The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: McNeill, Maria
Record 4 of 20

System Number: 06393
Date: 23 August 1849
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[1]
Place: Stonington
Recipient: JW
Place: Binghampton[2]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W389
Document Type: ALS


Aug 23rd. 1849.

I felt disappointed my own dear Jemie[3] to receive only a few lines from George yesterday when I was expecting you, it seems a long time to wait till sunday week to embrace you, & I hope you may come sooner, tho I do not venture to advise you starting off alone, because I fear for your prudence not being sufficiently exercised to keep you from danger, & that you may be left behind at some awkward point from your lack of a prompter within or without to hint that steam - like time, waits for no man! But I should be very glad if you could take an opportunity to shew your anxious Mother you are to be trusted by proving your contempt for punctuality unfounded. Willie[4] misses you very much, he came, true to appointment - to breakfast at the corner house[5] from the Vanderbilt[6] yesterday morning, quite well by himself, & to prove he is not ungrateful for the holiday he has had with Jacks[7], he has not only read with references this morning but has studied his Greek grammar willingly. and now as rain has set in, I think he'll write you of the pleasant days he had at Lake Mahopac[8], where they hope to have you with them, and three weeks will terminate their sojourn there. [p. 2] I am perplexed to think how you can fulfil your promise to darling Sis[9], & devote a week to Mahopac before school opens. I think of going to see Aunt Maria[10] next week - much tho I dread it - and may be we can decide when you can go by then.

Your being with dear Mary[11], reconciles me to your prolonged absence from me, I depend upon her example for restraining you in a career of idleness, it is full of danger tho youth is blind to its evils. I said to Willie yesterday, "I am thankful Jemie has so many ladies around him at Binghampton" "why Mother?" "because he need not go in the street for society." And I hope Cousin Julia's[12] porte folio yields him amusement within doors. My love to them all and if you are allowed such freedoms - kiss your sweet sister for Mother, when I am about expressing [sic] a wish to have her beside me I am checked, because Aunt Kate[13] would make room at the expense of her own comfort, to gratify me, and Uncle Palmers[14] large heart makes as many welcome as will come to his table, we know his income is not in proportion. but soon I hope to find a snug box, and there shall be a room called Georges. but where exactly is not determined, for I am told now, New Haven[15] is not the place for us. I have written Mr Maxwell[16] to obtain for me all the information he can about the school at Fairfield[17], because I like its situation & it will be [p. 3] as convenient for George & Mary to visit us at N Haven. So soon as I am encouraged to go to look for a house I shall lose no time, for besides my yearning to be settled - our boxes will soon be arriving from Russia, and the schools re-opening, and you boys have been too long idle already. dear Jemie I beg you to be getting the habit of reading & shake off lounging.

I hope you will write me, less carelessly that the pleasure of reading your ideas may not be mingled with regret that you take so little trouble to gratify me by improving your advantages. darling Jemie! more precious to your Mothers heart than ever, you surely will not delay putting your good resolves into practise, for you know how much is in your power to make me happy or miserable. Mary Brennan[18] came back here, from her visit to James[19] last evening, both he and Tom[20] offer to leave their work for a few days if I need their assistance in unpacking the furniture wheresoever it may be done. I think I must get brother George to write Mr Grey[21] about James who promises to help his mother if he can get the same wages he had formerly, his work is increased & his profits reduced under the present system. I think if Mr Grey can he will shew kindness to any one recommended by me. But Jemie dear you will be tired of this long [p. 4] & dry lecture - such a contrast to Punch[22] isn't it? I will only add the love of Grandmother[23] & all, to you all & that we are well, tho I scarcely go out except to church I feel invigorated by this fine sea air, I do not bathe - but wish you were here to profit by it, take care not to indulge freely in corn & not to eat pears, many even here are ill from imprudence. Mrs Chase[24] calls to see me occasionally, they return to Philadelphia next week - If you have time in passing thro New York call upon Mr Maxwell at the Custom House, but dont tax his time. I'd rather you should not be running the rounds of hotels, tho if Williams[25] happens to be at the Astor[26] merely call to see him, I hope you may not have to sleep a night in the city.

Your[27] fond Mother


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

2.  Binghampton
JW was at Binghampton visiting his half-brother, George William Whistler (1822-1869), engineer; see AMW to Joseph Harrison, 13 August [1849], #07637.

3.  Jemie
James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), artist [more].

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

5.  corner house
The house owned by Dr George E. Palmer (see below), built in 1787, situated in the corner of Main and Wall Streets at Stonington, CT.

6.  Vanderbilt
Steamer Cornelius Vanderbilt (1847-1896), Stonington Line (1,041 tons); see AMW to Joseph Harrison, 13 August 1849, #07637.

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

8.  Lake Mahopac
Lake in Mahopac, a town about 50 miles north of New York City.

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

10.  Aunt Maria
Maria Matilda McNeill (d. January 1852), née Camman, wife of AMW's brother, W. G. McNeill [more].

11.  Mary
Mary Ann Whistler (ca 1826 - d.1852), née Ducatel, JW's sister-in-law [more].

12.  Cousin Julia's
Julia Catherine Rodewald (1825-1897), née McNeill, JW's cousin, wife of A. Rodewald, Sr [more].

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

14.  Uncle Palmers
Dr George E. Palmer (1803-1868), physician, AMW's brother-in-law [more].

15.  New Haven
AMW was thinking of New Haven as a prospective place of residence; see AMW to JW, 13 December [1848], #06379; AMW to Joseph Harrison, 19 June 1849, #07629, and 7 July 1849, #07634.

16.  Mr Maxwell
Hugh Maxwell (1787-1873), of the NY Custom House (1849-1853), lawyer and collector [more].

17.  school at Fairfield
Fairfield Academy, CT, built in 1804. It was advertised as far away as Albany, NY, and had an excellent reputation. See Elizabeth V. H. Banks, This is Fairfield, 1639-1940, New Haven, CT, 1960, pp. 150-155; Elizabeth L. Child, The Old Academy, Fairfield, CT, Fairfield Historical Society, CT, 1927.

18.  Mary Brennan
Mary Brennan (b. 1825), AMW's servant [more].

19.  James
James Brennan, brother of AMW's servant, Mary Brennan.

20.  Tom
Probably Tom, a labourer.

21.  Mr Grey
Grey, unidentified.

22.  Punch
English illustrated periodical published from 1841 to 1992, revived in 1996, famous for its satiric humour and caricatures and cartoons. Henry Mayhew, Mark Lemon, and Joseph Stirling Coyne were its first editors.

23.  Grandmother
Martha McNeill (1775-1852), née Kingsley, mother of AMW [more].

24.  Mrs Chase
Mrs Chase, of Philadelphia.

25.  Williams
Williams; unidentified.

26.  Astor
Astor House Hotel, erected in the early 1830s by John Jacob Astor (1763-1848), merchant and property developer [more]. At his death, Astor was the richest man in America. The hotel was built of solid granite, on three streets, Boadway, Barclay and Vesey street and featured extraordinary conveniences for the time, such as baths and toilets on every floor, supplied with water raised by a steam pump. Marshall B. Davidson, A Pictorial History, New York, New York, 1977, pp. 111-112.

27.  Your
'Your ... AMW' continues in the upper left margin of p. 1.