgotten to put them in. She is busy-- and I don't suppose that when I mention them again I should get them for a week or so, and the truth is I can no longer put off telling how dreadfully edified Mary3 and I were with your sweet note and your lovely appreciation of the item I had sent. I knew in an instant what you referred to in "Baddeck"4 and it was capital! How did you happen to think of it? Mary and I had such a laugh and I went up in the book closet in the garret and sought for the Atlantic and brought it down to Mary's room in triumph. I wish you had been there-- and indeed I have wished I could see you a dozen times. Didn't we have a good time! I have heard twice from 'the bride,' 5 once from Washington and once from home. She appears cheerful doesn't she? Only think of Alice's6 going to Paris.

I have been very quiet since I came home and did not do anything during the first week as making eight visits in less than three weeks is apt to lessen one's enthusiasm. I had some blessed good times though! Last week and this I have been writing with great diligence and have never felt more like it. Isn’t it nice to be busy? Which question I am proud to ask being woefully lazy by nature. Did you know you have another friend in Berwick beside the Jewetts? Mrs. Burleigh,7 -- who goes to Congress-- and she told me the other day to give her love to you. I wonder if you have gone to Washington yet -- I have forgotten when you told me you were to leave. I must stop writing-- but you don't know how much I wish this could have been a talk instead of a letter. I wish I could see more of you. I hope you will have a pleasant winter. Don't you want to send me a little letter one of these days? though I know it is a great deal to ask of such a busy girl. Only I know you wouldn't write if you didn't care to do so & I have confidence in your sincerity. "Are you asleep?" "Good night Pet!"

Yours sincerely

 

Mary sends ever so much love to you-- and desires to say that that was a sweet note of yours, and she hopes you will lose none of your interest in good reading while you are in Washington.

 Hollis's Notes

1 Most of these letters were written from the Jewett home, and for subsequent letters there seems no reason to repeat this address. Similarly, although the signature varies from Sarah O. Jewett to Sarah to S. O. J., there is no apparent relation of the form used to the tone of the letter, so the concluding name is omitted.

2 Ellen Mason of Boston and Newport was a longtime friend whose many social and charitable enterprises are mentioned throughout this correspondence.

3 Mary Jewett, two years older than Sarah, enjoyed many of the same friendships. She also was at Ella Walworth's wedding where the two sisters met Anna Dawes.

4 Under the heading "Recent Literature" In Atlantic Monthly, XXXV (June 1875), 737-738, an anonymous critic (probably Howells) reviews Baedeker’s Handbook for Travelers (Boston: J. R. Osgood, 1875). The genial commentator remarks humorously on the value of Baedeker's and its American counterpart (also reviewed) for American tourists and especially for honeymoon couples.

5 The bride was Ella Walworth Little. She seems to have been a favorite friend of both Sarah and Anna, and at her home each had been a frequent guest.

6 Alice Walworth, Ella's younger sister, was apparently something of a problem in the Walworth household. Subsequent references reveal that Sarah and Anna finally came to dislike her, although earlier they had taken her side in family differences.

7 John H. Burleigh was a Member of Congress from 1873 to 1877. In Berwick the Burleighs were a well known family who ran the town industry, the woolen mill, and lived in a locally famous estate on Powderhouse Hill.

Additional Notes

society for the encouragement of study at home: Anna Eliot Ticknor (1823-1896) founded the Society to Encourage Studies at home in Boston in 1873.  This first correspondence school united states offered women access
college courses.

This letter was transcribed and annotated by C. Carroll Hollis.  It appeared in "Letters of Sarah Orne Jewett to Anna Laurens Dawes," Colby Library Quarterly No. 3 (1968): 97-138.  It is in the Henry Laurens Dawes Papers in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress.  Additional notes by Terry Heller, Coe College.



Mary Mapes Dodge to SOJ.


[Letterhead, with “Dec 21” and “5” (after 187) written in for the date.]

EDITORIAL ROOMS.

          St. Nicholas,

[SCRIBNER & CO., 743 & 745 BROADWAY.]

                             New York, Dec 21 1875 -
 

My dear Miss Jewett

                   Your bright little owl story is accepted with pleasure for St. Nicholas, though we have taken out one episode which we felt marred the story.  I send it to you, thinking you might like to use the verses elsewhere.

          If you do not approve of this change (though really the story is charming & complete without these pages as the “joining" can be made perfect) or you prefer to have the MS entire to use elsewhere, you have but to say so, & it shall be promptly forwarded.

          Entre nous, though these verses & the relative letter-press are so well managed that they might pass, I have more than once rejected MSS on account of a point being made jocularly, of cooking and eating mice, & have so stated to the authors (my personal friends) & so I hardly feel ^that^ it would be 'fair play' to make an exception now --  This much by way of explanation so that you may acquit me of the possible charge of undue squeamishness --

          With hearty greetings, in view of the coming Xmas,

                   Yours truly

                   Mary Mapes Dodge.
 

Shall we We shall send you a 'proof' of the story before it appears in St. N.

 
With the letter is the returned portion of the manuscript, two pages from "The Pepper Owl."  The first page, the prose paragraph, has a line through it diagonally top left to bottom right.

[1]

 One of the dolls whose name was Adeline and who wore a plaid silk dress with a black lace cape, had a gift for repeating poetry: she also made up verses herself sometimes.  She was very obliging and not at all shy, so when some of the company asked her to say something she began at once to repeat this poem which she said she had lately learned.  

[2]

24
          As I was walking through a grove

          I saw the sweetest fowl!
His head was round, his eyes were big
He looked so graceful on his twig,
          It was a charming owl.

He bobbed his head to me and said;
          "Do you live in a house?" --
"Of course" I said  "My lovely bird." --
"Don't wait to speak another word,
          Let's go there for a mouse!"
 

He took my hand: he whispered low
          "A hungry bird am I."
I told the cook to serve some mice
One broiled, two baked, three roasted nice
          And four mice in a pie. 

------

When that dear owl had eaten all
          He sweetly smiled and said
"I love a friend who treats me so.
And when I'm hungry I shall know
          Where I can be well fed.

------

 In all the world I truly think
          There's nothing half so dear
So beautiful as good mice pies
You were an angel in disguise
          Who kindly brought me here.

------


Notes

The Pepper Owl:  "The Pepper Owl" appeared in St. Nicholas in June 1876 (3:492-496).

The manuscript of this letter is at the University of New England,  Maine Women Writers Collection,  Jewett Collection  correspondence corr047-0-soj. 32.  Transcription and notes by Terry & Linda Heller,  Coe College
 

Anna Laurens Dawes to SOJ

Washington, D. C.

Dec. 23, 1875

My Dear Sara--1

A merry Xmas to you and your sister. I wish I could say it to you. However letters are almost as good.

Your charming and characteristic letter was a sort of stirrup cup as I started for this place. The plain English of which remarkable expression is that it was brought to me after I was already seated in the cars-- and put me into a most exhilarated state of mind. I shall be only too glad to buy your epistles with the depreciated paper currency in which I deal myself, and count it a kind thought on the part of my Fates which made it necessary to explain Miss Mason's silence.2

I wish that young woman had remembered however-- for I hadn't forgotten by any means: & if ever I am through with the accumulated horrors of the dressmaker, the dentist, the holidays, & the like I hope to spend some of my mornings in study.* I confess however that I have a sort of childish dread of exposing my studying to perfect strangers, beside an idea founded on past experience that regular hours are an impossibility to me; at least until I go to live in my Chateau en Espagne. You have no idea what an enviable person you are -- with your opportunities to be "busy" and your ability to improve them.

Social life is in a quiescent state as yet. A few vigorous people are "making as many calls as they can before New Years," or getting a few dinner parties "off their hands," but the whirl has not yet commenced. Mrs. Robeson* called the other day, but I am sorry to say that I was out. It doesn’t make any material difference however, as I presume I shall have another opportunity before the season is over. Indeed I do know Mrs. Burleigh.* I like her too. Don't you remember I said I knew somebody in S. Berwick, but alas for any advantage it might be to me with Mrs. B. I couldn't remember who! Is she coming on this winter?

Our bride is an old married woman by this time, and apparently likes it better than ever. After all said & done, I don't feel particularly attracted, do you? I always did admire St. Paul, & I agree with him that the unmarried state is "better." I am not strong minded either! And Alice is on the other side. Happy mortal! I think it is just the thing for her too, don't you? What a fine family that is and what fine attachés they have too. Did ever girls find better husbands than George Little and Wallace Pierce? 3

I must stop, though I feel inclined to run on indefinitely. Do write to me someday soon, and if you will ask a lot of questions I will try to write a letter that will interest you.  My love to your sister, please.

Very sincerely yours,

Anna L. Dawes 

Do you remember our conversation on the education of working people -- please to laugh, for it has been my stock in trade for some time!!!! My address is simply to Father's care.

Hollis's Notes

1 This spelling is not a simple mistake, for the envelopes of both letters spell the name correctly. Probably the name was part of some teasing in reference to Sara Jewett, the actress, on whom see Richard Cary, Sarah Orne Jewett Letters (Waterville, Maine, 1967), 45, 46.

2 Reference is to Sarah’s paragraph of explanation about the missing circulars for a home study course which Ellen Mason* was to have forwarded.

3 George Little had married Ella Walworth, and another of Ella’s sisters, Stella Louise, was engaged to Wallace Pierce.


Additional Notes

mornings in study:  Dawes refers to Jewett's promise to send her a circular from The Society to Encourage Studies at Home.  See Jewett's letter of 21 December.

Ellen Mason: Anna Eliot Ticknor (1823-1896) founded the Society to Encourage Studies at home in Boston in 1873.  This first correspondence school united states offered women access college courses.  Ellen Mason was among the founders of this organization.  See Correspondents.

Mrs. Robeson:  It seems likely that in Washington, DC in 1875, this would be Mary Isabella Ogston Aulick (1840 - 1910),who was widowed in 1872, when she married George Maxwell Robeson (1829-1897), who, among other government offices, served as Secretary of the Navy (1869-1877) in the administration of President Ulysses S. Grant.

Mrs. Burleigh:  Hollis explains that John H. Burleigh was a "Member of Congress from 1873 to 1877. In Berwick the Burleighs were a well known family who ran ... the woolen mill, and lived in a locally famous estate on Powderhouse Hill."

This letter was transcribed and annotated by C. Carroll Hollis.  It appeared in "Letters of Sarah Orne Jewett to Anna Laurens Dawes," Colby Library Quarterly No. 3 (1968): 97-138.  The manuscript is held by the Columbia University Library.  Additional notes by Terry Heller, Coe College.




Edited by Terry Heller, Coe College.




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