To "My dear Mrs. Wood." 4 pages (all sides of a bifolium). South Berwick [Maine]: 13 August 1878. Signed "Sarah O. Jewett."
The text of this letter reads:
Here is the Boat song for you, and it was very good of you to care for it. And I am very glad to have the chance to tell you how much I enjoyed being with you while I was at Rye and how sorry I am that we live so far apart that I shall not be likely to see you often. It was so kind of you to ask Julia and me to visit you and wouldn't it be charming if some happy day that plan came true! But I am afraid Julia and I will hardly see each other for a long time to come, though I made brave plans when I was with her, for joining her abroad. That is the sorrow of being so fond of one's friends as I am -- one is so sorry when one sees one's best friends seldom but after all I can't help remembering that by and bye when one looks back from another world, separation will seem such a little thing and the lessons learned from it so grand and so sweet.
I am heartily glad to be in my own dear home, yet I have been really homesick to get back to Little Boar's Head. I always miss the sea terribly, when I leave it, and I have been very happy, these last few weeks. I have a great many pleasant things to remember and one of the best is knowing you dear Mrs. Wood. I wish you were here now -- I'm sure you would poke a little bit of fun at me for the way I am writing, with the light perched on some books and some letter paper in the top drawer of my desk. But I wished to send you this by the morning's post, and I hardly ever write in the evening. Good night! Please give my love to the children especially to Sarah. I hope you will not forget me, for I shall often think of you. Yours sincerely & lovingly...
We have not been able to identify the recipient Mrs. Wood, but she does not sound like a close acquaintance. The two women had apparently just been summer-resort guests at Little Boar's Head in Rye, New Hampshire -- then quite a fashionable seaside resort town (just 20 miles from Sarah's home in South Berwick, Maine -- and just ashore from Sarah's literary friend Celia Thaxter). Sarah had apparently told Mrs. Wood that she would send her a copy of her poem "Boat Song" (not included here). Sarah then mentions "Julia" -- and this would most likely be Julia Ward Howe, an acquaintance of Sarah who would stop in for visits in South Berwick. It was in mid-1878 that Julia, two years after her husband's death and upon completion of a western lecture tour for women's suffrage, headed off to Europe (she would return in mid-1879) -- as referred to in this letter.
This is a nice early Jewett letter -- her first book DEEPHAVEN had just come out the preceding year. The letter is in fine condition (once folded). Also included is a half-sheet of stationery on which Sarah provided a handsome example of her signature followed by "'Little Boar's Head' 2nd August 1878": while the two women were guests at the resort, Mrs. Wood must have asked Sarah for her autograph -- and then put it with this letter upon the letter's arrival in the mail, a couple of weeks later. Item #13986