The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Document associated with: Cammann, Henry
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System Number: 06397
Date: 10 and 11 July 1851
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[1]
Place: [Pomfret]
Recipient: JW
Place: West Point[2]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W393
Document Type: ALS

Thursday 9 o'clock evening, 10th. July

Grandmother[3] has just said goodnight to Willie[4] & I, charging us each to enclose her love & blessing for you dearest Jemie[5]. We have just united in family worship, and in praying for a blessing from on high for "the absent members" upon our Cadet a double portion! But are you a Cadet? The only report I have received from you is that you were awaiting the examination of the medical board. It is five weeks since your introduction at West Point, it is strange that J Holbrooks[6] letters reach Pomfret, for Sam[7] has three from him to tell about, but yours to me must miscarry, if Sam hears that you are disabled from writing he has the fear of giving me pain & supresses [sic] the bad news. If you are studying hard to "keep your name bright" still a weekly note home would be a small tax upon hours of relaxation and when you think of our daily disappointment & of a widowed mothers [8] anxiety you will exert yourself to prevent it in future. Words cannot express how mortified I am always to reply in the negative to the incessant question "have you news from your son?" The widow Eldridge[9] paid quite a social call day before yesterday, & when I was trying to gloss over your neglect of me, by magnifying your exertions at the military academy, she quietly remarked "he must acquire a habit of writing short letters, for you naturally wish to hear often from him, at least I judge so & could not bear the separation from my son, but for his frequent reports home."

I received a most kind letter from Genl Swift[10] by yesterdays mail in which he expresses the anxiety of a tender father to hear from you, will you read this extract & value the interest evinced by this veteran friend? I hope so dear Jemie, for you know the Genl is no croaker, he habitually is liberal in his view of the activity of others, but he is one of the chiefs of the military academy & was always an oracle with your own dear departed father, so I hope you will estimate the value of such an adviser, & read with reflection his remarks, "I had [p. 2] hoped to have heard something of Jemie ere this, he was too flatteringly received by his fathers friend Bartlett[11], tho he gave him excellent counsel, The Honble Mr Kemble[12] distinguished him on the same score, but Jemie's sad lounging habit mortified me, he kept Mr K's breakfast waiting & the cars had well nigh left us! very provoking in a youth - and the worst thing next to a vice, at the Point, so you may imagine me in some anxiety about Jemie, I await your account of your son & pray he may exert himself." Oh, my own precious Jemie may I hope you will overcome the indolence & procrastination which no doubt your parents bear the chief blame of, tho you are the victim, tomorrow completes your 17th. year, how gladly I should send you a birthday offering more to your taste, than this united friendly & maternal warning.

You have not enlightened me as to any victories over self, or I should have seized upon an opp - for cheering you on by encores. I "hope on" tho I have felt "hope deferred maketh the heart sick[13]" perhaps you have been writing to N Haven to rejoice with your brother & sister[14] there in your little nephew[15]! perhaps you have been using the moments you would otherwise devote to your mother - in writing to Sloane St[16]. I send you the half of the last from Sis because it is so full of Jemie - how it would gratify me to send you a birth day cake, or a canister of your favorite snaps, but Willie thinks you may be on your journey back to Pomfret, or that you are confined to the hospital! if you write me on the contrary that homemade cake will be acceptable in August, & that it will not be too late for fencing there; Willie may take these with his own snug valise, even if I am discouraged about visiting you. I must answer Genl Swifts letter this week, as he soon will be setting out for Michigan. how I wish you would write this your most invaluable earthly friend! especially as you have not put it into your mothers power to report your progress to him. Grandmother, Willie & myself are assured of a cordial welcome at Geneva[17] & it would be of infinite service to my health, which is not [p. 3] firm, but unless I go to see you, I shall remain at my post here, three weeks from tomorrow will be the examination here, Willie by the blessing of God, will go to Stonington by the 5th of Aug to meet Cousin Kate, [18] Nellie[19] & Jacks[20] & for sea bathing. Mary[21] is to go to Springfield even earlier, so Grandmother & I shall comfort & help each other till she comes back strengthened & cheered! Then if letters from you encourage me to make the exertion, it will not be long ere you are embraced by your mother & brother. It is gratifying to me to hear Willie how he excuses your neglect of us, to others, When Sam H says he would not care for such a brother! & sneers at your being so soon used up! Willie says Sam does not know what study or work either, mean as Jim does! and that he would not change brothers! But oh when he returns straight from school to the Post office day by day with "no letter from Jemie"! he looks distressed. All are asleep now but me, our faithful timepeace warns me to say goodnight.

Friday 11th.

Grandmother says "many happy returns of Jemies birthday to him." Oh my beloved son how can I convey to you an idea of the tender love which fills your widowed mothers hea[rt] as she yearns to embrace you! Willie is studying very dilligently this term, or might ha[ve] enclosed a letter which he began last evening to you, he is much more manly since obliged to act for himself, but he is very considerate for my comfort. Jacks went to N Haven with Hen C.[22] on the 4th. as Willie could not accompany them to West Point. Eliza[23] writes me that your Uncle McNeill[24] expects to embark for LPool on the 19th. How many of our relatives are going to see Sis! Jemie try to fulfil all your friends expectations from your bright talents, & then you may pay her a flying visit to delight mutually. Oh if you will but write me that you read your bible & pray as I have led you to do since you could be taught to fear, love & honor your Savior, if you assure me you still observe the sign that you are one of the heavenly family by keeping the Lords day holy! you will indeed cheer me, tho your cheerful voice no longer beguiles me of sad & lonely feelings, I have only had one walk since you were my companion & that was then last saturday afternoon in June with Cousin Kate & Mrs Phinney[25] to Doct Vintons[26] place. Mr P Gingy[27] & his father are making a tour to Canada, but promised[28] to be here at the Church fair on the 30th. I went to the Rectory with Willie Monday evening to sit a social hour or two. Mrs P, is making some beautiful articles. Miss Kate[29] embroidering another chair & even [Sequr?] crochets a mat at her elbow. I see none of the webs wrought next door, I hear of Annas[30] having a disease of the heart so her mother thinks! A wedding is the topic in agitation thro the village but it is not decided. The Misses Vinton[31] I hope will soon be in our choir for the new organ is fine. How do you like their brother? who do you prefer to him & to Holbrook as companions. Offer my regards at Major Bartletts & in piety with love to your

fond & anxious


[p. 4] Read this thro with attention & reverence, then destroy it for I fear it being read by others in camp. Tell me of your health particularly. Do write to Genl Swift as I know you can readily if you will. do not put it off till the morrow. The stamps are ordered & shall be enclosed in my next, do not wait for them. Borrow till you can return.

Cadet James A. Whistler
Military Academy
West Point
State of New York

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

2.  West Point
United States Military Academy, West Point, NY, opened in 1802; see AMW to JW, 10 June 1851, #06396.

3.  ALS
There is a circular black wax seal inscribed 'Anna.'

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

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

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

7.  J Holbrooks
James Baker Holbrook, a class-mate of JW at USMA, West Point.

8.  Sam
Sam Holbrook, son of James Holbrook, and brother of J. B. Holbrook.

9.  widowed mothers
AMW is reffering to the loss of her husband George Washington Whistler (1800-1849), engineer, JW's father [more].

10.  widow Eldridge
Hannah Eldridge (1799-1865), née Grosvenor, widow of Edward Eldridge of Pomfret, CT.

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

12.  fathers friend Bartlett
Professor William Holmes Chambers Bartlett (1804-1893), mathematician [more].

13.  The Honble Mr Kemble
Gouverneur Kemble (1786-1875), politician and merchant [more].

14.  hope deferred maketh the heart sick
'hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when desire cometh, it is the tree of life.' Prov. 13.12.

15.  brother & sister
George William Whistler (1822-1869), engineer, JW's half-brother [more], and Mary Ann Whistler (ca 1826 - d.1852), née Ducatel, JW's sister-in-law [more].

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

17.  Sloane St
62 Sloane Street, London, was the home address of Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more],and his wife Deborah ('Debo' or 'Sis') Delano Haden (1825-1908), née Whistler, JW's half-sister [more].

18.  Geneva
General Swift lived at Geneva, NY.

19.  Cousin Kate
Probably Kate ('Cousin Kate') Livermore (1820-1907), née Prince, wife of A. Livermore [more].

20.  Nellie
Probably Ellen M. McNeill, JW's cousin.

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

22.  Hen C.
Henry ('Harry') Cammann, merchant.

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

24.  Uncle McNeill
William Gibbs McNeill (1800-1853), railway engineer, AMW's brother [more].

25.  Mrs Phinney
Mrs Phinney, of Pomfret, CT.

26.  Doct Vintons
Francis Vinton (1809-1872), clergyman of the Protestant Episcopal Church [more].

27.  Mr P Gingy
Mr Gingy, of Pomfret, CT.

28.  promised
'promised ... Mother' continues in the left upper margins of p. 1.

29.  Miss Kate
Catherine C. Richardson (b. 1831). In 1850 she lived with the family of Rev. R. Park.

30.  Annas
Anna Holbrook, daughter of M. B. and J. Holbrook.

31.  Misses Vinton
Eleanor Vinton (b. 1838), and Mary Vinton (1840-1930), daughters of Rev. A. H. Vinton.

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