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1880    1882

Sarah Orne Jewett Letters of 1881

SOJ to Annie Adams Fields

[Undated, Late 1880 or early 1881]*

     I think your book is the dearest book I ever saw! I don’t know that it is polite to speak of the cover first, but it is so pretty! ... I do think you were very good to send me Under the Olive*-- I know how many friends you have, -- but I take it, as I know you will let me, as a sign of something that is between us, and since we have hold of each other’s hands we will not let them go--

     … I shall be very fond of the little book for its own sake, and also for yours, and many a line will seem as if it were spoken and not written to me, and bring back other things -- that you have said and I like to remember…. I do hope to be in Boston again and I should like dearly to make you a little visit. And we will play with each other whenever we have a chance, and talk about the rose teaset -- and find time every day for one handkerchief doll at least.


1881:  This letter appears in The Gentle Americans (1965) by Helen Howe. The tone suggests that it precedes the death of James T. Fields in April of 1881, though it follows the late 1880 appearance of Annie Fields's volume of poetry, Under the Olive.  The first edition has an 1880 copyright, suggesting that it may have been released in time for holiday sales at the end of 1880.
Image of cover from Hathi Trust  

handkerchief doll:  A handkerchief doll may be handcrafted from a handkerchief.

SOJ to Lilian May Munger

South Berwick
 9 Jan 1881

My dear Lily

    Thank you for your nice long letter and for the pretty Christmas card.  I heard from Mrs. Rice,* who went to see you a day or two after you left -- that you had gone to Millbury* and I was sure you had some good reason for it, but I was glad to have you tell me yourself.  I think you did just right but I can understand that

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it was in some ways a hard thing to do.  I am sure you will be glad -- and that you will really gain more than you lost and that the rest of the Boston winter will come some other time -- But I am going to beg you again and again! not to do too much, and to put [your corrected] whole heart into the necessary things but not to feel that you must use all your spare time in studying.  I think leisure is very necessary to growth.  I have become more and more sure of it.  Sometimes an

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hour of idleness is a very great help, not only because it is a rest, but because thoughts come to one -- that in intent and careful work are crowded out -- And a restless character is never restful, you know, and I think a quiet self-contained person in whom strength and repose ^of character^ are both marked traits, is a very helpful person.  American life is such a hurry and drive that it {is} a blessed thing to find somebody once and awhile who rests in her work, and so very seldom has to take a rest from it!  You asked me

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to speak to Mr. Hobbs* about the academy but I never have happened to see him -- In some ways I think very well of your coming here -- but in others I dont.  I think there would be a good deal of [a risk?] about it -- the school is an uncertain one.  And in the last few years it has been chiefly made up of boys.  I dont doubt myself that you and your friend would make a success of it in two years perhaps, but it would be a great deal better to find a school that was ready to your hand and did not

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have to be 'built up' -- Still there is a fund, and it is a question I am not fit to decide or advise upon anyway.  Mr. Lord* seems to have done very very well.  I dont know whether he will leave at the end of this year or not.  I should like to have you here. -----

    Miss Cushing* told me how much she enjoyed that morning with you.  I think you gave as much pleasure as you had.  I hope you will go to see her when you are in town again.  She is quite troubled because she forgot to give you her card -- but she lives at

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No. 8 Walnut St. -----  I think it is very good {for} you to go to Mrs. Sargents* just to see the people and sometimes the lectures are charming -- -- I am pulling through the winter here as best I can, but I am not well at all.  I dont dare to go South, for I seem to have had a touch of malaria these last two years, and I am as well off here as anywhere.  I have a great deal else to say, my dear little girl, but I shall have to end this letter -- and I put in it the most loving good wishes for you and I hope and believe that this will be the happiest and best year of your life --  God bless you always --

Yours most affly
S. O. Jewett

[ Up the left margin of page 1 ]

Your sister Annie* sent me a lovely C-- card -- It was a branch of holly.


Mrs. Rice: Probably Cora Clark Rice. See Correspondents.

Millbury:  Munger taught for 3 years at the Millbury, MA High School, from about 1879 to 1882. An envelope associated with this letter is addressed to "Care Rev. C. Munger, Farmington, Maine."

Mr. Hobbs ... the academy:    Hiram H. Hobbs was secretary of the trustees [of the Berwick Academy] from 1846-1883, and was succeeded by his son Charles C. Hobbs from 1893 to 1913 (Old Academy on the Hill, Marie Donahue). Hiram H. Hobbs (1802-1884 according to South Berwick Maine Record Book, the 1967 cemetery guide by John Eldridge Frost) married a descendant of Thomas and Elizabeth Wallingford, whose family are models for characters in The Tory Lover. In "The Old Town of Berwick," Jewett describes Hiram Hobbs as "a tall, fine figure of a man just in the prime of his activity, and one of the most useful and careful secretaries and trustees of the academy during many years."

Mr. Lord: It is very difficult to be certain which Mr. Lord Jewett would report upon among the many in the South Berwick area or associated with the academy.  This Mr. Lord, it appears, held a position of responsibility at the Berwick Academy at the time of this letter.

Miss Cushing:  While this could be Elizabeth Cushing (6 October 1797- 5 October 1889), Jewett's neighbor in South Berwick, the 8 Walnut Street address is in Boston, making this Miss Cushing a neighbor of Jewett correspondent Grace Gordon's family at 5 Walnut.  Probably, then, this is Alice Kirke Cushing (1859-1918).  She was the daughter of Henry Kirke Cushing and Elizabeth/Betsey Maria Williams.  Her brother was the famous neurosurgeon, Harvey Williams Cushing (1869-1939).  Alice Cushing never married and continued living with her parents.  However, Alice Cushing's parents were living at 786 Prospect Street in 1903; whether they resided at the Walnut Street address earlier has not been confirmed.  Miss Cushing is described as "Shy and somewhat austere, [with]... an active mind."  She read widely in history and literature and became an authority on English church architecture. See Harvey Cushing: A Biography (1946) by John F. Fulton.

Mrs. Sargent's: This may be Mary Elizabeth Fiske Sargent (1827-1904). She became the second wife of John Turner Sargent (1807-1877), a prominent Unitarian minister, remembered for his support of abolition and woman suffrage.  Together they founded Boston's Radical Club (1867-1880).  She edited Sketches of the Radical Club of Chestnut Street, Boston. See Letters of John Greenleaf Whittier v. 1, p. 194n.

sister Annie:  Anna R. Munger was one of Lily's older sisters.

The manuscript of this letter is held by the Small Library, University of Virginia, Special Collections MSS 6218, Sarah Orne Jewett Papers. Transcription and notes by Terry Heller, Coe College.

SOJ to Annie Adams Fields

South Berwick
12 January 1881

Dear Mrs. Fields

    I hope you do not think that I am very rude for indeed I didn't mean to be!  When I saw you I thought I should be in Boston again by the middle of this month, but I find I must put off my cruise until later.  I think it is, to say the least, distressing to have a guest give warning of her coming from time to time!  and I hope I am not a dead weight on your mind and that I shall not interfere with your plans.  I am looking forward with the greatest pleasure to being with you for a few days, and I hope you will let me come by and by and play that it is still January, the time when you asked me to come.  We do not like to leave my mother alone in winter, it is so very lonely for her, and just now my sister Mary* is going to town for a little while first to Cora Rice's.* She is going to have a very good time I hope, for though I shall miss her dreadfully I cant help remembering how much oftener I give her a chance to miss me!  And in one way, I think she minds being in Berwick in winter more than I do.

Your Under the Olive* is always more and more of a pleasure to me, and I read the notices of it as eagerly as possible.  I wonder if you have seen one in the N.Y. Christian Union* which I saw by chance a day or two ago?  I wish to thank you all over again for the pleasure the book has given me.  Ellen Mason* wrote me that you sent a copy to her.

    Will you believe that I do wish very much to see you and I am always yours affectionately.

S.  O.  J.


Mary:  Mary Rice Jewett.  See Correspondents.

Cora Rice: Cora Clark Rice. See Correspondents.

Under the Olive:  Fields's collection of poems, Under the Olive, appeared in 1881.

N. Y. Christian Union:  An advertisement for Under the Olive in Christian Union 22, (24 November 1880, p. 460) said: "A beautiful volume of lyrical and dramatic poems mostly on noble or romantic subjects in Grecian history and legend.  They show not only great familiarity with Greek literature, but a rare sympathy with the modes of Greek thought and expression which have made that literature the admiration of the world."  A review in the same issue, (p. 449) said:  "Mrs. Annie Fields, the author of the new Boston book of poetry, "Under the Olive," is the wife of Mr. James T. Fields, ex-publisher and now lecturer.  Mrs. Fields has done something in verse in the past, but the coming of this book was a genuine surprise.  It is a collection of Greek verses of a very difficult sort to write, and perhaps there is nothing in the collection better than the Apostrophe to Theocritus, which was printed in the "No Name" volume of poetry a year or two since."

Ellen Mason:  Ellen Francis Mason.  See Correspondents.

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 Anna Laurens Dawes

7 February 1881

My dear Anna

If I had not wished to write to you so much I should have sent you a letter long ago -- every day I scurry off notes and letters -- but it seems to me I find less and less time for the letters I used to take such pleasure in. Dont you know too, that every day there are things that must be done at once -- and so one lets the dearest things be sometimes crowded out by the things one would not have missed. And then, this long last year I have been in such wretched health that only a person who has had the same experience will know how to pity me! There have been so many cares and responsibilities that it was hard to neglect and I do think the physical pain and suffering is really the least evil of a long illness. Yet I can truly say that this has been the happiest and most satisfactory year of my life -- and I thank God that I can say so. I shall have to go away this spring I am afraid. I am better than I was a few months ago, but by no means strong, and the severe weather has upset me a good deal. I dont dare risk being here through the spring which always tires me most -- and it would involve my dragging about all next summer as I did this last one -- more dead than alive! And I do wish to be well for the sake of my writing -- and I wish to be every­thing that is possible to my friends -- for I feel as if lately I had been a drag to them instead of the help and comfort and pleasure I always mean to be if I can. Dont you think it is a very great help to be obliged to stop in ones life for a while as I have? One sees everything so much more clearly, and I think I am going to write better and live better for this lesson. It has been like keeping a great Lent for ones next five years.

I thought when I knew of your father's re-election I would congratu­late you at once -- (I mean your father & you for his sake) but though I am late about it I am none the less sincere. I think I can understand that you were very glad about it and in one way a little sorry too, for yourself. I think one is apt to plan ones life better than it turns out -- but when we look back we are pretty sure to aquiesce [so spelled], and I know that your society life will count for a great deal more in your eyes one day than it does now. There seems to be a good deal that there is no use in, but perhaps we are carried through long roads that seem stupid so that we may reach one point we would not have missed for anything -- and if we are not looking forward to it, we always look back gladly.

I had a lesson that I shall never forget one day last summer -- I was mourning once my enforced idleness and somebody quietly told me that if I had not done anything else, I had been such a help to her and made her life seem different. It was half unconscious -- I thought she had helped me, but it flashed through my mind that if I had been well I should not have been with her then -- and I saw that God had been using me, and I was so rejoiced and glad that I would have given up a great deal more, rather than miss hearing her say what she did. We only know one side of our lives, do we? and it startles us to remember once in a while that God is doing his part for us and with us, beside our doing our own.

I should like so much to have you here this afternoon. Mother is going out to dine, and Mary is in Boston so I dine alone and how we would chatter if we were together, and perhaps you would like to have the wish on your dear little Christmas card "come true" as well as I should. I should like to hear what is going on in Washington and I have no doubt you are crazy to hear the Berwick news. Please remember me to your father and mother and dont forget that I am always your sin­cere and affectionate friend --

I heard in a round about way the other day that Ella and Mr. Little have gone to Cuba. Mary has been in Boston for a month and I feel as if I were an only child!



Ella ... Mr. Little ... Mary:  Richard Cary says that "Mrs. Ella Walworth Little was "one of Miss Jewett's young coterie of Boston friends which included Cora Clark, Elizabeth Fairchild, Grace Gordon, the Horsford sisters, and the Mason sisters."  For Mary Rice Jewett, see Correspondents.

This letter was transcribed 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.  The notes are by Terry Heller, Coe College.

South Berwick
2nd February.
[1881 ]

My dear Mr. Houghton

    Thank you very much for you kindness and I beg first to apologize for not having written again to Mrs. Houghton, but there was really nothing to write! until I knew something about my plans.  My sister has been in Boston for three weeks and I have to wait for her return to settle upon

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my time for going away -- As for Bermuda,* I am taking up that plan again with renewed interest and determination for I find the winter weather has told upon me a good deal already, and hard as it is to make up my mind to go away so far from home, I think it is the only thing that is right to do -- I do not wish to go quite so soon as the tenth* = indeed I

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think it would be hardly possible -- but I have a friend in Providence* who will go at any time I do, so I should have company on the voyage.  We planned when we talked it over that we were to be consigned to Mrs. Eames* who is an old friend of my friend's mother, and who has spent a great many springs in Bermuda.  She goes down on the 10th* and I had already heard of Dr. Davidson though Mrs. Ellis* who

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promised to let my sister know as soon as she found out about his plans.  I tell you all this since you are taking so kind an interest and it seems to me now that I probably shall start a fortnight from the 10th with Miss Chafee* and in the meantime I shall spend a few days in Boston.  I wish you would thank [Dr. corrected] Davidson for his kind offer that I might join his party and, I shall hope to see him and his daughter there if I do not go down with them.

Yrs. sincerely Sarah O Jewett


1881:  This date is speculative, based upon a letters to Mary Bucklin Davenport Claflin, dated from the autumn of 1880 and to Annie Adams Fields of 23 November 1880, in which SOJ speaks of going to Bermuda.

Bermuda:  Jewett is not known to have traveled to Bermuda, but she spoke of plans to make a stay in the fall of 1880.

tenth: This word may be underlined.

10th:  Jewett has corrected the number.  It probably reads as transcribed, but it could be 11th.

Mrs. Eames:  The Eames name is prominent in Rhode Island, in business and in politics.  Benjamin Tucker Eames (1818-1901) served several terms in Congress.  His wife was Laura Southwick Chapin (1824-1872). Benjamin Tucker's son, Waldo Chapin Eames (1859-1894) married Laura A Hoppin in 1887.  While it is possible that Jewett refers to Laura Eames, this would be possible only if the date of the letter is after 1887.

Dr. Davidson ... Mrs. Ellis: Emma Harding Claflin Ellis.  See Correspondents.
    Dr. Davidson and his daughter have not been identified.

Miss Chafee:  Assuming that this transcription is correct, Miss Chafee remains unidentified.  Chafee is a well-known name in Rhode Island.

The manuscript of this letter is held by the Small Library, University of Virginia, Special Collections MSS 6218, Sarah Orne Jewett Papers.  Transcription and notes by Terry Heller, Coe College.

SOJ to Susan Hayes Ward

The Brunswick*
     New York

     Friday [February 1881]

    Dear Susy Ward:

     I am here for a very few days and I went to your friend Mrs. Watson's* this morning to see if you might chance to be in town, and I heard that you were planning to come in tomorrow. If it is to be in the morning and you are anywhere in this neighbourhood, I wish that you would be so kind as to come and see me -- me and also Mrs. Fields!1 I shall be here between 10 and 10:30 or eleven o'clock certainly.

     I have not time to get out to see you and dear Hetta2 and I hated to ask you to come in on purpose, but I make bold on the score of Mrs. Watson's knowing your plans.

     With love to you both.
     Yours ever affectionately,
     S. O. Jewett

Notes by Richard Cary

     1 Annie Adams Fields (1834-1915), wife of the publisher James T. Fields, earned her own fame as poet and biographer. After Fields's death in 1881, Miss Jewett and Mrs. Fields became inseparable companions, visiting extensively at each other's homes, and traveling together in the United States, on four European tours, and a Caribbean cruise. Miss Jewett dedicated The Mate of the Daylight, and Friends Ashore "To A. F.," and Mrs. Fields edited the Letters of Sarah Orne Jewett.
     2 Hetta Lord Hayes Ward (1842-1921), sister of Susan and William, reported on architecture, exhibitions of painting, the applied and domestic arts for the Independent, as well as publishing delightful stories and verses for children.

Additional Notes

The Brunswick: There apparently were two possible hotels in which Jewet may have stayed, the Brunswick Hotel at
17 - 19 East 27th Street and the Hotel Brunswick at 1236 Madison Avenue.  It is not yet known at which Jewett stayed.

Mrs. Watson:  The identity of Mrs. Watson is as yet unknown.  Assistance is welcome.

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.

April 24, 1881
Death of James T. Fields

SOJ to Annie Fields, sometime after 24 April 1881*

                                                                                                            Wednesday evening

My own dear darling

            I don't believe you were half so sad when you wrote this little letter as I was when I read it. Dear Annie I know that life is very hard for you and that the love and help that used to make it so much easier seem to have gone out of it. But it is not all wrong, and it does not hold you back and crush you down unless you make it so, for we both believe that God sent this loneliness and pain


into your life only to bless you and bring you closer to Him and to the dear one whom you love best -- I can't bear to think of your sorrow. I can't bear to think that everything seems so blank and dreadful to you. I can't bear not to have you happy among the things that were so lovingly planned and brought together for your comfort and happiness. It ought not to be so dear love, and I do long to have you outgrow this kind of pain and misery that will not let you forget that you are hurt and lonely.


It seems to me that the only thing to do is to say I am hurt and my heart aches, but God keeps me here in the midst of the empty things that used to belong to my happiness, and I must live the old life alone, and put all my love and thoughtfulness and helpfulness into it, for the sake of whoever comes now; instead of for the sake of one only and for the sake of one only. I think nothing would please him more than to have you making other people happy just exactly as you have been doing since you came to Manchester. It is


not only Jesus Christ but your dear love beside who will think 'Ye have done it unto me.' His 'poor humanity'* whom he told you he was trying to help are is not only the people who cannot buy bread and shoes, but the people who cannot buy content and happiness because their every day lives are half worthless. And whether you work by your fingers that do pretty things for people to see, or whether you work by your beautiful gift of poetry -- or by your own most lovely presence that keeps most people up {to} the


best level that is in them -- or by letting them come into the influence of the hospitality which delights every body who knows it -- you are going about doing good -- Don't think about next summer dear darling, dont think about tomorrow even, but make the days grow lovelier one by one because you do the tasks God sets you, as best you can --  Dont say my heart aches and I am wretched, but say I am going to be happy by and by and have my own again, and God


is teaching me as I wait. Dont say that the time is long and bitterly hard but only that this is a short night between two blessed days, and I will not be always awake to the thought of my own sorrow and get frightened in the dark of uncertainty -- Other people have sorrows that are full of shame and misery, and mine is a sorrow that is like a night full of stars and I see a great light in my darkness to lead me and show me


the way

            Yes, dear love I know you were certain of all this before -- but I can't help saying it again. One kind of happiness is gone, but it is to make place for a better one -- "not as the world gives give I unto you"* -- And so my dear darling I pray God that you may find His peace wherever you are, and may not wish either for the old dear days that are past or for the Heaven that is to come because you hold both and they belong


to you always in this world as they will always in the next. -- And I love you and hold you close and cannot do without you. I will stay with [you] always when I can for it seems more and more lovely, and more strange, however dear other places and people may be, to be away from you. I think it is meant we should help each other and love each other more and more. Oh my dear dear darling, dont shut yourself out of the sunshine of life -- it was only the shut windows of the city at which the morning light could not go in -- [deleted word] --


I could not help saying all this, but after it is said I only stop to think, 'Oh if I could go to her and put my arms around her! {'} But it is something more than that which you want, something that no human love can give, but only God's love and goodness and your own faith and bravery -- When I see that you do not feel so lonely if I am there, and then it is all worse than ever and lonelier, when I am away I know that my love is not


enough for you after all, though I would do anything for you and I love you with all the love that I can give. It is my great sorrow too because it is yours -- but we will try to say: 'Yes I am not happy, but I can still make others happy and I must do my work lovingly whatever it is, and so I shall know what Heaven is better and better as the days go on. {'}
Good night dear and God bless you and comfort you -- Yours always and always



1881:  Someone has written "A selfish grief"  at the top of the first manuscript page in pencil. 
    James T. Fields died on 24 April of 1881; Annie went through bouts of depression and despair over her loss.

'Ye have done it unto me':   See Jesus' parable of the Sheep and the Goats, Matthew 25: 31-46:  "Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

"not as the world gives give I unto you":  See John 14: 27: "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

The manuscript of this letter is held in the Sarah Orne Jewett Collection, 1801-1997, of the University of New England's Maine Women Writers Collection: II. Correspondence, item 60.  Transcription and annotation by Terry Heller, Coe College, assisted by Linda Heller.

SOJ to Annie Fields


[ 1881 after April ]*

Oh my dear darling your two letters have come and I don't know what to say. It fairly stung me to have my own dear love say that nobody would keep her out of it -- Dear Fuffy* if I had thought that this summer would have been easier and happier for you anywhere else I would have helped you go there. It can't be that you think I might have been more thoughtful of you -- but

[Page 2]

indeed this seemed best and does seem best -- And in a few days I shall be with you not to leave you alone again except for a few days while you stay there. Won't it make you more contented to know that really I have been looking forward to being with you there in a way I never have before -- besides fairly longing now for the rest and quietness. I have more care than I ever have had before this

[Page 3]

summer -- and it has made me get through it all and be glad -- because I know that afterward I am going to be by the sea with you. When I think of you it seems wrong that I can't always be with you to take care of you and love you and not let you be lonely -- but dear darling so long as I really must be away part of the time it does make a difference that we belong to each other in a sweet way- - and can keep

[Page 4]

the thought of it in our hearts when we are apart. So let us try to wait the rest of the time and know that it will be all the dearer when we are together. It is hard to write for I could so much more easily tell you this if I were with you -- indeed I should not need to tell you at all. It makes my heart ache to think of your sadness and loneliness, but oh my darling don't let us forget that there is a great blessing sent with it all -- and that God does not mean to punish us

[Cross-written on p. 1, left margin and top ]

or torment us but to bless us and make us more and more his own dear children. I only hope that this note will carry you a little of that great love that fills my heart for you.

Your own Pin*

[Cross-written on p. 2, left margin]

I send you Lilian H's* letter. How touching it is about the Longfellows.* I knew too that they wanted so much to go to you.

[Cross-written on p. 3, left margin and top]

No -- the letter got spoiled -- but she only said beside that other's [?] wishing to go to Manchester that Mrs Ole* was there & it was about my coming down &c by and by


1881 after April:  Original transcriber notes appearing with this text read: (nd but late summer 1881 - AF has written 1881 in pencil at the top. James T. Fields died in April of 1881 - and Annie, devastated, cut herself off from friends and family for a time. This letter indicates an earlier intimacy than most scholars assume. See Paula Blanchard, pp. 134-135. )
(in sleeve marked K-l). 
    The transcriber's dating seem correct, though it is difficult to determine how long after April the letter was composed.  It seems clearly connected with another similar letter that responds to the grief of Mrs. Fields.  As this one seems more intimate -- with its use of private nicknames -- it likely comes after the other.

Fuffy:  a Fields nickname. See Correspondents.

Lilian H:  Very likely this is Mary Leila ("Lilian") Horsford is the oldest daughter of Eben Norton Horsford.  See Correspondents.

Longfellows: Fields and Jewett were friends of the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow family.  See Alice Mary Longfellow in Correspondents.

Manchester:  Annie Fields's summer home, the Gambrel Cottage, was in Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA.

Ole:  As Ole Bull died in 1880, Jewett presumably refers to Sara Chapman Thorp Bull. See Correspondents.

Pin:  A Jewett nickname. See Correspondents.

The manuscript of this letter is at the University of New England,  Maine Women Writers Collection,  Jewett Collection  correspondence [n.d.] corr054-soj-af.03.  Unknown original transcriber, with additions and annotation by Terry Heller, Coe College.

SOJ to Theophilus Parsons

     South Berwick

     12 June 1881

     Dear Prof. Parsons

     I have been thinking of you a great deal lately. It seems so long since I saw you or heard from you by letter, but I suppose that is partly my fault, though when I tell you that I have been ill for a good deal more than a year -- you will be able to account for my silence. I was in Cambridge for a few days in March, and I meant to go to see you, but I was sorry to hear that you were quite sick just then and I was prevented from doing as I wished. I am very much better now, but I had a dismal long siege all last year. In the first place I got used up by writing too much and doing everything else beside! and I somehow could not grow strong again but went on month after month with a good-for-nothing head and a foot that acted as if it never meant to go of its own accord; I was really very much used up, and though I wrote a little once in a while because I couldn't help it, I had to stop all my plans and be as idle as possible. I think it has done me a great deal of good in many ways -- it was like keeping a long Lent -- and when I am quite well again I shall know even better than I do now "the gain of the loss". I wish so much to have a long talk with you that it is a little hard to write a letter. I wish I could talk with you about my stories. Just now I am making up a book which is to come out in the fall -- called Country By-Ways.* It is mostly sketches of country life -- and of my own country life. So far I have simply tried to write down pictures of what I see -- but by and by I am going to say some things I have thought about those pictures. I don't know whether the pictures or the meditations will seem truest, but I know that I have found out some bits of truth for myself -- and I know one other thing -- that nobody has helped me to think more than you have. I was thinking of you in church this morning while I tried to listen to a most (to me, at least) tiresome sermon. I believe there must soon be a new-unifying interpretation of the New Testament made public or preaching will lose its hold more and more. The explanation of its contradiction, and of the letter of it, is in most men's [mens] pulpits very trite and feeble. Thoughtful people are getting very tired of the sermons they hear, and of the imagery that is taken for reality and boldly explained by worn out phrases. It is only when clergymen get hold of the spiritual meaning of the Bible that they really teach or help us; I can see that plainly enough; and I grow so impatient of the other thing that sometimes I think going to church makes me wicked! It isn't that I hear things that I know and am tired of hearing, but it is so far-fetched and false and one has the feeling that so many ministers have got into the habit of preaching, and they are not teachers of good -- either by their lives or doctrines. I believe I hate sham more and more every year! I will not scold any more, or make you tired, because I was tired myself of that poor parson! When shall I see you again? and you do not forget me, do you? for I am always yours sincerely and affectionately

     Sarah O. Jewett


Country By-Ways:  Jewett's short story collection was published in 1881, the Library of Congress copy deposited in November.

The manuscript of this letter is held by Special Collections at Colby College. It was transcribed by the owner of the manuscripts before they were given to Colby College, Henry Ellicott Magill (b. 1902) of Pasadena, CA, who also may have made handwritten corrections to the transcriptions.  Annotation by Terry Heller, Coe College

SOJ to Lilian Woodman Aldrich

[ 25 June, about 1881 ]*
Dear Mrs Aldrich

    Thank you for your note which came just before I left home for a few days. I have been in such a scurry that I have not had a chance to answer it, and even now I cannot be polite and definite! I shall be delighted to go to you early in July

[ Page 2 ]

but I cannot tell exactly the day for a little while, since I must wait to know about some other plans. I wish it could be the Fourth, for I should have a beautiful time with the boys!* but I do not think it will be a great while after that. Perhaps we shall

[ Page 3 ]

have a pinch of your powder left, among us all? --

Yours affectionately

Sarah O. Jewett

South Berwick
    25 June

If you wish to make some other plans for three or four days about that time you will tell me so wont you? and I think I can go to you early ^late^ in August

[ Page 4 ]



 July 1881: This very tentative date is supported by small inferences.  Jewett's formal address of Mrs. Aldrich and full signature suggest the letter is from early in their acquaintance. The letter seems to imply that the boys are young; they would turn 13 in 1881. Jewett does not mention Annie Fields (See Correspondents), suggesting that this letter precedes Jewett's intimacy with Fields following the death of James T. Fields in April of 1881.  And as letters below suggest, Jewett visited the Isles of the Shoals in July of 1881.

the boys: The Aldriches' had twins born in 1868: Charles and Talbot.

The manuscript of this letter is held by the Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. Thomas Baily Aldrich Papers, 119 letters of Thomas Bailey and Lilian Woodman Aldrich, 1837-1926. MS Am 1429 (117). Transcribed and annotated by Terry Heller, Coe College.
     At the bottom left of page one, in another hand, is a circled number: 2659.

SOJ to Lilian Woodman Aldrich

[ 8 July 1881 ]
Dear Mrs. Aldrich

    I have been meaning to write to you every day, but I could not be quite sure about my leaving home. At this time of the year we have guests coming and going from the house very often -- and my sister* and I do not like to leave home together -- She has been delayed  [ deleted word ] in carrying out a plan she made for

[ Page 2 ]

a short stay at [ deleted word ] York with some friends -- but now I am pretty sure I can go to you next Friday if that will suit you -- ? --

    I will take the six o'clock from Boston and I can stay until Tuesday. I am looking forward with so much pleasure to being with you -- wont we have a good time? and will you send me one word so I shall know if it is all right with

[ Page 3 ]

you? for perhaps you would rather make some other plan for just that time.

    -- I should be sorry I had to write this note in such a hurry ( [ deleted word ] I have so many things to say) -- but I shall see you before very long -- With kindest regards to Mr. Aldrich and many thanks for his letter & [ unrecognized word genes ? ] --

    Yours most sincerely and affectionately

Sarah O. Jewett

    8 July 1881


sister:  Mary Rice Jewett. See Correspondents.

The manuscript of this letter is held by the Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. Thomas Baily Aldrich Papers, 119 letters of Thomas Bailey and Lilian Woodman Aldrich, 1837-1926. MS Am 1429 (117). Transcribed and annotated by Terry Heller, Coe College.
    At the bottom left of page one, in another hand, is a circled number: 2697.

94 -- a selection from this letter is in 1881, replace that with this.

SOJ to Lilian Woodman Aldrich

Isles of Shoals

27 July 1881

My dear Duchess*

    I should have written you days ago, but I have been waiting for the photographs which have not made their appearance yet.  I had a most charming little visit at Mrs. Fields's* and she was more delightful and dear than ever.  I think the book* is going to be wonderfully interesting and she has succeeded in making one of the very best

[ Page 2 ]

books of that kind, that I ever knew -- at any rate!  Mrs. Lodge* did not come until after I left -- (though I met her in a train) -- so Mrs. Fields and I were all alone.

    -- I spent a day in Swampscott* and then went to Gloucester and I had a very pleasant day or two with Miss Phelps* though I must confess to you that her real talent and fine gifts are very much spoiled to me by that streak of morbid silliness which is tangled though and through her writing and her talking.

[ Page 3 ]

There is so much that I respect and honour in her that I hate to say this -- but you and I have talked about her before and I am sure I am only saying it to you. To tell you the truth, I am in a great hurry to see you again dearest Duchess!  I am always thinking of things to ask you and to tell you and I feel very rich when I think of you and remember that you are my friend --  I think as one grows older one gives and takes friendship

[ Page 4 ]

with greater care -- and deeper satisfaction!  [ deleted word ] I did have a lovely little visit and I think of all your household very often, and wonder if the cherries are gone and if Billy* is properly attended and served, and if anybody has been fishing.

    The day I left Gloucester, I found I had to wait some where on the road before I could catch a train for Berwick, and I thought I should get a better lunch and have a better time in

[ Page 5 ]

Boston, so I went there for two hours.  I went to Park St.* to see if my proofs were ready and then I went to Bradford & Anthony's* and bought a fishing rod -- I should like to show it to you for I think it is a pretty good one, but it doesn't hold a candle to your best one, you know!

    -- Please tell Mrs. Goodman* that I find the little hood very useful, and it will march up and down the piazzas this very night.

[ Page 6 ]

    I displayed Bopeep* with triumph to my sister, and left her at home because I was afraid the sea air might fade her!  I was only at home over night -- to get a bigger trunk and some more clothes, and tell my family I was still very much attached to them!

--    Now I must say good by, for I am going over to Appledore -- Some people are waiting for me, and I am going to spend the

[ Page 7 ]

rest of the morning with Mrs. Thaxter* -- She came down to the wharf when we got in yesterday, so I saw her for a minute. Mrs. Rice* sends you her kindest remembrances. I am hoping to see you while I am here, which will be until next Wednesday -- I'll finish this very scratchy letter when the photograph comes.  Please give my love to all.

Yours most affly

S. O. J.


Duchess: Among their close friends, the Aldriches were nicknamed the Duke and Duchess of Ponkapog.  See Correspondents.

A. F.:   Annie Adams Fields. See Correspondents.

the book: Fields's poetry collection, Under the Olive, appeared in 1881.

Mrs. Lodge:  Mary Langdon Greenwood Lodge. See Correspondents.

Miss Phelps:  Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward.  See Correspondents.

Billy:  This person or pet known to the Aldriches has not been identified.

Park St.:  Address of the offices of Atlantic Monthly and the publisher, Houghton, Mifflin.

Bradford & Anthony's: "Samuel Bradford was a Boston hardware & sporting goods retailer and wholesaler established in the 1800s.  Martin Bradford started handling fishing tackle in the middle of the 1800s  after taking over the company reins from his father.  In 1867 Bradford took on Nathan Anthony as a partner to form the company whose reels we sometimes encounter.  Bradford & Anthony retailed many New York style reels and brass fly reels produced by Brooklyn reelmakers. B&A was sold to Dame, Stoddard & Kendall in 1883." Old Reel Collectors Association, "Reel Distributors."

Mrs. Goodman:  This person has not yet been identified.

Bopeep:  Bo Peep costumes traditionally include a bonnet; perhaps Jewett has left a new bonnet at home.  Little Bo-Peep was a familiar, unfortunate young shepherdess in an English nursery rhyme with a number of variants.  Perhaps most familiar is:
Little Bo-Peep has lost her sheep,
and doesn't know where to find them;
leave them alone, and they'll come home,
wagging their tails behind them.
In this version, the sheep lose their tails, and Bo Peep must find and restore them.

Mrs. Thaxter: Celia Thaxter. See Correspondents.

Mrs. Rice:  Cora Clark Rice. See Correspondents.

The manuscript of this letter is held by the Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. Thomas Baily Aldrich Papers, 119 letters of Thomas Bailey and Lilian Woodman Aldrich, 1837-1926. MS Am 1429 (117). Transcribed and annotated by Terry Heller, Coe College.
    At the bottom left of page one, in another hand, is a circled number: 2698.  It appears again at the bottom left of p. 5.

SOJ to William Dean Howells
Isles of Shoals, Tuesday [ July 1881]*

Dear Mr. Howells

    I told Mrs. Thaxter* this morning that I had been poaching, but she didn't mind and I hope you will like these verses.  She did, and I did too!  and I request your pardon for saying so.  I might have said that "some friends advised my sending them".   My love to Mrs. Howells* and I am hoping to see you by and by.  I am getting well again fast.  --  I think I should have twenty-five dollars for "The Island".  I must tell you some day about my tolling the bell  (which was 'true').*  Mrs. Fields was with me and we did not know what people would say, but I had to give that rope a pull!

Yours sincerely,
Sarah O. Jewett

I am going home soon so please direct to me there.


Summer 1881:  That this apparently is the letter by which Jewett submitted her poem, "On Star Island," to Howells indicates this date.

Mrs. Thaxter: Celia Thaxter. See Correspondents. Thaxter resided on Appledore in the Isles of Shoals and published poems about the islands.

Mrs. Howells:  See William Dean Howells in Correspondents.

"The Island". tolling the bell:  Jewett's poem "On Star Island" first appeared in Harper's Magazine (63:550-551), September 1881.  Weber and Weber report that the poem was written at Isles of Shoals, July 26, 1880 (25). Rita Gollin says, in Annie Fields: Woman of Letters (2002), that the friendship of Jewett and Annie Fields began when they met on Star Island:  The poem ends:
    I saw the worn rope idle hang
        Beside me in the belfry brown.
    I gave the bell a solemn toll --
        I rang the knell for Gosport town.

This text is from transcriptions from mixed repositories in the Maine Women Writer's Collection, University of New England, Letters from Sarah Orne Jewett, 1875-1890, Folder 72, Burton Trafton Jewett Research Collection. For more information about the individual transcription, contact the Maine Women Writers Collection.  Preparation by Linda Heller.  Notes by Terry Heller, Coe College.

SOJ to William Hayes Ward

[ 14 August 1881 ]*

Dear Dr. Ward

    I send you the story, registered, by this post. If you cannot publish it by the 10th or 12th of September please return it to me.
 -- I have been away from home and forgot it, so I had not done any thing with it -- I think it is best one of the best things I have done and if I did not want it for my book I should keep it for a magazine -- That's frank -- isn't it?

  -- I saw Mr. Gladden* the other day -- by the sea -- and I was very glad of it -- the will none of your house hold come this way this summer?

 Yours sincerely
 Sarah O. Jewett

  South Berwick Maine
  14 Aug -- [1881]


1881:  Green has determined the date of this letter by speculating persuasively that if Ward published the story in The Independent, and it was a story for adult readers that she soon collected, then the story most likely was "Miss Becky's Pilgrimage," which appeared on 1 September 1881 and was collected that year in Country By-Ways.

Mr. GladdenWikipedia says: "Washington Gladden (February 11, 1836 - July 2, 1918) was a leading American Congregational pastor and early leader in the Social Gospel movement. He was a leading member of the Progressive Movement, serving for two years as a member of the Columbus, Ohio city council and campaigning against Boss Tweed as religious editor of the New York Independent. Gladden was probably the first leading U.S. religious figure to support unionization of the workforce; he also opposed racial segregation. He was a prolific writer who wrote hundreds of poems, hymns, articles, editorials, and books.... In 1875, Gladden became pastor of the North Congregational Church in Springfield, MA for seven years. During this pastorate, Gladden also worked as editor of Sunday Afternoon (1878-1880). Sunday Afternoon described itself as “A Monthly Magazine for the Household.”
    Jewett published a number of poems and stories in Sunday Afternoon during 1878-1879.

This transcription by David Bonnell Green appears in "Two Letters of Sarah Orne Jewett." Notes and Queries 5 (1958): 361-362.  He says the manuscript is held by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.  Notes by Terry Heller, Coe College.

Celia Laighton Thaxter to Annie Adams Fields

Monday A. M. on train. [1881 ]

    I am so struck with the flowers along our way, though we rush so fast! Just now we passed a brook edged with golden senecio, do you know it? growing just like purple asters, only bright gold, in cluster; blue iris grows with it. The meadow-rue is in lovely mist all over the low places. We pass so many kinds of loosestrife, I'm going to set them down, "for fun," as Sarah Jewett would say, as I see them: daisies, St. John's wort (blooming), toad-flax, white spirća, princes' feather, roses, buttercups, white early aster, mustard, tansy, milkweed, yarrow, clover, fireweed (rosy purple), arethusa, rudbeckia, wild parsley, scarlet wood lilies, oh, so superb! arrow-head (white) cymbidium, morning-glory, and golden gorse (only a rare glimpse of this), white elder clusters, pink meadow-sweet, gold mullein spikes, pale primrose, blue-eyed grass (now we run into the rain! Oh, I hope your hillside has it!), water lilies (white and yellow), laurel, thistle, blackberry (still blooming), Gill-go-over-the-ground, and crowfoot; going through a wood, a glimpse of white azalea. What a wilderness of bloom! And now we near Greenland, and it doesn't seem five minutes since we ran out of the dark station at Beverly.* And here is pink germander! Dear, let me hear from you soon. I had such a happy time with you!

    At the Shoals. This morning, a little after three, I was wakened by the distressed cry of a sandpiper. I knew the dear creatures had a nest near the reservoir, towards which and over which one of my windows looks. I sprang up and looked out. Sure enough, round the brick parapet was stealing a hideous three-legged cat, who got here nobody knows how, and has grown wild and a terror to the birds, and we can't catch her. I saw the sandpipers flitting and piping. Everything was rosy with dawn and the sea a mirror. I threw on my dressing gown, and, not stopping even for stockings, slipped on my shoes, down stairs and out of the house, round the piazza, up through the green space and clustering rose and bayberry bushes, over the low fence, on to the broad, low wall of the reservoir, round which I ran at the edge of the still water to the ledges on the other side, where the tragedy was going on. I scared away the cat, and the wise sandpipers stood watching on the highest part of the rock and ceased their shrieks of terror, and peace descended upon the scene. The sun was yet some time below the horizon, but such a rosy world! It was heavenly, the delicate sweet air, the profound stillness, the delicious color. I quite forgot I was nearly fifty-one, and why I did n't get my death of cold the Lord he knows, I don't!


Greenland ... Beverly:  Thaxter is traveling toward Portsmouth, NH.  Beverly, MA and Greenland, NH are along the route between Boston and Portsmouth.

This extract from a letter appears in Letters of Celia Thaxter Edited by her friends, A. F. [Annie Fields] and R. L. [Rose Lamb], The Riverside Press, H. O. Houghton, & Co, Cambridge, Mass. 1895.  Annotated by Terry Heller, Coe College.


SOJ to Nancy Manning (Mrs. Henry Oscar) Houghton

[ Letterhead constructed of SOJ initials superimposed on each other; the town and date appear to the right of the letterhead ]

South - Berwick
October 21st 1881

Dear Mrs. Houghton

    If these verses will serve your purpose, I shall be very glad for you to use them -- but if there are too many or you find fault [ deleted word ] do not hesitate to return "Miss Polly"* to her author

[ Page 2 ]

and friend -- I have a great interest in the Fair and thank you for asking me to do something for it.

Yours sincerely

Sarah O. Jewett


Miss Polly:  Which poem Jewett refers to is not yet known.  The most likely candidate from among her published poems is "Only a Doll" (1878).

The manuscript of this letter is held by the Small Library, University of Virginia, Special Collections MSS 6218, Sarah Orne Jewett Papers.  Transcription and notes by Terry Heller, Coe College.

SOJ to Eben Norton Horsford

South Berwick, 27 October 1881

Dear Prof. Horsford

    Thank you very much for your kind letter and for the little book which I shall enjoy reading very much, also. It is odd that only two or three days ago I was wishing that I knew something more than I do about that good queen.* -- I think we are much more surprised by the little things that 'happen' to us at just the right time than at the  great things! -- I thought of you at the time I heard of Mr. Durant's death, for I knew you were very fond of him.* It is very hard to get on without the people whom one has learned to depend upon -- and I think one feels such a loss more and more. You get used to doing without a person in the old ways, perhaps, after a while, but there are always new questions coming up when you are sure that the friend who is gone could have given the best and wisest help. I did not know Mr. Durant except in the most casual way --

    I am rejoiced to hear something of your household. I was lucky enough to meet Mrs. Wyman* at the mountains and we talked a great deal about you all. I am in a great hurry to see her again -- it was a great pleasure to me, to meet her.

    My love to dear Sam and to Trofart, and the two new dogs Brownie and Roger send their compliments.* Brownie has been one of us for some months and Mrs. Dr. Oliver is 'fetching me up' a collie puppy whose name is Sandy: but one day I saw this red setter whose eyes are enough to win any heart and I bought him and named him Roger, and I love him already almost as much as I did old Joe. My mother is not over-fond of bow-wows, and I dont know whether she will like to have three in the house of an evening for these two big fellows seem to cover half the parlour floor already!

    I am glad that you like Country By-Ways. I think in some ways it is far better than any thing I have done, but I never shall really be so fond of any thing as of Deephaven. I have associations with that that I couldn't have with another book.

I have been very busy all summer though I have been off several times for a week or so. Yes, I hope to be in Boston later in the season, and don't I know where the door-key is hidden at 27 Craigie St? --

    With much love to you and to Mrs. Horsford and the 'little gells' as Mrs. Poyser would call them

Yours always sincerely

Sarah O. Jewett


Transcriber note:  This letter refers to several mutual acquaintances. Henry Fowle Durant was the first President of Wellesley College; he died on October 3, 1881. Horsford knew Durant well, was one of Wellesley's founders, and served on the college's governing board. Elizabeth Aspinwall Pulsifer Wyman, the wife of the Horsford family physician, was the daughter of a shipmaster, an occupation of Sarah Orne Jewett's ancestors. Sam and Trofart were the Horsford dogs, the latter receiving his Norse name as a result of Horsford's involvement in the excavation of the Viking Godstow ship. See Captain Magnus Anderson, "Norway and the Vikings,"  National Geographic 5 (1894) 132-6.
    Susan Lawrence Mason Oliver was the wife of a Boston physician, hymnologist, author, and local historian.

good queen:  Which little book on a good queen Professor Horsford sent to Jewett is not known.  Assistance is welcome.

Country By-Ways, Sarah Orne Jewett's second book was published in October, 1881.

Brownie ... Roger:  Both were Jewett family dogs, following the death of Old Joe, and it appears that Sandy the collie soon will join the family.  See "Sarah Orne Jewett's Dog" (1889).

27 Craigie St.:  Willoughby says that "the Horsfords lived at 27 Craigie Street [in Cambridge, MA], a few doors from the Longfellows."  See Mary Melvin Petronella, Victorian Boston Today: Twelve Walking Tours (225).

Mrs, Poyser:  Mrs. Poyser is a character in George Eliot's Adam Bede (1859).

According to transcriber John W. Willoughby, the manuscript of this letter is in the possession of the family of Andrew Fiske, Eben Norton Horsford's great-grandson, "heir to Sylvester Manor, Horsford's Shelter Island estate, who graciously offered to share with the public the letters from Sarah Orne Jewett and Annie Fields to Eben Norton Horsford and his family."  This letter was published in John W. Willoughby, "Sarah Orne Jewett and Her Shelter Island: Letters of Sarah Orne Jewett and Annie Fields to Eben Norton Horsford,"  Confrontation (Long Island University) 8 (1974): 72-86.  Annotated by Terry Heller, Coe College.

SOJ to Emma Harding Claflin Ellis
Saturday Morning
[ November 1881 ]

[ Letterhead design of SOJ initials superimposed over each other. ]

Dear Mrs. Ellis

    I wish to tell you that Mary* is here safe and sound and we are enjoying "the company" very much.  I was very much provoked because I missed you yesterday

[ Page 2 ]

for I came along just after Mrs. Rice had left you -- I went over to Mrs. Fields's after breakfast, and the time went very fast, so I didn't get started from the Aldriches* until sometime after I planned and consequently I

[ Page 3 ]

was a little late all the way through the morning!  I just ran up to town to have a frock fitted, and so see about Country By-ways* for the last time -- I wish I could have seen you and Mrs. Claflin --*

    Mary* sends love and likewise Mary Ellis

[ Page 4 ]

and I am your very affectionate

S. O. J.

Tell Mrs. Claflin there will be particulars next week! With covers on.


Mary is here safe:  Emma Ellis's daughter, Mary.  See Correspondents

Mrs. Rice ... Mrs. Fields ... Aldriches:  Cora Clark Rice, Annie Adams Fields, Thomas Bailey and Lilian Aldrich.  See Correspondents.

Country By-ways:  Jewett's collection of stories was deposited in the Library of Congress on 21 November 1881.  Jewett probably refers to this book in the postscript as "particulars."

Mrs. Claflin.  Mary Bucklin Davenport Claflin. See Correspondents.

Mary:  In this sentence, the first Mary is Mary Rice Jewett.  See Correspondents. The manuscript of this letter is held by Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center in the  Governor William and Mary Claflin Papers,  GA-9, Box 4, Miscellaneous Folder J.  Transcription and notes by Terry Heller, Coe College.

Celia Laighton Thaxter to Annie Adams Fields

Kittery, November 25, 1881.

    Yesterday, while I was writing the last words of the letter I sent to you, I perceived smoke in the air, and looking up, Annie, the smoke was pouring up the whole length of the crack in the floor next the fireplace behind me!!! I ran upstairs to John's room;* he rushed down half dressed: the cellar was full of smoke! In a moment all the half-dressed men were on the scene. Wentworth fortunately had not yet finished his work at the barn and gone home, and with lightning speed every bit of fire was carried out into the snow, and he was dislodging the bricks in the hearth, and the smoke followed. Then it was water, water, and finally, after working about an hour, they thought it was out, and we sat down to breakfast. But I wasn't satisfied and I kept saying, "I expect every minute we shall break out into a light blaze." But they laughed at my fears. Suddenly we all became conscious of more smoke. They ran to the top of the house; the smoke was coming out in the attic!!! When I heard that I thought we were gone, and went quickly into my room and put my mother's little jewel treasures in my pocket, tried to think what I would like to save most, and swiftly rushed back. They had torn the whole brickwork out by that time, and what do you think! they found the bricks had been laid on wooden beams!!! and the beams cut down like bread before the axe, a mass of soft, hot charcoal! Just think of the man that built that chimney! Well, we got it out at last, and, thank God, it was only smoke, not yet flame, that had gone up through the partition to the attic. But it was the narrowest kind of an escape. All day long they were at work taking out the whole of the hearth, so that the cellar was laid bare to view, and it is to be laid, as it should have been at first, in solid stone. The mason who built it had the pleasure of spending his Thanksgiving digging out his wicked, shiftless work. It is the greatest wonder on earth that we are not in ashes this moment.


John:  Thaxter's son, John, was born 1854; he married Mary Stoddard in 1887.

This extract from a letter appears in Letters of Celia Thaxter Edited by her friends, A. F. [Annie Fields] and R. L. [Rose Lamb], The Riverside Press, H. O. Houghton, & Co, Cambridge, Mass. 1895.  Annotated by Terry Heller, Coe College.

SOJ to Thomas Bailey Aldrich


South - Berwick
[ November-December 1881 ]*

Dear Mr. Aldrich

    [ Deleted word ] Here is the little paper on Good Society which I hope will suit you. I like it myself and it was very good fun to write it.

    -- I send too, something I am pretty sure you will not want* for I am afraid I have not done ^said^ well enough a thing that is very clear to me -- that "a drifting ship is sure to*

[ Page 2 ]

come to harm" -- It is badly copied too -- but I am tired and if I dont send it with the other (which you ought to have as soon as possible) I shall not send it at all --

Yours sincerely   
S. O. Jewett.

(It was delightful to see you and the Duchess* -- and my sister* writes me what a good time she had with you yesterday -- )


1881:  Probably, Jewett refers to her essay, "Good Society Novels," which appeared in the Atlantic's "Contributors' Club" column in January 1882.  If this is correct, then she almost certainly sent the piece to Aldrich late in 1881.

will not want:  Jewett's lack of confidence in this second piece she sends Aldrich would seem to make it unlikely that it was published.  However, Jewett did publish "The Plea of Insanity" in The Congregationalist in January of 1882.  There she argues that Charles Guiteau, the assassin of President James Garfield in 1881, suffered from moral insanity brought on by a life "adrift" from moral rectitude.  In that piece, she says: "A drifting ship must come to harm, and, as old Thomas Fuller says: 'The house of correction is the fittest place for those who are lame through their own laziness'."

sure to:  Like most Jewett letters, this letter was written either on two folded sheets or on two sides of a single folded sheet.  Normally, such a letter would begin on the right side of the first fold, continue on the left and right sides of the next folded page, and -- if only 4 pages -- end on the left fold of the first page. 
    In this letter, the left side of the 2nd page is blank. On the left side of the first page appear two items.
C. C.
    Euni T. Fillie [So lightly written as to be almost unreadableThe transcription is very uncertain, and possibly not in Jewett's hand.]

    Mr Aldrich [possibly in Jewett's hand ]

Duchess:  Among their close friends, the Aldriches were nicknamed the Duke and Duchess of Ponkapog.  See Correspondents.

sister:  Almost certainly Mary Rice Jewett. See Correspondents.

The manuscript of this letter is held by the Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. Thomas Baily Aldrich Papers, 119 letters of Thomas Bailey and Lilian Woodman Aldrich, 1837-1926. MS Am 1429 (117). Transcribed and annotated by Terry Heller, Coe College.
    At the bottom left of page one, in another hand, is a circled number: 2682.

SOJ to Lilian Woodman Aldrich

Wednesday morning
[ 1880-1882 ]*

[ Letterhead, formed with the letters SOJ  superimposed on each other ]

Dear Duchess*

    Thank you for your letter, and I think I will choose next week instead of the December week, so I accept your invitation to the dinner with pleasure -- I am

[ Page 2 ]

always in a hurry to see you -- and then I am a little tired just now and I feel like having a good time!

    My mother and Mary* have just come home from Boston -- Mother was away for a week and I have

[ Page 3 ]

done so much housekeeping and writing together that you would be astonished if I had time to give you the details!

    Dear Duchess if it happens you would like the room you would give me for somebody else the night of the feast you can

[ Page 4 ]

tell me, for you know I could easily dwell with another friend. I am always scuttling about for little visits you know.

    Mr. Aldrich is the first poet who ever wrote a poem to me* and I treasure it accordingly.  I am tempted to make sponge cakes without stopping the rest of the week and make him eat the driest first -- I shall say nothing about the other sort

[ Cross written up the left margin and across the top half of page 1 ]

of sponge cake yet, to him but I have some things I wish to read to you. May I send my trunk to 131 on Saturday to wait for me as I am going to stop on my way to you?

    Mary sends you love.

    Yours always


[ Up the left margin of page 4 ]

    Thank you for sending Mr. James's* note --


1880-1882:  These tentative dates are suggested by the beginning of Jewett's acquaintance with the Aldriches and the date of the first known poem to her, "Godspeed," written to her and Annie Adams Fields by John Greenleaf Whittier, to mark their first tour in Europe, in 1882. Of course, Jewett may mean that Aldrich's poem is the first addressed to her alone.
    I have arbitrarily split the difference, and placed this with the letters of 1881.

Duchess:  The Aldriches were affectionately known among their friends as the Duke and Duchess of Ponkapog. See Correspondents.

Mary:  Mary Rice Jewett. See Correspondents.

poem to me:  This poem has not yet been identified.
    Jewett may allude to Aldrich's The Story of a Bad Boy (1869) in which he writes humorously of a seller of dry sponge cake (pp. 207-11).

Mr. James's note:  Though this is is not certain, this is likely to Henry James. See Correspondents.

The manuscript of this letter is held by the Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. Thomas Baily Aldrich Papers, 119 letters of Thomas Bailey and Lilian Woodman Aldrich, 1837-1926. MS Am 1429 (117). Transcribed and annotated by Terry Heller, Coe College.
    At the bottom left of page one, in another hand, is a circled number: 2671.

SOJ to Lilian Woodman Aldrich

[ Boston -- 1881 ]*

Dearest dear Duchess*

    You are kinder and thoughtfuller than ever but I have sent a note already to Miss Booth* to say that we thank her so much, but that I am afraid I shall [ deleted word ] be too tired -- So I think it had better be [ decided corrected ] in that way.  Cora* sends her love and thanks you

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and so do I.  I hope you have not been thinking about it -- my dear Lily!

Yours always

Sarah --


1881: This bracketed note is in another hand, presumably that of a Houghton archivist.  There is no rationale for this information. One reason for skepticism is that Jewett speaks of "we," suggesting that she includes Annie Adams Fields in the invitation she declines; this would make it likely the letter comes from 1883 or later.  However her mentioning Cora Lee Clark Rice (See Correspondents) suggests that Jewett is staying with Cora in Boston, and that Cora was included in the invitation.  Then 1881 would seem a reasonable possibility.
    In any case, if Miss Booth is correctly identified, the letter must have been composed before May 1885.

Duchess: Among their close friends, the Aldriches were nicknamed the Duke and Duchess of Ponkapog. See Correspondents.

Miss Booth:  It is likely that this is Edwina Booth (1861-1938), daughter of the American actor, Edwin Booth (1833-1893) and niece of the presidential assassin, John Wilkes Booth (1838-1865).  Edwina Booth married Ignatius Grossman in May 1885.

The manuscript of this letter is held by the Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. Thomas Baily Aldrich Papers, 119 letters of Thomas Bailey and Lilian Woodman Aldrich, 1837-1926. MS Am 1429 (117). Transcribed and annotated by Terry Heller, Coe College.
    At the bottom left of page one, in another hand, is a circled number: 2696.

Edited by Terry Heller, Coe College.

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