Main Contents & Search
    List of Correspondents

  1908

Sarah Orne Jewett Letters of 1909




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 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



[ 21 April 1909 ]

SOJ to Annie Adams Fields


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

Notes

This letter is included in Annie Fields, "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.
    Jewett's handwriting in this note is difficult, and it is not absolutely certain that her signature is correctly transcribed.
    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.



Main Contents & Search