The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: McNeill, Maria
Record 5 of 20

System Number: 06394
Date: 9 April 1850
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[1]
Place: Pomfret
Recipient: JW
Place: New York
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W390
Document Type: ALS


April 9th 1850.

My precious Jemie[3]

Immediately after the perusal of your cheering letter of last Friday which reached here yesterday, I went to where I had spent many a half hour in supplication for you since you left home - the solitude of my own room to thank God for his answers to my prayers, And again and again I go there to commit you afresh to his safe keeping. Jemie dear if you would only prove to me you love your Savior as I do, how much anxiety you would save me; for I might then feel assured that even death could not separate us. You seem not to have experienced the storm which began the night after you left here, Oh how my heart trembled as I thought you probably were crossing the Sound that black night! On Thursday snow & wind increased the terrors we were thankful to see the sun at its setting on Saturday. the stars & northern lights together made the contrast to the precarious three night [p. 2] bright indeed, but the sadness at my heart was too [sic] be chased away only by your letter. The roads have been in such a dreadful condition, the mail was late in arriving yesterday afternoon. Willie[4] had been waiting at the Post office some time, as soon as he spied your hand writing he flew home with the glad tidings of your welfare. We have clear, but windy weather today. Willie is warming himself in a game of ball with Lloyd[5] - & now he has come in for a luncheon of hominy & milk, for we three agreed to have dinner & tea together while I am maid of all work. Mary[6] would be wise to take my way, for tho I leave nothing undone that ought to be done I manage never to be in a bustle. dear Grandmother[7] often repeats the proverb of "a mouth full in quietness[8]" &c.

I have not heard from Mary yet, but am content in concluding she can be in want of nothing or she would write. she would have found the April storm very tiresome, for [p. 3] Mrs Searles[9] & others remark it is seldom Pomfret is visited with so much snow in this month. Willie has just brought me word from the post office, no mail expected today! because of an accident on this rail road, he will write you the particulars, & of his poultry as you desired. How doubly thankful am I for recieving [sic] your letter yesterday! my anxiety suppressed for the sake of dear Grandmother & Willie was making me feel ill. Your letter was very satisfactory except that you skipped over Stonington.

Your account of dear Aunt Maria[10] confirms my fear she is sinking. How much you must have enjoyed being with your favorite Cousin[11]. Willie is quite jealous that you did not tell him of his. I wish you to borrow one of Jacks[12] last summer tunics or whatever they are styled no matter how old a one, for me to alter Willie's by. I suppose you have attended to your suit & hope you may bring two black cloth caps with visors also. from the two yards of broadcloth. We must be very prudent in our expenditures, [p. 4] dear Jemie because we have so little to spend. You will be wise in returning, to take the Stage from Providence; I will mention its days & the hours of leaving for Pomfret depot. You will leave New York I hope this day week, as I prefer the Vanderbilt[13] for your crossing the Sound, if the weather prove favorable as I hope it may. I know Aunt Maria's plan is for leaving Irving Place[14] about the 16th I need not say give my love to them all there, for you know my heart. Your pleasant téte à téte [sic] with Genl Swift[15] was very gratifying. I agree in your opinion that he is the most charming & kind old gentlemen I know. I hope to hear from brother George[16] how he likes his shirts. If a sketch of Alicia H[17] is among the box of papers forwarded him by Mrs Ropes[18] - Boston - bring it me in your trunk. I left a small cap box in Irving Place bring it carefully. Willie forgot his shoe horn which you are to bring from Uncle Palmers[19]. You had better get a pr of half boots of patent leather for dress Summer wear, mind that they be large enough & not too slight for country roads, if brother George will pay for them, I will pay him [p. 5] bring your tailors ac/ with your suit, ask for any scraps of the cloth for mending as it as difficult to match black cloth, as it is colored. tell cousin Donald[20] this if he goes with you & I know he will attend to my request. I should like two more of those cheap prayer books from Swords[21] if you have 40 cents left when I send you enough for your return journey. You must call to see Mr Maxwell[22]. I wish you may happen to see George Prince[23] next tuesday in N York. He is to embark in the Europa[24] on the 17th for Lpool. I expect him to call en passant. A long letter from Edward Eastwick[25] here for you with proposals for entering upon regular correspondence. As I have heard nothing from the bride & groom[26] yet, I fear I shall not embrace Cousin Mary or be introduced to Mr. R[27] before they go to Europe as now the rail road will be impassible some days during repairs. At least, beg someone at Irving Place to inform me when they propose embarking. I have some trifles for the little ones in Sloane St[28]. to send. Think of your widowed mothers dependency on you for [p. 6] comfort dear Jemie, then you will do nothing or neglect nothing - which her rules for you oppose. I hope this visit to your brother George may be of great advantage to you. My love to him & regards to our good friend Mr Rutter[29]. Have you told him how gratified I was by his letter from Palmyra & with the paragraph in the Providence paper? Tell him I fear as I had not the portrait framed on my memorandum he will think me careless for omitting to pay for it when I settled with his nice little wife for her shopping, but I shall not forget to pay it too. God bless you & send you safe home to your fond mother.

Grandmother[30] sends her love to you & to brother George. I hope Mary was well my love to her. Read all of my scrawl. Take a memorandum of all I wish you to bring. & then burn this letter.


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

2.  Pomfret
AMW was recorded in the census of Pomfret, CT, 1850, living with two boys, a servant and a grandmother. See Windham Co, CT, Film no M432, Roll 51, Pomfret census 1850, National Archives, Washington DC.

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

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

5.  Lloyd
Lloyd Henry Bowers (1836-1886), son of Captain P. Bowers, Sr [more]; see Windham Co, CT, Film no M432, Roll 51, Pomfret census 1850, National Archives, Washington DC.

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

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

8.  a mouth full in quietness
Probably derives from 'Better is a dry mouth, and quietness therewith, than a banquet that is full of strife' Prov. 17:1.

9.  Mrs Searles
Mrs Searles, AMW's neighbour at Pomfret, CT.

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

11.  favorite Cousin
William Wyatt McNeill (1833-1853), JW's cousin [more].

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

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

14.  Irving Place
67 Irving Place, New York, was the address of William Gibbs McNeill (1800-1853), railway engineer, AMW's brother [more]. See Doggett's New York City Directory, New York, 1849-50, p. 279.

15.  Genl Swift
General Joseph Gardner Swift (1783-1865), chief engineer of the US Army, brother-in-law of JW's father [more].

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

17.  a sketch of Alicia H
Alicia McNeill Harrison (b. 1845), daughter of S. and J. Harrison [more]; she was AMW's god-daughter. Probably JW did the sketch (not located) when he was at St Petersburg, ca 1846-1847.

18.  Mrs. Ropes
Ellen Harriet Ropes, née Hall, wife of William H. Ropes.

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

20.  cousin Donald
It could be either Donald McNeill Fairfax (1821-1894), naval officer, or Donald C. McNeill (d. ca. 1876); they were both JW's cousins.

21.  Swords
T. & J. Swords, printers and booksellers, 160 Pear Street. See Longworth's American Almanac, New York Register and City Directory, New York, 1805.

22.  Mr Maxwell
Hugh Maxwell (1787-1873), of the NY Custom House (1849-1853), lawyer and collector [more]. Maxwell's address in New York was 11 Wall Street; see Doggett's New York City Directory, New York, 1849-50, p. 240. Also see AMW to Joseph Harrison, 13 August 1849, #07637.

23.  George Prince
George H. Prince, engineer.

24.  Europa
Steamer Europa (1848), Cunard Line (1,834 tons.). The departure of the Europa was advertised in the New York Herald, 17 April 1850, no. 5792.

25.  Edward Eastwick
Edward Peers Eastwick (1833-1926), son of L. A. and A. M. Eastwick [more].

26.  bride & groom
Mary Isabella Rodewald (1823-ca 1867), née McNeill, JW's cousin, married J. F. Rodewald on 2 April 1850.

27.  Mr R
Johann Frederick Rodewald (1808-1886), banker, husband of Mary Isabella McNeill [more].

28.  little ones in Sloane St
62 Sloane Street, London, was the the home address of Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more], and his family. The little ones were his children, Annie Harriet Haden (1848-1937), later Mrs Charles Thynne, and Francis Seymour Haden (1850-1918).

29.  Mr Rutter
Rutter, a friend of AMW, and his wife.

30.  Grandmother
'Grandmother ... AMW' continues cross written in the upper margin of p. 1.