The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 06488
Date: 17 September 1857
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[1]
Place: Pomfret
Recipient: James H. Gamble[2]
Place: [Staten Island, New York]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W483
Document Type: ALS[3]


Thursday Sept 17th 1857

My dear friend

I thought whilst so refreshed last friday evening under the roof of my beloved neice[4] [sic], you had been the angel who had conducted us on our way. the sweetness of the influences imparting comfort dispelled the alloy of regret for having taxed your kindness, & prayer for blessings on you, with thankfulness to the Spirit of mercy filled my heart. My neice, her good husband (& their sweet children next morn) were so glad to have us & would fain have kept us if we could have staid days instead of hours. They walked with us to the N R[5] ferry by two oclock. We joined the mourners in Sidney Place[6] before noon & had a smooth passage to Stonington that night. I promised my sister[7] at bidding her family circle adieu on tuesday by the 8 oclock morning boat to Norwich I would not write any, except to let her know of my welcome under this friendly roof, which I did by the [p. 2] yesterdays mail. I resisted the desire to send you a few lines of enclosure to cousin Anne Clunies[8] to me, & made some friendly calls instead. but today it rains & my eye feels better, perhaps for a small blister Dr Williams[9] put upon the temple last night[.] I am to persevere in this to divert the inflammation. how much more than ever I shall value the blessing of sight, if mine is restored to me freely to use! it is a peculiar trial to me, to resist the claims upon me, but I recognise Our Fathers heavenly discipline. the needs be to humble & to prove & to test my faith. Will you remember me affectionately to all in your sweet home & write our dear friend Mrs Maxwell[10] for me, tell her my Sister Eliza[11] tho such an invalid when my Richfield report was read at Preston evinced a lively interest in our friendship & companionship. as she had thro life cherished fond memories of "Anne Young of Cold Stream[12]" and her tenderness for me was maternal, tho she called me her Twin Sister as our birthday (eighteen years between) is one, the 27th of Sept. Can we call the christians release from [p. 3] disease, & suffering, death? My Sister Elizas redeemed spirit departed in full faith in Jesus on the 19th of Augt (That was the day I reached Stonington from Albany[)]. I thought of her then as being more & more prostrated by paralysis! her mental faculties revived tho freedom of speech was denied her, love beamed from her face upon the devoted Sister who watched unweariedly, who had ever been most dutiful to her & especially the two years past. the aged husband[13] now so bereaved, thro all her sickness was the chief source of comfort. Of the thronging of relatives & old friends to the dear old home in Preston my surviving Sister Alicia[14] gives me interesting particulars. but the heavenly impress on the face of the departed stamps the sweetest association on my sisterly affection. I sorrow not as those without hope in the Saviour, some of the most pious lessons taught me are those of this departed, eldest Sister. I must write my sympathy to the two survivors in the loved old home, this day. My hope is that Dr Williams may get thro dental operations that I may return to Stonington by next Saturday P. M. [p. 4] Where I shall spend next week in my Sisters home[,] probably stay over my birthday, not to celebrate it but to have the comfort of worshipping with her two Sundays, & be at Scarsdale by the end of this month. after seasonable arrangements there, hope weather may be favorable for yours & Mrs Maxwells visit tho I realize how curtailed [are] the enjoyments at the Cottage for you who will miss my boys. Of James[15], his Sister[16] writes, his earnings have secured him benefit to health at the seaside Dieppe[17], his first holiday in two years. Willie[18] writes of his resuming his medical course of study, & that he experiences kindness under Mr Hooper[19] room [sic] where he wishes there was a room for me. he is well. I must not scrawl more, except to express to your dear Sister[20] my sincere regret at not being free to profit by her invitation this season. It is only tantalizing to think how much I should have enjoyed & benefitted by it.

Believe me ever your affectionate Sister in the Lord,
Your grateful & sympathising friend

Anna M Whistler

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1.  Anna Matilda Whistler
Alicia Margaret Caroline McNeill (1786-1863), JW's aunt [more].

2.  James H. Gamble
James H. Gamble (b. 1820), clerk [more].

3.  ALS
The letter bears the embossed stamp: 'PARIS'.

4.  beloved neice
Probably Eliza Van Vechten (b. ca 1824), née Hamilton, AMW's cousin [more], her husband Abraham Van Vechten (1819-1884), and their children, Hamilton Van Vechten (b. 1844), Cornelia Van Vechten (b. 1847), Ann ('Annie') Van Vechten (b. 1852), Abraham Van Vechten (b. 1854), and Estelle Van Vechten (b. 1856); they lived in Albany, NY.

5.  N R
North River; see AMW to James H. Gamble, 21 August [1856], #06475.

6.  mourners in Sidney Place
8 Sidney Place, NY, was the home address of Isabella King (1805-1857), née Gibbs, cousin of AMW [more]; she died on 9 September. Her death was announced in the New York Herald, 10 September 1857, no. 7679. AMW looked after Isabella in July 1857; see AMW to JW, 13 - 15 July 1857, #06485.

7.  sister
Catherine ('Kate') Jane Palmer (ca 1812 - d.1877), née McNeill, AMW's sister [more].

8.  Anne Clunies
Anne Clunie (b. 1793), a Scottish cousin of AMW [more].

9.  Dr Williams
Lewis Williams (b. 1815), physician, of Pomfret, CT [more].

10.  Mrs Maxwell
Ann Maxwell (1784-1867), née Young, wife of Robert Maxwell [more].

11.  Sister Elizas
Eliza Isabella Winstanley (1788-1857), née McNeill, JW's aunt, AMW's half-sister [more].

12.  Anne Young of Cold Stream
Ann Maxwell was from Coldstream, Berwick, Scotland; see Genealogical Society of Utah, Patron sheets, 1969-1991, Salt Lake City, UT, film no. 0884509. Maxwell and Ann Clunie both grew up at Berwick. Eliza Winstanley was a first cousin of Ann Clunie.

13.  husband
John Winstanley (1776-1859), solicitor, JW's uncle [more].

14.  Sister Alicia
Alicia Margaret Caroline McNeill (1786-1863), JW's aunt [more].

15.  James
James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), artist [more]. JW must have made some money from copies he made in the Louvre; see AMW to JW, 29 January 1857, #06480.

16.  Sisters
Deborah ('Debo' or 'Sis') Delano Haden (1825-1908), née Whistler, JW's half-sister [more].

17.  Dieppe
JW made several sketches on his holiday including Bains à Dieppe (M.220) and r.: Les Côtes à Dieppe; v.: Cliffs and building (M.222). He was probably en route to the Exhibition of the Art Treasures of the United Kingdom, Manchester, 1857.

18.  Willie
William McNeill Whistler (1836-1900), physician, JW's brother [more].

19.  Mr Hooper
Hooper, of Philadelphia, an acquaintance of AMW.

20.  Sister
Jane Wann (1822-1875), née Gamble, wife of S. Wann [more].