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Sarah Orne Jewett Letters of 1909



Katharine Peabody Loring to SOJ

[ December 1908 - January 1909 ]*

I hope everything begins to go better with you & dear Mrs Fields.

With love, yours faithfully

Katharine P. Loring.

Notes

1909: This note is inserted in Annie Field's "Diary and Commonplace Book" 1907-1912, suggesting that it was received about the time Fields began to make fairly regular entries, in January 1909.

The manuscript of this letter is held by the Massachusetts Historical Society: Annie Adams Fields's "Diary and Commonplace Book" 1907-1912 : Annie Fields papers, 1847-1912, MS. N-1221.  This transcription was made mainly from a microfilm copy, available courtesy of the University of Kansas Libraries, Lawrence Kansas: Annie Adams Fields Papers 1852-1912. Folio PS 1669.F5 Z462,  1986, Reel 2. Transcription and notes by Terry Heller, Coe College.



Annie Adams Fields to Isabella Stewart Gardner


[In upper right corner, penciled in Gardner's hand: 1909]

Sunday. [ 10 January 1909 ]

Dear Mrs. Gardner:

    You would be pleased if you could see the pleasure your little play* gave to my three ladies. Miss Longfellow* could not express the gratitude she felt in being told of it, and Miss Jewett (which is the real reason of this note) said quite simply from her bed this morning, she could not say when anything had left such an ineffauble [so written] impression of the purity and sweetness

[ Page 2 ]

belonging in our minds at least to that earlier era, where indeed we know* from Arts' positive proofs, that it existed{.} I have to thank you too for making the access so easy. Nevertheless I was not quite able to go myself. Mrs. Crafts* told me in the afternoon how beautiful your setting of the play was in the Gothic Room. I feel as if I had been there!

Affectionately and truly your

Annie Fields   

All of us wish to send love & thanks to the much loved Lady of Fenway Court.

    By the way, can you come on Thursday the 14th for a luncheon at one o'clock to which I am about to ask Mrs Stillman and Miss Grace Norton* with whom she is staying. Do if possible and oblige your

A.F.


Notes

little play:  Penciled in another hand on back of the letter: "The Xmas play given for benefit of Messina earthquake sufferers."  An earthquake of 28 December 1908 nearly destroyed the city of Messina, Sicily, and caused much other devastation in southern Italy. Shana McKenna, Archivist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum says this note was made by Morris Carter, Gardner's first biographer and her personal assistant from 1919-1924. McKenna provides this note on the play:
9 Jan 1909: Christmas Play performed in Gothic Room, for the benefit of the sufferers from the earthquake of 28 December 1908, in Messina, Italy. $1480 forwarded to Archbishop O’Connell, as a contribution to the relief fund of the Pope. (Morris Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner and Fenway Court, 1925, p. 212).
Carter also says that the "little French Christmas play," a New Year's gift to Mrs. Gardner from some of her friends, was first was given on 30 December of 1908 (p. 211-12). The play has not been identified.

Miss Longfellow: Alice Mary Longfellow.  See Correspondents.

Miss Jewett:  Sarah Orne Jewett.

know:  This word is underlined twice.

Mrs. Crafts: This transcription is uncertain. Others have read it as "Crofts."  It seems more probable that Fields wrote "Crafts" and that she was referring to Clemency Haggerty (1841-1912), wife of former M.I.T. president, James Mason Crafts (1839-1917).

Mrs. Stillman and Miss Grace Norton: For Grace Norton, see Correspondents
    While this is uncertain, it is possible that Norton is entertaining a visit from Marie Spartali Stillman (1844-1927), a British Pre-Raphaelite painter.  Her husband, William James Stillman (1828-1901), a journalist and artist, had been a friend of Norton's brother, Charles Eliot Norton (1827-1908), American author and a professor of art. 

The manuscript of this letter is held by the Fenway Museum, Papers of Isabella Stewart Gardner, Fields, Annie (Adams)  (Mrs James T. Fields) 1882, 3 M letters, n.d., 1909, and letter from Mary S. Savell [Mary E. Garrett] to Annie Fields, 1903. 1915.
    In her manuscripts, Fields often uses "=" for a hyphen and "Mifs" for "Miss" when naming women.  I have regularized these usages.
    New transcription and annotation by Terry Heller, Coe College.




Edith Emerson Forbes to Annie Adams Fields

January fourteenth
1909*

[ Begin letterhead ]

MILTON HILL

[ End Letterhead ]

Dear Mrs Fields

    My dear Ellen* died this morning at daybreak -- and we are rejoicing that she is released. In spite of every chance that she could not fail to suffer, the skill of her doctors and nurses and her own [ buoyant corrected ] happy temperament have carried her safely

[ Page 2 ]

through with no pain and great comfort and enjoyment -- triumphing over all ills with little heed of them and her clear mind and glad interest in every one else's pleasures have made her last two months beautiful to witness.

    It is only six days since she began to lose speech and memory but not affection and her dear smile was quick to respond to a word

[ Page 3 ]

or a touch from us -- whom she knew till Tuesday when she lost all consciousness.  They assure me there was no suffering -- she talked of recovery as long as she could speak --  On Friday or Saturday she told the doctors she had passed the two months of descent and was now beginning the ascent -- too true!

    Please give my love to Miss Jewett and tell her if she is well enough to care to be with us -- the service will be Sunday in Concord at the Unitarian Church on the

[ Page 4 ]

arrival of the 1.10 train on the Fitchburg division & the return will be on the Lowell
road after four. I have not the minutes in my mind --

                Affectionately yours
                Edith E. Forbes

It has been a pleasant work to arrange a service with Edward* that shall describe my dear Ellen’s character in the language of the Bible she loves- -


Notes

1909: This letter was inserted in Annie Field's "Diary and Commonplace Book" 1907-1912.

Ellen: This letter concerns the death and funeral of Ellen Tucker Emerson (1839-1909), who died 14 January. Edith and Ellen were sisters, the daughters of American poet and essayist, Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) and Lydia Jackson (1802-1892). See Correspondents.

EdwardEdward Waldo Emerson (1844-1940), brother to Edith and Ellen Emerson, then an anatomy instructor at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

The manuscript of this letter is held by the Massachusetts Historical Society: Annie Adams Fields's "Diary and Commonplace Book" 1907-1912 : Annie Fields papers, 1847-1912, MS. N-1221.  This transcription was made mainly from a microfilm copy, available courtesy of the University of Kansas Libraries, Lawrence Kansas: Annie Adams Fields Papers 1852-1912. Folio PS 1669.F5 Z462,  1986, Reel 2.
    Page 4 of this letter was transcribed by Sabina Beauchard of the Massachusetts Historical Society. The remaining transcription and the notes are by Terry Heller, Coe College.




[ Edith Emerson Forbes to Annie Adams Fields ]

January twentieth
1909*
[ Begin letterhead ]

MILTON HILL

[ End Letterhead ]


Dear Mrs Fields

    Thank you for the laurel wreath which we liked very much and were glad to have in the church for dear Ellen’s* last Sunday there. We think she would have taken great delight in the thought of being borne shoulder-high by five nephews

[ Page 2 ]

two nephews in law and a cousin nearly as dear – for I never introduce him without beginning to say nephew, and then remember I must make it cousin. The church was full all but a few seats of those who loved her truly – Her own pew was empty closed with a purple ribbon and a gift of white carnations and mignonette which Eleanor Whiteside* sent to me. Edward and I pre-

[ Page 3 ]

pared a service which we felt suited Ellen’s life and character. It is easy to describe her in Biblical language. We know how Concord will miss her with us – But poor Miss Legate* will suffer more than any one else – it seems to break up life for her after twenty years together – They are all urging me to go away for a rest -

[ Page 4 ]

I cannot yet – and have prevailed, I think, in my wish to wait till February fourteenth. Even then I shall go reluctant for I have much to do that will be a burden to me in the spring when my garden is wanting me.

                Waldo* will take me away to Florida probably – I hope I can see you before I go –     Affectionately

Edith E. Forbes
 
[ A note by Annie Fields, appended to this letter. ]*

S.O.J and I were unable to go to the funeral because the weather was very bad, but there was a large church full, her father's beautiful passages written after the death of his first wife Ellen Tucker were read and her favorite hymns were sung, very beautiful altogether. We were very sorry not to have been there.


Notes

Ellen's: This letter concerns the death and funeral of Ellen Tucker Emerson (1839-1909), who died 14 January. Edith and Ellen were sisters, the daughters of American poet and essayist, Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) and Lydia Jackson (1802-1892). See Correspondents.

Eleanor Whiteside:  Probably this is Eleanor Anne Shattuck Whiteside (1842-1918), who resided on Beacon Street in Boston, with her son, Alexander Whiteside, Jr., who was a lawyer.

Miss Legate: Helen Legate (1858-1945) was an educator and a close friend of the Emerson siblings: Edward, Ellen and Edith.

Waldo: This is somewhat confusing.  Her brother is Edward Waldo; I am aware of no other close living relatives with this name.

Fields's note:  Fields appears to have written the note on the final page, turning the page upside-down and writing around Mrs. Forbes's signature.

The manuscript of this letter is held by the Massachusetts Historical Society: Annie Adams Fields's "Diary and Commonplace Book" 1907-1912 : Annie Fields papers, 1847-1912, MS. N-1221.  This transcription was made mainly from a microfilm copy, available courtesy of the University of Kansas Libraries, Lawrence Kansas: Annie Adams Fields Papers 1852-1912. Folio PS 1669.F5 Z462,  1986, Reel 2.
    Transcription by Sabina Beauchard of the Massachusetts Historical Society; notes by Terry Heller, Coe College.



Edith Emerson Forbes to SOJ

January twentieth
1909

[ Begin letterhead ]

MILTON HILL.

[ End letterhead ]


Dear Miss Jewett

    I loved your daffodils and they were arrayed on one side of the pulpit* with other spring flowers pansies, hyacinths violets and tulips and looked so cheerful and gay -- The other side of the pulpit had red roses and ^red^ carnations and ^the^ pulpit [was corrected ] all covered

[ Page 2 ]

with flowers callas and lilies in the centre with white and pale pink shading to the spring flower side and deep pink to pale on the red rose side -- It was beautiful and so were the flowers that covered Ellen -- The snowy day too pleased me -- but I am very sorry it prevented you and Mrs Fields from being with us.  I am going back on Sunday when Mr Macdonald* has

[ Page 3 ]

a Memorial Service --

    Thank you for your letter and the flowers --

Your loving friend,

Edith E. Forbes

We had your glass basket of the last birthday full of pink camellias in the study with dear Ellen who looked like a holy saint.


Notes

pulpit:  Edith Emerson Forbes (1841-1929) thanks Jewett for flowers sent for the funeral of Ellen Tucker Emerson (1839-1909), who died 14 January. Edith and Ellen were sisters, the daughters of American poet and essayist, Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) and Lydia Jackson (1802-1892).
    Annie Adams Fields wrote note on what appears to be the final page of the "thank you" letter addressed to her, turning the page upside-down and writing around Mrs. Forbes's signature. This note reads: "S.O.J and I were unable to go to the funeral because the weather was very bad, but there was a large church full, her father's beautiful passages written after the death of his first wife Ellen Tucker were read and her favorite hymns were sung, very beautiful altogether. We were very sorry not to have been there."

Macdonald:  Loren B. Macdonald (1857-1924) was pastor of the First Parish Unitarian Church in Concord, MA. He was the author of Life in the Making: An Approach to Religion Through the Method of Modern Pragmatism (1911).

The manuscript of this letter appears in Fields's "Diary and Commonplace Book" 1907-1912, held by the Massachusetts Historical Society: Annie Fields papers, 1847-1912, MS. N-1221.  This transcription was made from a microfilm copy, available courtesy of the University of Kansas Libraries, Lawrence Kansas: Annie Adams Fields Papers 1852-1912. Folio PS 1669.F5 Z462,  1986, Reel 2.



  SOJ to Frances Morse

     Friday afternoon [January 23, 1909].

     Dearest Fanny, -- I have just been to Berwick for a few days, and I thought I should certainly write to you, and then I didn't! I don't often have one of the days when I couldn't do anything but write, -- but this five minutes seems quite unaccountably to be mine this first afternoon in town. I have wished to ask you if you have seen or would care to see a new story of Mr. James's -- "The Jolly Corner" (it is a corner and was once jolly).* There are lovely things in it and a wonderful analysis of fear in the dark, so that it may please you better by day than by night, as it did me! I have been reading over again, too, Vernon Lee's "Hortus Vitæ," and wondering if that were the book of hers that we talked about last year; it is the one with the lovely dedication to Madame Blanc-Bentzon.*

     I chiefly wish to tell you about a drive yesterday "down the other side of the river "; the river frozen (the tide-river I mean now); the snow very white and thinly spread like nicest frosting over the fields, and the pine woods as black as they could be, -- no birds, but the tracks of every sort of little beastie. They seemed to have been all out on visits and errands and going such distances on their little paws and claws; somehow it looks too much for a mouse to go half a mile along the road or across a field. Think how a hawk would see him! I think we knew every track but one, -- it had long claws like a crow's and a tail that never lifted; we settled upon a big old rat who had come up from an old wharf by the river-side.
 

     Dear Fanny, I do so hope that you are getting stronger; being sick is fun compared to getting well, as dear Mr. Warner* used to say. Do take long enough; I have had such drear times trying to play well when I wasn't!


Notes

Mr. James's - "The Jolly Corner": Henry James's "The Jolly Corner" appeared in The English Review in December, 1908.

Vernon Lee's "Hortus Vitæ," ... with the lovely dedication to Madame Blanc-Bentzon:  Lee's Hortus Vitae. Essays on the Gardening of Life.
(1904) opens with a dedication which consists of a letter to Madame Th. Blanc-Bentzon.

dear Mr. Warner: Probably Charles Dudley Warner (1829-1900), editor at Harper's (1884-1898), co-author with Mark Twain of The Gilded Age (1873).

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




Mary Rice Jewett to Robert Collyer 

148 Charles St.4
March 4th, 1909 

Dear Brother Robert:

            I am glad to tell you that dear Sarah* seems more comfortable today and we hope is really better.  She had a very sharp attack of neuralgia on Saturday which took away much strength, for the moment, but she seems to be regaining it now.

            We are always anxious of course in such a case as hers, and I believe I shall never cease to be now, as long as we live, but at the same time so

[ Page 2

grateful that she is being spared to us.  She seems cheerful these days, but is not yet strong enough to talk or be talked to very much.  The old fun is still there however and comes out in the most sudden flashes sometimes.

            Mrs. Fields* seems as well as usual I think now, and is able to get out for a drive on the pleasant days, you will be glad to know.  It is wonderful what tremendous strain such a delicate person can go through sometimes, isn’t it?

            We hear sad tales of Washington

[ Page 3 ]

weather this morning, but here we only had a little snow which has already begun to disappear.  I send love both from Mrs. Fields and Sarah knowing they will wish me to, as well as my own, and am always yours affectionately               

Mary R Jewett

Notes

Sarah:  Sarah Orne Jewett.  See Correspondents.

Mrs. Fields:  Annie Adams Fields. See Correspondents.

The manuscript of this letter is held in the Sarah Orne Jewett Papers, Maine Women Writer's Collection, University of New England, CORR 206-0-0.02.  Transcription by Linda Heller; annotation by Terry Heller, Coe College.



9 March 1909
Jewett suffers a paralyzing stroke at Annie's home, Charles Street, Boston.

21 April
Jewett is moved to her home in South Berwick, ME




SOJ to Annie Adams Fields


Thursday morning

[ 22 April 1909 ]*

Dearest Annie

    Here I am in your bed and finding it very comfortable only I wish I could see you coming in and hear [ you intended  your ? ] dear little "Cheep" at the door -- The birds have been cheeping at a great rate{.} Mifs Ryan and Mifs Merill have settled down with an accustomed air already and young Katie* is on hand with [ all ? ]

[ Page 2 ]

her nice remembering ways{.} I was so glad we could not say a word yesterday{.} As I came away I could not speak for drying [a intended all ? ] the way down stairs but the dear rooms did [ loo intended look ? ] so beautiful -- The hood was a great comfort{.} I was going to send for the Whistler* book for you. I felt [ lowest ? ] after depriving you of Mr. Hollands copy, but*

[ Page 3 ]

Mary had already ordered it.  Good bye darling with my heart's love{.} Your Pinny.*


Notes

22 April 1909:  Almost certainly this letter was composed on the day after Wednesday 21 April, when Jewett traveled for the final time from Fields's Boston home to her own home in South Berwick, ME.
    Fields has written across the top of page one: "She left me in Charles St -- April 21st".  This letter was composed when Jewett was hardly able to write.  The lines become more slanting down the second page, and the number of unintended errors increases.

Mifs Ryan ... Mifs Merill ... Katie: Katie Galvin was a Jewett family employee. See Correspondents.
    Miss Ryan is a nurse who also cared for Jewett after her 1902 carriage accident. No more has yet been learned about her. 
    Miss Merrill is Florence Estelle Merrill  (1881 - 1976). "Born in Pittsfield, Somerset, Maine, USA on 24 Jan. 1881 to James Washington Merrill and Lottie Maria Folsom. Florence Estelle Merrill married Henry Ernest Dunnack (1869-1938) and had 2 children. She passed away on 19 Aug 1976 in Pittsfield, Somerset, Maine, USA."
    She published an account of nursing Jewett, "Little Kennebec" in the Lewiston (Maine) Evening Journal for 5 August 1939.

Whistler book: American painter, James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903). After his death and before Jewett's, several books on Whistler appeared that may have interested her.  As Jewett often read biographies, she may have been reading The Life of James McNeill Whistler (1908) by Elizabeth Robins Pennell and Joseph Pennell. Jewett and Fields were familiar with their 1892 book, Play in Provence, apparently using it as a sort of guide book for their 1898 travels in Provence in France.

Mr. Hollands copy: Probably this is Arthur Holland, husband of Sara Ormsby Burgwin Holland. See Correspondents.
    The manuscript in the Houghton collection breaks off at this point.  The rest of the letter is pasted into Annie Fields, "Diary and Commonplace Book" 1907-1912, held by the Massachusetts Historical Society: Annie Fields papers, 1847-1912, MS. N-1221.  The transcription of this portion was made from a microfilm copy, available courtesy of the University of Kansas Libraries, Lawrence Kansas: Annie Adams Fields Papers 1852-1912. Folio PS 1669.F5 Z462,  1986, Reel 2.

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

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



SOJ to Annie Adams Fields

Thursday [ probably morning ]

[ After 22 April 1909 ]*
 
[ Letterhead printed in green ink,
consisting of the initials SOJ superimposed inside a circle ]

 
Dearest little Annie I really feel more like myself this morning though still weak and draggly and the pain in my neck that I got the day I came down still troubles me.  It would have been better if I could have sat up in a [ godd intending good ] Pullman chair { -- } lying down it jarred [ unrecognized word ]

[ Page 2 ]

more [ I think ? ] -- but if I ever [ travell so written ] again I shall know better. I [ fel intended feel] ashamed to have your room all this time, it is lovely this [ seems to intend morning ] with the big red lily at one south window and the orange one at the other and the sun shining in and such a [ nice ? ] fire of curly birch wood.  Mifs Ryan* and Miss Merill [ intends are  ] whisking about as nice or nicer than ever!

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

Dr. Ward was here yesterday and may well have told you I had such a [ nice visit ? ] with him.  Goodby dearest

[ Up the left margin and then across the top margin of page 2 ]

from your most loving Pin.*  I shall look for you sometime next week!


Notes

After 21 April 1909: Fields penciled "1909?" in the upper left of side one of this card.

Mifs Ryan and Miss Merill: Miss Ryan is a nurse who also cared for Jewett after her 1902 carriage accident. No more has yet been learned about her. 
    Miss Merrill is Florence Estelle Merrill  (1881 - 1976): "Born in Pittsfield, Somerset, Maine, USA on 24 Jan. 1881 to James Washington Merrill and Lottie Maria Folsom. Florence Estelle Merrill married Henry Ernest Dunnack (1869-1938) and had 2 children. She passed away on 19 Aug 1976 in Pittsfield, Somerset, Maine, USA."
    She published an account of nursing Jewett, "Little Kennebec" in the Lewiston (Maine) Evening Journal for 5 August 1939.

Dr. Ward: Probably William Hayes Ward. See Correspondents.

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

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



SOJ to Annie Adams Fields


Monday --

[ 3 May 1909 ]*
 
[ Letterhead printed in red ink,
consisting of the initials SOJ superimposed inside a circle
]

    This is a nice bright windy [ morning or Monday ? ] Dearest [one ? ] Annie but I think it is [ is repeated ] wise for you not to come quite so soon as my eager heart planned { -- } it is still so [ cold ? ] and bleak -- and a fortnight later it will be better for both of us. I have not got into the [ next room ? ] yet and we [ could or would ] not do anything that we dont think or do now

[ No signature ]


Notes

3 May 1909: Fields penciled "May 3, 1909" in the upper right of this card. In the bottom margin and then up the right margin, Fields has written: "May 3d 1909  3 months & 3 days after she was stricken down  AF".  Fields refers to Jewett's stroke of 9 March 1909, which happened at Fields's home in Boston.  Jewett moved to South Berwick on 21 April.

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



SOJ to Annie Adams Fields

[ 13 May 1909 ]*

 
Mrs. Ward's* was another true and lovely letter -- Oh how I would like to be at [ Aix les Bain  so written ] with Josie D -- I could make her really enjoy it [ more than ? ] Helen [ How* so written ]. I wish you and I could go shopping this afternoon in the dear little Place and dine with La Jeune Daphin's.* Goodbye with love and all my heart from

Pin --


Notes

May 1909: Fields penciled "May 1909" in the upper right of page 1This seems to be the final page of a longer letter. On the back of this page, Fields has written at note: "While Sarah was ill  S. 13. May 1909."  In 1909, May 13 fell on a Thursday.

Mrs. Ward's:  Probably this is Mary Augusta Ward.  Jewett's nurse after her stroke, while staying at the Fields home, was Florence M. Dunnack.  In her account of caring for Jewett, she mentions that Mrs. Ward wrote to her from England.  See Correspondents.

Josie DJosephine Anna Moore (1846-1937) was the second wife of Chicago lawyer Wirt Dexter (1832-1890). She returned to her Boston home after her husband's death, where she died, though she was buried with him in Chicago.

Helen How: While it seems likely Jewett refers to someone well-known to her and Fields, the only Helen Howe they seem to have known then was Mark Anthony de Wolfe Howe's 4-year-old daughter. See Correspondents.

La Jeune Daphin's: Presumably, Jewett meant to write "La Jeune Dauphine," and to refer to an acquaintance in Aix les Bains, France.

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

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



292

SOJ to Annie Adams Fields

Thursday 20th

[ 20 May 1909 ]
 
Dearest Annie

    I have hated not to send a single word but beside all the other great aches and pains I have had two great headaches and found it hard to [ write to say that ? ] I am beginning [ to look forward ? ] to seeing you but I am still very weak and good for nothing { -- } if I cant [ amount to ? ] any thing more I may come to the Parker House* where Mifs [ unrecognized name: Merrill ? ] is experienced and try a little [ changhe so written ] [ this ? ] [ unrecognized word ]. It would be so easy to get things done there that I should be glad to do with the elevator and all. I haven't been able to get up or down stairs [ 2 unrecognized words ] yet next [ unrecognized word ].

[ Page 2 ]

A poor old Pinny* but, Fuff* not to [ unrecognized word ] pleas* [ so written ]

Notes

20 May 1909:  Fields penciled "May 20th 1909" in the upper right of page 1.
   
Jewett's handwriting after her March stroke is often unclear.

Parker House: A major Boston hotel.  The transcription of "Miss Merrill" is uncertain.  She was one of Jewett's nurses in South Berwick.  Her name is spelled variously in letters from the last months of Jewett's life.
    Miss Merrill is Florence Estelle Merrill  (1881 - 1976). "Born in Pittsfield, Somerset, Maine, USA on 24 Jan. 1881 to James Washington Merrill and Lottie Maria Folsom. Florence Estelle Merrill married Henry Ernest Dunnack (1869-1938) and had 2 children. She passed away on 19 Aug 1976 in Pittsfield, Somerset, Maine, USA."
    She published an account of nursing Jewett, "Little Kennebec" in the Lewiston (Maine) Evening Journal for 5 August 1939.

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

Fuff:  Nickname for Annie Adams Fields. See Correspondents.

pleas:  After Jewett's last line, Fields wrote these notes.

"[ In blue ink ] My courage and hope ended with this note --- AF.
[ In black ink ] written May 20th when she had been at home a month --
June 24th she died --"

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



SOJ to Annie Adams Fields


[ Begin letterhead ]

South Berwick.
Maine.

[ End letterhead ]

Saturday [5th ? June 1909]*

Dearest [little ?] heart

        for the first time in a [great ?] many years I am not going to be with you on your birthday morning* and you can [intended cannot ?] think how it [grieves ?] me. only I shall love you [ unrecognized word] and [think ?] of you [the ?] more.  I haven't

[ Page 2 ]

been quite so well these last two or three days and [lament ?] because I couldnt [and ?] very well be and the dreadful cramps in my foot have lessened but so some other things have started up, and robbed me of the very end of my poor strength.  I came near telephoning and begging [ you ?] to come over but I thought [ it would ? ]

[ Page 3, begins about 2/3 down the sheet ]

trouble you -- I hope to [see ? ] you soon or to have you here{.}  I cant get [on without ?] it much longer.  Your own

Pinny*

Much love to Jessie and Rose*

[ Page 3 ]

Do you remember that love lovely birthday when we went to Chamounix{?} The first was in Ireland.*


Notes

June 1909:  The handwriting of this letter, while mostly legible, is very irregular, as is the punctuation.  Jewett seems unable, especially, to manage the left margin.  Jewett's condition here seems identical to that in her other late letter, which Fields dates to June 1909, the month of Jewett's death. At that point, Jewett had suffered a stroke, was partially paralyzed, and within a few weeks of her death on 23 June.

birthday morning
:  Annie Fields's birthday is June 6.

Pinny:  Pinny Lawson (P. L.), one of Jewett's nicknames.

Jessie and Rose:   Almost certainly Jessie Cochrane and Rose Lamb.  See Correspondents.

birthday when we went to Chamounix:  See SOJ to Alice Greenwood (Mrs. George D.) Howe from Aix-les-Bains, Sunday. June 1892, in which Jewett mentions seeing Chamounix around the time of Fields's birthday.

The first was in Ireland:  Jewett and Fields visited Ireland on their first trip to Europe in 1882.

The manuscript of this letter is held by the Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.  Jewett, Sarah Orne, 1849-1909. 40 letters to Annie (Adams) Fields (no date). Sarah Orne Jewett additional correspondence, 1868-1930. MS Am 1743.1 (117).  Transcribed and annotated by Terry Heller, Coe College.



SOJ to Annie Adams Fields

[probably after 6 June 1909]
[ Begin letterhead ]

South Berwick.
Maine.

[ End letterhead ]


Dearest Annie

        I do so long to see you . . .  I believe it would do me more good than any thing{.} you always help me to get a good hold on the best of myself. but I still feel too weak to plan any journeys.  They still have to [carry corrected]  me [unrecognized word or words] from one room to another and I ache dreadfully by night and by day.  I dont know what to do about me{.}  I did so [hope ?] to be out of doors [two or three unrecognized words] --


Notes


after 6 June 1909:  The handwriting of this letter, while legible, is very irregular, as is the punctuation.  Jewett seems unable, especially, to manage the left margin.
    Fields quotes from this letter in the preface to her Letters of Sarah Orne Jewett, where she dates this letter in June 1909 and implies that Jewett wrote no more afterward.  At that point, Jewett had suffered a stroke, was partially paralyzed, and within a few weeks of her death on 23 June.

The manuscript of this letter is held by the Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.  Jewett, Sarah Orne, 1849-1909. 40 letters to Annie (Adams) Fields (no date). Sarah Orne Jewett additional correspondence, 1868-1930. MS Am 1743.1 (117).  Transcribed and annotated by Terry Heller, Coe College.



Willa Cather to Annie Adams Fields

June 27, 1909
 London

Dear Mrs. Fields;

    Yesterday at noon I learned of the bitter loss that has come to us all and to you more than to anyone else. I think you will know better than I can tell you how constantly my thoughts have been with you since then. This city, and my walking about the streets of it, seem very much like a dream when my heart is straining over-sea to you and to her who loved you so well through so many years. For I cannot bring myself to feel but that somehow she is there near you, and that if I could go to you today I would feel her presence even if I could not see her, as I felt it when I went to see you when she was first ill in the winter. When one is far away like this one cannot realize death. Other things become shadowy and unreal, but Miss Jewett herself remains so real that I cannot get past the vivid image of her to any other realization. I know that something has happened only by the numbness and inertia that have come over me. I find that everything I have been doing and undertaking over here I have done with a hope that it might interest her -- even to some clothes I was having made. And now all the wheels stand still and the ways of life seem very dark and purposeless. There is only one thing that seems worth hoping or wishing for, and that is that you and Miss Mary* are finding strength and comfort from some source I do not know of, for I know that Miss Jewett's first care and anxiety would have been for you. She was always so afraid of losing you, so afraid, as she told me at Manchester last summer, "that her life might be blown away from her without warning."

    I shall sail for home some time next week, as soon as I can get a boat, and I can hardly expect to hear news of you from anyone until then. 1 shall let you know as soon as I land in New York. If there is anything, little or big, that I can do, if there should be anything which I could attend to for you, or any way in which I could lighten your loneliness, it would help me more than anything else in the world could and give me deeper pleasure.

    Dear Mrs. Fields, one cant speak or write what I want to say to you, for nobody's heart can ever speak. Let me love and sorrow with you, and think of me sometimes when you are thinking of Miss Jewett. I could never tell you, I cannot ever tell myself, how dear you both are to me.

Willa

Notes

Miss Mary:  Mary Rice Jewett

The manuscript of this letter is held by the Houghton Library of Harvard University, Sarah Orne Jewett additional correspondence, MS Am 1743.1, Series III. Letters to Annie (Adams) Fields, item 143.  This letter has been transcribed previously by Andrew Jewell and Janis Stout, appearing in The Selected Letters of Willa Cather, New York: Knopf, 2013. Transcription and notes by Terry Heller, Coe College. 



Edited by Terry Heller, Coe College.



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