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1891    1893
Sarah Orne Jewett Letters of 1892

SOJ to Katharine Peabody Loring and Alice James

South Berwick, Maine
3 January 1891 [1892]*

Dear Katharine and Alice. (for may I not say the "first name" because I always think it? --) 

I send you most loving wishes for your new year -- and my dear love.  Somehow you seem very near today. it will just be growing dark in London and I can think of you together in the closest way, and how you think together and know each other's thought, as only those friends can who are

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very near and very dear, and for whom illness has pushed away everything but the best of life. 

    I have been thinking a great deal about this of late -- and of what we call separation.  Where one has gone on ahead into the new state of things, and what that one does for the one who stays on longer in this world -- it seems to me that in the first place we learn to know the 'angel' at once -- all that was really of this world fades out of mind.  It is simply wonderful to me the nearness I feel

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to my mother* and the new love and completer understanding between us.  Why should people ever have wished for spirit rappings* or for a "medicine" of any sort, when you feel sure of the warm love and instant presence in your own heart as nobody could ever persuade you of it.  What will it be to be together again! to find the dear contentment of this world glorified in another and better world!  "They are all gone into the light" --* but surely the light shines back into our dim eyes and the "separation" is only a

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perfecting [or corrected from of?] [deleted letters or ?] continuing of the love and friendship here.  Nobody who has truly loved and truly known a friend can help feeling this.  It is only that we forget that there can be no gain without a smaller loss, and we hate to lose even for a little while any part of what made us happy. --

    -- I go writing on about this to you just as if I were with you and talking about it!  The truth is that I ought not to be writing at all because my eyes are sadly out of repair

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and I have had to be disagreeably careful of them, else I should have written you many days or even weeks ago.  There is nothing the matter, says Dr. Wadsworth,* except that I am a little run down and pretty rheumatic by nature and I gave them a strain by night in the summer & autumn.  Dr. Morton said the same thing but the fact remains that I cant use them much, and feel rather naughty and pretty nice when I get a pen into my hand and my

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thumb & middle finger well inked which is always necessary to an ease of expression on their part. 

    Christmas went by, not very cheerful to our hearts here, but on the whole happy to look back upon.  I went to the little Catholic Church to mass in the morning with my friendly, well to do Irish [and corrected] French-Canadian friends and neighbors, and I had a 'lot' of dear presents which always make you feel like a boy again, and then I took the night train and went to town after

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a pleasant dinner with my sisters.

    Mrs. Fields had gone to her sister's* and I waited an hour or two before she came back, and I stretched myself in comfort on the green couch in the library and contemplated the heap of nice white paper bundles on the piano -- Then I was a surprise party to A. F. and we sat up late and talked of many things.  It is ten years since Mr. Fields died* and I spent my first Christmas there!

    We still talk about going over

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in the spring, but no more definitely than when I wrote last:  I am eager to have Mrs. Fields get a long rest and change, but the ^recent^ accounts of voyages in the North Atlantic dont allure me to plough the main just at present.

    . . I wonder if you two have an acquaintance with the poems of Mrs. Katharine Philips  "The Matchless Orinda" -- ??*  One day in the studio Mrs. S. Whitman,* my dear beloved friend, did read me the poem to Mrs. M.A. (Mary Aubrey) which Keats quotes in one of his letters.*  She had it in the Sydney Colvins book, and that sent me back with delight to the old book itself.  I do think

[ Written up the left margin of page 5 ]

that the Matchless Orinda knew what it was to "be friends" as well as anybody ever did and had a wonderful gift of saying the things that friends feel.

[ Written up the left margin of page 6 ]

There are some such lovely poems -- one about a country life and to a little child that had died, but most of all these poems [of ?] friendship. 

[ Written up down the top margin from the left margin of page 6 ]

Do get them and read them over!  How I should like to read them with you!

[ Written up the left margin of page 7 ]

Good bye dear Friends.  God bless you and keep you both.  I remember you every day with love and joy that I have you in my heart

[ Written down from the left in the top margin of page 7 ]
Yours ever

[ Written up the left margin of page 8 ]

Mrs. Fields wrote me that she was going to "the Jo. Guiney's" to tea tonight with Dr. & Mrs. James.*  a quiet Sunday night [to ?] all by themselves -- the which I [unrecognized word] envy her!

[ Written up the left margin of page 1 ]

Have I ever sent you one of these little pictures of [this ?] old house

[ Written down the top margin from the left margin of page 1 ]

where I was born and still live -- My own room is round the right hand corner looking over to the spruce trees but I am writing at our old secretary in the upper hall [at ?  A seemingly unfinished sentence.]


1891 [1892]:  While this letter seems clearly dated 1891 in Jewett's hand, the fact that she speaks of her mother's recent death, which occurred on 21 October 1891, shows that Jewett almost certainly wrote the wrong year -- perhaps out of habit -- in one of her first letters of 1892.

Alice: Alice James "(August 7, 1848 - March 6, 1892) was an American diarist, sister of novelist Henry James and philosopher William James."  Domestic partner of Katharine Loring, James suffered from both psychological and physical illness most of her life.  By the date of this letter, James was just two months away from her death from breast cancer.  Wikipedia
    Probably Jewett feels she is taking a liberty by speaking of Alice James, whom she knew less well than Loring, by her first name rather than as "Miss James."

nearness I feel to my mother:  Caroline Augusta Perry Jewett died 21 October 1891. Sarah's experience of nearness to deceased friends and family is reflected in her writing from at least the death of her father, Theodore Herman Jewett in 1878.  See the first two poems "To my Father," in Jewett's Verses, 1916.

spirit rappings:  Jewett uses a judgmental term for Spiritualism, the contemporary belief system that included the ideas the spirits of the dead sought to communicate with the living and that some people, spirit mediums, were gifted with the power to facilitate such communication.  In a seance, led by such a medium, a spirit wishing to communicate with a living person was thought to signal its presence by making a rapping sound. 

"They are all gone into the light":  Henry Vaughan (1622-1695) was a Welsh mystical poet who wrote in English. "They are all gone into a world of Light!" appears in Silex Scintilans (1655), which begins, "They are all gone into a world of light! / And I alone sit lingering here; / Their very memory is fair and bright, / And my sad thoughts doth clear."  Jewett refers several times to this image in her writings, notably in her story "A Native of Winby" (Atlantic Monthly, May 1891), which she may have been drafting at about the time she composed this letter.

Dr. Wadsworth ... Dr. Morton:  It is possible that Jewett was seeing Dr. Oliver Fairfield Wadsworth (1838-1911), an ophthalmologist practicing in Boston who was, in 1892, a Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School.  Cary identifies Dr. Morton: Dr. Helen Morton (d. March 12, 1916) had offices successively on Marlboro, Boylston, and Chestnut streets in Boston. Jewett once characterized her as "touchy {touching?} in her doctorly heart and more devoted in her private capacity as a friend."

little Catholic Church ... Irish ... French-Canadian friends and neighbors:   St. Michael’s Church, a short walk from the Jewett house in South Berwick, before being renovated into the current South Berwick Public Library, was the parish church attended by the many immigrant mill workers and their descendants in the area. 

Mrs. Fields had gone to her sister's ... A. F. ... ten years since Mr. Fields died:  A. F. is Annie Fields; her sister, Sarah Holland Adams (1823-1916).  Fields' husband, the publisher James T. Fields died on 24 April 1881.

Katharine Philips  "The Matchless Orinda":  "Katherine or Catherine Philips (1632 - 1664), also known as Orinda, was an Anglo-Welsh poet, translator, and woman of letters. She achieved renown as translator of Pierre Corneille's Pompée and Horace, and for her editions of poetry....  After her death, in 1667 an authorised edition of her poetry was printed entitled Poems by the Most Deservedly Admired Mrs. Katherine Philips, the Matchless Orinda. The edition included her translations of Pompée and Horace."  Wikipedia

Mrs. S. Whitman ... the poem to Mrs. M.A. (Mary Aubrey) which Keats quotes in one of his letters: Sarah Wyman Whitman.  See Correspondents
    "To Mrs M. A. at parting" appeared in her volume of poems.  See Selected Poems (1904), pp. 12-13.
    John Keats (1795-1821), the British Romantic poet, discussed Philips in his letter to J. H. Reynolds of 21 September 1817.  See The Letters of John Keats: Vol 1 (2012) pp. 162-5.

the Sydney Colvins book: " Sir Sidney Colvin (1845 - 1927) was an English curator and literary and art critic, part of the illustrious Anglo-Indian Colvin family. He is primarily remembered for his friendship with Robert Louis Stevenson." Wikipedia
    However it is not clear which Colvin book Jewett refers to.  His 1887 biography of Keats would seem a likely possibility, but an electronic search does not show that Philips is mentioned in this biography.

one about a country life ... a little child that had died ...  all these poems [of ?] friendship:  Philips's "A Country Life" appears in Selected Poems, pp. 26-8.   The poem on her deceased young son is "Epitaph," p. 23.  While a number of the Selected Poems deal at least in part with the theme of friendship, one poem is entitled "Friendship," pp. 23-5.

"the Jo. Guiney's" ... Dr. & Mrs. James: "William James (1842 - 1910) was an American philosopher and psychologist who was also trained as a physician. The first educator to offer a psychology course in the United States.... He married Alice Gibbens in 1878." Wikipedia
    The identity of "Jo. Guiney" is not known.  Timothy Guiney and his wife, Johanna Josephine" resided in Cambridge, MA at the time this letter was composed, but no information has been found connecting them with William James.  Given that the Guineys apparently were working-class Irish immigrants, it is possible that Johanna worked in the James household and that Jewett may be joking about her power by identifying her as the host of the evening.
Timothy Guiney - 1920 Census Record
Cambridge Ward 9, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States
Timothy Guiney lived in Middlesex County, Massachusetts in 1920. He was the head of the household, 50 years old, and identified as white. Timothy was born in Ireland around 1870, and both of his parents were born in Ireland as well. In 1920, Timothy was married to Johanna Guiney, and they had thirteen children named Patrick J., Mary, Daniel, Catherine, Margaret, Helen, Anna, Lucy, John, Rose, Thomas, James, and William. He could read and write, owned his residence, and immigrated to the United States in 1894.

The manuscript of this letter is held by the Beverly MA Historical Society in the Loring Family Papers (1833-1943), MSS: #002, Series I. Letters to Katharine Peabody Loring (1849-1943), Box 1, Folder 1, Undated Letters, A-Z. 

SOJ to Louisa Loring Dresel


[ February 1892 ]

Dear Loulie

    "The Werra* from New York to Genoa" on the 27th of this month!  That is what makes a central point in my mind just now for Mrs. Fields and I have decided and are really going -- perhaps you have already thought so?

    I am sure that it is wisest

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and best, but it was very hard for me to come to a decision{.}  My sister Mary* did not feel like going again just now and I am sorry to leave her for so long and my other sister,* too -- but it is a great joy that they are close together here and that Mary wont really be quite alone.

    When I see you I shall

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have much to say --

    I liked that candy!  Thank you for it and for much beside that is well remembered{.}

Yours affectionately


I had a delightful call from Ellis* just after you went away, and he was so nice about my pictures!


Werra: Wikipedia says "The Rivers class was a class of eleven ocean liners of the Norddeutscher Lloyd (NDL), the first class of German express liners. The ships were built between 1881 and 1890, the first nine in Glasgow by John Elder & Co. or the renamed Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, the last two in Stettin by Vulcan. All were named for rivers in Germany."  The Werra was completed in 1882.

Mary:  Mary Rice Jewett. See Correspondents.

other sister:  Carrie Jewett Eastman. See Correspondents.

Ellis:  For Ellis Dresel, see Louisa Loring Dresel in 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 Katharine Loring

6 February 1892
South Berwick

Dear Katharine

        Your dear letter came yesterday = this is the answer.*  A. F.* and S.O.J. putting out to sea on the Werra* the 27th of this month for the port of Genoa just as was recommended by London friends!  It is a great pull to get started and very hard for me to

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think of leaving home -- as well as for A.F.  to break up her comfortable house and scatter her good young maids and leave Ward VII and Deer Island* responsibilities and all her good works and ways.*  But she needs a good rest and change and so do I -- it is all true that you say in your letter dear, wise, and always helpful Katharine!  And in the

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summer I go by order to Aix les Bains* in the capacity of rheumatic patient.

    When we shall get to London I cant say but I shall be wishing and wishing, and to see you both is one thing thought of a great deal.  I believe we are to be at the Isotta Hotel in Genoa* at first but as soon as I know about our banker I will speak you his name.*

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For I love to think that our letters will be only a day or two a-coming.  And that some happy find morning I shall go a knocking at your door.  I hope that the char man* wont be to aged to hobble forward to let me in, in case he is near by.  It is so [ so is double underlined] about him.  I read him to my sister and we laughed much.  Thank you and thank you for the Cranford.*  I have a feeling that it will come today

[ Up the left margin of page 1 ]

and I shall always be fond of it.  With dear love to you and [you meaning yours?]

Yours ever faithfully


yesterday = this:  Though Annie Fields often uses "=" to indicate a hyphen, a dash or a colon, Jewett rarely does this.

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

WerraWikipedia says "The Rivers class was a class of eleven ocean liners of the Norddeutscher Lloyd (NDL), the first class of German express liners. The ships were built between 1881 and 1890, the first nine in Glasgow by John Elder & Co. or the renamed Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, the last two in Stettin by Vulcan. All were named for rivers in Germany."  The Werra was completed in 1882.

leave Ward VII and Deer Island:  Boston's Seventh Ward, adjacent to Boston Common, was a wealthy part of Boston, where many of Fields's close friends resided, and may well have included the home of Annie Fields.  According to Wikipedia, Deer Island, in Boston Harbor, contained an almshouse for paupers in 1892 and, therefore, was among those sites of interest to the Associated Charities with which Fields worked.

works and ways:  In her letters, Jewett several times repeats this phrase, sometimes within quotation marks.  The actual phrase does not appear, as one might expect, in the King James Bible, though it is suggested in several places: Psalms 145:17, Daniel 4:37, and Revelations 15:3.  In each of these passages, the biblical author refers to the works and ways of God.  Jewett may be quoting from another source or from commentary on these passages, which tend to emphasize that while God's ways are mysterious, they also are to be accepted humbly by humanity.

by order to Aix les Bains: "Rising from the shores of the largest natural lake of glacial origin in France, the Lac du Bourget, [Aix-les-Bains] is one of the important French spa towns."

Isotta Hotel in Genoa: The Grand Hotel Isotta in Genoa.

I will speak you his name:  The identity of Jewett's banker during this European trip is not yet known.  Information is welcome. 

the char man:  Like a char-woman, a char man does home maintenance work.  In the United States, the more common term would be "chore man."

CranfordElizabeth Gaskell's (1810-1865) novel, Cranford (1851-3).

The manuscript of this letter is held by the Beverly MA Historical Society in the Loring Family Papers (1833-1943), MSS: #002, Series I: Letters to Katharine Peabody Loring (1849-1943) Box 1, Folder 2, Letters, 1879-1895.  Transcription and notes by Terry Heller, Coe College.

SOJ to Mary Rice Jewett

Wednesday night
half past eleven
[ January-February 1892 ]

34 Beacon Street*

Dear Mary

    -------------- Mary Wilkins and Mrs. Louise Chandler Moulton* and I were at one time in a cheerful company & were beheld by Mr. Aldrich* with  much pleasure.  I spoke of us frankly as the authoresses and we had a nice funny little time!!  Miss Wilkins looked prettier than I ever saw her but a great deal older somehow, & represented herself to be toiling over a book.  It is now 190,000 words & Mr. Alden* wants her to cut off half at least!  I'd like to see me doing it! ---------------


The lines of hyphens presumably indicate omissions from the manuscript.

1892:  This speculative date is based upon the fact that Wilkins's only novel before 1900 to be serialized in Harper's began appearing in April 1892.  See notes below.

34 Beacon Street: The Boston address of Susan Burley Cabot.  See Correspondents.

Mary Wilkins and Mrs. Louise Chandler Moulton:  For Moulton see CorrespondentsMary Eleanor Wilkins (1852-1930) was an American fiction writer.  She met Dr. Charles Manning Freeman in 1892 and married him in 1902.

Mr. Aldrich:  Thomas Bailey Aldrich. See Correspondents.

Mr. Alden:  Henry Mills Alden.  See Correspondents.  That Wilkins is working with Mr. Alden on her manuscript indicates that she is preparing it for serialization in Harper's Magazine, where Alden was editor.  The only Wilkins novel serialized in Harper's before 1900 was Jane Field: A Novel, which began appearing in April 1892 (v. 84, pp. 815-32) and continued through November.

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.

Sarah Wyman Whitman to SOJ

February, 1892.

     The whole living and breathing world beside has been filing in platoons before my weary eyes, but here is a Thursday afternoon with a great snow storm going on outside, and I flatter myself, -- Alas for human ignorance! at this moment I hear the voice of ---- in the hall below, and all is over. . . .


     And all was over, for the fashionable caller who goes, rather than comes, came not, but the affectionate few who go not but stay did appear. . . .


This transcription appears in Letters, Sarah Wyman Whitman.  Cambridge, MA:  Riverside Press, 1907, "Letters to Sarah Orne Jewett: 1882-1903," pp. 61-109.    

SOJ to Carrie Jewett Eastman and Mary Rice Jewett


[ 1892 ]*

Sister is so glad to be started, she dreaded it and feeled so bad about it!

= I have been up on deck & found the steamer chair all right. --  It is lovely and fresh and I begin to feel as if I should get my going boots on pretty soon. We send ever so much love 

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and were so glad to find Mr. Robert Underwood Johnson* who is always so friendly & nice with his wife{.} Mr. Gilder was waving to us from the wharf but I couldn’t show him to you --

     Do write a word to Thy friend* & say we got off all right & send

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 our love to him --

     Good by dear Sisters, & Stubby.* You have been so kind and dear. I hope you will have a lovely time in New York. & give my love to George [& Ann ?], and the Wards and all dear friends.

            Your loving

            sister Siddie*



1892:  This date is added at the top right of the page in another hand.

Mr. Robert Underwood Johnson …  wife: for details about Johnson and his wife, Katherine, See Correspondents.

Mr. Gilder: Richard Watson Gilder (1844-1909) was a poet and editor of Scribner's Monthly. See Correspondents.

Thy friend: John Greenleaf Whittier.  See Correspondents.

Stubby:Theodore Jewett Eastman.  See Correspondents.

George [& Ann ?]: Ann is believed to be a Jewett family employee.  This may also be the case for George.  More information is welcome.

the Wards:Almost certainly the siblings, Susan and William Hayes Ward.  See Correspondents.

Siddie: One of Jewett's several family nicknames.

The manuscript of this letter is held by the Houghton Library of Harvard University in Jewett, Sarah Orne, 1849-1909.  Mary Rice Jewett 1847-1930, recipient,  40 letters; 1877-1892 & n.d.  Sarah Orne Jewett Correspondence, 1861-1930.  MS Am 1743 (255).  Transcription and annotation by Terry Heller, Coe College, with assistance from Tanner Brossart and Linda Heller.

SOJ to Mary Rice Jewett

[Western Union Telegram Form not duplicated here.]

Date received:  March 8, 1892.
            From Gibralter via South Berwick, ME

 To: Mary R Jewett
            Care Chas Willis.
            Netherwood- via V*

Rough well.  

               S O. Jewett


The identities of Charles Willis and Netherwood are not known.  Assistance is welcome.

The manuscript of this telegram is held by the Houghton Library of Harvard University in Jewett, Sarah Orne, 1849-1909.  Mary Rice Jewett 1847-1930, recipient,  40 letters; 1877-1892 & n.d.  Sarah Orne Jewett Correspondence, 1861-1930.  MS Am 1743 (255).  Transcription and annotation by Terry Heller, Coe College, with assistance from Tanner Brossart and Linda Heller.

18 March 1892
Death of Edwin Calvin Eastman
husband of Jewett's younger sister, Caroline (Carrie)
and father of Theodore (born 4 August 1879)

SOJ to Emma Harding Claflin Ellis

Hotel Bristol. Rome*
20 March 1892

Dear Mrs Ellis

    I thanked you so much for your thought and kindness in sending me your friend's address and the card of introduction and I wish that it had been possible for us to have the pleasure that the use of it might have brought.  When your note reached me we had only two days more in Genoa and

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the weather was very bad, and we found beside, that Madame Roffo's* villa was several miles away down the coast near Nervi,* so that we were forced to give up making an attempt to see her.  If we had gone to stay at Nervi as we planned in the beginning, it would have been very easy ^to see her^ and delightful to have had so charming a neighbour.  There was snow two or three days after we landed and we have hurried southward, after Mrs. Fields*

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saw some very old friends{,} Mrs. Cowden Clarke and the [ Novellos / Morellos ?] but we both caught cold and I have had a serious time with the effects of a fall I got one night on the [unrecognized word.  Their trans-Atlantic ship was the Werra.] which banged my head shockingly.  We stopped at Siena* two or three days however and enjoyed a great deal and spent nights at Pisa and Orvieto so that our days journeys were not too long and now we are in Rome for a little while in delightful sunny rooms, with dear friends close at hand on the same floor and we shall soon pick up and

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be equal to anything and everything.  I got a letter from Mary* while she was staying with you and so I have shared in the pleasures of her visit.  Mrs Fields sends her best regards and best thanks just as if we had had the pleasure of using your card ^it was so kind of you to think of it^.

    Please remember me to Mr. Ellis and Mary and Annnerie* and believe me always yours most affectionately

Sarah O. Jewett


Hotel Bristol:  Richard Cary notes that the Grand Hotel Bristol Bernini in Rome "was in the Via Veneto and Piazza Barberini quarter."

Madame Roffo's villa ... Nervi:  Nervi is a former fishing village, now a seaside resort on the Italian coast 12 miles north of Portofino.  Madame Roffo has not been identified.  Assistance is welcome.

Mrs. Fields:  Annie Adams Fields.  See Correspondents.

Mrs. Cowden Clarke and the [ Novellos / Morellos ?]

Siena ... Pisa and Orvieto:  Italian hill towns north of Rome.

Mary:  Mary Rice Jewett.  See Correspondents.

Mr. Ellis and Mary and Annie:  Emma Ellis is Mrs. Claflin's step-daughter and the mother of Mary and Annie.   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 Ac 950.  Transcription and notes by Terry Heller, Coe College.


Sarah Wyman Whitman to SOJ

New York, March 24, 1892.

     I am writing from New York on my way to Bermuda for two weeks. . . .  I take with me the munitions of war, oil paints, pastel, and even water colours, for who shall say of what complexion the emotions of Bermuda will be?


This transcription appears in Letters, Sarah Wyman Whitman.  Cambridge, MA:  Riverside Press, 1907, "Letters to Sarah Orne Jewett: 1882-1903," pp. 61-109. 

SOJ to Louisa Dresel

     Hotel Bristol, Rome1

     March 25, [1892]

     Dear Loulie:

     I wonder why you show such a preference for tonsilitis! Now that I have tried it again I like it no better than ever, and in this first week in Rome too! I scolded to A. F.* as I lay in my bed yesterday that I might just as well be in Wenham and Hamilton2 (they sound so impersonal when you hear them named in the train!) as here, but today I got up and even went to the Pincian3 to drive, so that I shall soon be as good as new now, if one could only remember what new felt like!

     Luckily we have the pleasantest of neighbours, being in two rooms of a corridor where Alice Howe4 is at one end and Miss Garrett3 of Baltimore, whom we like very much, at the other. It has been nice for A. F. who has taken her walks abroad and her drives and already looks much better for she was quite pale when we landed. It was a pretty bad voyage, bad rough weather all the way, but there was a very pleasant ship's company and at the last I didn't mind how much the Werra* rolled (she's an awful roller!) and I got used to pitching, as I always do, very soon. I got a frightful fall and blow on my head the first night out and I haven't got over it yet, but my black eyes faded out some days ago.

     We had a very nice time in Genoa, staying four or five days, though there were some good New England snowstorms and squalls, and we found it so cold in that part of the country generally that we left it without trying Nervi6 as we meant to, at any rate for a week or two. The Isotta* was really very comfortable indeed and we found friends and saw a good deal of Villa Novello.* So we have saved Nervi for another time or later this very spring perhaps, and we spent one night in Pisa and two or three in Venice, which I loved, and one in Orvieto, where I began to be ill, and then came here and liked it very much. You see I haven't much to tell you yet, Loulie dear. You will have to fill in the Roman landscape with A. F. and me for figures! I send a great deal of love in it, though, to you and Mrs. Dresel.

     A. F. and Miss Garrett have gone together to the Villa Pampli-Doria7 and afterward to call upon Mrs. Story.8 Mrs. Howe has gone to the Villa too, but I'm going Monday if you please. Goodbye.

     With love from

     S. O. J.

Cary's Notes

     1On their second trip to Europe together Jewett and Fields concentrated on France and Italy, meeting among other prominent authors Mark Twain, Du Maurier, Tennyson, and Mrs. Humphry Ward. The Grand Hotel Bristol Bernini was in the Via Veneto and Piazza Barberini quarter.

     2Two towns between Ipswich and Beverly in Essex County, Massachusetts.

     3A hill affording a wide panorama of Rome, noted for its much frequented park with a wealth of decorative paths, busts of distinguished Italians, fountains, flowerbeds, and old trees.

     4Mrs. George D. [Alice Greenwood] Howe (1835-1924) had a cottage in Manchester-by-the-Sea within a short walk of Mrs. Fields's. Jewett dedicated her finest book, The Country of the Pointed Firs, "To Alice Greenwood Howe."

     5Mary Elizabeth Garrett (1854-1915), an early patron of Bryn Mawr College and the Johns Hopkins Medical School, often invited Jewett to her summer cottage at Dark Harbor, Maine. Jewett's Betty Leicester's English Xmas was privately printed for The Bryn Mawr School (of which Miss Garrett was a founder), and was dedicated "To M. E. G."

     6A resort town on the rockbound shore, replete with attractive villas, gardens, parks, and small galleries of art. Now a part of the municipality of Genoa.

     7A sumptuous palace built in the 17th century for Prince Camillo Pamphili, with an enormous park containing a lake. The chief feature was the gallery of paintings by Bellini, Coreggio, Titian, Caravaggio, Rubens, Teniers, Poussin, Velasquez, Breughel, and others.

     8Mrs. William Wetmore Story, née Emelyn Eldredge of Boston, married the American poet, essayist, and sculptor in 1843 and lived with him in Rome from 1847. Henry James quotes him as saying, "She was my life, my joy, my stay and help in all things" (William Wetmore Story and His Friends [Boston, 1904], II, 316). James described "the admirable efficacy of Mrs. Story's presence in her husband's career -- a presence indefatigably active and pervasive, productive in a large measure of what was best and happiest in it" (II, 317). They celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary in October 1893, she died shortly thereafter in the spring of 1894, and he followed in the next year.

Editor's Notes

A. F.:  Annie Fields.  See Correspondents.

WerraWikipedia says "The Rivers class was a class of eleven ocean liners of the Norddeutscher Lloyd (NDL), the first class of German express liners. The ships were built between 1881 and 1890, the first nine in Glasgow by John Elder & Co. or the renamed Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, the last two in Stettin by Vulcan. All were named for rivers in Germany."  The Werra was completed in 1882.

Isotta:  The Grand Hotel Isotta in Genoa.

Villa Novello:  Jewett refers to the home in Genoa of Mary Victoria (Novello) Cowden Clarke (1809-1898), British author, Shakespeare scholar, and friend of Annie Fields. See also The Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 22, pp. 453-4.

The manuscript of this letter is held by the Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Am 1743 (50).  This transcription by Richard Cary appeared originally in "Jewett to Dresel: 33 Letters," Colby Library Quarterly 7:1 (March 1975), 13-49, which gave permission to reprint it here.  Notes are by Cary, with additions by Terry Heller, Coe College.

Louisa Dresel to SOJ  

  328 Beacon Street
     April 11, 1892

     Dearest S. O. J.:

     Your letter from Rome, the first one from you, has just reached me. I am very sorry I did not give you the brass piggy after all -- the George Medal has evidently not done the work!* Or you would not have had sore throat and a fall from out of your berth at sea. But without your medal who knows how much worse you would have fared! -- there is always that to be considered.

     I truly hope that after these sorrows by land and by sea you and A. F.* have entered upon a season of sunshine and rest, and are both gaining by double handfuls what you went to seek. I have been thinking of you so constantly since you left that I hope the wet element has not proved entirely a non-conductor, and that you have felt sure of my good wishes that follow you everywhere.

     The question of a European trip still swings in the balance, and is beginning to be an awful nightmare! I feel so "stranded" and there seems no light given. Since I wrote last Dr. H. M.1 announced that she thought we had better go! but finding how Mamma felt, she began to waver and doubt, just as I have, and we are as far from a decision as ever! But the longer it is put off, the less probable it seems, and I imagine June will find us in Beverly.

     Till I think of Venice and such things to paint, I feel not uncontented with the prospect of the Ross Turner2 Class and the Beverly shore, but the thought of Venice makes all else pale before it, and I am filled with wicked envy of any one who goes there. Where will this note reach you? At Amalfi, or north again, Florence perhaps? The Ritter Studio closed March 31st and as I did not wish to chop off any endeavours so suddenly, I have enlisted at Miss Johnston's Studio for a month. G. Cary and others of the type work there, and there is a certain somnolent and soothing quality about working in this class which is a grateful influence upon wrought-up feelings! I used to draw with Miss Johnston in the very same studio when I was an atom of a girl, eleven or twelve years old, and it gave me a queer feeling to go back there. The top-light is the only distracting feature. I find it rather upsetting to all preconceived ideas of shadow and color, never having worked under a sky-light before. But a change is good discipline. It was very sad to have the Old Studio break up, -- a little of the presence and inspiration of our dear teacher seemed to linger there, and it was a new parting.

     I went the other day to see your little Woodberrys3 -- he had a special Exhib. in another room in the same building -- but I asked for her and went into the studio and saw her and a good deal of her work, which is more interesting than his to me, though I think his is in some ways more mature, it seems to be less full of promise than hers. I think hers shows that she has more mind than he -- he is such a small little man outside, and he is so blond, and he had a long checked necktie tied in a bow, and looked as if he lived principally on crackers! She made much more impression on me, and interested me decidedly. But his work is really good -- better than hers, -- technically -- he had some capital sketches -- and his use of pencil is very uncommon. I mentioned you to them both, and she instantly became very cordial, and he remarked that you were "A very fine woman," which way of putting it took me so aback that it took me some minutes to recover my equanimity! He looked so small when he said it. But his size was emphasized by the presence of my giantess friend, Alice Stackpole* who went with me, so it was not quite his fault. She paints, and is a disciple of Ritter too, and wanted to go to the little Woodberrys Exhib. so we went together.

     There has been a Monet Exhib. at the Botolph,* and there has been fierce war waging pro and con in the papers, -- to my surprise I found myself liking many of them very much. There is much that is very true, but only a trained eye can appreciate it -- and I think a good many people talked twaddle and pretended to see things which they didn't. Lafarge4 also had an Exhib. at Doll's* -- and there are Art Clubs ad. lib.

     Did I tell you of my last call on Dr. Holmes?5 He was so interested to have news of you and A. F. He seems to be quite enchanted with Mrs. Whitman's6 portrait of himself, and delighted to have it admired by his friends. He only regrets that it is not to stay in Boston. He seemed as bright and lively as possible, and full of pretty speeches. When I left he begged me to come again, and added "It is only seeing delightful people -- such charming people as you -- that keeps me alive now!" A little pathetic wasn't it? But it was he that had been talking and entertaining me, and I only listened.

     I think he likes me because when I say anything I can make him hear without shouting, and like everyone who is a little deaf, he hates to have people raise their voices unnecessarily. He propounded the ingenious theory that agreeable voices and agreeable expressions of face went together always! I wish he were right! So many sweet-faced American women look like angels till they speak, and then become peacocks -- birds of quite another feather.

     Mr. Lang7 is getting up another Parsifal performance in Music Hall. Mrs. Joachim8 is giving a series of historical concerts; the Hendschels9 are to sing in the Passion music, also in the next Symphony concert. I leave Parsifal severely alone, but am booked for the other shindies. The Opera was wonderfully good. The de Reszkes10 are the finest singers I know of. They are coming in October again, and then you must go to Faust too*

     I have been reading Villette for the first time. I think the uncertainty of the end is most distressing. A sort of "The Lady or the Tiger" business! I suppose she means he really was lost at sea -- because being a morbid creature it would be just like her (C. Bronté, I mean) but it seems to me quite an unnecessary thing to happen.11

     How nice to be with Mrs. Howe* in Rome. Please give her my dearest love if you are still with her, or when you next see her. I suppose you will be in Venice with her.

     I hear that the O. B. Frothinghams12 are going to Aix! Mrs. F. has rheumatism and is dragging the hapless old Rev. across the ocean. He totters and sways on his feet and doesn't look as if he could survive an ocean-voyage, though I dare say he is daily in more danger in Boston from electric cars and fast driving!

     Mamma and I called on "the ladies" a day or two ago. Miss Howes* seems very bright and well now. The next day she sent Mamma a very large and very fat cut-glass cologne bottle, (!) which looks [so?] exactly like the donor that we have to call it "Miss Howes."

     I suppose spring has now reached you, and you are revelling in blossoms of every kind. But, if you had gone to Nervi, you would have really been warm! Even with a snowstorm at Genoa. The difference is incredible, unless one has experienced it -- and in May the hotel is already closed I believe. It must have been horridly chilly in Sienna and those regions, but you have seen heavenly things -- which I have often longed to see.

     It was very nice to get your letter, but it will be a good while before I get another. Which is a disadvantage. If you were in Berwick it w'd be time for another Boston visit now, and I begin to miss you quite in earnest.

     It is late, and I must go to bed. Goodnight, love to Mrs. Fields.

     I send you dearest love and best of wishes for all your wanderings.

     Always yours,


     N. B. A better letter next time -- tonight I was too tired for a longer one or a better one.

Cary's Notes
     1Dr. Helen Morton (d. March 12, 1916) had offices successively on Marlboro, Boylston, and Chestnut streets in Boston. Jewett once characterized her as "touchy {touching?} in her doctorly heart and more devoted in her private capacity as a friend."

     2Ross Sterling Turner (1847-1915), teacher of watercolor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Massachusetts Normal Art School, had studios in Boston and Salem from 1882 to his death.

     3Charles Herbert Woodbury (1864-1940), marine painter and etcher, had a school in Ogunquit, Maine. and wrote several books on drawing and painting. Marcia Oakes Woodbury (1865-1913) was born in Jewett's home town of South Berwick. The Woodburys studied in Paris, later collaborated on book illustrations, including the limited large-paper edition of Deephaven in 1893, and The Tory Lover in 1901.

     4John LaFarge (1835-1910). American artist and author, born in New York of French parents, followed the tradition of the Italian masters. He did the murals for Boston's Trinity Church.

     5Oliver Wendell Holmes spent many summers in his "pleasant little cottage in the village [of Beverly Farms], hard by the railway station," a short distance from Mrs. Fields's cottage in Manchester-by-the-Sea He used to date his letters from "Beverly-by-tbe-Dépot" to twit his Manchester neighbors. At age 83 he closed a letter to Mrs. Fields "with affectionate regards and all sweet messages to Miss Jewett" (John T. Morse. Jr., Life and Letters of Oliver Wendell Holmes [Boston, 1897], II, 320.)

     6Sarah Wyman Whitman (1842-1904), painter, designer of stained glass windows, illustrator of books, provided the decorations for Jewett's The King of Folly Island, Betty Leicester, The Queen's Twin, and Strangers and Wayfarers, which Jewett dedicated "To S. W., Painter of New England men and women, New England fields and shores." Jewett edited and wrote the unsigned preface to Letters of Sarah Wyman Whitman (Cambridge, Mass., 1907). In Amiable Autocrat, A Biography of Oliver Wendell Holmes (New York, 1947). 383, Eleanor M. Tilton writes: "When he [Holmes] forgot his sittings for the portrait Mrs. Whitman was doing for the Philadelphia College of Physicians, he wrote verses to the painter to announce his coming for the postponed sitting:

     Some in rags
     Some in tags
     And one in an Oxford gown."

     On September 17, 1891 Holmes indited an untitled poem of four quatrains to Mrs. Whitman -- "From Nature's precious quarry sought" (Thomas Franklin Currier, A Bibliography of Oliver Wendell Holmes [New York, 1953], 343-344). Mrs. Whitman contributed decorative line-cuts to the title pages of Holmes's The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table and Over the Teacups Birthday Edition, 1890, 1895).

     7Benjamin Johnson Lang (1837-1909), Salem-born organist. pianist. teacher, composer, and conductor, studied in Germany with Liszt, introduced the European masters to America and especially promoted the music of Wagner.

     8Amalie Weiss Joachim (1839-1899), wife of the famous Hungarian violinist, Joseph Joachim (1831-1907), made her own career as a concert and operatic contralto after separating from him in the 1880s.

     9George Henschel (1850-1934), German-English composer, conductor, and baritone, inaugurated the song recital with his wife Lillian Bailey Henschel (1860-1901), American soprano whom he married in 1881, the year he became first conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

     10The Polish deReszke brothers, Jean (1850-1925) and Edouard (1855-1917), stars of Paris and London opera houses, who became respectively the leading tenor-baritone and bass singer of the New York Metropolitan Opera Company for more than a decade beginning in 1891.

     11Both Charlotte Bronte's novel and Frank R. Stockton's short story end on a note of "And so I leave it with all of you." The reader is to make up his own mind which of two possible extreme resolutions the plot will take.

     12Octavius Brooks Frothingham (1822-1895), American Unitarian minister, historian, and biographer, fell under the liberalizing influence of Theodore Parker, organized the Free Religious Association in Boston, and wrote prolifically on new religious thought.

Editor's Notes

George Medal:  This and the brass piggy seem to be mysterious private jokes about items Dresel might have given to Jewett for good luck on her voyage.  Perhaps the most likely reference for the George Medal would be Saint George, sometimes described as the patron saint of scouts and guides.  However, 1889 was the centennial of the inauguration of George Washington as the first United States President, and at least one medal was issued as part of the celebration.  Though there is as yet no way to be certain this is relevant, 19th-century "piggy banks" often were made of brass and in the shape of actual pigs.

A. F.:  Annie Fields. See Correspondents.

Woodberrys:  Wikipedia says that Charles Herbert Woodbury worked at his winter studio in Boston after 1891, while maintaining a summer art colony school in Ogunquit, Maine. 

The Ritter Studio closed March 31st ... enlisted at Miss Johnston's Studio for a month. G. Cary and others of the type work there:  According to the Vose Gallery website, landscape painter and lithographer, Louis Ritter (1854-1892) "was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and received his early training at the McMicken School of Design between 1873 and 1874.  He later traveled to Munich to paint with the charismatic artist Frank Duveneck. Ritter followed Duveneck to Florence and Venice, but by 1883, perhaps following friends Theodore Wendel and Charles Mills, Ritter came to Boston and took a studio at 12 West Street. He began to teach in Boston and at Wellesley College, while painting landscapes along the north shore."  It appears that his studio closed as a result of his death, which would account for Dresel's sadness at the loss of her "dear teacher" and the breaking up of the studio.
    While this is not certain, it seems likely that Miss Johnston's studio was that of Charlotte Constance Johnston (1845-1917).  Her obituary in The Sacred Heart Review, Volume 57, Number 6, 20 January 1917, says: "One of her brothers, Thomas M. Johnston, was a celebrated painter. A sample of his work may be seen in the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Boston, under the title " Stella Matutina." The other brother, John B. Johnston, was an eminent landscape and cattle painter. Her sister, Sarah J. F. Johnston, is a painter of rare skill. About sixty years ago, the Johnston family moved to their Dorchester home. Here Miss Johnston attended the Grammar and High Schools. After graduating from the latter with high honors, she went to Doctor Gannett's private school where she specialized in music and art. She then opened an art studio in which she did some fine work. Being an ardent lover of nature, she spent much of her leisure time in fields and woodlands admiring God's handiwork and doing out-door sketching. As a source of recreation, she translated many stories from the French, some of which have been published by Little, Brown and Company. A few years before coming to the Sacred Heart Review, she opened an artistic print shop in which she did some very creditable work in brochure and book printing."  The only French translation currently credited to her in WorldCat is of George Sand, The Master Mosaic-Workers (Boston: Little Brown, 1895).
    G. Cary is likely to be Georgina S. Cary (d. 1933), daughter of Richard Cary (1836-1862) killed in the Battle of Cedar Mountain/Hill) and Helen Eugenia (Skelton) Cary (d. 1904).  See Back Bay Houses.and Richard Cary Letters.

my giantess friend, Alice Stackpole  .... She paints, and is a disciple of Ritter too:  According to "Back Bay Houses 292 Beacon,"  attorney Joseph Lewis Stackpole built the house at this location on Beacon Street, Boston, the same street on which Louisa Dresel lived.  After her parents' deaths, the artist Alice Stackpole (1866-1949) remained at the address until about 1922.

Monet Exhib. at the Botolph, and there has been fierce war waging ... in the paper:   WorldCat lists a catalog: An Exhibition of paintings by Claude Monet: St. Botolph Club, March 28th to April 9th, 1892.  According to its website, The St. Botolph Club for gentlemen "was founded in a golden epoch of the City of Boston. Arts, literature, music, architecture, clubs and public affairs, as well as the vast commercial, shipping and professional empires that supported them, were all experiencing a great flowering. Many of the eminent individuals connected with all these were original members of the St. Botolph Club. The Club was founded on January 3, 1880.... The early years began weekly meetings and monthly suppers and, especially after the Club settled at the great house at 4 Newbury St. with its magnificent gallery, art exhibits. There were shows for many artists, including some of the Club's own."
    Wikipedia says: "Oscar-Claude Monet (1840 - 1926) was a founder of French Impressionist painting, and the most consistent and prolific practitioner of the movement's philosophy of expressing one's perceptions before nature, especially as applied to plein-air landscape painting. The term "Impressionism" is derived from the title of his painting Impression, soleil levant (Impression, Sunrise), which was exhibited in 1874 in the first of the independent exhibitions mounted by Monet and his associates as an alternative to the Salon de Paris."  One may sample a little of the controversy over Monet's show in the Boston Evening Transcript on-line: Monday 28 March 1892, p. 4, "The Fine Arts."

Lafarge also had an Exhib. at Doll's:  See Cary's note above.  According to the Smithsonian Archives of American Art, "The Doll & Richards gallery originated in Boston in 1866 as an art gallery and framing shop owned by Charles E. Hendrickson, E. Adam Doll, and Joseph Dudley Richards. The gallery was a well-known Boston establishment for over 100 years that represented William Stanley Haseltine, Winslow Homer, William Morris Hunt, and Andrew Wyeth, among many other notable American painters, sculptors, and printmakers."
    According to James L. Yarnall in John La Farge, Watercolors and Drawings (1990), LaFarge spent 1890-1 in the South Seas producing popular travel sketches.  Returning in late 1891, he mounted a remunerative show of his sketches at his dealer, Doll and Richards of Boston (60).

Mr. Lang7 is getting up another Parsifal performance in Music Hall. ...  October ...,Faust:  Cary identifies Benjamin Franklin Lang above.  Parsifal (1882) is an opera by Richard Wagner based on the story of the quest for the Holy Grail.  According to John Louis DiGaetani in Opera and the Golden West: The Past, Present, and Future of Opera in the U.S.A., a successful production of Parsifal was performed on 15 April and again on 4 May at Music Hall in Boston (162).  Wikipedia says: "The Boston Music Hall was a concert hall located on Winter Street in Boston, Massachusetts, with an additional entrance on Hamilton Place.  One of the oldest continuously operating theaters in the United States, it was built in 1852 and was the original home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The hall closed in 1900 and was converted into a vaudeville theater named the Orpheum Theatre. The Orpheum, which still stands today, was substantially rebuilt in 1915 by architect Thomas W. Lamb as a movie theater."
    According to the New York Metropolitan Opera Archive, the de Reszke brothers appeared in Boston in the Mechanics Building Auditorium during March of 1892 in Met performances of: Les Huguenots by Giacomo Meyerbeer, Roméo et Juliette by Gounod, Faust by Gounod, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg by Wagner, and Lohengrin by Wagner. However, there is no record in the archive of a Boston performance of Faust in October of 1892.  Which performances Dresel saw is not yet known.
    Charles-François Gounod (1818 - 1893) was a French composer, whose best known opera is Faust (1859), the story based on Goethe's dramatic poem of the same title. 

Mrs. Howe:  Mrs. George D. [Alice Greenwood] Howe (1835-1924)  See Correspondents.

Miss Howes:  Howes families in the Boston area were prominent in the late 19th century, appearing in the social register and in newspapers.  Osborne Howes of Brookline was a well-known journalist during this period.  The identity of this Miss Howes has not been discovered.  Assistance is welcome.

if you had gone to Nervi, ... Sienna:  Dresel points out to Jewett that Genoa tends to be colder in the spring than towns further northward on the Italian coast, such as Nervi.  Sienna, among the hill towns north of Florence is inland and cooler yet in winter and spring.

  The manuscript of this letter is held by the Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Am 1743 (50).  This transcription by Richard Cary appeared originally in "Jewett to Dresel: 33 Letters," Colby Library Quarterly 7:1 (March 1975), 13-49, which gave permission to reprint it here.  Notes are by Cary, with additions by Terry Heller, Coe College. 

Sarah Wyman Whitman to SOJ

Bermuda, April 12, 1892.

     It is a little world all by itself and a world of colour, as its main attribute. Such a Sea, such a Sky! A dream of beauty different from anything else and I can see amazing pictures to be painted at every turn. . . .
     The local incident; the white houses built from the coral of which the island itself is made, . . . the negroes and their picturesque methods, the acres of lilies all in fragrant bloom, these things one can only glance at in writing, but some day I will tell you a pretty chapter of geography and history made out of this strange island in the sea, so lovely and so serene.


This transcription appears in Letters, Sarah Wyman Whitman.  Cambridge, MA:  Riverside Press, 1907, "Letters to Sarah Orne Jewett: 1882-1903," pp. 61-109.

SOJ to Alice Greenwood (Mrs. George D.) Howe

     Venice, Thursday morn, [April] 1892.*

     Dear Neighbour and Friend! -- I now say that we did go to Torcello,* and it was so heavenly beautiful that I forbear to speak. Oh if you only had been along! Such sails, such towers, such islands; on the far edge of the sea such a blossoming bough of whitest elder against the blue sky! And we ourselves, going all the way with a sail, and I holding the stern-sheets. It was in stripes of red and orange, with blue corners to it, faded just right, and a kind little breeze served us even in the little canal that leads almost to the cathedral door. What can we say about it? there the stone shutters, the old lonesome, mysterious mosaics that stare in each other's solemn eyes through the shadows, the dampness, the greenness, the birds that sing and the droning bells. Well, when you wish to give me a happy moment of the sweetest remembrance, just say Torcello, and back I shall fly to it. There were haycocks on a bit of green meadow, and there were children in an old boat playing and calling and rustling the bushes by the canal, and the old Campanile looked as if it were made strong to hold up the sky.

     I had a good dear letter from home this morning; new dog a treasure, but three of the horses with coughs -- Dick and Betty and Susan! the distemper thought to be of no consequence by John until Dick caught it!*


[April] 1892: Blanchard in Sarah Orne Jewett says that Jewett spent much of April 1892 in Italy (261).

Torcello: Wikipedia says: "Torcello is a sparsely populated island at the northern end of the Venetian Lagoon, in north-eastern Italy. It is the oldest continuously populated region of Venice, and once held the largest population of the Republic of Venice.... Today's main attraction is the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, founded in 639. It is of basilica-form with side aisles but no crossing, and has much 11th and 12th century Byzantine work, including mosaics (e.g. a vivid version of the Last Judgement)."


View of Torcello with the campanile of
Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta.
Courtesy of Wikipedia

John:  John Tucker, Jewett family employee.  See Correspondents.

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 Carrie Jewett Eastman and Mary Rice Jewett

Venice 20 May [1892]*

Dear Sisters

     To think of this being the day that Princess* is going to pasture, only I am afraid that she will have to delay for a short time, the season being cool by night and somewhat backward. It will make exercise for the other pelters going to see her! but Mary’s* tale of Jane’s* being so gay that she was hard bitted keeps me laughing yet.. I have been so pleased with this last letter but it made me more homesick than most with words about gardens and homes and all the home goings-on. I wish I could hop home for a day or two if no longer. ------ Day before yesterday we "hopped" to Torcello.* Do read something about it in some book about Venice so that you can share a little of our pleasure. They call Torcello the mother of Venice and nobody knows exactly how old the cathedral is or the old church and campanile near it. They stand almost alone like the temples at Paestum*except, like them, for a few old stone farmhouses, and are full of old mosaics and delicate carvings though they are barer and plainer and worlds

 [ Page 2 ]

^older^ than anything here except the oldest part of St. Marks. In the morning we were out with Miss Blythe* a shopping in an iron shop for some pretty hanging charms upon which A. F.* had set her affections, and we came home and gobbled our luncheons early and set forth. It was the most perfect afternoon with a light breeze and Giovanni had another gondolier to help him row by name of Bastiano and we also had a sail which Miss Blythe recommended; it was striped with orange and red and had four blue corners all nicely faded and of a lug rig, but it cost ten cents for that sail which awful information was broken to me in private most humbly by Giovanni who had to hire it for the occasion. Miss Adams went, and Miss Garrett* to trim the boat, and so we started cheerfully at two o’clock. First we went across by the canal that goes under the bridge of sighs* and turned to the right instead of toward the canal again (you remember, Mary?) and came out after a [while corrected] past Zani Polo as they call the Church of S. Giovanni e Paoli* (I think Zanipōlo is so funny somehow, it is so familiar for a big and solemn church with its own little piazza in front it leading down to the canal and the great Colleoni

 [ Page 3 ]

statue beside it, of a splendid horse and rider which is going to be copied and sent to Boston to go in Copley Square because it is thought the finest statue of its kind in the world.) Soon we came out into the lagoon heading northward toward Murano and out there somewhere we caught an obliging wind and Giovanni put up the sail very pompous and proud and off we went over the smooth stretches and the ripples just a little faster than they could row, but neither of them knew much about sailing so I had to come to the fore at times with the little I knew which was of value as far as it went. You know the great lines of piles? They are like the lagoon roads! You have to follow them except at any high water, so that you meet all the other boats like carriages in a great highway and we were evidently in the turnpike to Burano which is another island town, far up beyond Murano,* where all the fishermen and lace makers live, as the glass makers all live on Murano. We sailed along and along and saw one ^great big^ sail that was simply bright scarlet on a fishing shack, but most were orange and brown or clear or white, and the villages on

 [ Page 4 ]

 the wide scattered islands each had their bell towers and pretty soon we saw the great square bell tower of Torcello away to the north. Ruskin says somewhere that these towns on the lagoon look like handfuls of jewelry scattered on a mirror.* I don’t know why they have such very bright colours though when you come near you do see that the red bricks are very red and the yellow ones very yellow and so with the orange and the white and then of course there are pictures in coarse bright mosaics here and there and every thing catches the sun.

             When we got close to Torcello [ deleted word ] proved to be nothing but a long green island where there were some slender bell towers and then only green fields and one was full of haycocks, and the elder was in bloom holding great blooming boughs right up against the blue sky.  Off farther to the north all the way we had seen the snow covered alps glimmering through the haze, but here you forgot all about the sea or the mountains, it was a bit of country low and green like Holland. The little

 [ Page 5 ]

 wind served us right up the old canal where the ruined brickwork had crumbled on each side and all sorts of trees and flowers and bushes had crowded down. At the end there was a sort of ruined stone pier -- there was no city of Torcello to be seen but the great stone cathedral in the blossoming fields, the queer octagonal church, and a few old houses and buildings near by and the great square campanile like this by St. Marks in Venice without its pointed top, looking as if it were built to hold up the sky. Inside the damp gray old place tall mosaic figures of saints and virgins on the wall stare at each other’s eyes and hold their crosses and crowns and palms. In the whole place you feel like whispering, as if you were a poor fly buzzing about these everlasting relics and strange creatures of the past. I thought it was a ghostly kind of place at Torcello, but a sweeter flowerier bit of country you never saw ever in Ireland in June, or Italy itself. There were half a dozen pleasant little children with pretty eyes that followed us about, as if they had grown in the long grass and had

[ Page 6 ]

 to break their stalks when they started. -----

      We were sorry to come away, but over at Burano we had thoughts of eating [ deleted word ] a handful of cherries and some nice Venetian cakes by way of afternoon tea and of giving the two gondoliers an hour to themselves. I bestowed a franc apiece on them by way of a gentilezza, which seemed to strike such joy into their honest hearts that after tying us fast to the side of the canal^ filled with fishing boats^ that cuts Burano in two, they stood side by side on the shore and made us a perfectly splendid bow together, with great waves of the hat and then took to their heels and ran ^like^ little boys! there was something about this piece of politeness that pleased me to the heart’s core. Molto salute! they said in impressive voices [before they corrected] ran and we had to make the best bows we could in return.  ^ I hope it was good vino rosso at the little shop where they went, don’t you?^ All Burano stepped with proper haste to that point of the canal and watched us with interest. It was after six and they had nothing else to do. I never saw more beautiful women

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 it seems to me, carrying babies like the old pictures of the Madonna,* and dressed in such shades of olive and brown and green and dull red that you might have thought all the old pictures in Venice came alive at six o’clock every summer night in Burano.

     Then we came home rowing in the sunset seven miles to Venice and met all the fishermen on our way in long processions of black boats and gay sails for they still had enough wind, and I may say much conversation to which we listened as best we could. And we got back to our house at eight o’clock just as it was growing dark and out of our parlor windows the Salute* was turning white as it always does at nightfall. I hope you will feel as if Torcello were the best thing yet in all our Venetian days, I can’t help saying so every time I think about it.

      Yesterday we did not go very far, until Miss Garrett and I went out between nine and eleven for an hour

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 or so before we went to bed. The nights are so mild and the stars are so bright that you don’t miss the moon as I might have feared. I went to walk with Mr. Howe in the afternoon. Alice* is better but still in bed. I haven’t seen her now since Friday and this is Thursday. It is a great loss; we meant to do so many things. Miss Adams hasn’t been very well. She felt dizzy and tired the night after we came from Torcello and yesterday she stayed in bed and kind sisters are attending her. The doctor said it was nothing & that she will be all right in a day or two. She is one who likes to see everything & may have overdone, & though she likes to be here is also one ^for^ whom mountain air is considered to be better! So perhaps it is well that we are going at any rate on Tuesday to Milan & next day to Aix. We have been seeing a good many pleasant people these last few days. I had a delightful call from Mr. Clemens yesterday -- Mark Twain  -- who is one of the most really serious men in the world. I always say so every time I see him don’t I? but I do like him very much. Love to all at home, to the girls and John.* I hope he

[ Up the left margin of page 5 ]

will go to see Princess often the first few days, & take something for me in his pocket. Good by with lots of love to both of you & [Stukey ?] & [Berea ? ] & Susy  from Sarah.

[ Up the left and down top margin of page 1 ]

How kind & nice Mr. Havens* letter was! I am glad he liked the book as much as he did. I thought he was very just about it. There was nothing great but nothing worrisome --  Of course he couldn’t feel not living there how much gratitude was expressed.



Princess ... Jane: Princess and Jane were Jewett family horses.

TorcelloWikipedia says: "Torcello is a sparsely populated[1] island at the northern end of the Venetian Lagoon, in north-eastern Italy. It is the oldest continuously populated[citation needed] region of Venice, and once held the largest population of the Republic of Venice."  Wikipedia also says: "The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta (Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta) is a basilica church on the island of Torcello, Venice, northern Italy. It is a notable example of Venetian-Byzantine architecture, one of the most ancient religious edifices in the Veneto, and containing the earliest mosaics in the area of Venice.  According to an ancient inscription, it was founded by the exarch Isaac of Ravenna in 639, when Torcello was still a rival to the young nearby settlement at Venice."

Miss BlytheMiss Blythe is Isabella Blythe, who was the domestic partner Anna (Nannie) Leigh-Smith (1831-1919).  Anna was sister to the British women's rights activist's, Barbara Leigh Smith.  See Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon: Feminist, Artist and Rebel (2010) by Pam Hirsch.

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

Miss Adams … Miss Garrett: The identity of Miss Adams is not known.  It is possible she is the eldest sister of Annie Adams Fields, Sarah Holland Adams (1823-1916), who had recently been living in Germany up to 1892.  See Gollin, Annie Adams Fields: Woman of Letters, pp. 12-13.  If this is the correct Miss Adams, then the report of her illness later in the letter and of her being cared for by sisters may refer to Annie herself.
Mary Elizabeth Garrett (1854-1915), an early patron of Bryn Mawr College and the Johns Hopkins Medical School, often invited Jewett to her summer cottage at Dark Harbor, Maine. Jewett's Betty Leicester's English Xmas was privately printed for The Bryn Mawr School (of which Miss Garrett was a founder), and was dedicated "To M. E. G."

bridge of sighs: Wikipedia says: "The Bridge of Sighs (Italian: Ponte dei Sospiri) is a bridge located in Venice, northern Italy. The enclosed bridge is made of white limestone, has windows with stone bars, and passes over the Rio di Palazzo and connects the New Prison (Prigioni Nuove) to the interrogation rooms in the Doge's Palace."

 S. Giovanni e PaoliWikipedia says: "The Basilica di San Giovanni e Paolo, known in Venetian as San Zanipolo, is a church in the Castello sestiere of Venice, Italy."  Jewett clealy spells the Italian for Paul: Paoli.

the great Colleoni statueWikipedia says: "The Equestrian statue of Bartolomeo Colleoni is a Renaissance sculpture in Campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo, Venice, Italy, executed by Andrea del Verrocchio in 1480-1488. Portraying the condottiero Bartolomeo Colleoni (who served for a long time under the Republic of Venice)."

Burano … Murano: Venetian islands.  Burano is especially known for its brightly painted houses and for lace-making; Murano, a group of small islands linked by bridges is known for its glass making.

Ruskin ... mirror: John Ruskin John Ruskin (1819 - 1900), according to Wikipedia was the leading British art critic of the Victorian era.  In The Stones of Venice (1851-3), writing of Murano, Ruskin said: "To the north, there is first the great cemetery wall, then the long stray buildings of Murano, and the island villages beyond, glittering in the intense crystalline vermilion, like so much jewellery scattered on a mirror, their towers poised apparently in the air a little above the horizon, and their reflections, as sharp and vivid and substantial as themselves, thrown on the vacancy between them and the sea" (p. 29).

old pictures of the Madonna: Among Christians, the Madonna is Our Lady, Mary, the mother of Jesus.

SaluteWikipedia says:  "Santa Maria della Salute [completed in 1681] (English: Saint Mary of Health), commonly known simply as the Salute, is a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica located at Punta della Dogana in the Dorsoduro sestiere of the city of Venice, Italy.
    "It stands on the narrow finger of Punta della Dogana, between the Grand Canal and the Giudecca Canal, at the Bacino di San Marco, making the church visible when entering the Piazza San Marco from the water. The Salute is part of the parish of the Gesuati and is the most recent of the so-called plague-churches."

 Mr. Howe … Alice:  George Dudley and Alice Greenwood Howe. See Correspondents.  

 Mr. Clemens … Mark TwainWikipedia says:  "Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835 -1910), better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American writer, entrepreneur, publisher and lecturer. Among his novels are The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and ...Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885).

 John: John Tucker.  See Correspondents.

Mr. Havens:  The only Haven family so far known to be acquainted with the Jewetts consists of George Wallis Haven and  Helen Sarah Bell Haven.  By her first husband, James Pierrepont Halliburton, Mrs. Haven was the mother of a close Jewett friend, Georgina Halliburton.  With Mr. Haven, she was the mother of another close Jewett friend, Mrs. Edith Bell Haven Doe.  See Georgina Halliburton in Correspondents.

The manuscript of this letter is held by the Houghton Library of Harvard University in Jewett, Sarah Orne, 1849-1909.  Mary Rice Jewett 1847-1930, recipient,  40 letters; 1877-1892 & n.d.  Sarah Orne Jewett Correspondence, 1861-1930.  MS Am 1743 (255).  Transcription and annotation by Terry Heller, Coe College, with assistance from Tanner Brossart and Linda Heller.

SOJ to Alice Greenwood (Mrs. George D.) Howe

     Aix-les-Bains, Sunday. [June 1892]*

     Dearest Alice, -- I have sent many thoughts flying your way, if I haven't sent any letters in all this time, but the baths are a great siege and seem to take all one's time and one's wits away together. (And I beginning this letter on a half-sheet unbeknownst, but going straight on, it being among friends.) We have hardly begun to take the countless drives and excursions about this lovely green country, and look upon the journey to the Grande Chartreuse* as if it were beyond Moscow, somewhere on a steppe!

     Did A.* tell you what a perfectly beautiful time we had when we boldly ran away to Chamouny? or Chamounix?* -- whichever way you spell it, because I always forget. I never, never shall forget one bit of that lovely day when we drove from Martigny over the Téte Noire.* A's dear birthday and such weather, and such flowers (it is sainfoin, that pink one that I asked you about), whole fields of ladies' delights, and large double buttercups, and harebells, and forget-me-nots, and red things, and pink things, and yellow things galore, and Solomon's seal,* one sprig in a ledge just to show that there was a piece of everything, if you only stopped to look: blue gentians withal, something like our fringed gentians in October.... We went on up and up that dear, high green valley, passing cold little white-silky brooks; and every now and then on the road we came to peasant families with their flocks and herds chirping and clanking, and all the children capering, and the old grand-mother with her staff, going up to the high châlets, to pasture for the month of June. We had a lot of candy and gave largess and left such a wake of smiles behind us. I went shopping for it in Martigny at break of day. And the grass so green and just in flower, and none of it cut,and everybody so pleasant along that road, and we being so pleasant and gay that we kept getting out to have a little walk; the air getting into our heads, and the great peaks coming around other peaks' corners, to look at us solemnly, and all the morning clouds blowing away one by one, until the sky was all clear blue, and when we got to Chamounix, at night-fall, Mont Blanc was shining white, and the full moon right above it, as if we had come to see at last where the moon lived, and started from, to go up into the sky. And next morning we had a long walk, with the sky still clear, and we were all alone in the biggest hotel and felt like princesses under the orders of a "retinue." There were very few tourists to be seen, but all my month in Interlaken (when I came before) means less to me, I believe, than that day going up from Martigny. And after all this we came back as good as pie and went to work at our baths again, and never minded much about the hot weather or anything. I somehow hate not to have you go to Egypt! (You would tell about it so well and ascertain the address of a pretty Rag Fair -- all to my own good and delight!) but don't go fumbling in dark pyramids or make up a little paper bundle of sand of the desert that was too interesting to throw away, and always has sifted out over everything! . . . I wish I had begun to tell you about Chambéry, of which we have had one glimpse; tomorrow we mean to go there again and to see Les Charmettes* and the Grande Chartreuse. Goodbye, with dear love.


Aix-les-Bains ... June 1892:  "Rising from the shores of the largest natural lake of glacial origin in France, the Lac du Bourget, [Aix-les-Bains] is one of the important French spa towns.This letter reports on Jewett's 1892 trip to Europe with Annie Fields.

Grande Chartreuse
: The Grande Chartreuse is a Carthusian monastery near Grenoble in the Chartreuse Mountains of France. See note below.

A.:  Annie Adams Fields.  Her birthday is June 6.  See Correspondents.

Chamounix ... Martigny ... Téte Noire: Chamounix and Martigny are towns near the French and Italian border in the French Alps, of which the Téte Noire is a peak of 5800 feet. The famous Mont Blanc, "the Monarch of the Alps" according to a 1907 Baedeker guide to Southern France is the dominant peak in this area at 15,782 feet.

sainfoin, (that pink one that I asked you about), ... ladies' delights, and large double buttercups, and harebells, and forget-me-nots, ... and Solomon's seal: Sainfoin or "holy hay" belongs to the pulse family of herbs, native to Southern Europe. It is associated with the hay upon which Jesus slept in the manger after his birth. See Luke 2. The Oxford English Dictionary identifies the lady's-delight as a violet. Harebells (Campanula rotundifolia) have blue to lavender bell-shaped flowers at the tops of thin stalks. There are more than 100 species of Forget-me-nots (Cryptantha) and more than 300 of buttercups (Ranunculus). Solomon's Seal (Polygonatum beflorum) has greenish white bell-shaped flowers and has been used medicinally for closing and healing wounds and bruises.

Chambéry, ... Les Charmettes: Chambéry is a village in Southern France, between Lyon and Grenoble. Les Charmettes is a country home open to tourists in the 19th century, where, according to a 1907 Baedeker guide to Southern France, Rousseau and Mme. De Warens resided.

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 Louisa Dresel

     14 June, Aix-les-Bains.[1892]*

     My dear Loulie, -- I wonder if Pyrmont* was anything at all like this! I remember it well enough in your letters to feel that there were more differences than likenesses; but a foreign bath-town is a foreign bath-town! and this amuses me a good deal. The rich and illustrious English have their season just now and are very interesting, for the most part, to me; the dignified elderly men and the fine women and charming tall girls, all have a refinement and kind of perfection of development and reasonableness, a repose and decision that I like to watch very much. They are so unconscious and nice when they start off for a walk, and wear such an air of satisfaction and triumph as they return. Later the French and Spanish bathers come, -- they are already beginning to appear, and are très gais* as you may suppose.

     We know very few people here. Our dear friends, the Edmundses, are most companionable, and Mrs. Parkman Blake* is a near neighbour, and most kind and simple and friendly always. We have had some little drives and long ones together. She is going away soon I am sorry to say.

     I liked your letter from the country. I always find Pepperell* very interesting when you go there. I keep stopping in my letter, because a funny little Polish dame is playing Rubinstein* downstairs. She plays pretty finely, too, though not so well as she must have played before her fingers got quite so old, and she isn't very clear about what she means, or rather what Rubinstein meant, when she comes to some places in the music. Still, a great deal of feeling comes up the crooked stairs in the notes. She is a cross-looking person in a funny blonde wig, and has very bad manners at table, and has a funny way of holding her head over her plate like a hungry kitten, until you expect to hear a handsome pin that she wears clink against the plate, like the aforesaid kitten's padlock! This is very wicked of me, but we are pretty friendly nevertheless, and I write in a grateful spirit for her good music. I wish you could see her, Loulie! She looks as if she were born in the far edge of Poland, or wherever it was she came from, but had dwelt much in Paris and always by herself, with not even a fellow kitten for company. It is a great temptation to write in this spirit about people you don't know, just as I always laugh at everybody I choose at a circus -- you don't feel exactly as if they had personality when you don't know them, and feel as if they were figures merely. "They ain't folks, they're nothin' but a parcel of images," an old friend of mine* used to say, with some truth, -- but the minute you get beyond a certain point of interest and acquaintance, how this all changes! -- I find myself beginning to think of new story-people in these days, partly because having had two or three of my sketches printed has made me remember that part of me with surprising vividness. I wonder if you won't look up the June -- no May -- "Ladies' Home Journal," and read "An Every-day Girl"?* I think there are good things in it, and I hope it will make two or three things a little plainer to some girls who will read it. Good-night, little Loulie. I must put down my pen now, but I have enjoyed this bit of gossip. Love to your mother.


1892:  Annie Fields includes this letter with a group Jewett wrote during their 1898 European trip, but as the notes below indicate, it almost certainly comes from their 1892 trip.

Pyrmont: The Columbia Gazetteer identifies "Bad Pyrmont," a town in Lower Saxony, Germany, 9 mi. SW of Hameln, a noted spa with mineral springs and mud baths. See v. 1, p. 222. (Research: Betty Rogers)

très gais: very jolly.

the Edmundses ... Mrs. Parkman BlakeGeorge Franklin Edmunds (1828 - 1919) was a Republican U.S. Senator from Vermont.  In 1852 he married Susan Marsh (1831-1916); they had two daughters, Mary (1854-1936) and Julia (1861-1882).  Jewett and Fields enjoyed friendly association with the family during their 1888 stay in Aiken, SC.  See the letters of March 1888.
    Samuel Parkman Blake (1835-1904) was a prominent Boston businessman.  His wife, Mrs. Mary Lee (Higginson) Parkman Blake (1838-1904) was a benefactor of Boston's Museum of Fine Art and of Harvard University.

Pepperell: A town in north central Massachusetts, near the New Hampshire border.

playing Rubinstein: Anton Rubinstein (1829-1894) was a Russian virtuoso pianist and composer. He made a major tour of the United States in 1872-73.

an old friend: Jewett later says this was her grandfather. See the letter 110 from Poland Spring House, Monday, in about 1903-04.  To see Jewett reusing her grandfather's saying, see "The Gray Mills of Farley" (1898).
    In Ancestors and Immigrants (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1956), Barbara Miller Solomon reads Jewett's sketch of the elderly Polish pianist as displaying the xenophobia common among New Englanders after the Civil War (175, 257).
    Jewett's sketch of the musician seems more carefully written than many of her letters, as if she is thinking over material for a new story, as she suggests near the end.  The writing is playful. The musician is accomplished, but age has diminished her ability. She is pathetic and amusing, with her cross looks, funny wig, bad table manners, and kitten-like demeanor.  But Jewett confesses that this uncharitable portrait is wicked, and she reminds Dresel that she has become friendly with the woman and feels sincere gratitude for "her good music."
     Solomon notes Jewett's repetition here of her grandfather's remark that some people seem like a "parcel of images," made up of trivial appearances without a real inner self.  But Jewett knows this view contains only "some truth."  She is aware of her personal temptation to emphasize the ridiculous surface at the expense of sympathy:  "but the minute you get beyond a certain point of interest and acquaintance, how this all changes!"  This is like laughing at anyone she chooses at the circus, and Jewett reminds her correspondent that this is not just.

June - no May - "Ladies' Home Journal," and read "An Every-day Girl"
: Jewett's story, "An Every-Day Girl" appeared in Ladies' Home Journal in June, July, and August of 1892 and was reprinted by Richard Cary in Uncollected Stories of Sarah Orne Jewett.  Jewett may also have been thinking of her next Irish immigrant story, "Between Mass and Vespers" or of "The Flight of Betsey Lane," with its portraits of the denizens of a rural poor farm.

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


Celia Laighton Thaxter to Annie Adams Fields and SOJ

Shoals    June 29th (92

Dearest Annie & Pinny,*

This is my birth day, 57, most sixty, & a very nice birth day too! Your dear letter from Venice came & made me glad -- yes, oh yes, we were there a week & know it all, never was anything so enchanting on this planet! I remember the lines you could not recall

        Open my heart & you will see
        Graved  inside  of it -- Italy" --*

I think those are the very words --

    I wonder where you are now - how many miles away from that beautiful Venice!    I hope I shall hear again soon --    I am writing this at early breakfast, 6  o'clock, the only time I can get to write! for the world has got me in its grip, & time, to do anything I wish to do,  no longer exists for me. I hope you will not feel aggrieved at the pencil & trust it will be legible. it [ not capitalized] seems to be the only thing left,  stylographics* failed me long ago. They ink everything except the page ^on wh^ you -- want them to write --

[ end of manuscript ]


Pinny:  Pin and Pinny were nicknames for Jewett among her closest friends.  See Correspondents.

Italy:  Thaxter omits the opening quotation mark from her quotation of Robert Browning's "De Gustibus ---."  In Edmund Steadman's Victorian Anthology (1895), the lines are:
Open my heart and you will see   
Grav’d inside of it, “Italy.”
stylographics:  The stylographic pen is an early version of a fountain pen, precursor to the ball-point pen.  Like a fountain pen, a stylographic stores ink in a reservoir, feeding it to the tip or nub as one writes or draws.  Most stylographic and fountain pens were susceptible to accidental leaking and blotting.  Jewett mentions this kind of pen in Betty Leicester (1890), Chapter 8.

The manuscript of this letter is held by the Boston Public Library: Celia Thaxter correspondence with Annie Fields, 1869-1893, MS C.1.38, Item 265 (incomplete).  Transcription and annotation by Terry Heller, Coe College.

Mary Rice Jewett to John Greenleaf Whittier

[ 6 July 1892 ]*

Dear Mr. Whittier:

            I was just thinking of sending these letters for you to read when your letter came this morning.  You should have had them sooner but they have been sent to an invalid cousin to read and were just returned.

            I hope these pleasant days find you much stronger.  I wish you could come here for a little change for old Berwick never was more beautiful.

            Isn’t it good that our travelers seem so happy?

Yours very truly

    Mary R. Jewett



            July 6th

Sarah’s address is: Care J. S. Morgan & Co., 22 Old Broad St., London



1892:  Jewett and Fields were traveling in France in July of 1892, but it seems clear their mail was going to London.  This date is inferred from the Wednesday July 6th date that Mary gives.  July 6 also fell on Wednesday in 1898, but in that summer, Mary and Theodore joined Jewett and Fields in France in July.

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 74, 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 Alice Greenwood (Mrs. George D.) Howe

     Chailly, 9 July, 1892.

     Dearest Alice, -- Now they live in Barbizon, on the edge of the forest of Fontainebleau,* under the very eaves I ought to say, and they are having a beautiful good time, and in the day-time they play in the woods, and after dinner they walk out on the great plain and hear (and almost see!) the Angélus.* I wish I had time to write a long letter all about Paris and Madame Blanc who brought us here. I can tell you that I went up her stairs with my heart much a-feared, -- it is an awful experiment to see so old a friend for the first time, -- but I found her even more dear and kind and delightful than she has been in her letters for those eight long years. There has been no end to her friendliness, and what I have liked very much, she has taken us to see some of her friends, one ideal French lady, a comtesse of the old school, in the Place Vendôme, whose self and house together were like a story-book. You would simply love the drives here, but I dare say you know them much better than I. Last night we strayed far out on the great plain, and when we were coming back I heard a man with his heavy scythe cutting the wheat, and it was so dark I couldn't see him, and perfectly still, except the noise he made, the sharp swish of the scythe and the soft fall of the grain; one couldn't hear it so by day. When we hear the Angélus we can't help looking all about for two figures with bent heads. Millet's own house is close by ours.* We have some rooms in a pretty old place, covered with vines; you go out through a half court-yard and half farm-yard and open a big gate to the narrow paved street -- and a nice piggy lives in a little stone mansion close by this gate. I feel very much at home, being in truth a country person, but nobody could help loving Barbizon.

     O little pains! Mes petite breads!
     I break with joy your crisp young heads
     In you no dreadful soda lurks
     To stab me with a thousand dirks.
     Some baker immigrant should bring
     You to my New World suffering.


Barbizon, on the edge of the forest of Fontainebleau: Barbizon is a village at the edge of Fontainebleau forest about 30 miles south of Paris. A group of French landscape painters was associated with this area in the mid-nineteenth century.

the Angélus: bell announcing the Roman Catholic devotion commemorating the Incarnation of Christ, which is said in the morning, at noon, and in the evening. Presumably Jewett refers to the Millet painting.  See below.

Place Vendôme: A major street intersection in Paris, where stands a column commemorating Napoleon's victories.

Millet's own house: Jean François Millet (1814-1875), a French painter noted for scenes of country and peasant life. Born in Normandy, he studied in Cherbourg and Paris, where he worked until 1849, when he moved to Barbizon.   One of his well-known paintings is "The Angélus" (1859), in the collection of  the Musée d'Orsay, Paris.


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 Sarah Wyman Whitman

     22, Clarges Street, Mayfair, W. London, 20 August, 1892*

     I believe that I wrote you last from Yorkshire, and there seems to be so much to tell since, that my pen quite flies in the air, like a horse that won't go. We had a lovely scurry indeed, home from Ilkley by the way of "Lincoln, Peterborough, and Ely," not to speak of Boston and Cambridge, where we gave ourselves just time enough to see Newnham, and to have a walk and to go to the afternoon service at King's College Chapel, and to stray afterward in the dusk into Trinity Hall to see the portraits, and then to our inn to sleep as best we might, after a great day, and go on to London in the morning.* We spent eight solid hours in the House of Commons, on Tuesday night, to hear the great debate,* and were flying about a good deal all that week, and at the end we went up into Warwickshire to stay with Mrs. Dugdale,* a most charming visit in story-book country house, which we both enjoyed enormously; and then by Oxford* back to London again, and this last week we have been seeing much of the Arnolds, who have come back to town, because -- 's father-in-law, of the house of Kimberly, is in the new government,* and there was a revival of "society" for a brief space, by which we profited. It is a very good time to take for being in London, on the whole, but we have been spending nights and making days' journeys to the neighborhood, and begin to feel that we are not likely to see half enough of London itself. But what can I tell you (with a common Flying Scotchman pen)* of going to see my Lord and Lady Tennyson, down among the Surrey hills!* It meant a great deal more to me than when I saw them before. I wish I could make you know their wonderful faces. One goes into their presence with the feeling of a former age. I believe that I know exactly what I should have felt a thousand years ago if I were paying a friendly visit to my king; but it is the high court of poetry at Aldworth, whatever one may say. My Lord Tennyson was so funny and cross about newspapers and reporters that I feel his shadow above me even in this letter, innocent-hearted as I be. He has suffered deep wrongs indeed; perhaps it is well that I can't write long enough to tell you many delightful things that he said and did (saying some of his poetry once or twice in a wonderful way), except one which belongs to you, -- his complete delight in my Japanese crystal,* which he looked at over and over, and wondered much about, and enjoyed, and thought to find things in it. Wasn't that nice of you, S. W.? and you a-giving it to me, and indeed so many people beside a poet have liked me for it, and remember me now as the person to whom it belonged. If I could have given it to anybody in this world, I could have given it to Tennyson then and there; but No! and now I like it more because he liked it, a-shining in its silver leaves.

     Yesterday we spent the day with Mrs. Humphry Ward,* who has been ill for a while and is just getting better. Somehow, she seemed so much younger and more girlish than I expected, even with Ethel, her next sister, clear and dear in my mind. Ethel was not there, but Mrs. Huxley, and her father and his wife,* and Mr. Ward himself, for which I was very glad. I long to have you know Mrs. Ward. You would quite take her to your heart. She is very clear and shining in her young mind, brilliant and full of charm, and with a lovely simplicity and sincerity of manner. I think of her with warmest affection and a sacred expectation of what she is sure to do if she keeps strong, and sorrow does not break her eager young heart too soon. Her life burns with a very fierce flame, and she has not in the least done all that she can do, but just now it seems to me that her vigor is a good deal spent. She has most lovely children. The young son was busy with a cricket-match, and we beheld a good part of it, and saw the charming old garden, and altogether it was a very pleasant day indeed, and held pleasure enough for two or three. Now that I have begun to tell things, I wish to write you a complete autobiography of two weeks, but all the other people and things must wait until I see you; except perhaps that I must tell you how wonderfully well Mary Beaumont* looks and seems. This week we are going to Cobham,* to stay a few days with dear Mrs. Arnold, who would touch you with her changed looks. She has grown so much older since that merry day when we went to the first feast at Old Place. She asks so affectionately for you, and is just as dear as ever. When you get this letter, I think we shall be staying up at Whitby, on our way to Edinburgh, seeing the Du Mauriers again,* according to agreement, and other friends, and liking to go there because Mr. Lowell was always talking about it and was so fond of it. Then we go on to Edinburgh. See what a little place I have left to send A. F.'s* love in, but here it goes. Good-bye, dear.

     And then "Lady Rose's Daughter"!* If you were here how much we should talk about it. There are splendid qualities of the highest sort. One says at certain moments with happy certainty that here is the one solitary master of fiction -- I mean of novel writing. How is she going on at this great pace to the story's end? But one cannot let such a story flag and fail -- there must be an end as good as this beginning.


1892:  It seems clear that most of this letter was composed during Jewett's 1892 trip to Europe, but the final paragraph could not have been written before May of 1902 (see note below on Lady Rose's Daughter).

Cambridge ... Newnham, ... at King's College Chapel, ... Trinity Hall to see the portraits
: Though this is somewhat confusing, it seems clear that Jewett refers to the town of Cambridge in England and to Cambridge University. The University is thought to have begun in the 12th century. Newnham was a woman's college, one of the pioneers in women's education at Cambridge. King's Chapel and Trinity Hall remain sights for tourists. Regarding the portraits in Trinity Hall: "A number of paintings tell the story of the College through portraits of a succession of notable Fellows and Masters. One such painting is of Sir John Lyons by John Bellany, who was artist in residence. He collaborated with our Fellow and eminent surgeon, Sir Roy Calne, whose own painting 'Mr Sloots and Mr Wright having Tea' captures a friendly moment between two respected members of staff, while his portraits of Shaun Wylie and Thaddeus Mann (Fellows, friends and colleagues) are enjoyed by visitors."

the great debate:  In August of 1892, a vote of "no confidence" forced a change of government in Great Britain.  At the time of Jewett's visit, it is likely that William Gladstone was forming a new government.

Warwickshire to stay with Mrs. Dugdale: This is Mrs. W. S. Dugdale, mentioned again in Letter 73. Her husband, who died heroically in an 1882 mining accident, was a beloved pupil of Benjamin Jowett at Oxford. In The Life and Letters of Benjamin Jowett (1897), appears her account of her husband's love and respect for his teacher and Jowett's letter to her upon Dugdale's death.

Oxford: Oxford University, in Oxford, England, dates from the 12th Century.

-- 's father-in-law, of the house of Kimberly, is in the new government: In 1889 Matthew Arnold's daughter, Eleanor, married Armine Wodehouse, "the younger son of Lord Kimberley of the India Office" (Park Homan, Matthew Arnold: A Life, 1981, 423).

Flying Scotchman pen: "The Flying Scotchman" in the nineteenth century was a London to Edinburgh train renowned for its speed. Hence, this pen writes very fast. (Research: Betty Rogers)

Lord and Lady TennysonWikipedia says: "Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson, FRS (6 August 1809 – 6 October 1892) was Poet Laureate of Great Britain and Ireland during much of Queen Victoria's reign and remains one of the most popular British poets."  Seeking privacy, he moved his family to Aldworth, in West Sussex in 1869.  "In 1884 Victoria created him Baron Tennyson, of Aldworth in the County of Sussex and of Freshwater in the Isle of Wight."  When Jewett and Fields visited him, not long before his death, he was living at Aldworth, near Hazlemere in Surrey.

my Japanese crystal: Silverthorne explains this ornament, a gift from Sarah Whitman, in the photographs in Sarah Orne Jewett: A Writer's Life. This photograph with Jewett wearing the crystal on a necklace may be viewed on the opening page of the Sarah Orne Jewett Text Project.

Mrs. Humphry Ward: Mary Augusta Ward (1851-1920) wrote a number of novels including Lady Rose's Daughter (1903); she was best known for Robert Elsmere. Her grandfather was Thomas Arnold of Rugby, her father Thomas Arnold, inspector of schools, her uncle Matthew Arnold. Married to Thomas Humphry Ward, an Oxford don and later a newspaper man, she was involved in the intellectual and spiritual excitement following the Oxford Movement.

Mrs. Huxley, and her father and his wife: Almost certainly, this is Mrs. Leonard Huxley, or Julia Arnold Huxley, daughter of Thomas Arnold (Matthew's brother) and sister of Mary Augusta Ward. Leonard was the son of scientist and writer, Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895). Leonard and Julia became the parents of novelist Aldous Leonard Huxley (1894-1963) and poet/scientist Sir Julian Huxley (1887-1975).

Mary Beaumont: Probably, this Mary Beaumont is the author of Joan Seaton a Story of Percival-Dion in the Yorkshire Dales (1896) and A Ringby Lass & Other Stories (1895), but this is not certain. Further information would be welcomed.

Cobham: Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) moved his family to Pains Hill Cottage, Cobham in Surrey, England in the summer of 1873. After his death, his wife, Frances Lucy, lived the rest of her life there. (Source: Nicholas Murray, A Life of Matthew Arnold, 1997.)

Whitby on our way to Edinburgh, seeing the Du Mauriers again: Probably, George Louis Palmella Busson Du Maurier (1834-1896), French-born artist and author of the enormously popular novel, Trilby (1894). Whitby is a fishing and resort town on England's North Sea coast.

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

Lady Rose's Daughter: By Mrs. Humphry Ward, this novel was published in 1903; according to Jane Silvey, "'The Sympathy of Another Writer':  The Correspondence between Sarah Orne Jewett and Mrs. Humphry Ward," in Transatlantic Women, edited by Brigitte Bailey and Lucinda Damon-Bach (pp. 295-6), Ward's novel began serialization in Harper's Magazine in May 1902.  Therefore, this paragraph could not have been written in 1892.

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

7 September 1892

Death of John Greenleaf Whittier

SOJ to Sarah Wyman Whitman

Edinburgh, 11 Sept. [1892]

     I wish I could possibly tell you anything of the charm of Whitby.* No wonder dear Mr. Lowell grew so fond of it, and of the people who spend their autumns there. We saw a good deal of the Smalleys and Du Mauriers, until we felt like oldest friends.* You may expect me to be always telling you how delightful Mr. Du Maurier is. You can't think of him at all until you see him and hear him sing his old French songs, and have him show you his drawings with all the simplicity of a boy with a slate, and all the feeling of a great artist. He is sadly troubled with his poor failing eyes now, but there is always a lovely sunshine in his face, and you meet him out walking with a timid little fluffy terrier that gets frightened and stops all of a tremble, and has to be hunted up just when his master is talking most eagerly, and turned back for, -- such a beloved and troublesome little dog.

     Whitby is full of pictures. There were places that made me think of your Gloucester picture,* only a greyer sea and bright red-tiled roofs, climbing the steep hill, and a grey old abbey at the top of the hill, holding up its broken towers and traceries against the clouds.* It is a noble seacoast and a most quaint fishing-town, quite unchanged and unspoiled. I shall be telling a great deal about the charms of Whitby.

     I forgot whether I wrote you just before, or just after, our visit to Cobham. No, I am sure I have not told you about Mr. Arnold's favorite walks and his most interesting study, or how delighted I was to find your own rhododendrons hanging on the wall.


1892: Annie Fields includes this letter with a group Jewett wrote during their 1898 European trip, but as the notes below indicate, it almost certainly comes from their 1892 trip, as George Du Maurier died in 1896.

Wikipedia says:  "Whitby is a seaside town, port and civil parish in the Borough of Scarborough and English county of North Yorkshire. It is located within the historic boundaries of the North Riding of Yorkshire. Situated on the east coast of Yorkshire at the mouth of the River Esk, Whitby has an established maritime, mineral and tourist heritage. Its East Cliff is home to the ruins of Whitby Abbey, where Cædmon, the earliest recognised English poet, lived. "

dear Mr. Lowell: The American poet James Russell Lowell (1819 -1891) served as Minister to England (1880-1885).

the Smalleys and Du Mauriers:  Presumably, Jewett refers to George Washburn Smalley (1833-1916), a correspondent for the New York Tribune and his wife, Phoebe Garnaut (d. 1923).  Smalley was the author of "Mr. Lowell in England," Harper's New Monthly Magazine: 92: 551 (April,1896), pp. 788-802.   In Portrait of a Friendship: Drawn from New Letters of James Russell Lowell to Sybella Lady Lyttelton, 1881-1891 (1990),  Michael Russell says that Phoebe acted as a "lady in waiting" to Mrs. Lowell (106) during the nine summers the Lowells spent in Whitby, beginning in 1881.
    Wikipedia says: "George Louis Palmella Busson du Maurier (6 March 1834 - 8 October 1896) was a French-British cartoonist and author, known for his cartoons in Punch and also for his novel Trilby. He was the father of actor Gerald du Maurier and grandfather of the writers Angela du Maurier and Dame Daphne du Maurier. He was also the father of Sylvia Llewelyn Davies and grandfather of the five boys who inspired J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan."  The article notes that Du Maurier turned from drawing to fiction in part as a result of deteriorating eyesight.

Gloucester picture:  It is possible that Jewett refers to Whitman's painting, "Edge of Evening at Annisquam" (c. 1880-1890); Annisquam is a waterfront neighborhood in Gloucester, MA.  Images of the painting, held by a private collector, are available at several web pages.  The image below appears courtesy of Artnet.  The original is oil on canvas, 17 x 18.5 inches.

Edge of Evening at Annisquam

S. W. Whitman, Edge of Evening at Annisquam

grey old abbey: Wikipedia says: "Whitby Abbey is a ruined Benedictine abbey overlooking the North Sea on the East Cliff above Whitby in North Yorkshire, England. It was disestablished during the Dissolution of the Monasteries under the auspices of Henry VIII."  Perhaps its main claim to fame after 1897 was as an important setting in Bram Stoker's vampire tale, Dracula.

Cobham ...  Mr. Arnold's favorite walksCobham is a village in Surrey, England, about 17 miles southwest of London.  The poet Matthew Arnold, (1822–1888) lived in in the village (1873 to 1888)

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 Louisa Dresel

     South Berwick, Maine
     Friday morning [October 7, 1892]

     Dear Loulie:

     I was so glad to get your letter from Jackson1 and I wish that I could have sent you a word sooner to say so. It is very pleasant to be at home again and very busy and very sad too, I must confess, but we all try hard not to let each other know that we think anything about that!2 I think it is possible that Mrs. Fields will go to Manchester for a few days to close the house, etc. -- and if she does I shall go over and so have a chance to say things. I am sure to hear from her about it within a few days. I think that she has come home very well if only she doesn't work too hard at first and get cold!

     Dear Loulie, I liked the four-leaved clover hugely. I have a great superstition about them of the most cheerful sort and I took this for great good luck.3 With love to Mrs. Dresel.

     Yours most affectionately,

     S. O. J.


     1Katharine Prescott Wormeley (1830-1908), indefatigable translator of Balzac, Molière, Dumas, Daudet and other French authors, was an Englishwoman who lived in Newport, Rhode Island, then retired to Jackson, New Hampshire, in the heart of the White Mountains. She was an intimate friend of both Jewett and Dresel, who often visited her there. See Fields, Letters, 232, 244.

     2The black-bordered envelope in which Jewett dispatched this letter suggests allusion to the approaching first anniversary of her mother's death.*

     3In "A Four-Leaved Clover," Verses (Boston, 1916), 24-25, Jewett celebrates the beneficent propensities of this flower. However, in keeping with her faith in the fundamental Puritan moralities, she asserts that those who "hunt the hayfield over" develop a quality of patience, and "in little things or great, / all good luck, / Must come to those who nobly earn."

Editor's Notes

mother's death:  Jewett's mother, Caroline Perry Jewett, had died on 21 October 1891.  While Cary may well be right about this reason for the black border, if the letter date is correct, the black border and the subject Jewett will not name may refer to the death of Alfred, Lord Tennyson on 6 October, or even to the September death of their close friend, Whittier.  See below, letters of October and October 29, 1892.

  The manuscript of this letter is held by the Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Am 1743 (50).  This transcription by Richard Cary appeared originally in "Jewett to Dresel: 33 Letters," Colby Library Quarterly 7:1 (March 1975), 13-49, which gave permission to reprint it here.  Notes are by Cary, with additions by Terry Heller, Coe College.

SOJ to Annie Adams Fields

     Home, South Berwick, October, 1892.

     How much we have felt in these last days and how we can see his pathetic figure# and his great dim eyes. I am so rich in the thought of that visit, and I can truly say that the one thing which made me feel most anxious to have you get to England this summer was to make sure of your seeing him again, and now you have seen him and I too, and it was a most lovely visit. The great dignity and separateness of his life comes clearer than ever to mind. He seemed like a king in captivity, one of the kings of old, of divine rights and sacred seclusions. None of the great gifts I have ever had out of loving and being with you seems to me so great as having seen Tennyson, and then I stop and think of Mr. Lowell and wonder if I ought to have been so sure, though that was a little different. But if somebody said come and see Shakespeare with me I couldn't have felt any more or deeper than I did about Tennyson.

Fields's note

# Tennyson*


Tennyson:  Alfred, Lord Tennyson died on 6 October 1892, not long after Jewett and Fields visited him in Surrey, on the trip from which they have just returned.  See above, the letter of 20 August 1892.

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 Annie Adams Fields

     South Berwick, October 29, 1892.

     Town means that I should begin things over again, and here it is very idle, and most of the dear village neighbours have made their kind visits, and we can be alone in the long sunny afternoons. Yesterday, a dear little old woman, who rarely leaves her house, came in to see Mary and me. "I know just how you feel, dear," she said, "I have been through the same sorrow"; and I could see that it was present yet in her heart, and she almost ninety, and missing her mother still.*

     It was a most tender and touching little old face, -- I wish you had been here to know the dignity and sweetness of her visit, dear quaint old lady, mindful of the proprieties, and one who had seen almost everybody go whom she had known in youth, or middle-age, even. I wish you knew some of the village people, -- not the new ones, but those to whom in their early days Berwick was the round world itself.


missing her mother still:  October 21 is the anniversary of the death of Jewett's mother, Caroline Perry Jewett, in 1891.

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 Lilian Aldrich

          South Berwick, Maine, November. [1892]

     My dear Lilian, -- When I went to Town for Sunday, I thought that I surely should find you in Mount Vernon Street, and I was so much disappointed when I heard from A. F.* that you were still out of town, and especially that you are not quite well yet. I have been expecting to go to Boston and to see you there, so that I have never written you a word! I was so grieved to hear of your illness, and I wish very much to see you. If I possibly could have stayed I should have gone to Ponkapog* to spend an hour at least, -- dear Ponkapog! how I should like to have a drive with you again!

     I have been busy, as everybody is when she first gets home after seven months and more away, -- answering foolish strangers' letters, and so never having a minute in which to write to wise friends, and trying to get a little writing done, and trying to see all my neighbours, and to remember which bureau drawer anything is in! It was so sweet to get home again and into the old places -- I never shall forget the beauty of that first evening on Charles Street as we sat looking out over the river, and being so glad to be off the steamer; and next day, when I came here to the dear old house and home, it all seemed to put its arms round me.* I am always looking forward to having you and T. B. A. here. I wish it were not so late in the autumn.


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

off the steamer
:  Jewett and Fields have returned from about 6 months traveling in Europe.  Jewett remembers two returns, one to Fields's Boston home on Charles Street and a second to Jewett's home in South Berwick.

Ponkapog:  The country residence of Thomas Bailey (T. B. A.) and Lilian Aldrich near Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA.  See Correspondents.

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

Sarah Wyman Whitman to SOJ


November, 1892.

     Oh, having a Show isn't half so leisurely a proceeding as I had supposed,* and I have never been so busy in my life, I guess, as for the last three days. But the world, critics and otherwise, takes the Show more seriously than ever it did before; and that gives me a grave pleasure. Indeed I have felt a great many things, owing to folks and their remarks.


having a Show: According to Betty S. Smith, Whitman had two shows in 1892, at the Doll and Richards gallery in Boston and at the Avery Gallery in New York. Presumably, she here refers to the later one in New York. Her works on exhibit included oil paintings, pastels, sketches, and watercolors. See Smith, "Sarah de St. Prix Wyman Whitman," Old Time New England (Spring/Summer 1999), pp. 47-64.

This transcription appears in Letters, Sarah Wyman Whitman.  Cambridge, MA:  Riverside Press, 1907, "Letters to Sarah Orne Jewett: 1882-1903," pp. 61-109.

SOJ to David Douglas, Edinburgh

          10th November, 1892, South Berwick, Maine.

     My dear Mr. Douglas, -- I only wish I were near enough to make one of your household now and then. I console myself by thinking that we do not live either in a letterless world or one where the remembrance of the past pleasures of friendship need ever be anything but present joy. As I sat at your table it was something like being at home in the old days when I still had my dear father and mother with all their wit and wisdom and sweetness. Now my elder sister and I are often alone.

     It is funny how everything here seems to concern itself with the World's Fair at Chicago! for one of our magazines -- Scribner's -- means to be first in the field with a Great Representative Number! and I am hurrying to finish a story for it -- a May number, but the editors are already anxious about being behind hand.*

     Mrs. Fields has seen Dr. Holmes and found him pretty well, and full of delightful fun; bearing his years cheerfully, and drawing his old friends closer, as he lets the rest of the world slip away little by little. Whittier's and Tennyson's death touched him closely, and it happens that some other old friends of his went this autumn too. Mr. Curtis, and Mr. Samuel Longfellow, the brother, a biographer of the poet, and Dr. Parsons, an erratic man of real genius, the translator of Dante and a poet of no mean skill, who was one of Dr. Holmes's and Mr. Fields's friends -- all this has been sad for the dear old doctor, but as I have said, he keeps very cheerful.*

     Dear Mr. and Mrs. Douglas! My best thanks for Dean Ramsay's and Felicia Skene's book and more for the thought.

     Yours most affectionately.


the World's Fair at Chicago! for one of our magazines -- Scribner's -- means to be first in the field with a Great Representative Number ... a story for it: The World's Columbian Exposition opened in Chicago in May 1893, a little late, to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus's arrival in the New World in 1492. The May 1893 "Exhibition Number" of Scribner's Magazine was indeed special, designed as the "Conductors' Point of View" column said, as a "representative number of an American magazine . . . [showing] to what these popular mediums of literary and artistic enjoyment and information have grown." Contributors to this number include George Washington (by means of a document), William Dean Howells, Thomas Bailey Aldrich, Bret Harte, Walter Besant, Thomas Hardy, Henry James, Robert Blum, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Jewett's story, "Between Mass and Vespers," Francisque Sarcey, and George Washington Cable. Among the popular illustrators to appear were Robert Blum, A. B. Frost, and Howard Pyle.

Dr. Holmes ... Whittier's and Tennyson's death ... Mr. Curtis, and Mr. Samuel Longfellow ... Dr. Parsons ... Dean Ramsay's and Felicia Skene's book
: Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894) was a poet and author of The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table (1858). Trained as a physician, he was the father of the Supreme Court Justice, Oliver W. Holmes, Jr. John Greenleaf Whittier (see note above) died in 1892. Alfred Lord Tennyson died on October 6, 1892. The Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia says: "George William Curtis, b. Providence, R.I., (Feb. 24, 1824, d. Aug. 31, 1892), was an eminent American editor, literary figure, orator, and political leader. For 30 years (1863-92) he was political editor of Harper's Weekly." Thomas William Parsons (1819-1892) was a poet and translator of Dante. For more on Parsons, see Melissa J. Homestead, "Buried in Plain Sight: Unearthing Willa Cather's Allusion to Thomas William Parsons's 'The Sculptor's Funeral,'" Studies in American Fiction 43:2 (Fall 2016), pp. 207-299.

    I have not been able to locate a single book upon which Felicia Skene (1821-1899) and John William Ramsay, Earl of Dalhousie (1847-1887) collaborated, if this is the Dean Ramsay referred to. However each wrote a separate book on the same topic. Skene's polemical novel on the law against marrying a deceased wife's sister, The Inheritance of Evil: Or, the Consequence of Marrying a Deceased Wife's Sister, appeared in 1849. Ramsay's compilation on the controversy, American Experience of Marriage with a Deceased Wife's Sister: the Answers of the Governors of States, &C. To Inquiries Made by the Earl of Dalhousie, appeared in 1883.

    Perhaps Douglas sent her more than one book, a title each by Ramsay and Skene?

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 Robert Underwood Johnson

     South Berwick, Maine
     December 21, [1892]

    My dear friend:

     I thank you over and over again for the great pleasure I have had in your lovely book of poems,l and I thank you most for your kind remembrance. I cannot tell you with what feeling I read again the pages that I knew last spring in Venice and some of the lines of The Winter Hour belong to my life as much as to yours. I shall be always reading between those dear lines and remembering days that we both remember.2
     I did not need them to recall our friendship: but I put your white flower of a book into the safest place. I know how dear The Winter Hour must be to your wife3 -- it made it doubly beautiful to me because I knew something of your life together. God bless you both, dear friends! I send you my best Christmas wish and I wish for thyself that I may be so fortunate as to see you sometimes in the New Year.
     I saw Mrs. Fields a day or two ago and found her pretty well. We talked of you then -- we are pretty sure to think of you when we think of the spring and summer in Italy and France.
     I envy you the pleasure that your white book will give to every one, and so bring back to you.
     Pray believe me always
     Your sincere and affectionate friend,
     Sarah O. Jewett


     1The Winter Hour, and Other Poems (New York, 1892).
     2 On their second trip to Europe in the summer of 1892 Miss Jewett and Mrs. Fields crossed the ocean on the steamer Werra with Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, then toured Italy and France together. Miss Jewett met Mark Twain in Venice, Madame Blanc and Brunetière in Paris, continued on to England where she romped with George Du Maurier's delightful dog at Whitby, and paid more formal calls on Tennyson, Mrs. Humphry Ward, and Matthew Arnold's family.
     Miss Jewett's friendship with Horace E. Scudder was genuine and lifelong, but a conversation reported by Johnson in his Remembered Yesterdays (Boston, 1929), 392, reveals one of her thoroughly human traits: "I remember she had a dislike for Horace Scudder, one-time editor of the Atlantic, apropos of whom she said to me, 'What a strange world this is!' -- and then with a rapid zigzag forward gesture of her hand, -- 'full of scudders and things.' "
     3 Katherine McMahon Johnson (see Correspondents).

    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 Mary Rice Jewett

Wednesday morning
[ 28 December 1892 ]*

Dear Mary

Another lovely day and it seems strange not to have you here.  I ought at this time to hear great laughter below stairs.  I miss you very much and Mrs. Fields* said she did before you had been gone twenty minutes!  Mrs. Whitman* came in just after you left and had been to Trinity but was little profited by the sermon of her rector and speaked very unsympathetic of his efforts!  Then it came early dinner time and hearing of goose below I mustered and went down and had a good dinny with a plum pudding and Mrs. Fields was much pleased and I none the worse and stayed down until eight o’clock or after and we had tea up in the library and the screen looked more and more lovely with a bright fire.  A package came from Mrs. Claflin* with a little worked linen photograph frame for me and a little silver paper cutter for A.F. & Mary Garrett* sent a piece of Eastern pottery and of old Indian silk and a Rossetti photograph.*  I think that was all after you left.

Dr. Morton* was here just before you went away, and Judy* came in and was sorry not to see you but received thanks for her napkins and bestowed them in her turn, and was so funny about T. Sarah* that I nearly died laughing.  S.S.* had great Christmas and we were commenting on her return to Boston.  “Yes, I thought she would get tired of it” said Judy.  And last winter there were times.  However I wasn’t going to worry about the future.  Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”*  The other day she was dining with us and she said Sister Lizzie was too old to be knocking about Europe!*  Mr. Beal* said ‘What do you think of that! after she went away.” 

I thought you ought to share these particulars, but Judy was so funny and dear relating them.  I must write another note or two so good bye with much love to all.  I shall get down stairs before long as I did yesterday.  I hope you got home all right with your bungles.*



28 December 1892:  A handwritten note on this transcription reads: 189-.  This tentative date is based upon the implication that Annie Fields's sister, Sarah Adams, has recently returned from her long residence in Germany, an event that took place in 1892.  The Wednesday after Christmas in 1892, was 28 December.

Mrs. Fields: Annie Adams Fields.  See Correspondents.

Mrs. Whitman: Sarah Wyman Whitman.  See Correspondents.

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

Mary Garrett: See Correspondents.

Rossetti photograph:  Presumably, this is of the English poet, Christina Rossetti (1830-1894), but it could be of her brother, poet and artist, Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882).

Dr. Morton:  Richard Cary identifies Dr. Morton: Dr. Helen Morton (1834-1916) had offices successively on Marlboro, Boylston, and Chestnut streets in Boston. Jewett once characterized her as "touchy {touching?} in her doctorly heart and more devoted in her private capacity as a friend."

Judy:  While this has not been confirmed, it seems likely that this is Judith Drew Beal, stepdaughter of Annie Fields's sister, Louisa Adams Beal.  See Annie Fields in Correspondents.

T. Sarah:  In this context, Jewett may refer to Annie Fields's sister, Sarah Holland Fields, or perhaps to Sara Holland, wife of Fields's cousin, Arthur Holland. See Correspondents.

S.S.:  Possibly meaning Sister Sarah in reference to Sarah Holland Adams?  She returned to Boston in 1892 from a long residence in Germany.  See Gollin, Annie Adams Fields pp. 12-14.

Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.:  See the Bible, Matthew 6:34.

Sister Lizzie was too old to be knocking about Europe! ... Mr. Beal:  Mr. Beal is James Henry Beal, husband of Louisa Adams.    Sister Lizzie, presumably, is Elizabeth Adams, older sister of Annie Fields. See Annie Fields in Correspondents.

bungles:  Playfully meaning bundles?

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

1892 or early 1893*]

Thursday evening
Dearest Annie

        How good you are with ^sending^ all your little letters and telling me what is going on in those and you own dear letters.  They all seem short no matter how long they are! and I feel us talking over those that you send from other people.  Which is a breathless sentence as of one in a hurry. --  I must tell you such a funny thing:  Day before yesterday I got thinking of dear Miss Blythe and

[ Page 2 ]

Miss Leigh Smith and at last I remembered that there are things about them in Mary Howitts Life* and so I hunted that up and had a lovely time reading it, for friendships sake and my mind was still flying their way when I found the letter in your envelope last night!  It was just one of those things!  What an exquisite letter it is.  We must write her soon mustn't we? At any rate I wish to tell her this before I forget it.  Mrs. Alexander sends you her love

[ Page 3 ]

and Francesca's.*  I'll send the letters in a day or two, but it will be such a 'moment' to Aunt Mary Long of pleasure in remembering old times -- She always has it with every letter and sends the same messages back.  They correspond through me as it were.  Mrs. Alexander sends her paper about the soup kitchens at [Bellagra ?] which somebody has had printed for her (in the Evening Post I should think.)  You know we had it when we were there.  I should

[ Page 4 ]

think that was a pretty poor committee about [Haverhill ?]* -- most of them setting by theirselves and wishing to prove their own theories a little too much.  At least not the best committee that could be scared up.  But talking over is ^always^ good -- it is acting in too much of a hurry that puts things back.  You cant do much usually except to take off the hindrances to things that can work themselves out if they are left alone -- like lifting a stone off a tuft of grass --  You can lift the stones but the grass has got to do its own growing.

[ 2 circled in bottom left corner, in another hand.]

[ Up the left margin and in the top margin of page 1 ]

and nobody can [make may be underlined ] the life that [must written over something] be in the grass itself.  But it seems to me many people try to do that instead of the other thing.  I have so much thought of what you said.  I must say good bye now -- it will be late for the mail.  With dear love[,]  Pinny*


1892 or early 1893:  Jewett seems to imply that she and Fields have visited the Alexander family in Italy prior to composing this letter.  As she has been re-reading the life of Mary Botham Howitt, published in 1889, it seems quite likely that she is writing after their 1890 trip to Europe.  However, they also visited Italy in 1900, and given the information available at this time, the letter may not have been composed until after the 1900 voyage.  However, grounded shakily in the mention of the Haverhill meeting, which may have been about the disposition of the John Greenleaf Whittier homestead after his September 1892 death, this letter is tentatively dated in that year.  See notes below for details.

Miss Blythe ... Miss Leigh Smith ... Mary Howitts LifeAnna Mary Howitt Watts (1824 - 1884) was "an English painter, writer and feminist."  Her mother was Mary Botham Howitt (1799 - 1888), an English poet and author of the famous poem "The Spider and the Fly."
    Among Anna's friends was Barbara Leigh Smith, Madame Bodichon (1827 - 1891), who "was one of the foremost founders of the women's rights movement in Britain." 
    Miss Blythe is Isabella Blythe, who was the domestic partner of Barbara Leigh Smith's sister, Anna (Nannie) Leigh-Smith (1831-1919).  See Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon: Feminist, Artist and Rebel (2010) by Pam Hirsch.
    Probably Jewett was reading Mary Howitt: An Autobiography, Volume 2 (1889), by Margaret Howitt  Mary's daughter and Anna's sister.  See pp. 348-58.

Mrs. Alexander ... Francesca ... paper about the soup kitchens at [Bellagra ?]: Frances / Fanny "Francesca" Alexander (1837 - 1917) was an American illustrator, author, and translator.  Her mother was Lucia Gray Swett (Mrs. Francis) Alexander (1814 - 1916), also a translator from Italian to English.  Her father was the American portrait painter, Francis Alexander (1800 - 1880).  In the 1850s, they moved from Boston to Florence.  In 1882 Francesca met John Ruskin, becoming his friend and correspondent until his death in 1900.
    The Schlesinger Library sketch of the family notes:
In Florence the Alexanders moved among the social, cultural and ecclesiastical elite of northern Italy, and entertained distinguished visitors from overseas. Esther Frances Alexander devoted herself to art and to charity among the Tuscan peasants: some of them considered her a saint. International celebrity came to her with the close friendship that developed in 1882 between the Alexander women and John Ruskin. The English art critic bought Esther Frances Alexander's illustrated manuscript, "Roadside Songs of Tuscany" (published 1883); edited "Christ's Folk in the Apennines" (1887-1889); and discussed her drawing in his Slade Lectures at Oxford. "Tuscan Songs" (1897) and "The Hidden Servants and Other Very Old Stories" (1900) also sold well. In 1905 at the age of ninety, Lucia Gray Alexander published "Il Libro de Oro," a collection of saints' legends. She died in 1916 in Florence. Francesca, who had been dominated and protected by her mother all her life, died there in January 1917.
Mrs. Alexander's paper on soup kitchens has not been located; assistance is welcome.

As there is no such place as Bellagra, it is possible that Jewett refers to Bellegra, an area within the city of Rome.  Jewett seems to suggest here that she and Fields saw Mrs. Alexander's paper when they were "there," that is in Italy.  They visited Italy together three other times, in 1882, 1890 and 1900.

Aunt Mary Long:  See Correspondents.  The circumstances under which Long became acquainted with the Alexanders are unknown.  Assistance is welcome.

Haverhill:  What this meeting was about remains undiscovered.  Though this is purely speculative at this time, it is significant that John Greenleaf Whittier's homestead and birthplace was in Haverhill, MA.  If this letter was composed after Whittier's death on 7 September 1892, then it is possible that the Haverhill meeting had something to do with decisions about preserving his birthplace, which opened to the public in  1893.  It may even have been a meeting of the Haverhill Whittier Club.  Founded in 1886, the Haverhill Whittier Club received the Whittier Homestead as a gift with the understanding that it would become a memorial museum.  Though this has not been established, it is likely that Annie Fields was among those involved in the initial planning of the memorial.  See Jewett's letter to Mary Bucklin Davenport Claflin of 2 January 1893.

Pinny:  P.L. and Pinny Lawson are Jewett nicknames.

Edited by Terry Heller, Coe College.

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