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Sarah Orne Jewett Letters of 1908

SOJ to Violet Paget

     148 Charles Street
     January 3, [1908]

    Dear Miss Paget:

     I have been waiting too long before sending my acknowledgment of your letter which brought me true pleasure -- perhaps the best thing of all is that you are letting me try to do something for you! I cannot send word yet of any decision about the papers. The Atlantic is just now printing some French sketches (rather more like useful tanks than hillside springs!!) by Mrs. Wharton,1 and I am waiting to hear from one New York editor, and failing him I shall wait until I can see another myself.
     Mr. Perry, of the Atlantic, spoke with the most true appreciation of your work -- you have had few better or more affectionate readers -- but he has had some difficulties in following his personal choice -- how little young, beginning writers are aware of this! -- and I suppose too that the late difficulty in financial affairs makes the magazines careful about new ventures. But I am full of hope about these English sketches, only do not be impatient if it seems to take longer than is reasonable.2
     I am just ready to thank you for The Sentimental Traveller volume -- it is delightful -- "The Bead-Threader"and "La Ferté"3 first in my heart. You do not know your group of readers here as I do. They are at any rate the ones you would choose and wish to have.
     Mrs. Fields would send you a message of most friendly remembrance. We are looking for Miss Cochrane* presently on her way back to Rome. This note must be but an eager forerunner of a later letter but I must say before I end it that I am following you in Greece with sheer joy! I bless the friend who won you to go just now -- only I hope next time that you will go in March as I did and see the Greek flowers.*
     Yours most sincerely and affectionately,
     Sarah Orne Jewett


     1 The first of four installments of Edith Wharton's "A Second Motor-Flight through France," appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, CI (January 1908), 3-9.
     2 Miss Paget's letter to Miss Jewett (Colby College Library) was written on October 25, 1907. Miss Paget explains that she is planning "to make an English Writer's Notebook on England" out of six essays but first wishes to publish them in American periodicals. The Atlantic Monthly had taken two installments but refused the remainder; would Miss Jewett offer the serial copyright of these "to anyone you think likely to take them."
     "An English Writer's Notes on England" had appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, LXXXIV (July 1899), 99-104, and LXXXVIII (October 1901), 511-519. Miss Jewett, now inoperative for over five years, was unable to place the others, but Miss Paget ultimately succeeded in disposing three of them to Scribner's, which presented them under the same title, with the following subheads: "Things of the Past," LIV (August 1913), 177-194; "Things of the Present," LIV (November 1913), 609-619; "The Celtic West," LIV (December 1913), 712-724. Neither the sixth essay, titled "Some Cathedrals and Oxford," nor the projected volume was ever published.
     3 Vernon Lee, The Sentimental Traveller (London, 1908); "The Bead-Threader's Funeral and the Church of the Greeks," 94-102; "La Ferté-sous-Jouarre," 218-230. The first must have aroused Miss Jewett's memory of her own account of a funeral in Deephaven, 210-223; the second, concerned their mutual dear friend, Madame Blanc, who had died less than a year before.

Editor's Notes

Miss Cochrane:  Jessie Cochrane, a talented amateur pianist from Louisville, Kentucky, was a frequent guest in the Boston and Man­chester homes of Mrs. Fields.

Greece ... in March:  Jewett traveled to Greece in March of 1900.

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.

Isabella Steward Gardner to SOJ

Monday [ 6 January 1908 ]*

[ Begin Letterhead ]

Fenway Court*

[ End Letterhead ]


Novelli* has decided that he must give a play in my music room, Wednesday (this very next.) at 8 p.m.  Will you come -- & thereby give me much

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pleasure.  And Mrs. Fields? if it would amuse her --



6 January 1908:  See note below on Novelli.

Fenway Court:  Gardner's Venetian style palazzo in Boston's Back Bay, now the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, opened on 1 January 1903, according to Wikipedia, but other sources have her occupying the building as early as 1901 (see Clarendon Square).

Novelli:  The Italian actor and playwright, Ermete Novelli (1851 - 1919).  According to a letter of 9 January 1908 (Gardner to Bernard Berenson), Novelli performed in her music room on Wednesday, 8 January 1908.  She wrote, "It ended in his giving 2 plays, short delightful ones with his whole troupe.... It really was perfection.  Everything went together so well."  She reported that her room was filled with distinguished guests. See The Letters of Bernard Berenson and Isabella Stewart Gardner (Part II)  p. 419.

The manuscript of this letter is held by the Houghton Library, Harvard University, bMS Am 1743 (73).  Transcribed and annotated by Terry Heller, Coe College.

SOJ to Katharine Loring

January 1908.

[SOJ decorative letterhead in upper left corner of card stock, approximately 3 x 5 inches]

[Top left, and perhaps not in Jewett's hand, though in similar ink.]
Sent letter.

[Top right]
148 Charles

Oh yes, Dear Katherine, with great pleasure!  I do hope that nothing will prevent my having such a pleasure.

    And you will let me know which night.  I have

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got something to show you.  The first volume of Mr. H. J.'s new edition!* -- but it now occurs to my mind that you may have it to show me.

    With much love to you and Louisa{.} (Thank her for a dear letter --)

S. O. J.

[In another hand bottom center of page 2:  Sarah Orne Jewett]


first volume of Mr. H. J.'s new edition:  Volume 1 of the New York Edition of Novels and Tales of Henry James was Roderick Hudson, which appeared in December 1907.  If this is what Jewett refers to, then the date of this letter seems likely to have been late 1907 or early 1908.  The note at the top of the letter may then be in error.  See David Bruce McWhirter, Henry James's New York Edition: The Construction of Authorship (1998), p. 278.

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 3, Letters 1897-1910. Transcription and notes by Terry Heller, Coe College.

SOJ to Annie Adams Fields

     Thursday noon. [January - May 1908]

     I have finished "Ivanhoe"* and also a story of Ouida's which is called "A Village Commune"* -- a most powerful, harrowing story of the wrongs put by greedy officials on the Italian peasants. There is not a trace of her vulgarity in this; it is as powerful a story, and strikes as straight at wrong-doing as Tolstoi's best -- with all the knowledge of human nature and a lovely descriptive gift thrown in. Ouida is a great writer -- when she is at her best, there is no getting over that fact. If she didn't lose her head, and -- perhaps -- were she not a woman, we should hear much more of Ouida! particularly of her "Village Commune."

     Katie just brought up the "Herald,"* which comes earlier than the Post-office things, and I see that Owen Wister has been Telling the Truth!* Hurrah! for they see what the matter is, when all sorts of facts are being expensively crammed into boys' and girls' minds without making those minds grow, or enlarging the thoughts of the individual. I think the processes of exams are at the bottom. There is something out of gear about graded schools and all that. Memory is developed at the expense of what in general we are pleased to call thought and character.*


"Ivanhoe": Sir Walter Scott, Ivanhoe (1819).

Ouida ... "A Village Commune": The English author Ouida was Marie Louise de la Ramée; she published her novel A Village Commune in 1881.

Katie ... Herald: Katie Galvin.   See Correspondents.   Jewett may have read her account of Wister's address in  The Assembly Herald  (Presbyterian) 14:5 (May 1908) pp. 240-1, "The Submerged Scholar," or perhaps in the Zion Herald (probably Methodist) from which it is reprinted.

Owen Wister has been telling the truth: Jewett almost certainly refers to Owen Wister's December 1907 address at Sanders Theater, Harvard University, "American Inferiority in Scholarship." An account of the address appears in Outlook 88 (January 11, 1908): 67-69.  This Outlook summary says that Wister addressed the question of why the United States has so few world-class scholars in 1907 and attributes this to a general failure to treasure and support scholarship.

Memory ... thought and character: See Jewett's essay, "Every-day Work," which appeared in The Congregationalist (September 13, 1883).

This transcription appears in Annie Fields, Letters of Sarah Orne Jewett (1911).  A second partial transcription appears in transcriptions from mixed repositories in the Maine Women Writer's Collection, University of New England, Letters from Sarah Orne Jewett, 1875-1890, Folder 72, Burton Trafton Jewett Research Collection. For more information about the individual transcription, contact the Maine Women Writers Collection. 
    This second transcription is different in several details from the one by Fields.  One main difference is that it includes at the beginning, a list of three people, the significance of which is unknown.  The references would appear to be to Frances Morse, Alice Longfellow, and Josie (Mrs. Fred?) Dexter.  Josie Dexter has not yet been further identified, except as a friend of Emily Tyson. For Tyson, Morse and Longfellow, see Correspondents

Thursday morning

Mrs. Morse
Alice L
J. Dexter*

Dearest Annie

       . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Katie just brought up the Herald which comes earlier than the Post Office things and I see that Owen Wister has been Telling the Truth.  Hurrah!  for they must see what the matter is when all sorts of facts and truths are being expensively crammed into boys and girls minds without making those minds grow or enlarging the thoughts of the individual.  I think the processes of Exams are at the bottom.  There is something out of gear about graded schools and all that.  Memory is development at the expense of what in general we are pleased to call thought and character. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The second transcription was prepared by Linda Heller.  Notes by Terry Heller, Coe College.

SOJ to Robert Underwood Johnson

     148 Charles Street
     February 17, 1908

    Dear Mr. Johnson:

     Mrs. Fields gives me your letter: the date of Madame Blanc's death was February 5th, 1907.1 We have been thinking of her very often in these last days, especially as we happened to have a friend staying with us who was also her friend and had seen her much within a year or two of her death.
     Yesterday I happened to come upon this biography-in-brief, and I put it into my envelope, as you may like to make sure of some other points, though it is not exactly infallible! I should like to have it back again.
     I miss dear Madame Blanc's constant letters; it was delightful to know about France or Paris through her, and in every way I miss her more and more. I hear once in a while from her good nephew Comte Louis de Solms, and last year I used to get letters from Miss King,2 but I have never seen her and of course our only reason for writing was not to last always. I believe that she is still in France.
     Mrs. Fields sends all her affectionate messages with mine to you and to Mrs. Johnson. We are going on in usual winter ways, that is, winter ways of these late years! We are so much interested about your son's play. I had heard already about The Comet and I wish it and its author all good fortune.3
     Yours most sincerely,
     S. O. Jewett


     1 Johnson appended the following footnote to Th. Bentzon's "Literary Rolls of Honor in France," Century, LXXVI (May 1908), 3-17: "Madame Thérèse Blanc, author of this article, died in February, 1907. She was one of the few women admitted to the Legion d'Honneur. Aside from her writings, chiefly novels, some of which had the distinction of being crowned by the French Academy, she appealed to Americans by her interest in our literature, the knowledge of which in France she greatly promoted, and by her sympathetic regard for American ideals. She followed especially the progress of women in this country, and wrote a volume on the subject. In The Century for May, 1903, will be found an appreciative article regarding her by Mrs. James T. Fields. -- The Editor."
     2 Grace Elizabeth King (1852-1932) was a writer of local color stories of Creole life in New Orleans. She recreates her warm association with Madame Blanc in Memories of a Southern Woman of Letters (New York, 1932). While down South during her 1897 sojourn in the United States, Madame Blanc stayed at Miss King's home. Miss King lived in the same house as Madame Blanc in Meudon during the last few months of her life.
     3 Owen M. Johnson (1878-1952) is best remembered for his novel Stover at Yale (1911). The Comet, starring exotic Alla Nazimova, opened at the Bijou Theatre in New York City on December 30, 1907, and had a run of fifty-six performances, which ended two days before this letter was written.

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.


Willa Cather to SOJ

May 10, 1908

[ Letterhead]
Hotel & Pension Palumbo
Golfo di Salerno

May 10, 1908

Dear Miss Jewett;

    Do you, I wonder, remember what an extravagantly beautiful place this is? The camelias are all in blossom in the Rufolo gardens and our hotel is over run by yellow roses. I have one of the rooms on the terrace which hangs above Minori and the sea. You probably remember what a magical aspect the sea presents from that terrace -- very much like hot green porcelain whose flow has been ^ [checked or chalked?]^ by those jagged cliffs along which runs the Salerno road. From here it is certainly the sea of legend -- nothing else, and it glimmers centuries away from you, like the opaque blue water that Puvis de Chavannes* painted. When I was little I knew a funny old lady in Nebraska who had some water from the Mediterranean corked up in a bottle, and when you looked at the bottle for a long time and suddenly shut your eyes you saw the sea itself for a moment, and this was the way it looked -- a color and a remoteness that exist in legends and nowhere else. But the color one does find elsewhere, after all. I have seen this turquoise kind of green in Japanese porcelain, haven't you?

     Seven hundred years ago yesterday a gally [galley] from the Holy Land first brought St. Andrew's skull* to Amalfi in Amalfi's time of sea-sovereignty. Every hundred years the arrival of the skull is celebrated. On Wednesday the skull was taken up from the crypt and sent down to Sorrento. It was

[ Page 2 ]

brought back to Amalfi yesterday by a fleet of forty-seven vessels, and the cardinal from Rome was down at the marina to receive it. The bells in Ravello rang all day long and the whole countryside trooped down to Amalfi. I fell in with a priest and a lot of old people who were hurrying down the footpath that outruns the carriage road. We were all feeling gay and tramping hard, and all wore our best things -- except the priest who wore his old cassock and carried his best one in a handkerchief. But just as we were hurrying over the one place where the wood path winds out a hundred feet above the carriage road, yes, just at that identical instant, some people from Nebraska, whom I had not seen for years & years, swung into the carriage road, and by some diabolical presbyopy* recognized me and shouted and gesticulated and haled me from that glad company. I shall probably not see those good people for a dozen years to come, but I had to go back to Ravello with them and lose the festa and my pleased companions. I have felt as if I were being put through the world by some awfully complicated kind of clock-work ever since.

    The volume of Mrs. Meynell's essays* you gave me has been an inexhaustible delight. Do you remember the one which she calls "The Lesson of Landscape"? It seems to me about the only truthful writing I have ever read about Italy -- in English. I cannot, alas, feel that Vernon Lee* is altogether, or even measurably, truthful. Surely

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^she^ is capricious and self-conscious and she takes liberties with things and places to get her effects. But Miss Meynell tells the truth -- How beautifully truthful she is about all this pale-colored lovely earth, and how [deleted word] her words ^show^ [deleted letters or a blot] the frugality and temperance that it ought to teach one. What a coarse and stupid conception of Italy we have all been reared upon! A tufted Monte Carlo palm garden sort of country.

    But Mrs. Meynell has a fellow in the truth. Housman -- A. E. --* did a little poem which rings in my ears all day when I tramp about the gray terraced mountain sides and go in and out among the fields, so little and precious and dear-bought. It is not in "The Shropshire Lad",* but he gave me a copy of it, and I must quote it to you here, at the risk of misquoting it. My copy is in Pittsburgh, and I have never seen it ^(the verse)^ anywhere else. I never cared about it much until I left Naples three weeks ago, and then it rose out of the limbo of forgotten things and smote me full in the face.

The Olive
The olive in its orchard,
    If man could plant it sure,
The olive in its orchard
    Should flourish and endure.

So deep among the trenches
    Its dressers digged and died,
The olive in its orchard
    Should prosper and abide.

Thick should the fruit be clustered
    And light the leaf should wave,
So deep the roots are planted
    In the corrupting grave.

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That's the Italy I have found -- just about all of it. And how miraculously true the truth is! This morning when the cardinal visited the church here and all the children for miles about came up befo the hill before his carriage carrying big live branches, what incredible lightness and spring it had, that hard, dry, sharp, little leaf that is so tempered and important to dust and wind and [ deleted word ] sun and damp and drought.
    Betsey Lane has gone sprinting on to Rome in my other trunk, but the "White Heron" and the Dulham Ladies abide with me always*. Ah they are like the olive leaf -- "si triste, si gai."

        Willa Cather


Puvis de ChavannesWikipedia says: "Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (14 December 1824 - 24 October 1898) was a French painter, who became the co-founder and president of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts...."  Cather may be thinking of his "Young Girls by the Seaside" (1887).


Puvis de Chavannes
Young Girls by the Seaside,1887
Courtesy of Wikipedia

St. Andrew's skullWikipedia says: "In 1208, following the sack of Constantinople, those relics of St. Andrew and St. Peter which remained in the imperial city were taken to Amalfi, Italy, by Cardinal Peter of Capua, a native of Amalfi. A cathedral (Duomo), was built, dedicated to St. Andrew (as is the town itself), to house a tomb in its crypt where it is maintained that most of the relics of the apostle, including an occipital bone, remain."  It is not certain that Cather is correct about the procession she describes happening once each century, as opposed to annually, or as currently, twice annually in June and November.  But it is the case that 1908 was the 700th anniversary of arrival of the relics of St. Andrew at Amalfi, and one would expect there would have been a special observance.
    The walk from Ravello to Amalfi is about four miles.

presbyopy:  Presbyopia according to Wikipedia "is a condition associated with aging in which the eye exhibits a progressively diminished ability to focus on near objects."

Mrs. Meynell's essays:  "The Lesson of Landscape" appears in The Rhythm of Life and Other Essays (1905) by Alice Meynell (pp. 83-8); see Correspondents for more and for Vernon Lee, pen name of Violet Paget.

Monte Carlo palm garden:  Cather compares Lee's view of Italy to Monte Carlo, Monaco, located on the French Riviera.

Housman ... The Olive:  The British poet A. E. Housman's (1859 - 1936), whose best-known collection of poems is A Shropshire Lad (1896).
    "The Olive" was collected in 1939 in the "Additional Poems" (XXIII) section of The Collected Poems of A. E. Housman" (p. 240).  Notes for a Housman letter to Witter Bynner (14 December 1903)  say that the poem first appeared in Outlook (7 June 1902), p. 227 (The Letters of A. E. Housman, 2007, p. 158).
    Cather's quotation from memory is close, but still quite different:

The olive in its orchard
  Should now be rooted sure,
To cast abroad its branches
  And flourish and endure.

Aloft amid the trenches
  Its dressers dug and died
The olive in its orchard
  Should prosper and abide.

Close should the fruit be clustered
  And light the leaf should wave,
So deep the root is planted
  In the corrupting grave.
Betsey Lane ... the White Heron ... the Dulham Ladies:  To keep "A White Heron" and "The Dulham Ladies" with her, Cather would have to carry either A White Heron and Other Stories (1886) or Tales of New England (1890).  "The Flight of Betsey Lane" was collected in A Native of Winby (1893).
    The phrase "abide with me always," though it sounds biblical, is not; however it appears frequently in devotional literature at least since the 19th century, and so suggests Cather's spiritual connection with these stories.  See, for example, "Abide with Me" (1847) a popular Christian hymn by Henry Francis Lyte.

"si triste, si gai":  French.  "so sad, so gay."

The manuscript of this letter is held by the Houghton Library of Harvard University: Sarah Orne Jewett additional correspondence, 1868-1930, MS Am 1743.1, (15) Cather, Willa, 1873-1947. 3 letters; 1908 & [n.d.].  A transcription appears in The Selected Letters of Willa Cather (2013) by Andrew Jewell and Janis Stout, pp. 111-3.
    This new transcription and the annotations are by Terry Heller, Coe College.

SOJ to Arthur Holland*

20th May 1908

[ Begin letterhead ]

South Berwick, Maine

[ End Letterhead ]

My dear Arthur

    I must send a word of sincere sympathy* to you and yours.  If I had been near I should have seen you all today.  I am so glad that you and Sara were not far away -- it will be so much to the others to have you there.  I have read Dr. Emerson's beautiful letter about your brother in the Transcript* -- I could not

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help thinking of your mother and how she would have loved it -- the last sentence is beautifully true [ and ? ] nobly said.  Please give a message of remembrance from me to Mrs. Holland and your sister.

Yours very affectionately
Sarah O. Jewett


Arthur Holland: See Sara Ormsby Burgwin Holland in Correspondents.

sympathyRev. Frederic May Holland (1836-1908), Arthur Holland's brother, died on 17 May in Concord, MA.  Note that the spelling of Rev. Holland's name varies in different sources.  It is spelled without the final "K" on his tombstone.

TranscriptDr. Edward Waldo Emerson (1844-1930), youngest son of American poet and philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson, authored an extended obituary of Frederick Holland that appeared in the Boston Evening Transcript on 19 May 1908 (p. 13):
    Died in Concord, May 17, Frederic May Holland, aged 72 years.
    A quiet, but brave life ended on Sunday afternoon, a release from long suffering, patiently borne.  Mr. Holland was the son of the late Rev. Frederic West Holland, well remembered as an active, zealous clergyman, much employed in missionary work by the Unitarian Association, and at one time its secretary. The son was a Boston boy, and graduated at Harvard in 1850, and from the Divinity School in 1862.
    He was a youth of high ideals, from his childhood interested in all ethical reforms.  Cruelty, injustice, bigotry called on him personally to work for their redress. Like his friend, the late Dr. Francis Ellingwood Abbot, he chafed against all bonds of dogma and creeds.  The courage and humanity of Theodore Parker stirred him, and he was his outspoken follower when most Unitarians shrank from his fellowship.
    Mr. Holland's first ministry was at Rockford, IL., where he married Miss Anna M. Bicknell, who survives him; then he preached for a year at Marietta.  Ill health forced him to leave his work for farming, for a time.  His strength restored, he took charge of a society of liberal New England settlers in Baraboo, Wis., where he remained as pastor for six years.  His delicate constitution, however, could not stand the strain, and in 1877 he came to the East, and chose Concord as a quiet and congenial home.  Here he found good friends, and, as a layman, continued his work for social and intellectual elevation.
    Mr. Holland's first book, "The Reign of the Stoics," was published in 1870.  His "Stories from Robert Browning" attracted notice in England and were collected and published there.  Then followed his "Rise of Intellectual Liberty, from Thales to Copernicus," and his "Life of Frederick Douglass."
    Mr. Holland was most kindly and courteous.  Delicate and sensitive and with no love for controversy, his entire courage, when conscience called, in declaring his opinion and standing always for what he thought right, however unpopular that might be, was notable.  It is pleasant to think that he lived to see the world come round to many of the reforms which, in their dark days, he championed.
E. W. E.

    Concord, Mass., May 18.

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

SOJ to Mrs. Humphry Ward and her daughter, Dorothy

     Manchester by Sea, Massachusetts, June 8, 1908.

     Dearest Mary and Dorothy, -- This just one word of love and thanks because you gave me the great pleasure of coming over,* -- of seeing you both again! -- and I feel quite selfish about it, as if no one else could care about seeing you and being with you again quite so much! (This may be unjust to some dozens of people, but never mind! You must just take my love and blessing and believe how happy you made our dear A. F. and me.) She is much better now than when you saw her, the air here is always just the right thing, and I love to see her in her little pale grey dress sitting on the piazza looking seaward over the green tree-tops. She is tired, with getting away from Town more than from getting here, but she will soon be rested.

     I thought that you would have more days in Quebec; I wish you could spend a week there, -- the old French country is delightful, but you have been seeing "Country" enough. Your dear heads will be in a whirl, between snow mountains and the early summer heat -- I doubt if you even get time to read your letters until you begin the slow first days on ship-board. Good-bye, good bye! Don't you remember that Kingsley finished his book: "We cannot not have been in the West Indies,"* and so we cannot not have had you both here! and not have had fast hold of each other's hands again. You cannot know what joy and delight your visit has given. I do hope that neither of you are the worse for it.

     Yours with true affection.


coming overIn Annie Adams Fields (2002), Rita Gollin says that Mrs. Humphry Ward and her daughter visited the United States and stayed with Fields in Boston in June 1908 (pp. 298-9).

that Kingsley finished his book: "We cannot not have been in the West Indies'"
: Charles Kingsley (1819-1875), Christian socialist and writer. At Last: A Christmas in the West Indies (1871) ends with this sentence: "We could not not have been in the tropics."

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

     Intervale, Sunday.[9 August 1908]

     Helen* and I drove over to Miss Wormeley's yesterday afternoon,# -- a wonderfully beautiful afternoon, with such high, bright clouds and such a sunset, and the view from the house of most matchless beauty. She was there all her atmosphere -- her books on the table, her flowers all in bloom: it was a most sad and lovely and unforgettable visit. Only on Tuesday she was there -- all day Tuesday! it seems so wonderful, that living creature, that friend! I kept saying to myself those lines of Fitzgerald's in the "Agamemnon": --

"And some light ashes in a little urn."*

#Fields's note:  After Miss Wormeley's death.*


Helen:  The identity of this Helen is not yet known; possibly Helen Choate Bell.  See Correspondents.  Assistance is welcome.

those lines of Fitzgerald's in the "Agamemnon": -- "And some light ashes in a little urn.": Edward Fitzgerald translated Agamemnon: a Tragedy, taken from the Greek of Aeschylus. This line appears in a chorus just before Agamemnon's first entrance. The Chorus describes the sorrow of the royal house at its losses in the just completed Trojan War. Speaking of the God of war, it says:

     And for the blooming Hero gone a-field
        Homeward remits a beggarly return
     Of empty helmet, fallen sword and shield,
        And some light ashes in a little urn.

After Miss Wormeley's death: Katherine Prescott Wormeley (January 14, 1830 - August 4, 1908), a British-born American nurse, worked with the United States Sanitary Commission and, in 1879, organized the Newport Charity Organization. She also was a translator of Balzac and other French writers. See also letter of October 20, [1908]. Source: Cary, "Jewett to Dresel: 33 Letters," Colby Quarterly 11 (March 1975) 13-49.
    In 1908, August 4 fell on a Tuesday.

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 Willa Cather

     Manchester by Sea, August 17, 1908.

     My dear Willa, -- I am delighted to have your letter.

     You will find that I sent a verse that I found among my papers to "McClure's,"* -- and I did it as a sort of sign and warrant of my promise to you. No story yet, but I do not despair; I begin to dare to think that if I could get a quiet week or two, I could really get something done for you, and it should be for you who gave me a "Hand up" in the spring!

     I wish that I could see you and that something might bring you to Boston and for a night to Manchester. For more than a night, or as long as you could stay. Mrs. Fields bids me say this.

     I shall be here for a fortnight now, or more. It is the time of year when people crowd the foreground of every background of shore or inland life, but it is also the time for quiet days together. I wish that I could see you, -- I must write the words again!

     Send me one word on office paper to say that you are getting on well. I envy you your work, even with all its difficulties. I wish that I could take a handful for my own hand, and to help you.


McClure's: Jewett's last work published in her lifetime was "The Gloucester Mother," a poem in McClure's Magazine 31 (October 1908) p. 703. In Letters edited by Annie Fields, a facsimile of the manuscript appears on p. 90.  When Jewett and Cather met, Cather was an editor at McClure's.

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 Mrs. Humphry Ward and her daughter, Dorothy

     Manchester by Sea, Massachusetts, September 1, 1908.

     My dear Mary, -- It has been the swiftest of flights of a summer! I have been trying to solve the usual problem of trying to be in two places at once; but besides this I had two pleasant cruises down the Maine coast, of a week or so each, with Mrs. Forbes,* whom you will remember; but I wish you knew the "Merlin" too, a big sailing yacht of great charm and spread of sail; and the Maine coast, since you only saw that of Southern New England, so low and quiet and different. Oh, no! you have seen the St. Lawrence region, which is more like Maine; the Pointed Firs, -- the mountains near the shore; the long Norway-like fiords and islands!

     I have the whole 'back of my mind' full of things that I wish to tell you, but I get so hindered about writing: not the "stop" in one's mind that Quakers gravely talk about,* but something much less interesting. We are first of all so very anxious about dear Mr. Norton in these days; Sally's letters are very troubled, poor child, but she said in her last letter that she hoped to get to Mrs. Fields's for a day and night very soon.* She came twice with her father to Miss Sedgwick's in the very hot weather, but unluckily I was not here.* I cannot give up the hope of seeing him again. For so many reasons I am thankful that you could come last spring.

     People are talking about "Diana,"* and those who wait for the book are finding it hard to wait. I think every one delights in it. I am waiting, too, for the book to have it all again, and for next month's magazine number, I must also confess! Mrs. Bell* was wishing for it Saturday when she came up from the York Shore to luncheon. How I wish you had both been with her! Was the house all as you wished, and the poor hurt man doing well? We have longed to know, but I waited at first to write because I knew you would both go home to such busy days. I see that "Lady Rose" is to be played at the Castle Square Theatre,* and I shall hie me to see it with great haste. I was so sorry that you did not have the chance in London, but you might come over to Boston! I must not write more, but to send my love. I am afraid not to seal up this poor note and send it off -- next thing it will be Spring.

     Yours most affectionately.


Mrs. Forbes: Almost certainly this is Mrs. John M. Forbes. Richard Cary writes of the Forbes family, "Miss Jewett periodically visited the family of John M. Forbes, the railroad builder, who owned his own island off the coast of Massachusetts. Emerson's daughter Edith was married to Forbes's son William. The island was a haven for summer and autumn guests who entertained themselves at boating, fishing, riding, and hunting. Miss Jewett relished most the invigorating cruises along the Maine coast in the Forbes majestic sailing yacht, Merlin" (Letters of Sarah Orne Jewett, 86).

the stop in one's mind that Quakers gravely talk about: The Quakers or Society of Friends practiced an inward mode of Christianity, in which a part of worship was inner contemplation, seeking the light of God's presence in oneself.

Mr. Norton ... Sally's letters are very troubled:  Sara Norton's father, Charles Eliot Norton, died on October 21, 1908. 

Miss Sedgwick's:  Miss Sedgwick has not been identified.  Sara Norton's mother was Susan Ridley Sedgwick (1838 - 1872); therefore it seems likely that Miss Sedgwick was Sara's relative on her mother's side.

People are talking about "Diana": Mrs. Humphry Ward's novel serial, The Testing of Diana Mallory ran for a year in Harper's Monthly, beginning in November 1907 and concluding in October 1908. The novel was published as Diana Mallory in 1908.

Mrs. Bell: Probably Helen Olcott Choate Bell (1830-1918), daughter of Rufus Choate, and a neighbor of Annie Fields. See Correspondents.

"Lady Rose" ... Castle Square Theatre: Mary Augusta Ward's (1851-1920) novel Lady Rose's Daughter (1903) was dramatized as dramatized as Agatha in 1905).
    Wikipedia says: "The Castle Square Theatre (1894–1932) in Boston, Massachusetts, was located on Tremont Street in the South End.[1][2] The building existed until its demolition in 1933."

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 Sara Norton

     South Berwick, September 16, 1908.

     - I am sending a little book chiefly for the sake of its biographical preface. I have delighted in knowing Lady John Scott,* and just now I have been lending her to Mrs. Bell* who made friends as quickly as I did. She is such a simple and real and dear person. The grandniece who writes the preface must be equally nice and delightful. I thought it might be something that you and your father would like to read together. Do not hurry, or trouble to send it back, -- some day I can put it in my pocket. I am going back to Manchester tomorrow or next day; these last few days I have been quite alone and have done ever so many put-off things and comforted my soul. I was much amused the other day by a tale of some good housekeeping creatures who enlivened a tea party by trying to think what they should carry with them into another world if they could choose one precious thing, -- and one chirped up that she should take an empty drawer that she had in the third story. You will guess by this what turn my poor energies have taken, but indeed I have had three or four extra good days, and hope for more. I do hope that dear Mr. Norton is better and stronger too. I think a great deal about him and wish many wishes.* I always forget, when I see him, to ask a question about a classmate, young Perry, whom I can just remember with deep childish affection as he was going over to Italy in '54 or '55, -- his fair hair, his amusing, kind ways to his little niece. He was my mother's brother, and died that very year abroad.* I am afraid he was no student, though he studied law and had some gifts and ambitions toward political life. He was "wild," and I am afraid a little naughty, and he and Mr. Bigelow Lawrence kept each other's rather gay company.

     He had been abroad before and was twenty-eight when he died. These are nearly all the things I know about him, except that I still treasure the remains of a lovely Paris paint-box that he was bringing me home. What a long story about a poor young uncle! I wonder if Susanina* will preserve such memories. I must have been somewhere about five years old or a little less. He had been many months away. This Sunday I shall spend at Naushon and see the great beeches and the deer flickering about.* We saw two here this summer at the edge of some woods. I had been long hoping for such a sight. Mrs. Bell came up from York for luncheon last Saturday. Was not that delightful? So well and so enchanting.


Lady John Scott: Alicia Ann Spottiswoode, Lady John Montague-Douglas Scott (1810-1900). Jewett was reading Songs and Verses by Lady John Scott (1904), "edited, with a memoir, by her grand-niece, Margaret Warrender." Lady John Scott is best remembered as the author of "Annie Laurie."

Mrs. Bell:  Probably Helen Olcott Choate Bell (1830-1918), daughter of Rufus Choate, and a neighbor of Annie Fields. See Correspondents.

your father:  Sara Norton's father, Charles Eliot Norton, died on October 21, 1908.

my mother's brother, and died that very year abroad ... Mr. Bigelow Lawrence: The uncle is Nathaniel Gilman Perry (1826-1855). See also Necrology of Alumni of Harvard College (1864), p. 61.
    It is likely that Jewett refers to Timothy Bigelow Lawrence (d. 1869), whose notoriety in brahmin Boston is reflected in his book title: An Exposition of the Difficulties Between T. B. Lawrence and His Wife, Sallie Ward Lawrence: Which Led to Their Divorce (1851).   Wikipedia sketches Mrs. Lawrence's life; see also Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia and Register of Important Events 1873, p. 503.
    Perry and Lawrence both were, like Charles Eliot Norton, Harvard graduates from the class of 1846.

Susanina:  The identity of Susanina is unknown.  Assistance is welcome.
Naushon:  Wikipedia says: "Naushon Island, part of the Elizabeth Islands, is seven miles (11 km) long, just off (SW of) Cape Cod, and four statute miles (6 km) NW of Martha's Vineyard. The island is owned by the Forbes family and is included in the town of Gosnold, Massachusetts." 
       Richard Cary writes "
Miss Jewett periodically visited the family of John M. Forbes, the railroad builder, who owned his own island off the coast of Massachusetts. Emerson's daughter Edith was married to Forbes's son William. The island was a haven for summer and autumn guests who entertained themselves at boating, fishing, riding, and hunting. Miss Jewett relished most the invigorating cruises along the Maine coast in the Forbes majestic sailing yacht, Merlin" (Letters of Sarah Orne Jewett, 86). 

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 Mrs. Humphry Ward

     Manchester by Sea, October 1, 1908.

     My dear Mary, -- What I most wish to tell you is my delight in "Diana";* you have indeed done everything to those last chapters in making them justify Diana! They do! They do! I have been reading again and again with real admiration of your most noble and beautiful gifts, -- the gifts of heaven of sympathy and feeling and insight above all. That defeated old Lady Lucy, with the young strength and self-forgetful love of Diana coming in at the door! There flits into my mind as I write a most lovely poem of Mr. Lowell's that begins, "How was I worthy so divine a loss?"* I think some of the lines in it are so akin to all you felt about Oliver and Diana, -- perhaps you would not say so. Could Oliver ever be selfish or a cad again, with such a love? Ah, but he was selfish and must so continue, and must, thank Heaven, always be fighting and fall into worse shame when he cannot win. And her face would be shining more and more with the joy of watching his poor victories. My heart is full of your story, my dear friend. I miss you so as I write and wish that we were talking; indeed, I think we have never stopped missing you and dear Dorothy since you went away. Our last day, our last minutes always seem so close.*


"Diana": Mrs. Humphry Ward's The Testing of Diana Mallory (alternate title Diana Mallory) was appearing in Harper's Monthly 1907-1908, and was completed in the October issue.

Mr. Lowell's that begins, "How was I worthy so divine a loss?": The poem of James Russell Lowell to which Jewett refers is "Das Ewig-Weibliche" (The Eternal Feminine).

     How was I worthy so divine a loss,
          Deepening my midnights, kindling all my morns?
     Why waste such precious wood to make my cross,
          Such far-sought roses for my crown of thorns?
     And when she came, how earned I such a gift?
          Why spend on me, a poor earth-delving mole,
     The fireside sweetnesses, the heavenward lift,
          The hourly mercy, of a woman's soul?
     Ah, did we know to give her all her right,
          What wonders even in our poor clay were done!
     It is not Woman leaves us to our night,
          But our brute earth that grovels from her sun.
     Our nobler cultured fields and gracious domes
          We whirl too oft from her who still shines on
     To light in vain our caves and clefts, the homes
          Of night-bird instincts pained till she be gone.
     Still must this body starve our souls with shade;
          But when Death makes us what we were before,
     Then shall her sunshine all our depths invade,
          And not a shadow stain heaven's crystal floor.

From The Poetical Works of James Russell Lowell (1895) p. 464.

so close:  In Annie Adams Fields (2002), Rita Gollin says that Mrs. Humphry Ward and her daughter visited the United States and stayed with Fields in Boston in June 1908 (pp. 298-9).

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 Cabot Wheelwright

Manchester by Sea
9th October [ 1908 ]*

Dear Sarah

    This letter came near crossing yours for I have been wishing to write and thinking of you a good deal these last few days.  I was wishing that I could hear from you and Mary* direct ^though I have had news from one friend & another^.  I thought I had written last and I imagined that you might be coming up earlier and that I might see you -- You thought of taking the household and going right to Newport when you wrote last, and I thought it was to be toward

[ Page 2 ]

the first of this month and idly waited to hear!  I dont believe in keeping debt & credit always about letters with my real friends, but I often get off the hooks about writing.  This last time it was because I adventured from York Harbour homeward in a motor -- a friend offered to bring Mary* & me home, and we came so fast that it almost broke my neck again!*  I have kept pretty fairly well, on the whole (when I keep to steady trolleys that stop every little while!) and I have thought of you always with unforgetting and

[ Page 3 ]

true affection -- looking forward to seeing you again with great eagerness.  It seems a good [while written over time?] since June.  Mrs. James Howe* told me that Mary* really got off to Halifax and I was so glad, and perfectly love to hear too, that Mr. Wheelwright has had a good sailing summer on the Hesper.*  I shall beg to hear all about it.  I thank you every time I think of all the islands that I have come to know, and all my lovely sailings -- --  It just occurs to me that I did write you three or four weeks ago just about your letter came -- but I do still owe Helen Merriman.* I thought she was coming to town very early -- about

[ Page 4 ]*

the Cambridge [ unrecognized word ] -- "owe no man anything but to love one another"* -- that's a good motto, but after all, one grows more and more to love the debts that come with true friendship . . .    I have just been telling Mrs. Fields* about your letter and giving your message and she says as I do, how [much corrected ] she feels for you about the good cook.  I think Mrs. McDevitt 25 Lawrence Street* can get first rate people especially if you give her time enough.  She used to live (in single days life) with Alice Howe* long ago and knows us all.  I suppose she is a friend of yours!  I always think of Mrs. Cabot's Mary Bourke for you, as I have often said.  She would

[ Up the left margin of page 1 ]

wont forget that I am very fond of you dear Sarah and it makes [me corrected] fonder still when I know that the clouds come -- even if I cant be or do anything else.  Goodbye for now, but I really hope that I shall see you soon

S. O. J.


1908:  This manuscript is problematic in that it clearly contains pieces of two different letters.  Page 4 comes from another letter and there is material missing at the end of the other 3 pages.  The main three pages probably are from 1908.  Jewett clearly writes after 1902, as she alludes to her September 1902 carriage accident.  1908 seems likely because she refers to Mrs. James Howe, who appears in the notes below, to be Laetitia Lemon Howe, who married James Carleton Howe in February of 1908.  If Mrs. Howe is correctly identified, then this letter must have been written in 1908.

Mary direct:  Mary Cabot Wheelwright, daughter of Mrs. Wheelwright. See Correspondents.

bring Mary:  Mary Rice Jewett.  See Correspondents.

broke my neck again:  Jewett refers to her carriage accident of September 1902.

Mrs. James Howe: It seems likely that this is Letitia Todd Lemon (1884-1927), wife of  James Carleton Howe (1877-1957), a Massachusetts manufacturer and business man, who graduated from Harvard in 1899.  They married in February 1908.

Mary really: Probably Mary Cabot Wheelwright, daughter of Mrs. Wheelwright. See Correspondents.

Mr. Wheelwright:   Andrew Cunningham Wheelwright, husband of Mrs. Wheelwright.  See Correspondents.

Helen Merriman:  See Correspondents.

Page 4:  It seems clear that this page does not belong here, and that the material that should appear at this point in the letter is missing.

love one another:  See the Bible, Romans 13:8.

Mrs. Fields:  Annie Adams Fields. See Correspondents.

Mrs. McDevitt 25 Lawrence Street:  This person remains unidentified, though the context seems to suggest that she operated an employment agency for domestic help.

Mrs. Cabot's Mary Bourke:  Mrs. Cabot is Susan Burley Cabot. See Correspondents. Mary Bourke, presumably her cook, has not be identified.

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

SOJ to Sara Norton

     Tuesday morning, October, 1908.

     My dearest Sally, -- It was a great joy to see your handwriting, -- letters can give such a feeling of companionship. I have been longing for some news of your dear father,* and I was planning last week to go to town and to Shady Hill to try to see you, but on Monday night dear Mrs. Fields was taken very ill, and for some days and nights I was most anxious.

     But we have begun our little pleasures, too, and yesterday and day before I read to Mrs. Fields awhile in Lucas's "Charles Lamb."* We have been going through the first big volume this summer, and a chapter about all those friends whom she knows so well seems just the right thing. We have just got Coleridge home from Malta, and nobody in the book or out can think what to do with him! What wonderful weather for us here and at Shady Hill. Last night came the first touch of frost. I see from the window that a row of zinnias are all brown, but the upper flower-bed is as bright as ever -- all the friendly marigolds -- and I shall have them tucked up with a blanket if it is cold again tonight. I must not write longer, but I think to you often and send with true love you -- and dear Mr. Norton both. I have never been able to believe that wireless telephones were a new discovery; if you love people enough you can be your own battery, the only thing is to teach us how to use it, -- so often it seems to go off by accident only. What a scientific turn this letter takes! but never mind; it carries you much love and many wishes.


dear father:  Sara Norton's father, Charles Eliot Norton, died on October 21, 1908. 

Lucas's "Charles Lamb"
: Jewett probably refers to Edward Verrall Lucas (1868-1938) The life of Charles Lamb (1905). This is described as the life of Charles Lamb (1775-1834) and Mary Lamb (1764-1847).

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 David Douglas

     Manchester by Sea, Mass., October 20. [1908]

     My dear Mr. Douglas, -- Day after day has gone by, warm and misty or rather smoky from the great forest fires that have so afflicted the country east and west.* We are apt to have a wet, windy October and nearly all November like this, but it has been an unusual summer in many respects, hardly any rain and yet little real drought. The farmers, who do not often dig their wells deep enough, are always afraid of the ground's freezing before the great rains come, and having to drive their poor cattle far to water, but let us hope that all the springs will fill in season this year. We have seen Mr. and Mrs. Bryce lately* -- since their return from England. [The Embassy has had its summer quarters almost on the next place] and the Ambassador seems to feel little uneasiness about high affairs on either side the Atlantic. They are now away, so that we don't know how the latest affairs in Turkey, etc., affect his mind. He is a delightful man. Nobody could be more welcome to either his place of State or to his old friends in America. I have been wishing to ask you if it would be possible to find a copy of "Gleanings from an Old Portfolio," edited by Mrs. Godfrey Clark?* I see that it was privately printed, but sometimes such a book comes into the market. I was reminded of it by the list at the head of a paper in the July "Quarterly Review" about my favorite Lady Louisa Stuart.* I always thank you for giving me the pleasure of what has been a true "book friendship." This year I have lost one of my dearest older friends, Miss Katharine Wormeley, who was of the Lady Louisa ("Guinea!") stamp* and rank, a delightful "great lady," -- daughter of an American mother and an English admiral, who fought in the Peninsular Wars,* and was already retired when his younger children were born. Miss Wormeley had seen much of the world all her days, but her last years were spent in a quiet house among our "White Mountains," where she busied herself with French translations, Balzac, etc., being wise enough to know that a hermit should not be idle! She lived as if she lived in London, but for months she heard few sounds beside the wind and the mountain brooks and the foxes barking on the hills. I delight in the thought of my visits to her. Lately I have been re-reading the preface of the "Lady John Scott," and delighting in it more than ever. Has "Margaret Warrender" who signs it written other things? -- for this preface is a very uncommon piece of writing of that difficult and delicate sort.*

     For how many pleasures I have to thank you, dear Mr. Douglas! and I must beg for one more; that we may hear from you soon and have good news of you and all your household. I hope that Miss Douglas will be happening on a new sketching ground; her work is so interesting and must provide you with many treasures and souvenirs.*


great forest fires:  Ralph Chipman Hawley and Austin Foster Hawes, in Forestry in New England: A Handbook of Eastern Forest Management (1912, pp. 254-7), report on numerous and extensive forest fires in Maine during 1908.

Mr. and Mrs. Bryce: James Bryce, Viscount Bryce (1838-1922), was Regius Professor of Civil Law at Oxford University (1870-1893), ambassador to the United States (1907-1913), and also an author.

"Gleanings from an Old Portfolio," edited by Mrs. Godfrey Clark: Alice Georgina Caroline Strong Clark edited Gleanings from an Old Portfolio, Containing Some Correspondence Between Lady Louisa Stuart and Her Sister Caroline, Countess of Portarlington, and Other Friends and Relations in 1895/1898, three volumes.

Lady Louisa Stuart: Wikipedia says: "Lady Louisa Stuart (12 August 1757 - 4 August 1851) was a British writer of the 18th and 19th centuries."
    John Buchan (1875-1940), Lady Louisa Stuart in Quarterly Review (London : England). London : J. Murray, 1908, Vol. 209, no. 416 (July) 1908.

Miss Katharine Wormeley ... Peninsular Wars:   Wikipedia says:" Katherine [sometimes Katharine] Prescott Wormeley (January 14, 1830 - August 4, 1908) was an American nurse in the Civil War, author, editor, and translator of French language literary works.... [She] died ... at her summer home in Jackson, New Hampshire."
     The Peninsular Wars involved England fighting Napoleon's forces in Spain and Portugal (1808-1813).

("Guinea!") stamp: According to the Oxford English Dictionary, "In 1663 the Royal Mint was authorized to coin gold pieces of the value of 20s. 'in the name and for the use of the Company of Royal Adventurers of England trading with Africa'; these pieces were to bear for distinction the figure of a little elephant, and 441/2 of them were to contain 1 lb. troy of 'our Crowne gold'. The 20s. pieces of the African company received the popular name of guineas almost as soon as they were issued, as being intended for use in the Guinea trade, and made of gold from Guinea; and the name was extended to later coins of the same intrinsic value.... The latest coinage of guineas took place in 1813." Hence, any coin with a guinea stamp would be claiming superior value.

"Lady John Scott" ... "Margaret Warrander": Jewett was reading Songs and Verses by Lady John Scott (1904), "edited, with a memoir, by her grand-niece, Margaret Warrender." Warrender's memoir is about 100 pages. With luck, Jewett might have found at least three other titles by Julian Margaret Maitland Warrender: Marchmont and the Humes of Polwarth: by one of their descendants .... (1894), Walks Near Edinburgh (1895), Illustrations of Scottish History (1889).

Miss Douglas:  David Douglas's daughter, Sarah Wyse Douglas (1861-1886) married Professor Sir William Abbott Herdman in 1882.  She died from childbirth in 1886.  She had  two daughters, neither of whom appears to have been married by 1908:
    Beatrice Sophie Herdman (1883-1978), married around 1908 to Herbert Eldon Roaf,
    Winifred Flora Sarah Herdman (1886-1976), married as late as 1923 to Montagu Phillips .
In the collection, Sarah Orne Jewett Correspondence (MS Am 1743 ), of the Houghton Library at Harvard University, is this item: "(49) Douglas, Sophie B. 1 letter; 1907. With drawing in watercolor."  This letter is to SOJ from Miss Douglas.

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

Willa Cather to SOJ

-W-S-C- [ Letterhead ]
82 Washington Place [New York City]
October 24th [1908]

Dear Miss Jewett;

    Your letter reached me on a gloomy and tired day and such a new heart as it gave me. It is so true that "great worries make little frets", and that worried people become sour and disposed to find faults. Let me take that as a rebuke, whether you meant it so or not, for it is a rebuke that will do me good. The fact that both you and Mrs. Fields* felt vitality in the first chapters of Mrs.Ward's story* has cheered me mightily. I am sending you a letter from her in which she outlines the rest

[ Page 2 ]

of the story. I am now ransacking libraries to find material on divorce for her. I sent her off a bundle of pamphlets yesterday.

    I knew Mr. Norton's death* would be a sorrow to both you and Mrs. Fields, and I thought of you both when I saw the headlines announcing it. Mrs. Fields is the only one left who can evoke that vanished time that was so much nobler than this. How she does evoke it! I think it never had much reality for me until that afternoon when I first went to her house on Charles Street, and she sat in the window with the fine broad river and a quiet sunset behind her. It was the first time in my life that I ever felt that

[ Page 3 ]

we had any past -- of that kind -- of our very own, and I went out with an exultant feeling of acquisition. acquisition. I dont think she said anything about those old chapters of her life, but one got the feeling of them almost more than if she had. That is one reason why I love her verses to the Charles River. The moment my eye fell on them they brought back that first meeting with you both -- a thing so long waited for.

    What joy I have had from "The Singing Shepherd,"* which you marked and tied up for me with your own hands. I love "Blue Succory" and "An Autumn Bird" and "Winter Lilacs." But I think "Still in Thy Love I Trust" is perhaps the most beautiful.*

[ Page 4 ]

That is one of the complete things that give one such complete and utter satisfaction. And then there is dear "Little Guinever,"* that is so like a song in some Elizabethan play. How really gay that is, and how it sings.
    I feel sure that you are both back in Charles Street by this, and I am hopeful that Mrs. Fields is getting joy out of these soft warm autumn days. "The Gloucester Mother" was copied in the N. Y. Times,* and when I was on the train going up to New Haven to spend Saturday and Sunday of last week, I saw a dear old lady cut the verses out of the paper with a hair pin!
    Miss Lewis* and I are enjoying our apartment more every day, although we lead so dreary, idle lives in it. Mrs. Fields, I know

[ Page 5 -W-S-C- letterhead ]

will exclaim when you tell her that so far we have largely fended for ourselves and have managed to get our own breakfast and luncheon and, about three days a week, our dinner. We dine at the Brevoort* on other nights and have a maid come in to clean two days a week. There are good reasons why we should each of us practise reasonable economy this winter, and cooking does take one's mind away from office troubles. These latter cares will, we hope, be somewhat lighter after the middle of November. Meanwhile, we shall have a pretty thorny path to tread until then.

[ Page 6 ]

The sales for October were 10,000 more copies than last October, and November has started well.*
    I have just finished the page proofs of my story in the December number.* I am afraid you wont like it, dear Lady. The scent of the tube-rose* seems to cling to it still. It rather screams, and I cant feel as if ^that^ stories like that matter much. But there is a little one, which Mr. McClure and Mr. Burlingame sniff at, which I somehow think might interest you a little -- because it is different from the things you knew when you were little ^a child^. In the West we had a kind of Latin influence, as you had an English one. We had so many Spanish words, just as you had words left over from Chaucer.* Even the cow-boy saddle, you know, is an old Spanish model.*

[ Page 7 ]

There was something heady in the wind that blew up from Mexico. I make bold to send this scorned tale (Mr. McClure says it is all introduction) and I pray you cast your eye upon it in some empty half hour. It is about a place a weary long way from South Berwick.
    I hope the size of this packet will not frighten you. A thousand good wishes and much love goes with it to you and to Mrs. Fields. Are you rested by this, I wonder, and is your anxiety for Mrs. Fields quite over? I hope so. Good night, Dear Lady.



Mrs. Fields ... Mrs.Ward's story:   Annie Adams Fields and Mrs. Humphry Ward. See Correspondents.  Mrs. Humphry Ward's novel serial, The Testing of Diana Mallory ran for a year in Harper's Monthly, beginning in November 1907 and concluding in October 1908. The novel was published as Diana Mallory in 1908.

Mr. Norton's death:  Charles Eliot Norton died 21 October 1908 .  See Correspondents.

her verses to the Charles River ... "The Singing Shepherd," ... "Blue Succory" ... "An Autumn Bird" ... "Winter Lilacs" ... "Still in Thy Love I Trust" ..."Little Guinever": All of these poems, except "An Autumn Bird" appear in Fields's collection, The Singing Shepherd (1895).  However, "The Bird of Autumn" is included.

"The Gloucester Mother" ... N. Y. Times:  Jewett's "The Gloucester Mother" first appeared in McClure's Magazine (31:702) in October 1908. The poem also appeared in the New York Times Saturday Review of Books, October 17, 1908, p. 1, with slight textual variations.

Miss LewisEdith Lewis (1882-1972) was an editor at McClure's Magazine and managing editor of Every Week Magazine.  After meeting in 1903, Lewis and Cather became domestic partners until Cather's death in 1947.

Brevoort: According to the Westview News, the Hotel Brevoort, in New York City, was built in 1845 by the Brevoort family and demolished in 1954.

December number:  "On the Gulls' Road" appeared in the December 1908 issue of McClure's Magazine.

tube-roseWikipedia says: "The tuberose is a night-blooming plant native to Mexico, as is every other known species of Polianthes. It grows in elongated spikes up to 45 cm (18 in) long that produce clusters of fragrant waxy white flowers that bloom from the bottom towards the top of the spike. It has long, bright green leaves clustered at the base of the plant and smaller, clasping leaves along the stem."

Mr. McClure and Mr. Burlingame: For Sidney S. McClure, see CorrespondentsWikipedia says: "Edward Livermore Burlingame (born in Boston on 30 May 1848; died in New York City on 15 November 1922) was a United States writer and editor.... [I]n 1886 [he] was appointed founding editor-in-chief of Scribner's Magazine, where he served until his resignation in 1914."
    Jewell and Stout identify the story Cather sent to Jewett as "The Enchanted Bluff."

ChaucerWikipedia says: "Geoffrey Chaucer ... (c. 1343 - 25 October 1400), known as the Father of English literature, is widely considered the greatest English poet of the Middle Ages."

cow-boy saddle ... Spanish model: Wikipedia confirms the Spanish origins of the "cowboy" or western saddle.

The manuscript of this letter is held by the Houghton Library of Harvard University: Sarah Orne Jewett additional correspondence, 1868-1930, MS Am 1743.1, (15) Cather, Willa, 1873-1947. 3 letters; 1908 & [n.d.].  A transcription appears in The Selected Letters of Willa Cather (2013) by Andrew Jewell and Janis Stout, pp. 115-7.
    This new transcription and the annotations are by Terry Heller, Coe College.

SOJ possibly intended for an unknown recipient*

The music -- the thing that carries the poet along --  is not always there.  If it were shortened the weaker and more difficult passages left out,  it would give the others more force set free their beautiful simplicities.  It does not quite bear such length as it now has.


Jewett wrote this passage using both sides of a small envelope that was cancelled at Fenway Station, Boston, on Nov. 3, 1908.  The envelope is addressed to Sarah Orne Jewett, 148 Charles St. Boston, Mass.

This text is from the Maine Women Writer's Collection, University of New England, Letters from Sarah Orne Jewett to Annie Fields. corr057-soj-af-06.

 SOJ to Willa Cather

     South Berwick, Friday, 27th November, 1908.

     My dear Willa, -- I was glad to get your letter last night, and I was sorry to miss the drive to the station and a last talk about the story and other things; but I was too tired -- "spent quite bankrupt!" It takes but little care about affairs, and almost less true pleasure, to make me feel overdone, and I have to be careful -- it is only stupid and disappointing, but there it is, as an old friend of mine often says dolefully. And I knew that I was disappointing you, besides disappointing and robbing myself, which made it all the harder. It would have been such a good piece of a half hour! Emerson was very funny once, Mrs. Fields has told me, when he said to a friend, "You formerly bragged of ill-health, sir!"* But indeed I don't brag, I only deplore and often think it is a tiresome sort of mortification. I begin to think this is just what makes old age so trying to many persons. It seemed a very long little journey, and I could hardly sit up in my place in the car. I have never been very strong, but always capable of "great pulls."

     I expect to be here until Monday the seventh, unless dear Mrs. Fields should need me. I have just had a most dear and cheerful note from her, and we spoke by telephone last evening. She wrote me about the pink roses.

     And now I wish to tell you -- the first of this letter being but a preface -- with what deep happiness and recognition I have read the "McClure" story,* -- night before last I found it with surprise and delight. It made me feel very near to the writer's young and loving heart. You have drawn your two figures of the wife and her husband with unerring touches and wonderful tenderness for her. It makes me the more sure that you are far on your road toward a fine and long story of very high class. The lover is as well done as he could be when a woman writes in the man's character, -- it must always, I believe, be something of a masquerade. I think it is safer to write about him as you did about the others, and not try to be he! And you could almost have done it as yourself -- a woman could love her in that same protecting way -- a woman could even care enough to wish to take her away from such a life, by some means or other. But oh, how close -- how tender - how true the feeling is! the sea air blows through the very letters on the page. Do not hurry too fast in these early winter days, -- a quiet hour is worth more to you than anything you can do in it.


Emerson: Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882).  Annie Fields tells this anecdote twice in Authors and Friends (1897).  In "Glimpses of Emerson," she reports: "After an agreeable conversation with a gentleman who had suffered from ill-health Mr. Emerson remarked, 'You formerly bragged of  bad health, sir.  I trust you are all right now'." (p. 96).  In "Whittier," the gentleman is revealed to be John Greenleaf Whittier, and the quotation is rearranged: "I hope you are feeling well, sir!  I believe you formerly bragged of  bad health" (p. 309).

the "McClure" story: James Woodress identifies this story as "On the Gull's Road," which appeared in the December 1908 issue of McClure's Magazine. Woodress discusses the influence of these letters on Cather in Willa Cather: A Literary Life (1987, Chapter 9). For a more detailed discussion, see Sharon O'Brien in Willa Cather: The Emerging Voice (1987, Chapter 15).

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

Friday morning [ December 1908]
South Berwick

Dearest Annie

    I have just parted from "Billy"* who sends his love to you, and I told him the kind of plot you had and let me have for our coming to spend Thanksgiving Day with you -- and he was so pleased and only wished he could have seen you -- it was always so much to see you!  He was very interesting last night after we got home -- he had been in Washington nearly a week at the Y.M.C.A. convention, and told me of such interesting men and their speeches -- and much besides.  One of the men was named Steiner a Hungarian by birth, a professor in the Iowa State College.  He has written a book called The Emigrant's Trail* (I think that was it.)  He said that there were just as many Puritans and Pilgrims coming every year now and in all this great rush to our country we knew the dangers but the menace was not in them but in us!  That it was in our hands.  It seems that the Association has already begun to send workers over to Italy and Hungary etc. to know the people at home before they come in order to work better among them after they get here.  I did so much wish for you last evening and I shall try to remember more than I can now -- but I really thought this man Steiner would be a person for Miss Schuyler* to be reminded of in order to think about the foreigners and some possible work of a large sort.

    The day at Exeter was very comfortable and pleasant -- 14 at dinner -- Uncle Will* very well -- My ink is low and this is a flinty pencil.  I send you Mr. Higginson's note* -- please lay it on my desk.  What an exquisite day yesterday -- it was beautiful coming down in the train -- and today is shining bright but there is a little snow that fell yesterday morning early.

With dear love



"Billy":  This person is mentioned in letters, possibly as early as 1881, but more clearly from 1896 on.  His identity remains unknown.  Possibly he is Jewett's distant cousin William Elbert Furber, son of Jewett correspondent, Cynthia Elvira Irwin Furber.

Y.M.C.A. convention:  The International Y.M.C.A. Convention was held in Washington, D.C. on November 22-25, 1908.

Steiner ... The Emigrant's TrailEdward Alfred Steiner (1866-1956) was a professor of religion at Grinnell College, Grinnell, IA.  Born to a Jewish family in Slovakia, he immigrated to the United States in 1886, where he pursued the Tolstoyan teachings of non-violence and toleration he had embraced at the University of Heidelberg.  In the U.S., he converted to Christianity and attended Oberlin College.  He joined the faculty at Grinnell College in 1903.  He published On the Trail of the Immigrant in 1900.

Miss Schuyler:  Georgina Schuyler (1841-1923) lived with her sister Louisa Lee Schuyler (1837-1926) on Park Avenue in New York City.  Wikipedia says: "Louisa Schuyler ... was an early American leader in charitable work, particularly noted for founding the first nursing school in the United States."  Georgina was her partner in her philanthropic work.  The New York Times (May 6, 1903, p. 9) reports that Georgina Schuyler donated the bronze plaque with the sonnet, "The New Colossus," by her friend Emma Lazarus, that appears at the Statue of Liberty in New York City.

Uncle Will:  It seems likely Jewett refers to Dr. William Gilman Perry (1823-1910), her maternal uncle. See Correspondents.

Mr. Higginson's note: This could be Thomas Wentworth Higginson (1823 - 1911), but this is not certain.

Pin: Pinny Lawson was a Jewett nickname used between her and Annie Fields.  See Correspondents.

This transcription appears in Nancy Ellen Carlock's 1939 Boston University thesis, S.O.J. A Biography of Sarah Orne Jewett.  Notes by Terry Heller, Coe College.

SOJ to Willa Cather

     148 Charles Street, Boston, Mass.,

     Sunday, 13th of December.

     My dear Willa, -- I have been thinking about you and hoping that things are going well. I cannot help saying what I think about your writing and its being hindered by such incessant, important, responsible work as you have in your hands now. I do think that it is impossible for you to work so hard and yet have your gifts mature as they should -- when one's first working power has spent itself nothing ever brings it back just the same, and I do wish in my heart that the force of this very year could have gone into three or four stories. In the "Troll-Garden" the Sculptor's Funeral* stands alone a head higher than the rest, and it is to that level you must hold and take for a starting-point. You are older now than that book in general; you have been living and reading and knowing new types; but if you don't keep and guard and mature your force, and above all, have time and quiet to perfect your work, you will be writing things not much better than you did five years ago. This you are anxiously saying to yourself! but I am wondering how to get at the right conditions. I want you to be surer of your backgrounds, -- you have your Nebraska life, -- a child's Virginia, and now an intimate knowledge of what we are pleased to call the "Bohemia" of newspaper and magazine-office life.* These are uncommon equipment, but you don't see them yet quite enough from the outside, -- you stand right in the middle of each of them when you write, without having the standpoint of the looker-on who takes them each in their relations to letters, to the world.* Your good schooling and your knowledge of "the best that has been thought and said in the world," as Matthew Arnold put it,* have helped you, but these you wish and need to deepen and enrich still more. You must find a quiet place near the best companions (not those who admire and wonder at everything one does, but those who know the good things with delight!). You do need reassurance, -- every artist does! -- but you need still more to feel "responsible for the state of your conscience" (your literary conscience, we can just now limit that quotation to), and you need to dream your dreams and go on to new and more shining ideals, to be aware of "the gleam" and to follow it;* your vivid, exciting companionship in the office must not be your audience, you must find your own quiet centre of life, and write from that to the world that holds offices, and all society, all Bohemia; the city, the country - in short, you must write to the human heart, the great consciousness that all humanity goes to make up. Otherwise what might be strength in a writer is only crudeness, and what might be insight is only observation; sentiment falls to sentimentality -- you can write about life, but never write life itself. And to write and work on this level, we must live on it -- we must at least recognize it and defer to it at every step. We must be ourselves, but we must be our best selves. If we have patience with cheapness and thinness, as Christians must, we must know that it is cheapness and not make believe about it. To work in silence and with all one's heart, that is the writer's lot; he is the only artist who must be a solitary, and yet needs the widest outlook upon the world. But you have been growing I feel sure in the very days when you felt most hindered, and this will be counted to you. You need to have time to yourself and time to read and add to your recognitions. I do not know when a letter has grown so long and written itself so easily, but I have been full of thought about you. You will let me hear again from you before long?*


"Troll-Garden" the Sculptor's Funeral: Willa Cather's (1876-1947) collection of short stories, The Troll Garden, appeared in 1905 and included her short story, "The Sculptor's Funeral."  In Willa Cather, Sharon O'Brien quotes from an unpublished May 1905 letter Jewett had written to Witter Bynner at McClure's after reading The Troll Garden: "I cannot help wishing that a writer of such promise chose rather to show the hopeful, constructive yes -- even the pleasant side of unpleasant things and disappointed lives!  Is not this what we are bound to do in our own lives and still more bound to do as writers?  I shrink more and more from anything that looks like giving up the game" (343).  This was written before Jewett had met Cather.

Nebraska life ...child's Virginia ...newspaper and magazine-office life:  Cather was born in 1873 and spent her early childhood near Winchester, VA.  In 1883, her family moved to the area of Red Cloud, NB.  After graduating from the University of Nebraska in 1896, having written for newspapers during college, Cather continued journalism in Pittsburgh, PA.  In 1906, she moved to New York City, after accepting an editor's position at McClure's Magazine.

to the world: In her preface to Alexander's Bridge (1922), Cather writes: "One of the few really helpful words I ever heard from an older writer, I had from Sarah Orne Jewett when she said to me: "Of course, one day you will write about your own country.  In the meantime, get all you can.  One must know the world so well before one can know the parish."

Matthew Arnold: See Matthew Arnold's preface to Literature and Dogma, where he defines culture as the best that has been "known and said" or "thought and known." See above notes on Arnold.

"responsible for the state of your conscience": The source of this quotation, if it has one, has not been discovered; assistance is welcome.

"the gleam": possibly referring to "the visionary gleam" in William Wordsworth's "Ode: Intimations of Immortality" (1807). Or perhaps, Jewett refers to Tennyson's poem, "Merlin and the Gleam" (1889).

before long:  Sharon O'Brien in Willa Cather: The Emerging Voice (1987) says that this probably was "the most important letter Cather ever received" (344), and she summarizes some of what Cather said in her reply: "Cather ... felt like a broken circuit from which all the energy was slowly ebbing.  She told Jewett that she was a trapeze artist trying to catch the right bar ....  With her energy absorbed by work she didn't want to be doing, after a day at the office she simply didn't have the resources to write fiction.... [W]hen she tried to write a story she felt like a newborn baby every time....
 "McClure had told her ... that she would never be much good at writing stories: she was a good magazine executive and should be satisfied with that.... [S]he often thought he was right.  She knew that she was a good editor, but that only required application and discipline; being a better writer of fiction required something more, but she didn't know what that was or where to find it.  And she hadn't learned anything about writing since The Troll Garden, she confessed.  How could she possibly be destined to do something at which she was so inept" (292-3)?

 Cather's dedication of O Pioneers! (1913) reads: "To the memory of Sarah Orne Jewett in whose beautiful and delicate work there is the perfection that endures."
  In a 1913 interview, Cather said, "I dedicated my novel O Pioneers! to Miss Jewett because I had talked over some of the characters in it with her one day at Manchester, and in this book I tried to tell the story of the people as truthfully and simply as if I were telling it to her by word of mouth" (The Kingdom of Art, 448).

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

Willa Cather to SOJ

82 Washington Place [New York City]
Saturday, December 19 [1908]

My Dear, Dear Miss Jewett;

    Such a kind and earnest and friendly letter as you sent me! I have read it over many times. I have been in deep perplexity these last few years, and troubles that concern only one's habits of mind are such personal things that they are hard to talk about. You see I was not made to have to do with affairs -- what Mr. McClure calls "men and measures."* If I get on at that kind of work it is by going at it with the sort of energy most people have to exert only on rare occasions. Consequently I live just about as much during the day as a trapeze performer does when he is on the bars -- it's catch the right bar at the right minute, or into the net you go. I

[ Page 2 ]

feel all the time so dispossessed and bereft of myself. My mind is off doing trapeze work all day long and only comes back to me when it is dog tired and wants to creep into my body and sleep. I really do stand and look at it sometimes and threaten not to take it in at all -- I get to hating it so for not being any more good to me. Then reading so much poorly written matter as I have to read has a kind of deadening effect on me somehow. I know that many great and wise people have been able to do that, but I am neither large enough nor wise enough to do it without getting a kind of dread of everything that is made out of words. I feel diluted and weakened by it all the time -- relaxed, as if I ^had^ lived in a tepid bath until I shrink from either heat or cold.

    I have often thought of trying to get three or four months of free-


dom a year, but you see when the planning of articles is pretty much in one person's [deleted word] ^head^ it is difficult to hand these many little details over to another person. Your mind becomes a card-catalogue of notes that are meaningless except as they related to their proper subject. What Mr. McClure wants is to make me into as good an imitation of Miss Tarbell as he can.* He wants me to write articles on popular science, so called, (and other things) for half of each week, and attend to the office work in the other half. That combination would be quite possible -- and, I fear perfectly deadening. He wants, above all things, good, clear-cut journalism. The which I do not despise, except but I get nothing to breathe out of it and no satisfaction.

    Mr. McClure tells me that he does not think I will ever be able to do much at writing stories, again, that I am a good executive and I had better let it go at that. I sometimes, indeed I very

[ Page 4 ]

often think that he is right. If I have been going forward at all in the last five years, it has been progress of the head and not of the hand. At thirty-four* one ought to have some sureness in their pen point and some knowledge facility in turning out a story. In other matters -- things about the office -- I can usually do what I set out to do and I can learn by experience, but when it comes to writing I'm a new-born baby every time -- always come into it naked and shivery and without any bones. I never learn anything about it at all. I sometimes wonder whether [deleted word] one can possibly be meant to do the thing at which they are more blind and inept and blundering than at anything else in the world.

    But the question of work aside, one has a right to live and reflect and feel a little. When I was ^teaching^

[ Page 5 ]

I did. I learned more or less all the time. But now I have the feeling of standing still except for a certain kind of facility in getting the [deleted word] sort of material Mr. McClure wants. It's stiff mental exercise, but it is about as much food to live by as elaborate mental arithmetic would be. -- Of course there are interesting people and interesting things in the day's work, but it's all like going round the world in a railway train and never getting off to see anything closer. I have not a reportorial mind -- I can't get things in fleeting glimpses and I can't get any pleasure out of them. And the excitement of it doesn't stimulate me, it only wears me out.

    Now the kind of life that makes one feel empty and shallow and superficial, that makes one dread to read and dread to think, can't be good for one, can it? It can't be the kind of life one was meant to live. I do think that kind of excitement does to my brain exactly what I have seen alcohol do

[ Page 6 ]

to men's. It seems to spread one's very brain cells apart so that they don't touch. Everything leaks out as the power does in a broken circuit.

    So whether or not the Chief is right about my never doing much writing, I think one's immortal soul is to be considered a little. He thrives on this perpetual debauch, but five years ^more^ of it will make me a fat, sour, ill-tempered lady -- and fussy, worst of all! And assertive; as all people who do feats on the flying trapeze and never think are as cocky as terriers after rats, you know.

    I have to lend a hand at home now and then, and a good salary is a good thing. Still, if I stopped working next summer I would have money [deleted word; enough muddled?] enough to live very simply for three or four years. That would give me time to pull myself together. I doubt whether I would ever write very

[ Page 7 ]

much -- though that is hard to tell about for sure; since I was fifteen I have not had a patch of leisure six months long. When I was on a newspaper I had one month vacation a year, and when I was teaching I had two. Still, I don't think that my pen would ever travel very fast, even along smooth roads. But I would write a little -- "and save the soul besides"* It's so foolish to live (which is always trouble enough) and not to save your soul.* It's so foolish to lose your real pleasures for the ^supposed^ pleasures of the chase -- or of the stock exchange. You remember poor Goldsmith*

    "And as an hare whom horns and hounds pursue,
    Pants for the place from which at first she flew"

    It is really like that. I do feel like such an [a] rabbit most of the time. I dont mean that I get panic-stricken. I believe I am still called "executive" at the

[ Set off with a line in the top left margin of Page 8]
As I pick up the sheets of this letter I am horrified -- but I claim indulgence because I have left wide margins.

[ Page 8 ]

office. But inside I feel like that. Isn't there a new disease, beloved by psychologists, called "split personality"?*

    Of all these things and many others I long to talk to you. In lieu of so doing I have been reading again this evening "Martha's Lady."* I do think it is almost the saddest and loveliest of stories. It humbles and desolates me every time I read it -- and somehow makes me willing to begin all over and try to be good; like a whipping used to do when I was little. Perhaps after Christmas I can slip up to Boston for a day. Until then a world of love to you and all the well wishes of this season, an hundred fold warmer and more heartfelt than they are wont to be. I shall think of you and of Mrs. Fields often on Christmas Day.



Mr. McClure:  Sydney S. McClure; see Correspondents.
    Wikipedia says:  "In 1906 Cather moved to New York City after being offered a position on the editorial staff of McClure's Magazine. During her first year at McClure's she wrote a critical biography of Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science. ... "Mary Baker G. Eddy: The Story of Her Life and the History of Christian Science" was published in McClure's in fourteen installments ..., and then in book form as The Life of Mary Baker G. Eddy and the History of Christian Science (1909)."  The Willa Cather Foundation Timeline indicates that Cather left McClure's in 1912.

Miss TarbellWikipedia says: "Ida Minerva Tarbell (November 5, 1857 - January 6, 1944) was an American teacher, author and journalist. She was one of the leading 'muckrakers' of the progressive era of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and is thought to have pioneered investigative journalism. She is best known for her 1904 book, The History of the Standard Oil Company,"

thirty-four:   Jewell and Stout say that at the writing of this letter, Cather had just turned thirty-five.

"and save the soul besides":  Near the end of The Ring and the Book (1868-9) by Robert Browning (1812-1889), appear these lines:
    So write a book shall mean, beyond the facts,
    Suffice the eye and save the soul beside.

 It's so foolish to live ... and not to save your soul:  Cather seems to be alluding to Matthew 16:26:  "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"
    See also Mark 8:36.

poor Goldsmith:  In "The Deserted Village" (1770), Oliver Goldsmith (1728-1774) writes:
And, as an hare whom hounds and horns pursue,
Pants to the place from whence at first she flew,
I still had hopes, my long vexations past,
Here to return—and die at home at last.

split personality:  The 21st-century medical term for "split personality" is "Dissociative Identity Disorder ... characterized by the appearance of at least two distinct and relatively enduring identities or dissociated personality states that alternately show in a person's behavior."

Martha's Lady
:  Jewett's "Martha's Lady" was first published in Atlantic Monthly 80, pp. 523-533, in October 1897, and was collected in The Queen's Twin (1899),

Mrs. Fields:  Annie Adams Fields; see Correspondents.

The manuscript of this letter is held by the Houghton Library of Harvard University: Sarah Orne Jewett additional correspondence, 1868-1930, MS Am 1743.1, (15) Cather, Willa, 1873-1947. 3 letters; 1908 & [n.d.].  A transcription appears in The Selected Letters of Willa Cather (2013) by Andrew Jewell and Janis Stout, pp. 117-20.
    This new transcription and the annotations are by Terry Heller, Coe College.

 SOJ to Harriet Prescott Spofford

     Manchester by Sea, Monday, 1908.

     My dear Hally, -- have been thanking you ever since your letter came, -- you were so good and kind to write and I loved what you said. I found the verses among some things I was pulling out of a desk or drawer;* I don't know in the least when they were written, but when I saw them in print I felt a little more alive in the world. Perhaps some day now, in the right place and with the right kind of quietness, I shall find myself beginning all over again; but it will be a timid young author enough! We do have our long years' use of that strange little tool, the pen, to fall back upon, and that must count for something, -- the wonder and uncertainty is about a "living spring," as country people would say, to come out of the hillside with proper water for the ink! It was a day like this last year that you all three came over to Berwick, and I wish you would do it again while Annie is there. With much love and many thanks for your dear letter.


verses:  Possibly Jewett refers to the last work published in her lifetime, "The Gloucester Mother," a poem which appeared in McClure's Magazine (31:703) in October 1908.

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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