UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Record 7 of 49

System Number: 06455
Date: [20/21 March 1855][1]
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[2]
Place: Baltimore[3]
Recipient: JW
Place: [Washington][4]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: Whistler W450
Document Type: ALS[5]


Tuesday afternon 21st

I closed a hurried yesterdays thanks to you for yours[6] dearest James, before breakfast today - but the Postman has not called & you may get this as soon. "The smallest favor thankfully recd"[7] I thought in sticking in the little broken pen knife, which reminded me to ask you to take care of the nice handle of the one which your father[8] wore in his pocket years. I'll have blades put in it for you. As I went in Julias[9] elegant equipage to take little Georgie[10] home yesterday p - m[,] I stepped in to see the Ducatels[11], & was urged to stay, to meet after tea the good Uncle Amile Ducatel,[12] & the family circle, so I made the exertion, after duties fulfilled at home to walk down before 7 o'clock, little Anthony[13] my escort, and Willies[14] friend Henry Chatain[15] was a very pleasant companion back, for he talked of Willie. I feel very tired & shall let Donald & his wife[16] have a tête à tête beef steak, which she will be more chatty over without me, she sometimes answers my remarks addressed to her but never volunteers any to me, it affects me more than she is aware of at the heart, but I know who appoints the daily X and that He requires us to bear it[17] meekly, & forgivingly toward the instrument[.] I shall lie down & no doubt feel refreshed for tea.

[p. 2] I have walked down to the Lexington Market [18] to procure poultry which I cannot obtain in provision stores, then I wended my way to the Express office for your Valise to be called for - Anthony my attendant to bring home groceries from Ch[arles] St. Ah Jemie dear with what pleasure I have put you up a jar of my good butter & a brown loaf & some of the last mince paties[19] [sic] since. As I walked alone in deep meditation upon the ways of God, so faithfully performing His promised rewards or corrections, I composed a note I shall have to write George[20], upon changing my last dollar! & no income until June & then uncertain because of some R R Stocks[21] making no dividends - You shall see the copy, & the response if I get one. But we need not be beggars dear! if you will put your talent to interest, oh may I hope you will make up your mind to pursue Architecture[22] industriously & steadily in the City of N Y? your home, to be my home? It only needs decision to avoid the temptation to 5th Av [23]& c[.] I mean to write Cousin Abby[24] to ask Mr Jaffray[25] to look at Mr Carmers[26] Castle at Scarsdale, then my boys will have society in it that they like. I must put up repairing your shirts until you come home, you always defer sending them too long. Dont let the Case[27] of your knife, fork & spoon get soiled. I send 2 vols of the J. E. I heard last eve of a new french work the reign of Louis 17th[28] so interesting! I'd like to buy it, & will when I can! George mentioned a letter from Aunt Kate[29] to him, perhaps he is making an opening to get the Portrait[30], but he only told me, she had mentioned Dr Camman[31] having been at Ston[ington] & that he said Eliza[32] is in a rapid consumption! Alas poor Jacks[33]! But he will be comforted by memories[34] of this last winter with his dearest, fondest Sister. This life is so uncertain[.] I yearn to have my boys in my home, how thankful if it may be so at Scarsdale,

Your devoted Mother

A M W.


This document is protected by copyright.


Notes:

1.  [20/21 March 1855]
AMW dated this letter incorrectly as 'Tuesday afternoon 21st'. It dates either from Tuesday 20 or Wednesday 21 March 1855, and covers similar subjects to her letter of 15 March 1855 (#06454).

2.  Anna Matilda Whistler
Anna Matilda Whistler (1804-1881), née McNeill, JW's mother [more].

3.  Baltimore
AMW was staying at 176 Preston Street with Donald McNeill Fairfax (1821-1894), naval officer, JW's cousin [more]; see AMW to JW, 26 and 27 November 1854, #06446.

4.  Washington
JW had left the US Coast Survey and was probably working in a studio in Washington.

5.  ALS
Written on sheet with narrow mourning border.

6.  yesterdays thanks to you for yours
Neither letter has survived, AMW's previous surviving letter being dated 15 March, and the subsequent one, 17 April 1855 (#06454, #06456).

7.  The smallest favor thankfully recd
Possibly a version of a phrase used in formal business letters.

8.  father
George Washington Whistler (1800-1849), engineer, JW's father [more].

9.  julias
Julia de Kay Whistler (1825-1875), née Winans, JW's sister-in-law [more].

10.  Georgie
George ('Georgie') Worthen Whistler (b. 1851), JW's nephew [more].

11.  Ducatels
The family of Professor Julius Timoleon Ducatel (1796-1849), chemist, father-in-law of George William Whistler [more].

12.  Amile Ducatel
Amile Ducatel, a relation of Mary Ann Whistler, née Ducatel.

13.  Anthony
Anthony, an acquaintance of JW in Baltimore, MD.

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

15.  Henry Chatain
Henry Chatain, a friend of W. McN. Whistler.

16.  Donald & his wife
Donald McNeill Fairfax (1821-1894), naval officer, JW's cousin [more]. AMW did not get on well with Virginia ('Ginnie') Carry Fairfax (d. 1878), née Ragland, wife of D. McN. Fairfax [more].

17.  X and that He requires us to bear it
'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me', Mark 8.34.

18.  Lexington Market
Lexington Market, the world's largest fresh food center, was established in 1782, south of Charles Street. By mid 19th century, the market had acquired its full growth and was hailed everywhere as the largest and best market on earth. Both Commission merchants and nearby farmers, who preferred to keep the latters' profit, crammed the area with as many as 600 wagons on Saturday as payday crowds of 50,000 men, women and children went to market.

19.  mince paties
For AMW's 'Mince Pies' see Margaret F. MacDonald, Whistler's Mother's Cook Book, London, 1979, pp. 86-87.

20.  George
George William Whistler (1822-1869), engineer, JW's half-brother [more].

21.  RR stocks
See AMW to Joseph Harrison, 19 June 1849, #07629, AMW to JW, 8 January 1855, #06449, and 13 February 1855, #06452.

22.  Architecture
AMW hoped that JW was about to study architecture in New York.

23.  to 5th Av
AMW sees Fifth Avenue as a source of temptation to JW. In 1834 5th Avenue was 'a near-deserted country lane running up from Washington Square to the municipal parade-ground on 23rd Street. In the early 1850s, 5th Avenue became the most fashionable part of the city, attracting many wealthy men to build ornate mansions.' See Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace, Gotham, A History of New York City to 1898, Oxford, 1999, p. 715.

24.  Abby
Abbie Snelling Jaffray (1817-1871), née Hamilton, wife of R. W. Jaffray [more].

25.  Case
See AMW to JW, [20 January / February 1855], #06462.

26.  Mr Jaffray
The family of Richmond Woodriff Jaffray (1813-1862), merchant [more].

27.  Carmers
Charles Whitehead Carmer (1811-1883), merchant [more]; see AMW to JW, 15 March 1854, #06454.

28.  french work the reign of Louis 17th
There were two works by A. de (Alcide) Beauchesne close to the date of this letter that referred to the reign of Louis Charles XVII (1785-1795), titular king of France from 1793-1795 [more]: The Bourbon Prince, The History of the Royal Dauphin, Louis XVII of France, New York, 1853; Louis XVII. His Life, his Suffering, his Death: the Captivity of the Royal Family in the Temple, London, 1853.

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

30.  Portrait
Anna ('Annie') Harding Denny (1834 or 1838-1913), a cousin of JW, later Mrs Corcoran [more]; her portrait may be the one concerned.

31.  Dr Camman
Dr George Philip Cammann (1804-1863), physician [more].

32.  Eliza
Eliza Flagg (1830-1855), née McNeill, JW's cousin, wife of Rev. E. O. Flagg [more].

33.  Jacks
Patrick T. Jackson ('Jacks') McNeill (1835-1898), accountant, JW's cousin [more].

34.  memories
'memories ... AMW' continues on p. 1.