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Sarah Orne Jewett Letters of 1902





SOJ to Mary Rice Jewett and Carrie Jewett Eastman


Saturday morning

[February 1902]


Dear Mary and Carrie.

    I meant to get another letter written yesterday but we went out early in a cab to do some errands and then the day flew right away.  I got part of a letter written to Carrie, but there wasnt much in it so I shall begin over again.  I went to see Mrs. Whitman* in the course of the errands and had to talk about so many things that A.F.* thought I never was coming after expecting to stay only a minute --  Dorothy Ward* came over after luncheon and

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is the same nice English girl I remembered grown much older somehow in two years and a half so that I forget half the time that she isn't as old as we are!  Mrs. Fields had asked a good many young people to some music at five o'clock.  Sally Norton* came & played and Miss O'Brion* (more beautiful than ever!) and Mr. Whitney and a young girl* to sing whom we had heard about, and it was all very pleasant.  Ellen Mason* was here and we had a nice time in a corner.  After every

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body else had gone we kept Sally Norton and her sister Margaret* to dinner and had a very gay little time. .  I wore my velvet dress with the high waist and almost found it too warm -- it was such a springlike day.  I have been troubled with my knee -- it comes on to ache but in a way that makes you think it will have a sharp time and then got as well as ever.  at any rate I cant do anything that I know of.  A. F. looked rather wilted with a cold yesterday

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but isn't any the worse today.  Her count of mice has got up to 18 which she wishes to have mentioned, and her bulbs are all in pods to bloom but nothing like Carries. -- I got this nice [letter corrected] from Georgie* which I send you.  And Cora's* telegram I answered with a special delivery letter making bold to say you would be glad to have her come so.  What a nice time Carrie must have had and given.  I wish I were there to hear of it.  I wonder if Auntie could

[ Page 5*
[Fragment from before 1900, but placed with the above fragment in the HNE collection.]

is a lil' scrat.*  I was so much obliged by Sister Carrie's letter -- it afforded me many welcome crumbs of information{.} I was so glad you passed the day in Exeter and with such plesant results to all.  What a good time you must all have had with Hattie.*  I shall try to see her but not today it being a Saturday -- I wish you were here.  Next Saturday Mr. Warner* is coming and he always draws friends like flies to a nice piece of sugar.  I believe he is going to stay two or three days.  He wrote so

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funny saying that somebody else had asked him and that could be done, so you may believe that the desired invitation was promptly sent!  Here's Haggerty* so good by with much love from Sarah.



Notes


Mrs. Whitman: Sarah Wyman Whitman. See Correspondents.

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

Dorothy Ward: Dorothy Ward paid a long visit to Jewett and Fields in February of 1902.  See Mrs. Humphry Ward in Correspondents.

Sally Norton: Sara Norton. Her sister Margaret also was present on this occasion. See Correspondents.

Miss O'Brion: Mary Eliza O'Brion (1859-1930 -- unconfirmed life dates), Boston-based concert pianist, private teacher, and instructor at Wellesley College. Her name appears regularly on programs as a piano soloist and accompanist with various groups and orchestras.

Mr. Whitney and a young girl: Mr. Whitney is very likely Myron W. Whitney (1836-1910), a Boston-based operatic bass.  At the time of this letter, he was retired from the stage.  The young girl singer who joined him remains unknown. 

Ellen Mason:  See Correspondents.

Georgie:  Georgina Halliburton. See Correspondents.

Cora:  Cora Clark Rice. See Correspondents.

Page 5: The apparent lack of continuity here suggests that a page or more may be missing from the letter, but almost certainly what follows is part of a different letter.  The reference below to Charles Dudley Warner dates this fragment from before his death in 1900, while the reference to a visit by Dorothy Ward above dates that fragment to 1902.

Auntie could ... lil' scrat:  The identity of Auntie is unknown.  Without more context, what Jewett means by "scrat" is uncertain.  Dictionaries associate the word with "scratch," suggesting that she refers to something painful or irritating or to a devil as in "old scratch."

Hattie: The identity of Hattie is uncertain.  She may be Hattie Denny, sister of Augusta Maria Denny Tyler. See Correspondents.

Mr. Warner:  Charles Dudley Warner. See Correspondents.

Haggerty:  This seems to be a worker at Fields' house.

The manuscript of this letter is held by Historic New England in the Jewett Family Papers MS014.02.01.  Transcription and annotation by Terry Heller, Coe College.



SOJ to Louise Chandler Moulton

Wednesday
[ March 19, 1902 ]

Dear Mrs. Moulton

    I find that it is not possible for me to say yes [two marks, possibly a dash?] on Saturday I must be in Cambridge instead of in town, before I return here to see some friends who are coming, and it looks like a busy end to a delightful but very busy week!  With Easter coming,* both Mrs. Fields* and I are full of small affairs. -- If it were not for my

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Cambridge Engagement (which had slipped from my mind when we spoke together yesterday) I could hardly promise to go out to luncheon{.}* Mrs. Fields and Mrs Meynell* look forward to being your guests -- at the Brunswick* and at one o'clock.

    Please to pardon this hurried note and believe me

Yours most sincerely
Sarah O. Jewett

148 Charles Street

Notes

1902:  As the notes below indicate, Alice Meynell visited Boston in March of 1902.  It is likely that this letter was composed the week before Meynell's lecture, and, therefore, on Wednesday 19 March.

Easter:  In 1902, the Christian holiday of Easter fell on 30 March.

Mrs. Fields:  Annie Adams Fields.  See Correspondents.

luncheon
:  Jewett's double negative is difficult to interpret.

Mrs. Meynell
:  Alice Meynell.  See Correspondents.  The British poet Alice Meynell visited Annie Fields in Boston in the March of 1902, giving a lecture shortly before 26 March.

the Brunswick:  Almost certainly this was the Brunswick Hotel on Copley Square in Boston. 

The manuscript of this letter is held by the Library of Congress in the Louise Chandler Moulton papers, 1852-1908.  MSS33787.  This transcription of from a microfilm copy of the manuscript, on Reel 8 of Microfilm 18,869-15N-15P.  Transcription and notes by Terry Heller, Coe College.



 SOJ to Sara Norton


     South Berwick, Thursday, 20th March [1902].


     On Sunday evening Mrs. Meynell is expected,* and both Mrs. Fields and I look forward to seeing her with great pleasure. We have cared a good deal for the thoughtfulness and beauty, and above all for the reticence and restraint, of her poems and brief essays. I suppose that Mr. Ruskin first set our eyes in her direction when he was so enthusiastic long ago about her letter from a girl to her own old age, but it is one of her poems that I really care least about now. One always cares about "Renouncement," that beautiful sonnet, though one discovers after a time that she ought to have called it "Possession," or something of that sort!*

     It is a great delight that your father has promised to come to dinner on Tuesday.* I can't help hoping that I shall see you on Wednesday morning, if not before; Mrs. Meynell has a reading on seventeenth-century poetry. She is going to give it to some club or company in London, and wished to try it here first. It is always interesting (though sometimes a cause for apprehension) to have a friend come in this way -- to see an old friend for the first time, as one may say; but both Shady Hill and 148 Charles Street have gathered many an angel so, and strangers are not real strangers when they are of the world of letters.

     I do not forget that we are to see Dorothy* again so soon, or to look forward with delight. It is a great pleasure to have had her here in the old house, such guests never really go away -- which makes an old house very different from a new one!


Notes

Mrs. Meynell: Alice Thompson Meynell (1847-1922), English poet and essayist. "A Letter from a Girl to her own Old Age" appeared in Preludes (1875), and "Renouncement" in Poems (1893).

     "A Letter..." begins:

Listen, and when thy hand this paper presses,
O time-worn woman, think of her who blesses
What thy thin fingers touch, with her caresses.
O mother, for the weight of years that break thee!
O daughter, for slow time must yet awake thee,
And from the changes of my heart must make thee!

     Renouncement

I must not think of thee; and, tired yet strong,
   I shun the thought that lurks in all delight -
   The thought of thee - and in the blue Heaven's height,
And in the sweetest passage of a song.
O just beyond the fairest thoughts that throng
   This breast, the thought of thee waits hidden yet bright;
   But it must never, never come in sight;
I must stop short of thee the whole day long.
But when sleep comes to close each difficult day,
   When night gives pause to the long watch I keep,
    And all my bonds I needs must loose apart,
Must doff my will as raiment laid away, -
   With the first dream that comes with the first sleep
     I run, I run, I am gathered to thy heart.



Mr. Ruskin
: Wikipedia says: "John Ruskin (8 February 1819 - 20 January 1900) was the leading English art critic of the Victorian era, also an art patron, draughtsman, watercolourist, a prominent social thinker and philanthropist."  When Alice Meynell's first book, Preludes (1875), appeared, Ruskin, a family friend, wrote to her mother in praise of the volume.  He particularly praised the poems Jewett mentions: "I really think the last verse of that song ('A Letter from a Girl to her own Old Age') and the whole of San Lorenzo and the end of the daisy sonnet the finest things I've seen or felt in modern verse."  (See Alice Meynell).

Your father:  Charles Eliot Norton. 
See Correspondents.   Shady Hill was the Norton residence in Cambridge, MA.

reading on seventeenth-century poetry:  In fact, Meynell presented her lecture "The Great Transition in English Poetry: From the Seventeenth to the Eighteenth Century" across the United States during 1902.  This presentation was developed into her book, A Seventeenth Century Anthology (1904), which she selected, edited and introduced.
    The lecture was covered in newspapers from Oregon and California to Chicago, Indiana and Boston, including the Los Angeles Herald (8 Feb) and the Chicago Inter Ocean (23 March).   The Boston Daily Globe of March 26, 1902 says that "Mrs. Alice Meynell, England's foremost woman of letters," recently spoke on seventeenth century poetry for a gathering of women in Boston.  The Herald reported on the presentation in detail, noting that "Mrs. Meynell's lecture was artistically anthological, and the many beautiful extracts from the different poets of .the period of which she talked delicately illustrated the points made in her story of the transition of the poetical spirit of that age."  Her stay in California began with a lecture at the Los Angeles Newman Club on Catholic poets, announced in the Herald on 25 January.

Dorothy:
Dorothy Ward paid a long visit to Jewett and Fields in February of 1902.  See Mrs. Humphry Ward in 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
Children of the Grammar Schools of Indianapolis, IN

South Berwick, Maine,

March 21, 1902.

          My dear Children of the Grammar Schools:

          One of your friends has written me that you have read my story of Sylvia and the little White Heron* and have liked it. You cannot know how much pleasure this news gives me if I do not write and tell you, so I give you my best thanks now, and my kindest wishes.

          I should like very much to know what each one of you liked best in the story and what seemed to you the best part of it, and if you think Sylvia would always be glad because she had been the heron's friend? I am sure that you do think so, as the writer of the story did. You see that the best thing in the world is to be self-forgetful and Sylvia was just that when she took care of the bird.

          I wish that I knew whether you know the different kinds of birds that live near you, and how many you have learned to know by sight or by their songs, for even if you live in a large city like Indianapolis you must have many birds for neighbors. Some of you may have seen very strange and interesting birds, when you have been away from home, or have seen, what is still better, something very interesting about the birds that live in the trees that you know best. Perhaps you will each write a letter to tell me! Believe me always,

     Yours affectionately,

     Sarah Orne Jewett
 

Notes

White Heron:  Jewett's short story, "A White Heron," appeared in A White Heron and Other Stories in 1886.

The manuscript of this letter is held by the Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Am 1743 (109). It appears with a group of letters from school children in Indianapolis, Indiana, responding to "A White Heron." Transcription and notes by Terry Heller, Coe College.



SOJ to David Douglas

          South Berwick, Maine, April 6, 1902.

     Dear Mr. Douglas, -- The photograph delighted me of the quaint old Scottish house of Traquair!* I had never seen any picture of it. I hope that it may not be many years before my hope comes true of spending some time in Scotland, and seeing many and many an old house. I never forget the pleasure of that day with you both at Hawthornden, how often Mrs. Fields and I speak of it! You see that I too have run away from town? It is a very early spring with us. I have never in my life seen our "Mayflowers" (the trailing arbutus) in full bloom on April 6th as I saw them to-day.


Notes

the quaint old Scottish house of Traquair: This house near Abbotsford, the home of Sir Walter Scott, in the Tweed Valley of Scotland, South of Edinburgh, is supposed to be the model for "Bradwardine" in Scott's Waverly.

HawthorndenWikipedia says that  Hawthornden Castle is located on the River North Esk in Midlothian, Scotland, built by the Douglas family beginning in the 15th century. Whether David Douglas the publisher and recipient of this letter is closely related to the Douglas family of Hawthornden is not yet known.
    Blanchard in Sarah Orne Jewett (1994) says that Jewett and her maid, Liza, traveled to Edinburgh briefly in August 1882, while in England with Annie Fields.  As of yet, we have no other record of Jewett visiting Scotland, though she had ample opportunity in 1892 and 1898, during two long periods in Europe.  In this letter, the meeting at Hawthornden seems more recent than 20 years, and Fields seems to have been with Jewett.
 
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

 

May 15, 1902. England.

     One word with you . . . to-night, by the river Dart, . . .* I am looking out on one of the most romantic bits of English scenery I ever beheld, -- an idyllic loveliness, and the sea's pulse stirring every now and then the quiet breast of the stream. One can look at England from so many points of view, and just to-day it seems to me a garden in which dwell the most innocent and naive beings ever known in this world of sin. I feel quite old and withered in this cheerful young company, but take heart of grace because of their gentle acts. . . . In this last week I have seen some delightful people; . . . the long-dreamed-of sight in her own house of Mrs. Ritchie has made a mark on my heart forever.* And so I might go on telling you of this strange leisurely life in this more than strange world. So many gates open quietly where I want to go in and browse a little on the herbage.


Notes

river Dart: The Dart flows through Kent in southeastern England.

Mrs. Ritchie: The novelist Anne Isabella Thackeray, Lady Ritchie (1837-1919), was the daughter of William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863).

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 Sara Norton

     South Berwick, Maine, June 30 [1902].

     I am just having a little visit from Mrs. Riggs, the author of our beloved "Penelope in Ireland."* We have known each other in a pleasant way for a good many years. I happened to be near her in London once, and last week when I happened to be in Brunswick, she was there too, and to my great pleasure said that she should like to come over to Berwick. She is the very nice person who wrote our enchanting book. Being with her has reminded me of your pleasure in her story last year, as well as mine. One doesn't always find the writer of the story, -- at least in early acquaintance! but with Mrs. Riggs there is the certainty that one might go right on, and see the next chapter, and Salemina and the maid are absent only for the moment.*

     Great things have been happening in Berwick: there was the 200th anniversary of the old village church (that was the time, 1702, when we were converted by missionaries from Harvard, and before we had been only a little royal colony with Church of England preaching)!*


Notes

Mrs. Riggs, the author of our beloved "Penelope in Ireland": Mrs. George C. Riggs (1856-1923) is Kate Douglas Wiggin's name by her second marriage. She wrote a series of stories for young readers based on her travels in Britain. Three of these published during Jewett's lifetime were: A Cathedral Courtship and Penelope's English Experiences (1893), Penelope's Experiences in Scotland (1896), and Penelope's Irish Experiences (1901).

Salemina and the maid:  Salemina is a character in Penelope's Irish Experiences.
 
1702:  According to the Old Berwick Historical Society, the First Parish Congregational Church of South Berwick was organized in 1702:  "This parish was organized under the name of Unity, in 1693. The first church organized within the limits of Berwick was at Quamphegan Landing, now South Berwick village. This church was formed by the Rev. John Wade, a native of Ipswich, Mass, and graduate of Harvard, in 1693, who had been employed as the minister of the town. Considerable religious interest was awakened during 1701, and on June 4, 1702, an organization was effected with 17 members. The Revs. John Pike, of Dover, Samuel Emery, and Samuel Moody officiated as counsel."

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




S
OJ to Alice Dunlap Gilman

     Pride's Crossing
     Beverly, Massachusetts

     July 12, [1902]

    Dear Cousin Alice:

     I am really ashamed to have been so long in writing to you after my delightful visit, for though Mary gave you my messages and wrote for us both, I wanted to tell you myself how often I think of the pleasure you gave us. I don't know when I have enjoyed a visit so much; Brunswick is always full of happy associations and everybody was so kind -- most of all, yourself.
     I was dreadfully sorry to lose nearly all of Lizzie's visit which Mary* has enjoyed so much, but I had long been promised -- on the first of July to my old friend here* -- and I had already put off coming until the fifth! Every year I say to myself that perhaps I shall not come again, but this summer I have found her better than for a long time before and we have been very happy together. Sometimes she hardly leaves her room when I am staying with her but now she gets down to breakfast, which is quite splendid. You would find the town of Beverly very little changed, but down along the shore it has been built up very much with summer houses, many of them very large and fine, like the Baxters', of which I am sorry that I could not see the interior. But we did so many things! I am not often so gay!!
     Do keep your visit to us in mind when cool weather comes -- you and Mary must come. I think of Cousin Fanny's being with you now and must give her my love. I hope that we shall see her on her way home. With love to all the family, believe me always
     Yours most affectionately,
     Sarah


Notes

Lizzie's visit ... Mary:  Lizzie probably is Elizabeth Jervis Gilman for more on her and on Mary  Rice Jewett see Correspondents.

my old friend here:  Jewett's old friend at Pride's Crossing almost certainly is Susan Burley Cabot.  See Correspondents.

Baxters:  These Baxters have not been identified.  Assistance is welcome.

Mary ... Cousin Fanny: This Mary probably is Mrs. Gilman's youngest daughter.  See Correspondents. Cousin Fanny has not yet been identified.

This letter is edited and annotated by Richard Cary in Sarah Orne Jewett Letters; the ms. is held by the Sarah Orne Jewett Papers, George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections and Archives, Bowdoin College Library.



SOJ to Annie Adams Fields

     Saturday afternoon, [1902].*

     I long to have you get to the chapter in Dr. James's book that I have been reading to-day: "The Value of Saintliness." I "find" it most particularly fine, and penetrating. There is a good page or two about St. Teresa in the chapter before which would do your heart good to quote, -- I mean now the first paragraph as far as "It is a fine summing-up."*

     The other day quite out of clear sky a man came to Mary* with a plan for a syndicate to cut up and sell the river bank all in lots, and oh if Mrs. -- only does want to buy it, or her friend, it will be so nice and make such difference to me. Sometimes I get such a hunted feeling like the last wild thing that is left in the fields.

Notes

1902:  Fields dates this letter in 1892, but Jewett could not have read William James's (1842-1910) The Varieties of Religious Experience until 1902, when his Gifford Lectures were collected in a book.  Probably this letter was written before 2 September, the date of Jewett's devastating carriage accident.

the chapter in Dr. James's book ... "The Value of Saintliness"
:  Lectures 7-13 were on "Saintliness"; Lectures 14-15 were on "The Value of Saintliness."
    Saint Teresa of Avila was a Spanish Carmelite nun and mystic, author of The Way of Perfection (1583) and The Interior Castle (1588).
   
good page or two about St. Teresa in the chapter before:  Jewett almost certainly has made an error.  The phrase -- "It is a fine summing-up" -- does not appear in an electronic search of the text. Saint Teresa is mentioned several times, and there are two pages on her in "The Value of Saintliness" (339-40) but they are not complimentary and, unless Jewett is being ironic, probably are not part of the passage she recommends.  In the previous chapter, "Saintliness" where one may expect to find the passage, Teresa is mentioned only once, briefly.  In the chapter, "Mysticism" is another passage on Teresa (399-404) which seems more likely to have interested and attracted Jewett, but this is the chapter after rather than the chapter before "The Value of Saintliness." 
    It is possible that Fields made a transcription error, for the phrase "final summing up" appears several times.  One paragraph that seems as if it could have interested Jewett is: 
    Let us agree, then, that Religion, occupying herself with personal destinies and keeping thus in contact with the only absolute realities which we know, must necessarily play an eternal part in human history.  The next thing to decide is what she reveals about those destinies or whether indeed she reveals anything distinct enough to be considered a general message to mankind.  We have done as you see, with our preliminaries, and our final summing up can now begin. (493)
This is not, however, in either of the chapters Jewett mentions, but in "Conclusions."

Mary: Jewett's sister, Mary Rice Jewett. 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 Annie Adams Fields

     Monday morning. [Before September 1902 ?]*

     I had a really beautiful day yesterday. I stayed at home from church in the morning and took up President Eliot's life of his son, and I don't know when anything has moved me so much. You remember how beautiful the magazine paper was that President Eliot wrote about one of their island neighbours down at Mount Desert -- and this is written with that same veracity and Defoe-like closeness to the fact, and with such deep affection as one seldom feels in a book. I finished it last night, for although it is a big volume, much of the latter half preserves his own reports of work on the Metropolitan Park Commission etc., which one does not need to know exactly, at least in the first reading, though this will interest you deeply. So I am sending it right over to you.*

     The dining-room looks as it used now, and is so much pleasanter! but when we had all the birds, the cardinal, and the charming sparrows, and all those, they were really very nice. I don't care much for any of these, especially since I came home this last time to find that dear bright wise little Bobby, father's tame little bird that he was so fond of, was dead and gone.* There never was a little creature with so true and good a heart. He knew so many things -- though not one trick! and he would chirp at me until I answered and spoke to him, and then would sing himself to pieces. How often I have laughed and begged him to be still; and now that live little voice is still enough and its wisp of grey feathers. John* and I put him into a little box, and buried him when nobody else knew it, down under the grass on father's grave, where so much sweet cheerfulness lies still already. It was one of the dear links with those old days, you know, dear, and I can't help thinking that Bobby's spark of life is not put out altogether.


Notes

Before September 1902: The earliest year this letter could have been composed is 1902, the year Eliot published his biography of his son (see note below).  If the letter was written in 1902, it almost certainly was completed before Jewett's accident in September.

President Eliot's life of his son: Charles William Eliot, (1834-1926) was, according to the Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, "a reforming president of Harvard University and editor of the Harvard Classics." Eliot's The Right Development of Mount Desert appeared as a pamphlet in 1904. The comparison is to Daniel Defoe (1660-1731), for example in Robinson Crusoe (1719).
    Eliot's biography of his son is Charles Eliot, Landscape Architect, a Lover of Nature and of His Kind, Who Trained Himself for a New Profession, Practised it Happily and Through it Wrought Much Good (1902). Charles Eliot (1859-1897) proposed a plan to the Boston Metropolitan Park Commission, which was published in 1893: Map of the Metropolitan District of Boston, Massachusetts Showing the Existing Public Reservations and Such New Open Spaces as Are Proposed by Charles Eliot, Landscape Architect, in His Report to the Metropolitan Park Commission.

magazine paper ... of their island neighbours down at Mount Desert:  It is possible Jewett refers to "The Forgotten Millions," Charles W. Eliot, which appeared in The Century 40:4 (Aug 1890) pp. 556-565.

Bobby:  No other information has turned up about this pet bird that had belonged to Jewett's father, who died in September 1878.  Since it seems clearly to have survived at least 24 years after his death, it probably was a parrot.
    Jewett's poem "A Caged Bird" (1887) mentions a canary, but canaries seldom live more than 10 years.
    Further information is welcome.

John:  John Tucker, long-time 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.



3 September 1902

Sarah Orne Jewett is thrown from a carriage in South Berwick, sustaining head and neck injuries from which she never fully recovers.  Her professional writing career essentially ends with this accident, but she continues an extensive correspondence until 1909, the year of her death.



SOJ to Jennie O. Starkey

     South Berwick, Maine
     October 5, [1902]

     My Dear Miss Starkey:

     I thank you for your very kind note which I should have been glad to answer at once but I am slowly recovering from a bad accident in being thrown from a carriage -- and even after some weeks I can write very little.1
     The story you ask about was printed with others in a volume called The Queen's Twin. Your letter gave me real pleasure and I am very glad indeed that you liked "Nora."2 I also have to thank your paper, the Free Press, for much pleasure in the past: I like to think that I have this good chance to say so!
     Believe me, with my best wishes for your own happiness in your work of writing,
     Yours sincerely,

     S. O. Jewett


Notes

     1 The date of the disabling accident was September 3, 1902, Miss Jewett's fifty-third birthday. While taking her habitual afternoon ride that day, Miss Jewett was thrown upon the road head first when her horse suddenly slipped and fell going downhill. Miss Jewett did not seem to suffer any serious immediate effects, but the spinal concussion which resulted from the fall brought about recurrent headaches and weak spells, putting a virtual end to her literary productivity. Though she tried valiantly (see her letter to Willa Cather in Fields, Letters, 234-235), she wrote nothing of consequence after this mishap.
     2 "Where's Nora?" appeared first in Scribner's, XXIV (December 1898), 739-755.

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.




Sarah Wyman Whitman to SOJ

 

Walpole,* October 25, 1902.

     I am seeing really amazing beauty, a great fall mosaic rich as Aaron's breastplate and multiplied with tones and overtones of color.


Notes

Walpole: in Massachusetts, southeast of Boston.

Aaron's breastplate: See Exodus 39.

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 Loring Dresel


South Berwick
Sunday 25th October [1902]*

My dear Loulie

    My letter almost reached you before yours came to me!  I have been thinking of you and wishing to write.  I am so glad to know all about you dear, but I refuse to take the photograph of Loulie however good the likeness is of the handsome cat.  I really cant 'discover that you sat' for it, and looked at the names on the back of the card with wonder!  I suppose

[ Page 2 ]

it is the angle at which your dear head was tipped. --

    I wish that I could say after all this time that I feel good for much.  I am better (I am so tired of that endless word!) than I was in Early Summer after the shock and worry of dear Mrs. Fields's* illness &c but as I look back I dont believe that I can do much than I could a year ago or when I was at my best at Mrs. Cabots* in the winter.  The sprained

[ Page 3 ]

=ancle-feeling [so written] in the back of my neck and the attacks of pain trouble me less just as they did then, but they are still ready to come back at the least provocation.  But I wont talk about it and I do try not to grumble, though I haven't the spirit about things that I kept for a long time.  Reading and writing are both pretty difficult, but I have taken to crocheting! --

    I love to hear about your cousin Johanna,* do tell me about

[ Page 4 ]

her again!  Try her with Miss Sarah Rackemann!*  I remember how hard it used to be, when I was taller than most and could not feel more than nine years of age.  Mrs. Agassiz* would be so dear to her -- she would feel quite at home with her, would Johanna. -- but oh how I wish I could know how that dear friend is! Do write soon again on purpose to tell me and give my love to your Aunt Emma Cary* too when you see her -- The Time grows very long that I have missed seeing my friends and I do miss dear Mrs. Whitman* so

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

dreadfully --  Good-bye dear Loulie{,} Thank you for writing such a good letter.  Mrs. Fields is at 148 and will be so glad to see you and knows. Yours always

S. O. J.

Notes

Sunday 25th October [1902]:  While the archivist gives the letter a 30 October date and the manuscript is very difficult, it seems fairly clearly to read 25 October, which fell on Saturday in 1902 and on Sunday in 1903.  This is problematic for determining the year of this letter.  Jewett's report on her health and a long period of not seeing her friends fits better with October of 1902, just weeks after her September carriage accident, than with 1903, when -- though she remained limited in health -- she was more actively traveling and visiting.  Jewett fairly often dates her letters incorrectly, giving a day of the month different by a day from the day of the week.

Mrs. Fields: Annie Adams Fields, who lived in Boston at 148 Charles St. See Correspondents.

Mrs. Cabots: Susan Burley Cabot. See Correspondents.

Cousin JohannaJohanna (d. 1852?) has been identified as a grand-daughter of Julius Dresel, half-brother to Louisa's father, Otto. Julius Dresel (1816-1891?), an immigrant wine-grower in Texas and then in Sonoma, California.  His wife probably was Jane/Johanna Plage (1823-1864?), whom he married in Bexar, Texas on 6 August 1850.  She is likely, then, to be visiting Louisa from California, and is likely to be about 10 years old.  Further information is welcome.

Sarah Rackemann: Probably this is Sarah Parkman Rackermann Hyde (1892-1988), the daughter of Felix Rackemann (1861-1954) of Boston.  She first married Edward Wigglesworth (1885-1945), who became director of what is now the New England Museum of Natural History.  See also the Minot-Rackemann Family Papers at the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Mrs. Agassiz: Elizabeth Cabot Cary Agassiz. See Correspondents.

Aunt Emma Cary:  Emma Forbes Cary (1833-1918) was the youngest sister of Elizabeth Cabot Cary Agassiz.  See Correspondents.  Though Lousia's mother was a close friend of the Cary family, no evidence has yet been found to establish that she was a relative.  Therefore, it appears the "Aunt" is an honorary term in this case.  See Lucy Allen Paton, Elizabeth Cary Agassiz: A Biography (1919).

Mrs. Whitman: Sarah Wyman Whitman. See Correspondents.

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



 SOJ to Sara Norton

          Thursday, November 20. [1902]

     How much I wish for you at this moment, Sally dear! but it must be a heavenly day at Newport, and without this touch of the North that makes a fire not look unwelcome in my room. Now that the leaves are down I can see the smooth top of my hill like a little Yorkshire moor, and it makes me wish that we were walking there again. Oddly enough I am just reading one of Mrs. Ritchie's stories that keeps one much out of doors in the Lake Country, -- "Mrs. Dymond,"* -- and between reading and looking up at the hill, I got too keen a sense of being housebound! One flies to Miss Thackeray's stories at certain turns of Fate, for a world full of shadows, and written out of deep and touching experience, but with beauty and consolation never forgotten or curtained away. Don't you remember Fitzgerald's saying somewhere that he thirsts for the Delightful as he grows old and dry?* Perhaps he was writing about Miss Thackeray -- then the Village on the Cliff which he really loved.

     Get rested, dear, and make the most of these days in Newport by doing just the least you can with them! I think of you most lovingly and oftener than I can dare to say. As for me, I am much the same, getting back little by little to ordinary life, but not downstairs yet, or equal to much that can be really called decent or properly useful behaviour.


Notes

1902:  Fields places this letter among those from 1905, where it may well belong.  However, Jewett implies at the end that she has been ill for a long time and unable to go downstairs.  This suggests that the letter comes from the first months after her September 1902 carriage accident.  Blanchard in Sarah Orne Jewett (1994) says that Jewett was confined to her bedroom until Thanksgiving of 1902 (p. 350).

Mrs. Ritchie's stories ... "Mrs. Dymond": Anne Isabella Thackeray, Lady Ritchie (1837-1919), published Mrs. Dymond in 1885.

Don't you remember Fitzgerald's saying somewhere that he thirsts for the Delightful as he grows old and dry? ... The Village on the Cliff: The Village on the Cliff (1866) is by Ann Thackeray, Lady Ritchie. Edward Fitzgerald, in a letter of December 30, 1875 says that William M. Thackeray's novels are "terrible," because like Jane Austen and George Eliot, they deal too much with ordinary life: "I really look at them on the shelf, and am half afraid to touch them. He, you know, could go deeper into the Springs of Common Action than these ladies: wonderful he is, but not Delightful, which one thirsts for as one gets old and dry." In other letters, he says that he does not much like Ann Thackeray's books either. See Letters and Literary Remains of Edward Fitzgerald (1889).

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 Harriet Prescott Spofford

     South Berwick, Maine, December 31, 1902.

     My dear Friend, -- I am late in thanking you for my dear little Christmas book,* but I wished to read it before I wrote, and these have not been good reading-days. It is a dear story: I felt almost as if I were seven years old again and cuddled into a corner with my beloved story of "Mr. Rutherford's Children."* The same feeling came over me as nearly as it ever can come again. Your story walks faster, as a story of these days should, but there are very real people and real experiences, and your charming fancy -- your quick imagination -- your beloved sympathy, make the pages live. What any "sister authoress" would really love to do would be to hold the pen that was equal to writing you!

     But I must write no more at this hour of night! I hope to see you very soon, as I am coming back to town presently.


Notes

my dear little Christmas book: It seems clear that Harriet Prescott Spofford (1835-1921) gave Jewett a copy of one of her books for Christmas in 1902, and it is likely this would have been a book for children. It seems possible that the gift was The Children of the Valley (1901), or perhaps even an early copy of That Betty (1903). Spofford also published The Great Procession and Other Verses for and about Children in 1902, and she contributed the introduction to Gail Hamilton's Life in Letters, by Gail Hamilton (Mary A. Dodge, 1833-1896) in 1901. 

my beloved story of "Mrs. Rutherford's Children": Susan Warner (1819-1885) is best known for her very popular novel, The Wide, Wide World (1850). She published Mrs. Rutherford's Children in 1853.

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




Edited by Terry Heller, Coe College.



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