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Sarah Orne Jewett Letters of 1898




SOJ to Sarah Wyman Whitman


Friday night
[ 14 January 1898 ]*


[ Begin letterhead ]

South Berwick.
        Maine'

[ End letterhead ]


Dear S.W.

     DEAREST S. W., --

    I came home to a day or two of illness, the last fling of an officious hanging-on old cold, and here I am writing to you a little more good-for-nothing than common, but mending, and with the tag end of Hope to hold on by. Even for me Things go crosswise -- which one cannot bear to say and I wont say after all!     But send my love to you

[ Page 2 ]

and beg you to hold on fast to the only certainty in this world which is the certainty of Love and Care -- I can't help feeling that Mary Darmesteter speaks true out of great pain and the deep places of life when she ends that last book -- "The true importance of Life is not misery, [ or written over something ] despair however crushing, but the one good moment which outweighs it all" --* I cannot say how often I have remembered this in the last month. The only thing
[ Page 3 ]

that really helps any of us is love and doing things for love's sake.

-- I wanted to send you some box, dear fellow, but a flurry of snow fastened down its covering of boughs, -- its winter now, you know; but I'll just tell you one thing: its going to be spring and [there's corrected] not a great while to wait [deleted word], either! Dont you forget it was was I who told you this, and said good-night, as if we were together, with a kiss and a blessing.

S. O. J.

     Whenever you want the Darmesteter book, Renan -- send down to 148 for it --. I meant to carry it to you.     I am just reading Mrs. Oliphant's Life of Edward Irving* with great delight -- There is a wonderful piece of landscape in the beginning, (like one of your own pictures to me.) where the boy goes over the moors in the early morning to his 'covenanting' church.*


Notes

14 Jan 1898:  The date "15 Jan 1898" in another hand appears on the manuscript.  This date fell on a Saturday, but is based upon the postmark on the accompanying envelope.  The composition date is the previous Friday.

Mary Darmesteter, "Renan": Agnes Mary F. Robinson, Madame James Darmestetter (1857-1944) published The Life of Ernest Renan in 1897. The quotation appears in the last paragraph of the biography. Jewett's sadness in this letter suggests that she is dealing still with the loss of her sister, Carrie Eastman, on 1 April 1897.  See Correspondents.

148:  The address of Annie Adams Fields at 148 Charles St. Boston, MA.  See Correspondents.

Oliphant's "Life of Edward Irving":  Mrs. Margaret Oliphant (1828-1897) was the author of the Life of Edward Irving, Minister of the National Scotch Church, London: Illustrated by His Journals and Correspondence (1862), published in two volumes.
    Edward Irving (1792-1834), Scottish minister, founded the Catholic Apostolic church, based on his belief in the imminent Second Coming of Christ.

covenanting church: "The Covenanters were Scottish Presbyterians of the 17th century who subscribed to covenants (or bonds), the most famous being the National Covenant of 1638 and the Solemn League and Covenant of 1643. The National Covenant opposed the new liturgy introduced (1637) by King Charles I . This led to the abolition of episcopacy in Scotland and the Bishops' Wars (1639-41), in which the Scots successfully defended their religious freedom against Charles." (Source: Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia).

The manuscript of this letter is held by the Houghton Library of Harvard University, Cambridge. MA: Whitman, Sarah (Wyman) 1842-1904, recipient. 25 letters; 1892-[1900] & [n.d.]. Sarah Orne Jewett additional correspondence, 1868-1930. MS Am 1743.1 (126).  Transcription and notes by Terry Heller, Coe College.

Annie Fields Transcription

Fields includes passages from this letter in Letters of Sarah Orne Jewett (1911), p. 129-30. 

    I came home to a day or two of illness, the last fling of an officious hanging-on old cold, and here I am writing to you, a little more good-for-nothing than common, but mending, and with the tag end of Hope to hold on by. Even for me things go crosswise, which one cannot bear to say, and I won't say, after all, but send you love and beg to hold on fast to the only certainty in this world, which is the certainty of Love and Care. I can't help feeling that Mary Darmesteter speaks true, out of great pain and the deep places of life, when she ends that last book, "The true importance of life is not misery or despair, however crushing, but the one good moment which outweighs it all." I cannot say how often I have remembered this in the last month. The only thing that really helps any of us is love and doing things for love's sake. I wanted to send you some sprigs of box, but a flurry of snow fastened down its covering of boughs, -- it's winter now, you know; but I'll just tell you one thing, it's going to be spring and there's not a great while to wait, either. Don't you forget it was I who told you this, and said good-night, as if we were together, with a kiss and a blessing.

     Whenever you want the Darmesteter book, "Renan," send down to 148 for it. I meant to carry it to you. I am just reading Mrs. Oliphant's "Life of Edward Irving" with great delight. There is a wonderful piece of landscape in the beginning (like one of your own pictures), where the boy goes over the moors in the early morning to his Covenanting Church.




SOJ to Annie Adams Fields

Monday morning

[ 17 January 1898 ]*

Dearest Annie

    I think so much about you and wonder how you are and if things are going well. I know you would miss me Sunday -- -- I send back the Beecher* letter -- one wonders how such an old creatur' as he, (whom I remember at Mrs. Stowe's funeral) could write [ any corrected ] letter at all! All the other notes and letters are interesting and kind -- (* Yesterday I didn't go out, but finished the first volume of Edward Irving* and then read Carlyle's truly wonderful paper about him

[ Page 2 ]

in which, by the way, he says that Mrs. Oliphant's account of Irving's last days* is quite wonderful -- he is really eloquent in writing about it -- but finds the early part of the biography rather ^a little^ untrue to the character of Irving ^as he knew him,^ romantic and idealizing to some extent. You feel that what he says of their various interviews and associations ^is^ exactly as he knows it but that and always most sympathetic and affecting, as you will remember, but to Mrs. Oliphant Irving stands always against the dark background of his fate. ----- Irving seems less great than I expected but very moving, a creature of brilliant natural

[ Page 3 ]

gifts -- especially of speech. He would have made a certain kind of great politician, perhaps after Gladstone's kind,* but I understood part of the reason of his decline when Carlyle says that he was not a reader. Men of his impulsive nature ride off on strange ideas when they fail in what Matthew Arnold tried to teach in Literature and Dogma* -- After all Irving failed through the mistakes of ignorance, and the self confidence which always goes with that kind of ignorance. How we shall talk about this most moving book! ( I should send it right back to you

[ Page 4 ]

but Mary* has been picking it up as soon as I laid it down) Carlyle took no stock in Irving's wife, and is so solemn and regretful about the Gift of Tongues* and the squeals of a lady parishioner one day when he was calling. ( The squint of Irving's eye was a sign of something in his brain.

    ( -- I hope to be summoned about my dress today -- I hurried Miss Chase* the best I could, but I cant do away with the usual processes! I begin to feel better and as if I could be good for something again. So let us hope.

With dearest love and thought

Yours [always corrected ] Pinny


Notes

17 January 1898:  Fields penciled "1897?" in the upper right of page 1. However, there is a firmly dated letter of 14 January 1898, in which Jewett reports to Sarah Wyman Whitman that she is, for the first time, reading Mrs. Oliphant's biography of Edward Irving (see notes below).  In that letter, she also reports being ill.  Almost certainly, then, this letter was composed on the Monday following 14 January.

Beecher
:  This probably is one of the brothers of American author, Harriet Beecher Stowe. See Correspondents.
   Assuming that we have the correct date for this letter, then only two of Stowe's brothers remained alive: Charles (1815-1900) and Thomas Kinnicut (1824-1900).

kind -- (:  This and the remaining parenthesis marks in this letter were penciled in by Fields.

first volume of Edward Irving ... Carlyle's truly wonderful paper ...  Mrs. Oliphant's account of Irving's last days: Edward Irving (1792-1834), Scottish minister, founded the Catholic Apostolic church, based on his belief in the imminent Second Coming of Christ. Thomas Carlyle writes about him in Reminiscences (1881), edited by James Anthony Froude. Mrs. Margaret Oliphant (1828-1897) was the author of the Life of Edward Irving, Minister of the National Scotch Church, London: Illustrated by His Journals and Correspondence (1862), published in two volumes.

Gladstone's kindWilliam Ewart Gladstone (1809 - 1898) was a British politican who served twelve years as prime minister.

Matthew Arnold ... Literature and Dogma: See British author Matthew Arnold's (1822-1888) Literature and Dogma, where he argues in part that because much of contemporary religious thought lacks culture -- a knowledge of the best that has been known and thought -- many erroneously read the Bible as an authority on art and science as well as upon conduct.

Gift of Tongues: The Gift of Tongues refers to Pentecost as described in the second chapter of The Acts of the Apostles. Mrs. Irving believed that she could be overcome by the Holy Spirit and speak a foreign language not understood by her.

Pinny:  Pinny Lawson (Pinny / Pin) was an affectionate nickname for Jewett, used by her and Annie Fields. See Correspondents.

Mary:  Mary Rice Jewett. See Correspondents.

Miss Chase: Miss Chase would seem to be a dressmaker, but further information about her is not yet known.

The manuscript of this letter is held by the Houghton Library of Harvard University. Jewett, Sarah Orne, 1849-1909. Annie Fields (Adams) 1834-1915, recipient. 194 letters; 1877-1909 & [n.d.] Sarah Orne Jewett correspondence, 1861-1930. MS Am 1743 (255). Transcription and notes by Terry Heller, Coe College.


Annie Fields Transcription

Fields includes passages from this letter in Letters of Sarah Orne Jewett (1911), p. 121-2. 

          Monday morning.

     Yesterday I didn't go out, but finished the first volume of Edward Irving and then read Carlyle's truly wonderful paper about him; in which, by the way, he says that Mrs. Oliphant's account of Irving's last days is quite wonderful. He is really eloquent in writing about it, but finds the early part of the biography a little untrue to the character of Irving as he knew him, romantic and idealizing to some extent. You feel that what he says of their various interviews and associations is exactly as he knows it, and always most sympathetic and affecting, as you will remember; but to Mrs. Oliphant, Irving stands almost against the dark background of his fate. Irving seems less great than I expected, but very moving, a creature of brilliant natural gifts, especially of speech. He would have made a certain kind of great politician, perhaps after Gladstone's kind, but I understood part of the reason of his decline when Carlyle says that he was not a reader. Men of his impulsive nature ride off on strange ideas when they fail in what Matthew Arnold tried to teach in "Literature and Dogma." After all, Irving failed through the mistakes of ignorance; and a self-confidence which always goes with that kind of ignorance. How we shall talk about this most moving book.

     Carlyle took no stock in Irving's wife, and he is so solemn and regretful about the Gift of Tongues and the squeals of a lady parishioner one day when he was calling. The squint of Irving's eye was a sign of something in his brain.



SOJ to Henry Green

     148 Charles Street
     Boston
     January 26, [1898]

    Dear Elder Henry:

     I return the letter of Madame de Boffle.1 As you say, you must have her answer in regard to the price of the cloak which she quite misunderstands, and by that time I can tell you whether the friends of Madame Blanc will be going over to France, which is not yet decided.
     I do not wonder that you were confused by hearing of Mrs. Bentzon! but Madame Blanc is almost better known as Th. (or Thérèse) Bentzon, which is her writing name as George Eliot was the writing name of Mrs. Lewes.2  Only in this case Bentzon was a family name to which our friend had a right. And she is usually called Madame Blanc-Bentzon, though here in America where double names are not so common as in Europe she was usually called plain Madame Blanc. She was born Thérèse de Solms, daughter of Count de Solms -- but I must not confuse you with any more French names.3
     I had a very kind letter from dear Eldress Harriet* not long ago, which I answered.
     You may be sure that anything which comes to you from France by the way of Madame Blanc will be all right. She has no doubt set the fashion for Shaker cloaks -- she was so much pleased with her own, which I thought much the prettiest one I have ever seen.
     Please remember me affectionately to all my friends, and write whenever you think I can make things clearer or help you in any way.
     Yours very truly,
     S. O. Jewett

      I should think, in case of further orders, that it might be as well to send by express. There is little trouble with the customs in France, I believe, and it is quicker than waiting for chance travellers.4


Notes

     1 Evidently a French lady who so admired the Shaker cloak Madame Blanc purchased on her 1897 visit to the Alfred Shaker colony that she wrote directly to Elder Henry to order one for herself. The dress of the Shaker women is described in detail by Madame Blanc in the Revue des Deux Mondes article of November 15, 1897.

Shaker cloak

Shaker Cloak
Photographed at Canterbury Shaker Village, NH
by Terry Heller, October 2016

    2 Miss Jewett seems unaware that George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) did not contract a legal marriage with George Henry Lewes.
     3 Bentzon was her mother's maiden name. She abbreviated her first name to give the impression of a masculine equivalent -- Thomas or Théodor.
     4 Later in this year Miss Jewett embarked on her third voyage to Europe with Mrs. Fields. She was joined by her sister Mary and her nephew in France, met Violet Paget, stayed with Madame Blanc for about a month at her country house, then went on to England, where she encountered Rudyard Kipling and Henry James.


Editor's notes

Madame de Boffle:  This woman has not been identified.  Assistance is welcome.

Eldress Harriet:  In photographs of residents at the Alfred Maine Shaker village in the 1890s, at Maine History Online, appear Eldress Harriet Goodwin (1823-1903) and Eldress Harriet Coolbroth (1864-1953).  It is not clear to which woman Jewett refers.

Mrs. Lewes:  Richard Cary indicates that Jewett may not have been aware that Evans and Lewes were not legally married.  While that may be the case, it is not clear that Jewett was unusual in being ignorant of this fact, as George Eliot's biographers make clear that Evans and Lewes made a point of calling themselves Mr. and Mrs. Lewes.

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



SOJ to Sara Norton

          South Berwick, Maine, 23 February [1898 ]*

     How delightful it was to see you! I cannot help thinking that yesterday morning is a very dear hour to put away and remember. I got home at half-past three in the afternoon, to a world of snow, which surprised me very much, with the rain raining on it as hard as it can and a general outlook toward a tremendous month of March. Tomorrow we are looking for some friends who mean to come down from town to look at the old house I have often told you about, and of which they had heard. I can't imagine a drearier moment, but there are the big elms high and dry, and some other attractions, and they must take their chances and make their choices. Berwick always seems a little sad, even to me! in the wane of winter. The old houses look at each other as if they said, "Good heavens! the things that we remember!" But after the leaves come out they look quite prepared for the best and quite touchingly cheerful.

Note

1898:  This date is based on the likelihood that Jewett writes of a visit by Emily Tyson to examine the historic Hamilton House in South Berwick.  According to Historic New England: " In 1898, Jewett convinced her friend Emily Tyson, widow of the president of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and her stepdaughter Elise Tyson (later Mrs. Henry G. Vaughan) to purchase the house."

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 Miss Katharine Hamer Shute

Boston -- Friday 4th March
1898

[ Begin deleted letterhead ]

South Berwick.
Maine.

[ End Letterhead ]


My dear Miss Shute*

    You do not know how much I thank you for your most kind letter, or how well I remember what you said at Denison House!*  And I remember all Miss Dickey's kindness too* -- it went to my heart to find such a friend of Martha's Lady.*  I hope that I shall some day

[ Page 2 ]

see you both again.  You must remember that a story-writer does not have her readers before her with their eager faces as a teacher (I was going to say, the other kind of teacher) does!  And there was something very dear and delightful to me -- something very unusual in my life, too, on Monday afternoon in seeing so many friends of my stories.  I am glad to know that you found it pleasant too.

With my best thanks
Yours most sincerely

S. O. Jewett.


Notes

Shute:  An envelope associated with this letter is addressed to Miss K. H. Shute, 13 Laurel Street, Roxbury.  This was the address of a Boston Public School in Roxbury, MA.

Denison HouseWikipedia says: "Denison House was a woman-run settlement house in Boston's old South Cove neighborhood. Founded in 1892 by the College Settlements Association, it provided a variety of social and educational services to neighborhood residents, most of whom were immigrants."

Miss Dickey:  Miss Dickey has not yet been identified.

Martha's Lady:  Jewett's story appeared in Atlantic Monthly in October 1897.

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



Sarah Wyman Whitman to SOJ

March 18, 1898.

     The last of the four quatrefoils is done to-day:* and I have a momentary sensation like Christian's when the pack fell off. . . .* There's that in the Spring which makes a strange tumult and lends wings to the Dream.


Notes

quatrefoils: A conventionalized representation of a flower with four petals or of a leaf with four leaflets.  This was one of Whitman's favorite forms, appearing in many of her stained-glass windows and in other designs as well.

Christian's when the pack fell off: Christian appears in Pilgrim's Progress (1678, 1684), a popular allegory by John Bunyan, (1628-1688). Christian tries in many ways to relieve himself of the burden he carries in his search for salvation, but finally it falls from his back when he follows the straight and narrow path of salvation and comes to the cross and a sepulchre, signs of the death and resurrection of Christ.

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



Jewett & Fields in Europe -- 1898

On 18 April 1898, Jewett and Fields arrived at Plymouth, UK, and then traveled in England and France for about six months.  The link above leads to a collection of their correspondence as well as selections from the diary of this trip kept by Annie Adams Fields.



SOJ to Annie Adams Fields


     Thursday, 6 October, [1898].*

     Here I am at the desk again, all as natural as can be and writing a first letter to you with so much love, and remembering that this is the first morning in more than seven months that I have haven't waked up to hear your dear voice and see your dear face. I do miss it very much, but I look forward to no long separation, which is a comfort. It was lovely in the old house and I did so wish you had come down, too, it was all so sweet and full of welcome, and Hannah and Annie and John and Hillborn and Lizzie Pray* all in such a state because I had got home!

Notes

6 October 1898:  Fields places this letter in 1882, but that is unlikely to be correct, as Fields and Jewett were in France and England together until 25 October of 1882.  That Jewett says she and Annie have been together for seven consecutive months suggests that this letter follows their longest stay in Europe in 1898.

Hannah and Annie and John and Hillborn and Lizzie Pray
: The Pray family were Jewett employees. See Silverthorne, Sarah Orne Jewett: A Writer's Life, p. 102. For Hannah Driscoll and Annie Collins, 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 Katharine Peabody Loring

Sunday 9th October
[ 1898 ]*

[Begin letterhead]

South Berwick Maine

[End letterhead]

My dear Katharine

    I was delighted to get your most kind little letter of welcome!  Thank you so much; and indeed I wish that I could see you and talk over my charming day at Rye.  I look back to it with a huge sort of pleasure.  The house was so so nice and so quaint and you know very well

[ Page 2 ]

what a delightful host we had.  And besides Rye we made a tour to Winshelsea across the marshes,* and then to Hastings by train* where we departed from Mr. James in late and dark evening -- it was really a good little visit, and I look back to it with not only the pleasure I wrote on my first page but something more than that!  We spoke of you

[ Page 3 ]

I need not say, and you made one of us truly.

    I doubt if I get to the shore* this autumn -- perhaps for a night at Mrs. Howe's* -- but I shall be sure to see you later when I shall be coming and going from town.

    We have come home to good autumn weather and Berwick never looked more lovely to me.

    Give my love to
[ Page 4 ]

your dear sister and believe me always

Yours very affectionately

Sarah O. Jewett


Notes

1898:  Jewett and Annie Fields visited Henry James at his home in Rye, during their spring and summer 1898 trip to England, France and elsewhere in Europe.  Since the visit with James took place in early September, the welcome for which Jewett thanks Loring is likely a "welcome home" after their travels.

Winshelsea across the marshes ...  Hastings: Winchelsea is about 3 miles south of Rye, on the southeast coast of England; Hastings, also on the coast, is another 28 miles southwest of Winchelsea.

the shore: Presumably Jewett means that she and Annie Fields will not be returning this autumn to the Fields house in Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA, where they routinely spent their summers.  There, they could easily visit the Lorings in nearby Beverly, MA.

Mrs. Howe's: Probably this is Alice Greenwood (Mrs. George Dudley) Howe, who also maintained a home in Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA.  See Correspondents.

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-ZTranscription and notes by Terry Heller, Coe College.



Sarah Wyman Whitman to SOJ

 

October 17, 1898.

     To-day the sea has been a deep lapis lazuli: the sky clear, and the wind one rush across the earth, and it has not seemed to me one minute's distance to the Mountains where these friends have held the air in fee. So I have had companionship and have gathered some fresh impulses and in some brief intervals have hammered out a bit of work.


Note

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 Sarah Wyman Whitman

Saturday morning
[29 October 1898]*

[ Begin letterhead ]

South Berwick, Maine

[ End letterhead ]


    I send back the letters dear with a thousand thanks -- they open their white doors into three lives; lives too, not dull existences!  I cannot say what a pleasure and real possession it is to read Mrs Wister's.  I see now the gift that has made her short bits of writing (and very long thoughts for me!) all these years in the Atlantic.  It is

[ Page 2 ]

a most shining gift with Greatness in the heart and mind behind it.  All these clear unforgettable sentences; the exactness of truth -- the gold one always finds in the grand bed under the clear stream of writing --- but this comparison [is ?] of the Klondike.*  Which makes me remember a story that was told lately of a boy who started off with his collie dog last year and

[ Page 3 ]

they had together toiled across the mountains with a little sledge and kept each other from freezing at night, and are there now ^at Klondike^.  I hope the doggy had a good collar made out of the first nugget.

    But as for the letters.  I stop to thank you again for I was having a poky day with a Great Cold and was sitting very mournful by the fire when I saw your dear writing as if you had come yourself.  You do not know what

[ Page 4 ]

beloved company I found you -- you and the letters.  God bless you dear.  I think of you every day oh many and many a time! but that you know -- Do try to get a painting day over [Ipswich ?] way this year.  I shall be wishing you there until I know you have managed to go.  It is coming good weather now, again.

Yours ever    S.O.J.



Notes

29 October 1898:  The envelope accompanying this letter is postmarked 29 October.  This date fell on a Saturday in 1898 during the years of the Klondike gold rush, making this a likely composition date.

Mrs Wister's: The person of whom Jewett writes is not yet identified, and the puzzle is complicated by the uncertainty of the transcription.  There are at least three strong candidates, but none is known to have published in Atlantic Monthly as Jewett implies this person has done. Indeed, the only person named "Wister" to publish in Atlantic in Jewett's lifetime, was Owen Wister, whom Jewett knew and admired. Mr. Wister's wife and cousin, Mary Channing Wister, a translator of French poetry, is one candidate. See Correspondents.
    A second candidate is Sarah Butler Wister (1835-1908), daughter of the actress Frances Anne Kemble, both friends of Henry James.  Sarah Wister was the mother of Owen Wister.
    The third is Annis Lee Furness Wister (1830 -1908), who was an American translator, mainly of German fiction.  A daughter of the Rev. William Henry Furness, she married Dr. Caspar Wister, who was the brother of Mary Channing Wister.

Klondike:  The Kondike region is in north-western Canada.  Gold was discovered there in 1896, triggering the "Klondike Gold Rush" which lasted until about 1899.  The story Jewett relates of the boy and his collie has not yet been found in print.

The manuscript of this letter is held by the Houghton Library of Harvard University, Cambridge. MA: Whitman, Sarah (Wyman) 1842-1904, recipient. 25 letters; 1892-[1900] & [n.d.]. Sarah Orne Jewett additional correspondence, 1868-1930. MS Am 1743.1 (126).  Transcription and notes by Terry Heller, Coe College.



SOJ to Ernest Dressel North

4 November 1898

[ Begin letterhead ]

South Berwick.
        Maine.

[ End letterhead ]


My dear Mr North

    I am at a little loss to know whether you mean my favorite book in general or my favorite book in particular: that is to say, my favorite among the books that I have written. I should say in answer to this last (at least at t his moment!) that the la it would be


[ Page 2 ]

The Country of the Pointed Firs.* And I should be very glad to write my name in a copy if it would give you pleasure.

    - I do not know how I should answer your question if you meant it 'in general{.}'

    Believe me your very sincerely.

S. O. Jewett

Notes

Pointed Firs:  Jewett's The Country of the Pointed Firs (1896).

The manuscript of this letter is held in the W. Hugh Peal manuscript collection: 1997ms474: University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center.   Transcription and notes by Terry Heller, Coe College.



SOJ to Thomas Bailey Aldrich

South-Berwick
15 November
[ 1898 ]*

My dear friend

    A.F.* will send you a letter from Madame Blanc* which holds a message for you. I am proudly flattered by the request but I do not know exactly what to say particularly as I have nothing ready to send -- I wish you would be kind enough to give me a word of advice for I should like to know

[ Page 2 ]

whether it would be possible to do what the ^editor^ asks: have a story printed there, and afterward in this country.*  Would the Atlantic say that it took no second-hand stories? I should like to have Mme Blanc's [ deleted word ] letter again as soon as you have read it. How very kind she has been about my sketches!

    And so you have had

[ Page 3 ]

another birthday! I wished you the best of good wishes and I am so glad that I can be perfectly certain that you will never grow old and that this world's way of reckoning is of no account in some people's lives.  I should as soon be afraid of your going backward and forgetting how to talk and being a too-young child again, as of the other thing. Neither state is possible to

[ Page 4 ]

you dear friend -- the only trouble is that I dont see you and Lilian* half enough but this is my off-year, and no matter if the French magazines do say they must have stories.  I am going to be very lazy and breakfast at 59 Mt. Vernon St. several mornings every week --

Yours most affectionately

S. O. J.           


Notes

1898
:  Though I have placed this letter with those of 1898, it is quite possible it is from 1899, 1900, or 1901.  Though it could have been written almost anytime after about 1892, when Jewett, Fields and Blanc met in Paris, it seems more likely that Blanc would convey such an invitation to Jewett after their extended time together when Jewett and Fields again visited Blanc in France in 1898, and when Jewett's reputation was at its peak.  By November 1902, Jewett was no longer writing for publication.
    In short, 1898 is a guess, but it "feels" right.
    One argument against this guess could be that at this time, Aldrich was no longer editor of Atlantic, but it seems unlikely that this letter belongs to the 1880s, when Blanc and Jewett had not yet met, and that Aldrich was no longer editor could have made Jewett feel more comfortable asking his advice on this topic.

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

Madame Blanc
: Marie Thérèse de Solms Blanc. See Correspondents.

country: Jewett's bibliography as yet lists no stories that were published originally in France.

Lilian:  Lilian Woodman Aldrich. See Correspondents.
    The Aldrich home was at 59 Mount Vernon Street in Boston.

The manuscript of this letter is held by the Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. Thomas Baily Aldrich Papers, 119 letters of Thomas Bailey and Lilian Woodman Aldrich, 1837-1926. MS Am 1429 (117). Transcribed and annotated by Terry Heller, Coe College.
    At the bottom left of page one, in another hand, is a circled number: 2684.



SOJ to Annie Adams Fields


[ Autumn 1898 ]*

[ No date or greeting, so presumably a missing page or pages. ]

    My mind is full this morning of that day we went to the Pont du Gard* -- the old Chateau asleep in the sun and the smell of thyme as we drove over the [ bare corrected ] hills with that Italian-looking dusty little town up on the height -- I cant help living it over again, & with such joy!

[ Manuscript breaks off; no signature. ]


Notes

Autumn 1898:  This date is speculative, based on Jewett's seeming to recall as a recent event, the day she and Fields visited the Pont du Gard. They returned home from that trip to Europe in September 1898.

Pont du Gard: In France. Jewett refers to the events described in her letter to Sarah Wyman Whitman: Nimes. 20 May [ 1898 ]

The manuscript of this letter is held by the Houghton Library of Harvard University. Jewett, Sarah Orne, 1849-1909. Annie Fields (Adams) 1834-1915, recipient. 194 letters; 1877-1909 & [n.d.] Sarah Orne Jewett correspondence, 1861-1930. MS Am 1743 (255). Transcription and notes by Terry Heller, Coe College.



SOJ to Mellen Chamberlain

Charles Street, Boston   [1898?]

            Mrs. Fields has just come up stairs to me to ask if I will not write this note for her to you about a young man who has come to her for help.* He has done some very good work in verse and con­sidering his youth, shows a touch of real promise but the poor fel­low is so beaten back by illness and poverty that he is in a sad way. His disabilities hinder him in what he is trying to make of himself as a compositor. Mrs. Fields thinks that you may know of something to recommend to him in library channels familiar to you, where his acquaintance with books and his carefulness with his pen may be of use. He spoke of you gratefully in answer to her mention of your name, as "a kind and approachable man" -- so that we are following our own instinct in sending him to you. We shall try to do what we can for him too.

            I wish that we might sometimes see you. I have not been in town this winter however except for some brief visits.


Notes

Mrs. Fields:  Annie Fields.  See Correspondents.

for help:  John Alden identifies this young man as Henry Coyle, a poet about whom biographical information seems scanty.  The following biographical sketch appears in Donahoe's Magazine 39 (1898) pp. 74-5.

Coyle

WorldCat gives his birth year as 1865 and lists the following publications:

The Promise of Morning (poems, 1899)
Our Church, Her Children and Institutions (1908).  (Link to Volume 1 of 3)
Lyrics of Faith and Hope (poems, 1913)

This biographical sketch appears in The Poets of Ireland (1891) p. 85.

COYLE, HENRY. -- The Promise of Morning, poems, Boston, Mass., 1899.
Born at Boston, Mass., June 7, 1867. His father was a Connaught man, and his mother from Limerick. He is self-educated, and has written frequently for American journals, including verse for Harper's Bazaar, Detroit Free Press, Boston Transcript, Catholic Union and Times (Buffalo), and Boston Pilot. Is now assistant-editor of Orphan's Bouquet, Boston, of which James Riley {q.v.) is editor.

    Further and more consistent information would be welcome.

This letter, transcribed by John Alden, originally appeared in Boston Public Library Quarterly 9 (1957): 86-96.  It is reprinted here courtesy of the Trustees of the Boston Public Library/Rare Books.
    John Alden says this letter regards "a young Irish-American whom the two ladies wished to befriend, named Henry Coyle. Nothing appears to have come of their efforts, but Coyle himself achieved a worthy career in Catholic publishing and charitable circles in Boston, in addition to publishing several volumes of poetry."





SOJ to Isabella Stewart Gardner


[ Begin letterhead ]

South Berwick, Maine  [ End letterhead ]   1898

28th December 



My dear Mrs. Gardner

    I have been wishing to send you one word to say how sorry I have been for your great sorrow.*

    The thought of a friend in trouble comes with double pain now when one can easily make pleasure and be happy oneself over both little and great things.

[ Page 2 ]

-- but it is through great sorrows that we are lifted highest, and given our most shining hopes --  I have had too many sorrows myself not to know that! -- I shall be often thinking of you in these winter days.

    I wished to write to you sooner, but I have

[ Page 3 ]

been ill:  Not that one can say much, but I just wished to write me always

Your affectionate friend

S. O. Jewett



Notes

great sorrowJohn (Jack) Lowell Gardner II, spouse of Isabella Stewart Gardner, died on 10 December 1898.

The manuscript of this letter is held by the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, MA.  Transcription and annotation by Terry Heller, Coe College.



Edited by Terry Heller, Coe College.



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