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1884    1886

Sarah Orne Jewett Letters of 1885

SOJ to Annie Adams Fields

[ Winter-Spring 1885]*


----- Miss Ward* has gone and we miss her very much, being such a dear visitor.  She is down at Mrs. Goodwin's* and tomorrow Mary* and I are going there to tea.  I hope there will be a moon and a South wind and not a frozen Pinny who desires only not to have to go down stairs and to keep her poor bones in the house.  I haven't creaked so for a good while!    and altogether it has been a bad time.

Later.  Then I wrote a little hour or two at the story  --  this is a very hard chapter about Doris and her father when they go to drive!*  I am trying hard to manage it well.  Uncle William came and stayed an hour and brought your letter and has just gone away. -----



1885:  It seems likely that Jewett was writing the final chapters of A Marsh Island (see notes below) early in 1885.

A transcriber's note with this text reads: [to A. F.]. The lines of hyphens presumably indicate omissions from the manuscript.

Miss Ward: Susan Hayes Ward.  See Correspondents.

Mrs. Goodwin's:  Which Mrs. Goodwin is meant is difficult to determine.  Assistance is welcome.

Mary:  Mary Rice Jewett.  See Correspondents.

Pinny:  A nickname for Jewett used by Jewett and Fields.

to drive:  A transcriber's note identifies this story as A Marsh Island (1885).  The drive referred to occurs in Chapter 19, which first appeared in Atlantic Monthly in June 1885.. 

Uncle William:  William Durham Jewett.  See Correspondents.

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, Undated Letters, Folder 75, 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 John Greenleaf Whittier

148 Charles St.
Friday 6 April 1885*

My dear Friend

    The Sandpiper* says "Oh give him my love and say that art is a swallowing the sandpiper up!  --  else I should be writing him too"  -- Indeed the dear bird is very busy, not with pots and pans just now, but with watercolor pictures, for she is taking lessons of Ross Turner* at last, and is succeeding wonderfully.  The upper room here looks like a studio and there is a picture of Venetian boats that would win your heart.  By all this you will see that C. T.* has come for a visit and I must also tell you that we are reading Mrs. Carlyle's letters* together and having a very good time generally.  My sister Mary* is still in town, and every thing goes on much as usual.  There are more schooners and little boats out in the river and the grass in the convent garden* really looks as if it thought about growing green.  I have been shut up in the house for a good many days for the rheumatism keeps coming back with seven others like the devils of scripture,* and I have been good-for-nothing at all.

    Oh what a beautiful story it was about the old deacon!*  and how sensible it was of the two of them to see if they liked before they undertook so serious a thing as getting married!  I think it is a pity more people had not done the same thing.  I am sure I hope the hens liked too!  It is so funny to think of his starting out with his hens!  I cant think who the old fellow is, but Berwick is a great country.

    We were both so glad to get your letter and dear T. L. sends a great deal of love.  I shall write again soon and I am always yours most lovingly.



1885:  The transcription gives the positive date of 1883 for this letter, but that is impossible because the letter references an event of winter 1885, when Celia Thaxter began painting lessons with Ross Turner.  Perhaps the transcriber made a typographical error.

Sandpiper:  A nickname among the inner circle of Jewett and Fields for Celia Thaxter.  See Correspondents.

Ross Turner:  According to the Celia Thaxter Timeline by Norma H. Mandel, Thaxter began her studies with Ross Turner in the winter of 1884-5.  Ross Sterling Turner (1847-1915) was an American painter, watercolorist, and illustrator in the Boston area.

C. T.:  Celia Thaxter. See Correspondents.

Mrs. Carlyle's letters:  It appears Jewett refers to James Anthony Froude, editor, Letters and Memorials of Jane Welsh Carlyle, Prepared for Publication by Thomas Carlyle (New York, 1883), 2 vols.

Mary:  Mary Rice Jewett.  See Correspondents.

convent garden:  According to Rita Gollin, Louise Imogen Guiney in an 1898 profile of Annie Fields described the Fields house at 148 Charles St. in Boston as containing a "homelike convent cell," where Fields composed her work (Annie Fields p. 279).  While it is not certain that Jewett refers to the Charles Street garden, this is possible.  Assistance is welcome.

with seven others like the devils of scripture:  In Luke 8 appears the account of Mary Magdalene, whom Jesus freed of seven devils.

the old deacon:  Jewett refers to her story, "The Courting of Sister Wisby," which first appeared in Atlantic Monthly 59 (May 1887).  This leads to an intriguing problem.  Because of the reference to Thaxter's painting lessons, the letter seems almost certainly to be from 1885, though further biographical research could show that Thaxter stopped her lessons and then started them again in 1887.  Or, perhaps, Jewett first heard or invented the story in conversation with Whittier.  Assistance is welcome.

T. L.:  A nickname for Annie Fields.  The meaning of the initials is not yet known.

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 Emma Harding Claflin Ellis

34 Union Park*
[In another hand Apr 15, 1880] [or 1885]*

Dear Mrs. Ellis

    I had a letter from Mrs. Claflin* this morning asking me to make her a little visit on & after the 26th and I have just been thinking what I should say!  I write [unreadable faint script] to see her, and yet I am not by any means well yet and I am afraid I

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will take very small part in the festivities she suggests. 

    [Perhaps an unreadable word]  I can only promise myself the pleasure conditionally and I am going to do that.  If I feel as well on Friday as I do now, I think I shall go out in the train to see you for an hour or two.  If you are to be in town that day or especially busy would you please send me a

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line here?  I should probably go out early in the afternoon.

Yours always lovingly


    You wouldn't let my coming interfere with whatever you were going to do you know!


34 Union Park:  In Boston's South End (2004), Anthony Mitchell Sammarco notes that Alexander Hamilton Rice was at one time a resident at 34 Union Park in Boston.  Alexander Rice was the father of John Rice, who married Jewett's close friend Cora Clark Rice. See Correspondents.

or 1885
:  In 1880, April 15 fell on a Thursday.  With this letter is an envelope addressed to Mrs. Ellis that was cancelled on April 15, but no year appears in the cancellation.  It seems unlikely that Jewett would date her letter a day later than she mailed it.  Therefore, this 1880 date is uncertain.  The closest year to 1880 on which April 15 falls on Wednesday is 1885.  Therefore this letter is placed with others of both years.

Mrs. Claflin
.  Mary Bucklin Davenport Claflin. 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.

SOJ to Annie Adams Fields

     Thursday afternoon, 23 July, 1885.

     Now comes the news of General Grant's death,* which is a relief in a way. I think nothing could be more pathetic than the records of his last fight with his unvanquishable enemy. No two men I have ever seen came up to Grant and Tennyson* in Greatness. Tennyson first, I must say that. Good heavens, what a thing it is for a man of Grant's deliberate, straightforward, comprehending mind, to sit day after day with that pain clutching at his throat, looking death straight in the face! and with all his clear sight he was no visionary or seer of spiritual things. It must have made him awfully conscious of all that lay this side the boundary. And now he knows all, the step is taken, and the mysterious moment of death proves to be a moment of waking. How one longs to take it for one's self!


General Grant's death: Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885), Union Commander in the United States Civil War and later President.  He died of throat cancer on July 23, 1885.

Tennyson: Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892), the English poet.

This letter appears in Annie Fields, Letters of Sarah Orne Jewett (1911),  Transcribed by Annie Adams Fields, with notes by Terry Heller, Coe College.

SOJ to Lillian Munger

  [July - August 1885]*

My Dear Lily

     I think of you so often and wish I could hear from you and know how you are getting on. Do ask your friend to write me again if you do not feel equal to it yourself. Dear child I hope and pray that you find some comfort already. I know you must. I will only send you this little word to-day instead of a letter but I wish very much to hear from you.

          Yours affectionately

               S. O. J.


July - August 1885:  It seems likely that this letter refers to the death of Lillian Munger's mother, Ann Celia  J. (Anderson) Munger, which took place on July 1, 1885, according to a biographical sketch of her father. Rev. Charles Munger, which appears in  History of Methodism in Maine, 1793-1886 [electronic Resource].
    Marti Hohmann in "Sarah Orne Jewett to Lillian M. Munger: Twenty-Three Letters." Colby Library Quarterly 22.1 (Mar. 1986): 28-35, writes that the 23 letters from Jewett to Munger in the University of Virginia Clifton Waller Barrett Library all were written between 1876 and 1882, after the Lillian's family left South Berwick in 1876, when her Methodist clergyman father accepted a new posting in Farmington, ME.

The manuscript of this letter is held by the Old Berwick Historical Society, in the archives at the Counting House Museum in South Berwick, ME: item 1974I 0003.C. Transcription and notes by Terry Heller, Coe College.

SOJ to John Geenleaf Whittier

Manchester, Mass.

Monday August 16, 1885


My dear Friend:

     If I had written you every time I have thought of it this summer you would have had half a room full of letters! I hoped that it would come about that A. F.* and I should not miss our little visit to Asquam* but she has felt that she ought not to go away and until within a few days I have not been able to leave home. My sister was ill when I went away from her six weeks ago and then between relays of visitors and my family's dispersing to the seashore, I was very much "dispersed" myself from my pen and ink's neighbourhood. I like to keep house dearly, but I have to give my whole mind to it!! It has been a lovely summer in Berwick and I never loved the dear old place so much -- it is harder every time to come away and when I am here, I "strike root" amazingly, so I am quite grieved to the heart every little while. I am going home again directly -- this is only a visit between visits like the old topers "drinking between drinks." The Longfellow girls1 are coming tomorrow and after their visit is over Mabel Lowell and her boys,2 but I shall not be here then. I did get two short stories done:3 one is highly approved by A. F. and the other reminds me of an installation prayer which Father used to mention. The parson was thanking God for all the predecessors in that pulpit (which was in Dover) and he extolled Father Bellamy and all the rest straight along, until he came to one who had been an awful scallawag: "And now O Lord we come to thy next servant of whom Lord, of whom -- we -- can't -- speak -- quite -- so -- well.''

     I hope your dear cousins, Mr. and Mrs. Cartland* are with you, and that you will give my love to them. My sister Mary* and I are going to drive to Manchester again some time next month and I shall call all along the road, as the farmers' wives do in "Witchtrot."4

     We have been much saddened by the news of H. H.'s death5 and talk of her and her work a great deal. How many people will miss her, especially those to whom she has reached out such a strong helping hand. Edith Thomas6 for one!

     I think now and then about the story you sent me,7 and I have faith that something is growing out of it. I have to work backward when I get an idea in this way, for I usually know my people and their sur­roundings first and then, whatever particular happens to them is sec­ondary.

     My hand is getting better, of late, and does not begin to trouble me as it did for so many months, and I should have written a good deal this last time I was at home if there had not been so many other things to do. I hope to take Mrs. Fields back with me for a few days when she leaves here in October. She would send her love to you by this con­veyance I am sure, but one small letter cannot carry two people's whole affectionateness any way in the world. You know how dearly we both love you and I am more than your grateful and affectionate

S. O. J.


1. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow had three daughters: Alice Mary (1850-1928); Edith (1853-1915) who married Richard Henry Dana; and Annie Allegra (1855­1934) who married Joseph G. Thorp. Of the three, Miss Jewett was most familiar with Alice.

2. James Russell Lowell's daughter Mabel (1847-1898) married Edward Burnett; they had three sons and two daughters. Mrs. Burnett collaborated with Charles Eliot Norton on a Grolier Club edition of John Donne in 1895.

3. Probably "Mary and Martha," Christian Union, XXXI I (November 26, 1885), 12-13 , and "The Dulham Ladies," Atlantic Monthly, LVII (April 1886), 455-462; both collected in A White Heron and Other Stories (1886).

4. Witch Trot Road ran through Wells, Maine, past the Jewett house and to the Lower Landing at the Hamilton House. It abounded in the legendry of bewitched animals, mildewed crops, secret compacts with the devil, and tormented souls driven for centuries by wizards and witches.*

5. Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885) died August 12. Under the initials "H. H." and the nom de plume "Saxe Holm," she wrote poems and fiction, best remembered of which is the novel Ramona [Romona].

6. Edith M. Thomas (1854-1925), poet with a classical idiom, impressed Mrs. Jackson when she called on her in a New York hotel with a scrapbook of unpublished verses. Mrs. Jackson's personal persuasion was responsible for the publication of some of these. Miss Thomas' rondeau, "A Friend at Court," acknowledges the value of such aid; her "Born Deaf, Dumb, and Blind" owes much in diction and metaphor to Mrs. Jackson's "The Loneliness of Sorrow."

7. "The Courting of Sister Wisby," Atlantic Monthly, LIX (May 1887), 577-586; collected in The King of Folly Island and Other People (1888). After publication, Whittier wrote that he had read it "with great satisfaction" and was "glad to have any hint of a story acted upon so admirably." (Cary, "More Whittier Letters, P. 135.)

Editor's Notes

A.F.:  Annie Adams Fields.  See Correspondents

Asquam:  Now called Squam Lake, Lake Asquam is "in the Lakes Region of central New Hampshire, United States, south of the White Mountains, straddling the borders of Grafton, Carroll, and Belknap counties. The largest town center on the lake is Holderness."

Mr. and Mrs. Cartland:  Cary identifies this couple as Joseph Cartland (1810-1898) and Gertrude Cartland (1822-1911), who ac­companied Whittier on his summer vaca­tions in Maine and New Hampshire for five decades, and in whose home at New­buryport, Massachusetts, he lived most of his last fifteen winters.

sister Mary:  Mary Rice Jewett.  See Correspondents.

Witch Trot Road:  Wendy Pirsig's The Placenames of South Berwick (2007) shows a different route for Witchtrot Road that does not pass the Jewett House or extend to Hamilton House (pp. 68-71).

  This letter was transcribed and annotated by Richard Cary, and first published in  "'Yours Always Lovingly': Sarah Orne Jewett to John Greenleaf Whittier,"  Essex Institute Historical Collections 107 (1971): 412-50. This article was reprinted at the Sarah Orne Jewett Text Project by permission of the library of the American Antiquarian Society and the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum.

SOJ to Louisa Loring Dresel

Thunderbolt Hill*
[ Summer 1885 ]*

Dear Loulie

    I thought I was quick as I could be!  I just spoke to Mrs. Whitman* and clipped into the study and out round the piazza with an offering of a lemon one and a peppermint for provisions on the drive home -- and when I reached the brow of the hill thinking I should

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overtake you you were already getting into the [ deleted letters ] carriage!  I watched you from the top of the hill with my gibralters* in my hands, so do come soon again and get them.  I forgot to tell you too what seems to belong to you in a way;  I

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have been "making up" the White Heron* again and so when I get down to Berwick it is really going to be written -- no postponement on account of the weather!

    In a hurry -- just before tea --

Your affectionate

S. O. J.


Thunderbolt Hill:  The location of the Gambrel Cottage of Annie Adams Fields in Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA.  See Correspondents.

Summer 1885:  Written in another hand and ink at the top left of page one is the date: 1885. This seems likely to be correct, for Jewett indicates in the letter that she has not yet completed a draft of "A White Heron."  She reports near the beginning of 1886 that William Dean Howells has rejected the story for The Atlantic.  That Jewett is writing from the Fields home in Manchester suggests that the time is warm weather, when Fields usually was at her summer home.  See SOJ to Annie Adams Fields, dated early 1886.

gibraltersWikipedia says that Gibraltar rock candy, associated with Salem, MA, was the first commercially manufactured candy sold in the United States, beginning in 1806.

"the White Heron":  Jewett's story first appeared when she included it in her 1886 volume, A White Heron and Other Stories.

The manuscript of this letter is held by the Columbia University (New York) Library in Special Collections, Jewett.  Transcription from a microfilm copy and annotation by Terry Heller, Coe College.

John Greenleaf Whittier to SOJ


Amesbury (19th 8 Mo 1885)*

My dear Friend,

    Nothing could be more welcome than thy letter which has just reached me.  I needed it.  We missed thee and dear Annie Fields* this summer at the Asquam.  We enjoyed our summer but the best thing seemed wanting.  I sometimes looked to see you coming through the sunset light as you did once before.

    I hope soon to see thy two new stories, and even the one which is "not quite so well" will be welcome.  Did I tell thee how I like thy story of the girl who turned farmer?*  It is one of thy very best.

    I never met "H.H."* but two or three times -- the first before she was famous but, familiar with all her writings, I seemed to know her intimately.  She had a rare gift and used it nobly. She was, I think, prepared to solve the great mystery.

    I am afraid the story I sent thee is not exactly suited to thy purpose, but perhaps some hints may be got from it without attempting to [ fathom ? ] it.

    I hope I shall see thee and thy sister* as you drive by Manchester, but I fear I may not as I am going to Danvers soon. I am only just back from Holderness.  But I wish thee and dear Annie could come here when you go to Berwick and spend a night once more under my roof.  I will be in A.* at the time if you will drop me a line. You know I cannot afford now to let one of my years pass without seeing you.

    Excuse this brief note.  I am under an avalanche of letters unanswered from people who have no claim upon my time and strength. I wish the postage was trebled.  With love to our dearest of friends, I am always affectionately thine.

John G. Whittier


1885:  Whittier uses the Quaker convention of numbering months. The transcriber put the full date of the letter within parenthesis, but tentatively dated it in 1888.  It seems clear however that Whittier refers to "Farmer Finch" (1885) as a recent story and that Jewett has asked him about the recently deceased Helen Hunt Jackson.  See SOJ to John Greenleaf Whittier for 16 August 1885.

Annie Fields
:  Annie Adams Fields. See Correspondents.

girl who turned farmer:  Jewett's "Farmer Finch" appeared in Harper's Magazine in January 1885.  It was collected in A White Heron and Other Stories (1886).

the Asquam:  Whittier probably refers to the Asquam House hotel.  Now called Squam Lake, Lake Asquam is "in the Lakes Region of central New Hampshire, United States, south of the White Mountains, straddling the borders of Grafton, Carroll, and Belknap counties. The largest town center on the lake is Holderness."  Richard Cary notes of Holderness: "A summer resort village in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Asquam House was on the peak of Shepard Hill which afforded a magnificent view of the several lakes in its vicinity. The scene inspired his poems "The Hill-Top" and "Storm on Lake Asquam."

H.H.: Helen Hunt Jackson (1830 - 12 August1885) used the pen name, H.H.  She was the author of a number of works, fiction and non-fiction, featuring Native Americans, notably A Century of Dishonor (1881) and Ramona (1884).

thy sister:  Probably Mary Rice Jewett.  See Correspondents.

A.:  Presumably,Whittier means Amesbury, MA.

The manuscript of this letter is held by the South Berwick Public Library, South Berwick, ME.  From typescript of an unknown transcriber.  Annotated by Terry Heller, Coe College.

SOJ to Laura E. Bellamy

     South Berwick, Maine
     August 31, 1885

    My dear Miss Bellamy:

     I am sorry that I have not been able to answer your letter sooner, but I was glad I had not written you when I found this little essay yesterday in the Sunday Herald.1 It says many things, which you will appreciate, much better than I could say them, and, I think, gives us a simple straightforward explanation of the fact that some books are for a time and some for no time and some for all time. It isn't for me to decide whether you must keep on writing; that belongs to your own heart and conscience. But I know one thing -- that you will not be left in the dark about it. Do not be misled either by a difficulty or a facility of expression. If you have something to say, it will and must say itself, and the people will listen to whom the message is sent.

     I often think that the literary work which takes the least prominent place nowadays is that belonging to the middle ground. Scholars and so-called intellectual persons have the wealth of literature in the splendid accumulation of books that belong to all times, and now and then a new volume is added to the great list. Then there is the lowest level of literature, the trashy newspapers and sensational novels, but how seldom a book comes that stirs the minds and hearts of the good men and women of such a village as this, for instance. One might say that they are not readers by nature or that they do not get their learning in this way, but the truth must be recognized that few books are written for and from their standpoint. That they have read certain books proves that they would read others if they had them. And whoever adds to this department of literature will do an inestimable good, will see that a simple, helpful way of looking at life and speaking the truth about it -- "To see life steadily, and see it whole," as Matthew Arnold* says -- in what we are pleased to call its everyday aspects must bring out the best sort of writing. My dear father used to say to me very often, "Tell things just as they are!"2 and used to show me what he meant in A Sentimental Journey!* The great messages and discoveries of literature come to us, they write us, and we do not control them in a certain sense. From what I know of your wishes in regard to your work, I am sure you will not neglect any chance of forwarding it, and if it proves that you must make something else first, and put the great gift and pleasure of writing second in your life, you will live none the less helpfully and heartily, and try to find God's meaning and purpose for your work and give it to the world again in whatever you do.

     I try to remember very often a bit from a criticism upon one of Miss Thackeray's novels which I saw in Harper's long ago: "It is, after all, Miss Thackeray herself in Old Kensington who gives the book its charm."3
     I fear that I cannot help you much, but I hope and believe that you are equal to helping yourself, for it is what we ourselves put into our own lives that really counts. Thank you for letting me see Mr. Ward's4 letter which pleased me very much. I only wish that I could be as kind a friend to younger writers as those friends whom I found when I was beginning. But they all said, "Work away!"5
     With best wishes, believe me
     Yours sincerely,

     Sarah O. Jewett


     1 "Tests in Literature," Boston Sunday Herald (August 30, 1885), 12; an unsigned discussion of the successful versus the unsuccessful book, using for illustration the works of Shakespeare, Carlyle, Wordsworth, Keats, Dana, Ticknor, Browning, Tennyson, and Whitman.
     2 This maxim Miss Jewett quoted on several occasions and in usually variant form. Her published version in "Looking Back on Girlhood," Youth's Companion, LXV (January 7, 1892), 6, is probably closest to his exact words. See also Letters 2, note 3; 68, note 2; 99.
     3 Review of Anne Thackeray Ritchie's Old Kensington in the "Editor's Literary Record," Harper's, XLVII (June 1873), 131. Henry Mills Alden, then editor, actually wrote: "It is Miss Thackeray in Old Kensington which makes it so delightful a story."
     4 William Hayes Ward (see Correspondents).
     5 For other letters to aspiring writers see Fields, Letters, 245-250 (to Willa Cather), and letters to Andress S. Floyd and John Thaxter in this volume.

Editor's notes

"To see life steadily...":  Matthew Arnold (1822-1888). From Arnold's sonnet, "To a Friend," addressed to Sophocles, "Who saw life steadily, and saw it whole."  See p. 40 of The Poems of Matthew Arnold.

A Sentimental JourneyWikipedia says: "A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy is a novel by Laurence Sterne (1713-1768), written and first published in 1768, as Sterne was facing death."

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.

SOJ to Louisa Loring Dresel

South Berwick
9th of September
[ 1885 ]*

My dear Loulie

    What a dear, nice long letter! -- and how it has brought me a whiff of real mountain air!  I must send a word of thanks to you right away, but I  hope to hear more about your good times soon, as I am going back to Manchester

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in a very few days.  My sister Mary* and I mean to drive up as we did last year and if Friday morning promises good weather we shall start on Friday, or else the first of the week.

    I meant to write you while you were away and indeed I sent many loving thoughts

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after you and fairly 'wished' you into getting better!  but we have had a succession of guests coming by twos and threes (and odd ones who didn't match,) and I have found it hard to do much writing these last few weeks.

    Do give my dear love to your mother.  I hope that she is better too.  I wish

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I had been with you on 'the spree' -- What joy to see the naughty tourists on the front seat getting soaked through! or to feel them, though you were wet too.

    -- I have taken great pleasure in the stormy little picture you gave me.  I like it better and better for there is an increasing proportion of me that likes just that sort of weather.

Yours affectionately
S. O. J.   


1885:  This date has been added in another hand and different ink to the top left corner of page 1.  I have chosen to accept it, though the rationale is unknown.

Mary:  Mary Rice Jewett.  See Correspondents.

The manuscript of this letter is held by the Columbia University (New York) Library in Special Collections, Jewett.  Transcription from a microfilm copy and annotation by Terry Heller, Coe College.

SOJ to Alice Mary Longfellow

Tuesday afternoon
[ October 20, 1885]*

My dear Alice

        I have thought of you so often these days since the wedding* was over, and I think I must write a little letter, though to be sure there is not much news to tell!  I wish you could have seen the beauty of this part of the country in the last week or two.  We feel

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dreadfully at having to leave Manchester!  We have been driving and walking all up and down the coast and have made several excursions inland to Wenham and Essex and Danvers.  I wish you had been with us one day at Ipswich Neck* -- a great deal more wonderful and beautiful sand-heap than Coffin's Beach* even -- Someday we must go there.

    I drove up from Berwick

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with my own particular 'Sheila'* and on this next Thursday we are going back and the little gig will have a deck-load of wraps and bags, and Sheila's own garments for the night, that it can hardly carry without spilling over!  I ought to have had some sort of a hold built under the gig long ago, but Mrs. Fields* has made the same journey once before and knows well what to expect -- -- I am so glad that the wedding "went off"

[Bottom right corner of page 3 in another hand:  LONG 18653]

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so charmingly -- here came Mrs. Fields just [now written over then ?] to send you her dear love and say how much she enjoyed it.  I went to town with her and we stayed over night at the house and altogether it was quite a gay frolic.  I was so eager to hear all about it, and it was very pleasant starting her off.  I am so glad that she seems better in every way than she was two years or even a year ago -- and that it no longer gives her such unbearable pain to see her old friends and be reminded of the

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old days* -- Time is a great healer, but how we resent the thought of our sorrow ever growing less when we are young, and then grow more and more grateful for such help as time brings, as we grow older! --

    I am so often reminded of Carlyle's saying "The only happiness men ought to ask for, is happiness enough to get their work done!"*

    There's nothing like it after all, however pleasant it is to be amused or entertained -- and indeed the sense of work done is the only thing that makes holidays

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worth having -- That reminds me of your weeks in the woods.  I was so glad to hear that you had such a successful time.  I am sure it must have rested you through and through.

    I have had more time out of doors this fall than for a long time before, and I am very eager now to begin my winter's work.  I have finished some sketches lately and I am just in the middle of another which deals (imperfectly!) with

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the coast of Maine -- and is to be called The King of Folly Island -- a Marsh Island plot,* though in quite a different key --

    We have been reading the Life of Agassiz* aloud with perfect delight.  Dont you think it is beautifully done?  I cant begin to say what an inspiriting book it is to me.  I believe I shall write my Norman book* better for having read it first now.

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    -- I did not mean to write such a long letter but somehow it has written itself.  Don't think you owe it an answer for I know very well how many [letters corrected] you have to write and by and by when I go to town we shall "play together" I hope, and carry out some of the plans that were made last year.  Mrs. Fields is  hoping to see you when she gets back (after a few days in Berwick) --  Good-by dear girl -- believe that I am yours always lovingly    S.O.J.


October 20, 1885:  This date is speculative, based upon the mention of the wedding, presumably, of Anne Allegra Longfellow.  See the following notes.

the wedding
:  Probably, Jewett refers to the wedding of Alice's younger sister, Anne Allegra Longfellow (1855-1931), to Joseph Gilbert Thorp (1852-1931) on 14 October 1885.

Wenham and Essex and Danvers ... Ipswich Neck:  These towns all are in Essex County in northeast Massachusetts; however the exact location of Ipswich Neck in relation to the village is not yet known.  Assistance is welcome.

Coffin's BeachWikipedia notes: "Wingaersheek Beach is a 0.6-mile ... long beach located on the Annisquam River in West Gloucester, Massachusetts, United States.... The beach was alternatively called Coffins Beach for Peter Coffin whose farm was located alongside this beach."

'Sheila':  Jewett's horse.

Mrs. Fields:  Annie Adams Fields.  See Correspondents.

reminded of the old days:  James T. Fields, husband of Annie Adams Fields, died 24 April 1881.  Visiting with old friends such as Alice Longfellow apparently still reminds Fields of her loss.

Carlyle's saying:  Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) expresses this general idea in several of his works, including `Characteristics (1831) and Sartor Resartus (1833). The passage to which Jewett refers is most likely Past and Present (1843) III,iv.

The King of Folly Island -- a Marsh Island plot:  Jewett's "The King of Folly Island" was published in Harper's Magazine (74:102-116), December 1886.  Her novel, A Marsh Island, was serialized in Atlantic Monthly and appeared in book form in 1885.

Life of Agassiz:  It is likely Jewett and Fields are reading Burt G. Wilder's The Life of Agassiz (1885).

my Norman book:  Jewett's The Story of the Normans (1887) appeared at the end of 1886.

The manuscript of this letter is held in the archives of Longfellow House-Washington's Headquarters NHS; Correspondence of Sarah Orne Jewett.  HWLD-B139-F94 nd Sarah Orne Jewett to AML 002.  Transcription and annotation by Terry Heller, Coe College.

SOJ to Eben Norton Horsford
148 Charles St.,

 Wednesday morning [Fall ]*

Dear Prof. Horsford

Your letter has found me here but I am afraid I must give up the pleasure of seeing you as I go away in the morning. This is only a little visit! but I am coming back before Christmas. What you say about the meaning Newickawannock is exactly right, and next summer you must come and see the high place between the two rivers for yourself:* it is a most beautiful bit of land and as I walked along an old river-path a few days ago, before the snow came I saw an Indian path leading down to the water! I have always known that there was a famous town of Indians on the sandy upland there, but I never found an arrowhead and never saw one that anybody else found. They were all fishermen I don't doubt!
With love to all

-- your affectionately

    Sarah O. Jewett


fall:  Willoughby places this letter between the 1884 and 1886 letters in his collection.

:  In her essay, "The Old Town of Berwick" (1894), Jewett says: 
The records say that Pring could find no inhabitants in the Indian villages near the coast, except a few old people, from whom he learned that they had all gone up the river to their chief fishing place. So he followed them at flood tide for a dozen miles or more, finding little wealth of sassafras, but discovering a magnificent wooded country and the noble river itself, with its many tributaries and its great bay. The main branch of the Piscataqua (river of right angles or the great deer drive, as one may choose to interpret it) would lead him to Newichawannock Falls (my place of wigwams), and to Quampeagan (the great fishing place). No doubt there were those who could direct him to this point, for, being in June, it was the time of the salmon fishery at the Newichawannock Falls, to which place all the Indians came to catch and dry their fish for winter use. It was the great fishery for all that part of the country.

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 Francis Jackson Garrison

     South Berwick, Maine
     November 20, [1885]

    Dear Mr. Garrison:

     I have been wishing to thank you for your kind and delightful letter, which brought me real pleasure and a sense of friendly companionship, and for the book, a beautiful memorial to your father.1 The Words are "still vital with spiritual insight" and all the heavenly gifts your preface claims. I had sent it -- or ordered it to be sent -- to David Douglas2 for he always seems to me akin to these things, and to another old friend who lives near Manchester and who will soon have this book by heart, though he followed the maker of it through all the old days. Somehow it gave me a great delight in imagination to follow the two volumes on their way.

     Your letter sounds as if the summer's journey had done you good. It is good to have new things to think of, and such freshening makes one see the old things with new eyes. I hope that it will be long before you get so very tired again; it was too bad!

     When I get to town by and by I shall hope to see you and dear Mrs. Garrison. Tell her that I get very hungry and thirsty sometimes for some music.

     Yours most sincerely,

     Sarah O. Jewett


     1 With his brother Wendell Phillips Garrison, Francis Jackson wrote William Lloyd Garrison, 1805-1879; The Story of his Life as told by his Children (New York, 1885-1889), 4 vols. Francis also edited The Words of Garrison (Boston, 1905).
     2 David Douglas (1823-1916), of Edinburgh, editor of the Journal of Sir Walter Scott (New York, 1890), and the Familiar Letters of Sir Walter Scott (Boston, 1894). Miss Jewett enjoyed the wholesome domesticity of Douglas' household and made a point of visiting him on her trips abroad.

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.

SOJ to Annie Adams Fields

     Thursday night, 4 December,  [1885].* 

     Such a day! -- the weather could not be resisted, and I went to York -- you would have truly loved it, for I never knew more delicious weather, as bright and sweet as Indian summer, only more bracing. I had my luncheon out of doors and sat afterward in an old boat on the pebbles and watched the great waves of a high tide. I could not bear to come away. You never saw anything more beautiful than that great stretch of shore, and the misty sea, and the gulls, so lonely, so full, and so friendly, somehow. I went chiefly for the sake of seeing my old friend, and found her in a mood that matched the day, all her wildness and strangeness of last summer quite gone, and a sweet pathos and remembrance come in their stead. She was so glad to see me, that my heart cries to think of her. She said once, "I want you to thank your mother for bringing you into the world, you have been such a pleasure to me." -- And then I must go to her closets and find her best cap, and a new double gown, and a better shoulder-shawl, and help her put them on because I had come! She has grown so thin and small, as if she were slowly turning into a fairy, and it was so sweet to see her less troubled, though she remembered perfectly the last time I was there, broken as she seemed to me then. The sunshine filled the quaint old room and we had a delightful long talk, though once in a while she would be a little bewildered, and tell me over and over again about her sister's death. "I lay down beside her," she would say, "and I thought she seemed very cold, but I put my arms round her"; and then she would cry, and I would talk about something else, until in a minute or two she would be smiling again through her sad old tears. As long as I could see the house, she was standing at her chamber window and waving her handkerchief to me, and I promised to go down again the first time I came home. She seems very feeble. I had a strong feeling that I should not see her again. I must tell you that she said with strange emphasis, "I have seen Betsey, she came one night and stood beside my bed; it shocked me a good deal, but I saw her, and one of my brothers came with her." As she told me this I believed it was the truth, and no delusion of her unsteady brain. I ought not to write any more, but somehow there is a great deal to tell you.

     This morning I was out, taking a drive about town with John and I saw such a coast from way up the long hillside down to the tavern garden, and directly afterward down in the village I beheld Stubby faring along with his sled, which is about as large as a postage-stamp. So I borryed it, as you say, and was driven up to the top of the hill street and down I slid over that pound-cake frosting of a coast most splendid, and meekly went back to the village and returned the sled. Then an hour later in bursts Stubby, with shining morning face: "There were two fellows that said Aunt Sarah was the boss, she went down side-saddle over the hill just like the rest of the boys!"

     I have been reading Christopher North's "Genius and Character of Burns"--father's old Wiley and Putnam copy* with such delight, and this evening I got down the poems and longed to have them with you. We don't read Burns half enough, do we? And when I read again the eloquence of the Wilson book,* I wondered at that dull placidity that was lately printed in the "Atlantic," yet I was most grateful to it for freshening my thought of the big Scotsman. Do let us read bits of the Burns together some time, just for the bigness of his affection and praise.

     I wrote until after dark this afternoon, and then went out to walk in the early moonlight, down the street by the Academy, and even up on the hill back of the Academy itself.* There was a great grey cloud in the west, but all the rest of the sky was clear, and it was very beautiful. When one goes out of doors and wanders about alone at such a time, how wonderfully one becomes part of nature, like an atom of quick-silver against a great mass. I hardly keep my separate consciousness, but go on and on until the mood has spent itself.*

     Madame Sand's mother* is astray out of a Dickens book, but I don't know which one. I wish I knew that kind of people well enough to write about them; they are dreadfully interesting sometimes. Today I am plunged into the depths of the rural districts, and this promised to be one of my dear country stories like the "Only Son."* Good heavens! what a wonderful kind of chemistry it is that evolves all the details of a story and writes them presently in one flash of time! For two weeks I have been noticing a certain string of things and having hints of character, etc., and day before yesterday the plan of the story comes into my mind, and in half an hour I have put all the little words and ways into their places and can read it off to myself like print. Who does it? for I grow more and more sure that I don't!*

     I am going to grapple with the difficulty of a run-away husband. I wish I could tell you all about it, but I mean to have it done in two or three days. I ought to be preparing the "Dulham Ladies" and "A Gray Man" for "the press,"* but it is better to get hold of this new one while I can. I send you a "Century." Do read the Virginia girl's paper about the war.* We have often heard bits of talk that match it, but those pathetic days have never been more truthfully and delicately written down.


4 December, 1885:  Fields places this letter in 1889, but almost certainly this is incorrect.  Jewett's discussion of her writing fits with December of 1885.  "An Only Son" appeared in Atlantic Monthly in November 1883, "The Dulham Ladies" in April 1886, and "A Gray Man" first appeared in A White Heron in 1886. The story of a runaway husband mentioned as not yet complete probably is "Marsh Rosemary," which appeared in Atlantic in May 1886. See below on the Century paper.  While part of the letter almost certainly was written late in 1885, the Thursday 4 December date also would be incorrect, as 4 December fell on a Friday in 1885, Thursday in 1884.  However, it is not unusual for Jewett to name the day she composed a letter with the date she mailed it.
    Another complexity is the oddity of Jewett recommending to Fields a Century article that first appeared in the August 1885 issue.  Jewett is very likely to have read it soon after it appeared, suggesting that the final paragraph of this letter was composed in August of 1885.
    The complexity of dating this letter increases with the probability that it may be is a composite of several letters.  At the end of these notes is another transcription that raises this issue.
Betsey .... Stubby:  Stubby is Jewett's nephew Theodore Eastman  (4 August 1879 - 9 March 1931).  Betsey almost certainly is Elizabeth Barrell (c. 1799 - November 12, 1883), and Jewett is speaking of visiting Mary Barrell (c. 1804 - June 6, 1889), who lived in what is now the Sayward-Wheeler House in York Harbor, ME. for much of the 19th century.

Christopher North's "Genius and Character of Burns"--father's old Wiley and Putnam copy ... the Wilson book: Robert Burns (1759-1796), famous Scots poet. John Wilson (1785-1854) wrote under the name of Christopher North. Wilson's The Genius, and Character of Burns was published by Wiley and Putnam in 1845.

the Academy: The Berwick Academy in South Berwick, Maine. See "The Old Town of Berwick," for information and illustrations.

the mood had spent itself: see the opening of R. W. Emerson's, "Nature."

Madame Sand's mother: Jewett has been reading George Sand, perhaps Story of My Life (1854-55).

"Only Son": "An Only Son" appeared in Atlantic Monthly in November 1883.

"Dulham Ladies" and "A Gray Man" for "the press":  "The Dulham Ladies"first appeared in Atlantic Monthly (57:455-462) in April 1886, and "A Gray Man" first appeared in A White Heron in 1886.  That Jewett is preparing them "for the press," suggests that she is going over them as part of collecting them into her 1886 book.

a "Century." Do read the Virginia girl's paper about the war: Mrs. Burton (C. C.) Harrison's "A Virginia Girl in the First Year of the War" appeared in Century 30 (August 1885) 606-614.

I grow more and more sure that I don't:  Near the end of "The Poet," Emerson says:  "He hears a voice, he sees a beckoning. Then he is apprised, with wonder, what herds of daemons hem him in. He can no more rest; he says, with the old painter, "By God, it is in me, and must go forth of me." He pursues a beauty, half seen, which flies before him. The poet pours out verses in every solitude. Most of the things he says are conventional, no doubt; but by and by he says something which is original and beautiful. That charms him. He would say nothing else but such things. In our way of talking, we say, 'That is yours, this is mine;' but the poet knows well that it is not his; that it is as strange and beautiful to him as to you; he would fain hear the like eloquence at length."

This letter appears in Annie Fields, Letters of Sarah Orne Jewett (1911),  Transcribed by Annie Adams Fields, with notes by Terry Heller, Coe College.

Another Transcription that Contains Part of this Letter

A notable difference is that this partial transcription of a longer letter contains one paragraph from the above letter -- the second.  However, it's first paragraph is not included in the above letter.  This seems to make clear that Fields's transcription either is also partial or is a composite of several letters.

Sunday morning

Dear Fuff --*

                        . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

            I have been reading and writing this rainy morning and look forward to a blessed long afternoon.  I would sell my mornings cheap for all the good I or any body else even gets out of them.  It is a great pity to lose so much of the day.  I used to like to sit up half the night but I am getting to be a sleepyhead like you, and so I have come unto a land in which it seemed always afternoon.  Such a good letter from Carrie* this morning………….


………Today I am plunged into the depths of the rural districts and this promised to be one of my dear country stories like the Only Son, Good heaven,! what a wonderful kind of chemistry it is that evolves all the details of a story and writes them presumably in one flash of time!  For two weeks I have been noticing a certain string of things and having hints of character etc. and day before yesterday the plan of the story comes into my mind and in half an hour I have put all the little words and ways into their places and can read it off to myself like print.  Who does it, for I grow more and more sure that I don't.  I am doing to grapple with the difficulties of a run-away husband!  I wish I could tell you all about it, but I mean to have it done in two or three days.  I ought to be preparing The Dulham Ladies, and a Grey Man for the press, but it is better to get hold of this new one while I can.  I send you a Century………….


Notes for this fragment

A typewritten note on this transcription reads: (before Oct. 1891). The ellipses indicate a partial transcription.

Fuff:  A nickname for Annie Adams Fields.  See Correspondents.

Carrie: Caroline Jewett Eastman.  See Correspondents.

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 73, 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 Annie Adams Fields


Friday evening
[ 1885 ]*

Dearest Fuff

            This is such a nice long letter from Eva with Compton* messages for you that you must have it all  --  and here is the English letter too, which I forgot this morning.  This afternoon I drove Mother to Dover to do an errand and the rest of the day I have been reading. 

            For one thing I have finished the Buckland life* which is not a very well managed memoir of a most interesting man.  I am so fond of rereading letters from people who know how to write them that it seems a resentable thing that there are almost none in this book.  Only you soon catch the 'go' and excited business of the man and understand that any account of him would only be a fragmentary account of his activity.  He was so public spirited, so determined to do his work that you get a greater enthusiasm constantly as you go on.  I have missed the Spectator this week but I send you the Saturday Review and Punch* . . . . . . . . . .



1885:  This tentative date is based upon Jewett reporting that she has read "the Buckland life," which -- if she refers to Frank Bucklin -- was published in 1885.
    The ellipsis in the transcription indicates that this is a selection from the manuscript.

Fuff: Nickname for Annie Adams Fields. See Correspondents.

Eva ... Compton:  Eva is likely to be Baroness Eva von Blomberg.   See Correspondents.  Compton probably refers to Little Compton RI, a resort village.

Buckland life:  This seems likely to be Life of Frank Buckland (1885) by George C Bompas.  Francis Trevelyan Buckland (1826 - 1880), "was an English surgeon, zoologist, popular author and natural historian."

Spectator ... Saturday Review and Punch:  These all would be British weekly serial publications at the time of this letter: The Spectator,  The Saturday Review of Politics, Literature, Science, and Art and Punch.

Pin:  Nickname for Sarah Orne Jewett.    See Correspondents. Why the transcriber placed the name in parentheses is not known.

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.

Edited by Terry Heller, Coe College.

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