From Y to A.

Letters from
Isabella Stewart Gardner
to
Abram Piatt Andrew

 

 

September 7, 1907

Green Hill
Brookline Mass.

Fancy, dear Mr. Andrew! I have this moment got your kind letter. It was dated Sept 1st & has been making a little round of visits, just after me! At last it has caught up! You say, any day before Friday the 13th! (What a day, will anyone dare to do anything that day?) Does your delightful invitation still hold out? If so, can I go to you for the night on Tuesday the 10th or Wednesday the 11th (Tuesday is best) of next week---whichever suits you best---and may I send my maid & small portmanteau down by some train, & will you motor me down? I shall be here at Green Hill Warren Street, but if that is too far for your motor I will be at the door of Fenway Court (the front Fenway door) at any time you say. What fun all this will be for me! My love to the colony. I don't mind rain. So let us say rain or shine, unless you have changed your mind.

Yours,

I. S. Gardner

 

September 12, 1907

Green Hill
Brookline Mass.

Dear Mr. Andrew---

In a few hours, what a change! The land change does not make one into something rich & strange---alas! Your village is Fogland with the sea's white arms about you all. Don't let outsiders crawl in---only me! For I care. I love its rich, strange people, so far away. My greetings to all the villagers---& to you "I do beseech you (chiefly that I might set it in my prayers) What is your naine?"---that seems the only way to thank you for my happy visit.

Don't let Miss Davidge forget next Friday p.m. for "it is deeply sworn." I shall expect you and Mr. Sleeper at midday on Saturday. Then perhaps I can say a bigger thank you, than I can write.

Yours,

Isabella S. Gardner

 

September 30, 1907

Green Hill
Brookline Mass.

Dear Mr. Andrew---

I got back from the Cape a few moments ago. I was very sorry to lose a visit from you---and I have so much to thank you for! You were so good. You brought me my very dear old bracelet, & those books.

So far I have only time to see their covers, but they promise me much pleasure. If you are securely fastened to Harvard now, it seems near enough for me to hope for another visit from you.

Always I am your friend

Isabella S. Gardner

 

November 25, 1907

Fernway Court

Delighted to go down in motor---the whole sounds enchanting. Could I, could I take my maid? If not---no matter. At what hour can I get back on Friday? It is such a scramble this week---"Open days" ten of them!

Greatest haste

Yours,

Isabella

Let me know details.

 

January 9, 1908

Fenway Court

Dear A--

Thanks ever so much for the little note. I am awfully glad to get it, & the messages from M. I wish I could have seen him. I fancy you wont be coming this way again very soon. But if you do, remember your room is ready here. Only let me know that I may see you. Sleeper is helping me about my little play that is to be given for the earthquake sufferers. It is the same play as before---very dear & pretty. Otherwise my life is as usual---music, people, & constant persecution from our our government.

Tell me your news & believe me always

Yours,

Y.

Thanks for the photos---awfully funny!

 

March 15, 1908

Fenway Court

Yes indeed to everything! dear A. On Saturday I will go with joy to Red Roof---& stop with the delighted Ella, until Monday the 19th, and I should also adore going down some day with you for luncheon & to look over the vast improvements. Let me know when. It will be a huge joy to have a real Harvard party with you. I crazy about it all---& particularly to see you again.

Always yours,

Y.

 

June 24, 1908

Green Hill
Brookline

Dear A--

One hour & ten minutes have passed since I began to telephone to you, & as yet no success. So I take to the pen, which is mightier I hope. Probably the wire is out of order. Today is my only free day! Unless I could go to you Friday morning & surely get back here at 4:15. But probably that is not convenient to you & the bears! I could go down by 1/4 to 11 or some such train..

So let me know--Glück auf!

Yours,

Y.

Those Women's Clubs, Dio Mio.

 

July 24, 1908

Green Hill

Thank God! But don't get careless--Harry M. has done great things. He may not always be able. I shall go to Red Roof next Wednesday & be there Thursday sure---

If you had only sailed!

Yours

Y.

 

Sunday, August 9, 1908

Eastern Point
Gloucester, Mass.

My dear A--

So; good morning from this most wonderful place! When you want "references" as a friend, send to me. I will

give you one, A no 1. Kind you have always been that to me, & this is the "comble"---For, I have not been tip top---& I came a cropper at the Hays Hanmond's last Monday, fell on my head---& so, this is such a wonderful cure. A man from the Art Museum, who is overworked & tired, is here for Sunday. He thinks it is Paradise. His name is Carter. Honest, you have no idea how wonderful it is. But there is an A no. 1 blank; that is A.P.A. And no matter where you are, it is not 1/2 as good as this! Such weather, such sunsets, such moon---The neighbors have been, one & all, devoted to me, as guest of Red Roof. Miss Davidge spent an hour here with M. LeGendre and asked me to dinner. I lunched with Cecelia, & that enchanting Miss Sinkler comes and goes. Another hour with her yesterday. And Harry Sleeper, well, there are no words! Ella & Bridget, my two henchmen, are buzzing about like the bees about the bee balm. Ella says "Mr. Andrew ought not to lose the pleasure of being here, ---he is too good"---And, when you hear everything you will envy us. I came down on Friday & brought Mr. & Mrs. Sam Abbott of Rome & Henry Swift. On the way over (we were in Frick's Motor) we went to Bay View by Annisquam where His Grace Archbishop O'Connell has got a place. He is a great friend of the Abbotts from Roman days. I made him come over here too! So, how you would have liked it! Every one of those four guests were as crazy about this place as I. We had picnic supper in the porch. Windows all open & all of us facing the water, with a sunset made on purpose. Then, as they were leaving at 8 p.m. out came the moon! We all thanked you. And the Archbishop is coming again, & if he and you are here for Thanksgiving, he has promised to come! But he probably will be in Rome, as he has been bidden. Gibbons is getting well, otherwise O'Connell might be made Cardinal. If you come home before he goes (early November) he promised to come over here to see you. So there's an incentive for an early return. But I don't have any illusions about your getting here early. Isn't it splendid, the time you are having? If you see Hyde, give him my love. If some one could only put some back bone into him & make a man of him. For he is above doing what he does, & nothing else. And I fear every day of his kind of life, makes any other more difficult.

I have been writing this, dressing, & watching the bears. They were so infatuated with everything this morning that they didn't fight---, but made love and were darlings. They stood up, side by side, looking up at me as I talked from the Boudoir window. And the birds! Do come back soon to see it all.

With eternal gratitude

Yours,

Y.

 

August 16, 1908

Eastern Point
Gloucester Mass.

Dear A--

Another amazing Sunday rest here for me & Ella. She & I came alone this time, and tomorrow I say goodbye to thisHaven with more gratitude than I can find words for. Hall is here for Sunday with Sleeper--And we all went for a little motor trip for an hour & 1/2, yesterday P.M. Such weather and such beauty. Dear Harry S. told us, glowingly, of you & Dorchester House etc. but there's no use talking, this is best. Every one & all their guests made a Tea, at Little Beauport yesterday. 100 Sinklers, 50 Davidges, & a few Beaux.

I wish we could have turned the bears loose on them. They are a joy. I dress by the hour, watching them, in the morning. Today I lunch at the Jefferson Coolidge's & the Hammonds send me their automobile for the day, & I take Sleeper & Hall for a "go." If you were only here! And now goodbye to you & Red Roof until you come back. Good luck to you.

Yours,

Y.

 

September 5, 1908

Green Hill
Brookline, Mass.

Dear A-

I have been hoping to get another letter from you. I want to hear of your doings, gay & otherwise. I saw Sleeper. He has been very poorly---but he is an uncomplaining soul and works on for those he loves. I have of course taken people to see Little Beauport. That seems to be my mission in life. I saw Hall too. He is too vague and undetermined to succeed. And I fear his last singer master is really not the best. We are all making ourselves glad at the prospect of seeing you again. The "Merry Widow" is at the Tremont. I was there last night & saw Hall in the audience. Of course, having seen it in England, this wont seem wonderful to you, but I wished I had been there with you last night.

Yours,

Y.

 

September 26, 1908

Green Hill
Brookline, Mass.

Dear A---

I wish you would read this in mid-Ocean, after the glamour of the other letters is a little dimmed. I am a country bumpkin with nothing to put on blood red paper. I am so virtuous---not enough so to be interesting though. For, today I am to matronize two girls (12 & 14 years old) at a Merry Widow Matinée, at the request of their mother! She says I will be so amusing that they wont look at the stage! So why take them to the play? But American girls begin young.

That dearest friend Sleeper has got up these letters for you. He says they are all to be sealed, so that only you will know their contents! The only thing I can say that he would not like to read is, that he is the very best living being---Too good for this world. When you get home, help me to put some lead in his shoes, to keep him here. Really he is not well,---very far from it. I think just you being here will help. We are all like that. We have missed you! Fancy a lot of enchanting people missing any one man! I will put on an indifferent air when I see you. It is only in mid-ocean you may be spoiled. For perhaps sea sickness may make you too low down, to be spoiled. But the truth remains, I shall be blood red glad to have you back. Already I am longing for some dear old times with you, & my ears are wide open for all you will tell me! Even the proud business part of it---, I will gladly listen to. The Archbishop is coming to the Thanksgiving Dinner, and everything will be as mediaeval as we can make it---Falernian wines & Eels! Only not the latter please! But we will have a poison-ring! & wind up with a Gregorian Chant. Perhaps we might (we, you & I) make the Thanksgiving Dinner a sort of Sleeper Fête---A house warming in his big room! But the Widow Clicquot is the word ---Mum I mean---Say nothing to nobody & never think of it again, if you don't like the idea. I have no ideas worthwhile except that I shall be awfully glad to see you in a few days.

Yours,

Y.

 

October 22, 1908

Green Hill
Brookline, Mass.

Dear A--

What does this message mean? Have you really got home? It is too good to be true. I am writing, instead of telephoning, because my machine is being changed. I've gone into bankruptcy & am having my instrument taken out, & another 1/2 price arrangement put in---hence this letter! But it is good to know you are here. Do you come to town Saturday or Monday? If so, do lunch with me. Perhaps here, perhaps in town, wherever you like. Tel. yes or no, & when to 19 Brookline, or better still send a word written. Only do let us meet. Evviva---Hip, hip, hurrah! I am taking you to the concert Friday 3 P.M., Oct 30 sure. So glad!

Yours,

Y.

 

November 16, 1908

Fenway Court

Dear A--

Open House here begins today. My only solace is a letter from you received this A.M. I am forwarding your note to Mrs. Storer and I hope all will go well with His Grace---I have not a notion what your address is, but I do want to say how I look forward to Thanksgiving & that I was too pleased for words by the four enchanting notes I got from the 3 Davsons & you. I want you to tell them for me. It was so dear of them, & you!

Au revoir, à bientôt. Pieuse don't forget your little rooms here, awaiting you!

Yours,

Y.

 

December 17, 1908

Fenway Court

Dear A-

I n so proud and happy because of the lemon thyme! It has come safely, & is planted in the Monks Garden Thanks, & thanks to you. i delighted to hear that you can probably be away for several days. Wednesday evening December 30th at 1/4 to 9 is the time you must be here sure. You can & must spend the night in your little apartment downstairs, and as many more as you will! But alas, the preparations impede dinner here that night. So get it very early somewhere and hurry back home, here I mean.

Yours,

Y.

 

December 21, 1908

Fenway Court

Dear A-

I shant publish your letters until we have both got sere and yellow. So please, tell more details of your hectic life. I am too sorry about the 30th and "Atlantic City" as an excuse has a hollow sound! Good luck to you anyway.

Can't you manage to lunch with me on Saturday the 26th somewhere? You say you will be in Gloucester. That is altogether too near & too far! My evening is taken, unless we could sup après the concert. But somewhere we must meet for a little talk. We alone somewhere, & if you are to be in this part of the world Sunday the 27th perhaps I can have a snatch at you. A Merrie Xmas & a happy New Year---and don't forget

Y.

 

April 6, 1909

Fenway Court

Dear A--

Allrightski! The note to D. W. has gone. I even told her of the Monday plan the 18th, of motoring up, coming here for an hour & perhaps lunching somewhere! Then you see her on to her train & H. S. & I bless you!

I an very grateful for having had those delightful hours at Red Roof, the other day. I say it again. I was touched to be asked.

Yours,

Y.

 

August 10, 1909

Silvershells,
Marion, Massachusetts

Dear A-

I am still thinking my sympathy in your work. It really splendid, this new position; & so spiendidly won, by your own work---, & unsought for! As I said to Weldon this morning, I tingle with pride when I think of you. May you live long & prosper! You must always let me have a share in the glories that come to you, but you can't help yourself, for I will have a share in them by the best right, that of loyal friend which you know I am, for all time.

It was so good to see Weldon this morning, & to see how glad he was too. He seemed in a desperate hurry, as I was, but I wanted to ask him to lunch with me, which I was to do on the jump, en route for the train to come here. His hurry frightened me. Did you go with MacVeagh to see Taft on the way to Red Roof? I think you did, & I already fancy the paper dollars cut into shapes to please the powers that be, T-MacV-&A. Don't be gone very long in Washington, & keep me au courant. I am only away from Brookline over Sunday "Che Deo vi dia le Voglie vostre. "

Yours,

Y. (Isabella.) Y.

 

August 31, 1909

Warren House
Brookline, Mass.

Dear A-

I am as pleased as a peacock. "Se penchant vers les Dahlias, Les Paons cabraient des rosaces lunaires." I am so glad---and such a strange thing happened. I was sitting here talking to 3 or 4 people last evening, & had just begun to tell them about your wonderful diagrams (but not a word about my proud hopes as they might not materialize!), when the door opened & Bridget brought in the book!

When I said "Here they are!" no one believed. It was a great moment. Occult! And there was something occult about the diagrams too I think.

Otherwise they could not have been done. They are wonders. You have made one person awfully stuck on herself, & that is your friend Y, alias Isabella Stewart Gardner.

 

September 16, 1909

Warren House
Brookline, Mass.

Dear A--

Harry & I lunched together yesterday at the Touraine & I heard the story of your rush to New York & the contretemps with Davison. I fear there is still rush for you. I realize so well all you have to do that I do not want to take up even the momentary reading of this. Of course I want to remind you of Y---but I know the friend you are, & shall always feel sure of it, whether you have time or not to devote to write details, and as I fancy myself a part of Gloucester, perhaps you too will think of me as twined among the laurels that crowd about Red Roof---And I know R. R. is always near your heart. I wrote Prichard & asked him to send word for you to the U.S. Embassy.

So I hope all that all will go well. Keep well & have a good time. Here the weather & garden are perfect.

Yours,

Y.

 

October 29, 1909

Green Hill
Brookline, Mass.

Dear A-

I an really worried about you. Of course Gloucester is the best friend & the best doctor for you. But I do hope you are having the cure, without much illness.

And H.D.S. worries me too. I sent the 2 opera tickets to him3 & have never heard a word. That is not like him unless he is ill! So I fear that.

November 7th is a long way off. Get well & keep so. How goes the portrait? I should like to hear again what the news is, of welfare & doings. Write to

Y.

 

November 24, 1909

Fenway Court

Dear A--

I see the postman so I scratch a line to catch him. It is a howling storm. Too bad about Friday. Yes, next Wednesday December 1st---will 10 a.m. be too early?

Yours,

Y.

Can you stay over for opera, both of you, Wednesday evening? Thanks for Hanfy's letter. Bully!

 

Christmas Day [1909]
& a Merry one to you

Fenway Court

Dear A--

I got your charming note & its wishes, the very best, yesterday. My answer to your letter of a few days ago, must have come to you by this time. Perhaps I didn't put titles enough on the envelope. If you don't get it, turn out the Postmaster General. I do wish you were here to make it, life, really merry. I shall, receive the Corsican with open arms when he comes. Happy thought, bring him.

Always yours,

Y.

 

December 29, 1909

Fenway Court

The Corsican has weathered the storms dear A, & arrivedt wo minutes ago. He is a joy, & Y isn't Ys (wise!)' I feel obliged to be explanitive-enough to know where anything quite like him could have been found. It is wonderful & interesting beyond words. I am so pleased and grateful. I have just got a dinner invitation from the Mac Veagh's for January 27th. I must be in New York Saturday the 29th for 24 hours, so I think I would like to go to Washington for this dinner. So will you be very kind & tell me what hotel Ella & I can put up in & if you will kindly see if we can engage a room & bath for me & room for Ella---not expensive. I suppose I should arrive Thursday morning the 27th, & go to New York Saturday. I am awfully sorry to bother you, but I don't even know the name of the hotels there.

1000 thanks dear A from

Y.

 

April 19, 1910

Fenway Court

Dear A-You are an enchanting wonder. Your night-letter about Zorn & Aldrich thrills ne. I an most grateful. How will the portrait look? Does it promise well? The personal part of the night-letter, supplemented by the beautiful heath, fills me with joy. If you could only be here today, & I would try to say thank you so that you would know I meant it. I am a thousand times gratefully yours,

Isabella - Y.

 

[Undated]
Fenway Court

Dear A--

Three Cheers! I an awfully glad. So on Friday afternoo; or Saturday morning I will see you and the Senator. As this is "open week" here, the hours must be after 3, or early enough in the morning to get through at 11:30--- Let me know what moment to have someone at the centre door on the Fenway to meet you both & let you in.

As to the opera Friday night, by all that is glorious "Yes"---I will send you one of my tickets, & expect you, do come. Wouldn't it be fun if the Senator's speech were over in time for him to come too--, & perhaps we 3 could sup afterwards somewhere. Is he game for it? But let me know, so I can arrange, & say where to send opera ticket.

Yours,

Y.

 

[Undated]

Fenway Court

Dear A--

It is perfect--& darling of you to want me. I can't resist & as I must be back here for an engagement at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sleeper has made it possible for me, by suggesting that Ella & I should go down Friday night. I will get there after dark & see absolutely nothing, until you arrive by the earliest train or car late Saturday morning. I shall sit in my room until I see & hear you downstairs. Then we 3 can have a few hours together, & I can come up for my engagement at 2 p.m. It will be heavenly & wonderful to be at Red Roof again with you. Hallelujah.

Yours,

Y.

 

August 4, 1920

The Country Club
Brookline, Massachusetts

Dear A--

I have just wired to you a night letter to say "1 am going to Dublin on Saturday---& I hear you are. Will take the 11 a.m. train to Webb N.H. 9 miles from Dublin, thence by motor? Answer to Brookline, Isabella."

I am sending this note because of apparent hopeless stupidity of the operator. I hope you will be on that on tho train & that we can go together.

Yours,

Y.

 

January 17, 1911

Fenway Court

Dear A--

It was a proud & happy moment when that great mail bag with Senator Aldrich's name on it, was brought to me. I haven't been quite in the running lately, having had a little hurt to my hip joint. So I have been obliged to delay telling you how awfully pleased I am. I undid all the books, pamphlets, & maps this morning & got prouder & pleaseder every moment. I thank you enormously. This morning Mrs. Davison cane and I wasn't well enough to see her. I should write to her but don't know where she is. Au revoir, what fun we shall have!

Yours,

Y.

 

February 22, 1911

Fenway Court

Dear A--

I an sending the enclosed to announce George Proctor's engagement to one of his pupils, a Miss Burtt, to the Lawrence Townsend's, & I don't know their address. Please put it on this note & post. It is very nice, as far as she the fiancée goes. There are no parents but alas also no money!

When do you come again? Your bed here is ready for you!

Yours,

Y.

 

February 26, 1911

Fenway Court

Dear A---

I got your letter of yesterday & really quite despair of ever having you under this roof! So far, next week is possible & I pray you may turn up. I fancy Lent will keep the wolf (engagements) from the door. Of course the 1st April Sunday will see me skipping to Gloucester if you can be there---Harry Sleeper is walking through the Park now for a gossip with me. He says his house moves slowly of course! I will give Proctor your kind message. Does Bacon's engagement hinder your work? When does yours come?---I think I see Harry from the window corning through the wind.

Yours,

Y.

 

Fenway Court

Dear A--

Thank you for the words "I treasure our friendship & want it to last."---Indeed it must & shall for it is real, I believe. I have so much to thank you for. My greatest pleasures---Red Roof means joy to me--- & I count on you always. So, you will know what a disappointment the rest of this note is to me. The doctor wont let me go on our enchanting trip on the Potomac & on the James. I could cry. I suppose he is right for I really do not pull myself together as fast as I should. He says that kind of journey in that part of the world (which he doesn't think over healthy) must not be. He also says the bad kind of grippe I have had takes a long time & care, to get back to real strength. So I am in tears, at the thought of all I an losing, & that I an interfering with your plans. But they may he managed all right. I hope so.

Always yours,

Y.

 

Fenway Court

Dear A--

Ever so many thanks for the photos--- Memorials of that perfect day. May we meet before eons pass.

Y.


 

                        Y

Mrs. John Lowell Gardner (Isabella Stewart)

Born in New York City, April 14, 1840
Died in Boston, July 14, 1924

 

                        A

Abram Piatt Andrew

Born in La Porte, Indiana, February 12, 1873
Died in Gloucester, June 3, 1936

 

 

Privately printed by Andrew Gray
New York City, 1967