The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
Home > On-line Edition > Search for People > Document Display

return to search results

Document associated with: Whitehouse, Maria
Record 1 of 1

System Number: 06399
Date: 27 August 1851
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[1]
Place: Stonington
Recipient: JW
Place: West Point[2]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W395
Document Type: ALS


Wednesday Aug 27th 51

My beloved Jemie[3]

Willie & Jacks[4] have not yet come up from the Vanderbilt[5], altho the latter was ready to be Grandmothers [6] gallant to the good old corner house[7] at 6 oclock this am. Willie was in bed all day yesterday with fever caused by bathing when overheated & staying in too long. this will be a warning to him to be moderate & prudent in his indulgences I hope, he feels well today tho rather weak.

I wonder if you have expected a letter from Mother before this? My heart has indited many a one to you, Major Bartlett[8] would report to you having continued his friendly attentions even to engaging a carriage & putting us in it for the South Ferry. Jacks found his valise in the Reindeer[9]. A welcome from Grandma C & Aunty[10], from Eliza & Mr Flagg[11]. Carus[12] salute! Nurse & Sarah[13] shining in their sphere, made us at once at home. We made many trips in next door to see Cousin Josee Richards[14] looking beautiful enough for one of Bueloffs[15] subjects in a cerulean blue robe clasped with torquoise & her eyes as blue as the brooch, she has a wee infant son[16] now, little Mackey[17] however is the most engaging child at the winning age of two years & he is the miniature picture of Genl Swift[18] (who is expected in Brooklyn 1st of Sept & whom I wished I could have waited to meet there, but I must be at Pomfret by next Saturday) I took my boys to N Haven by the Express train 8 oclock last friday & we had a most pleasant trip up. George[19] had just returned from his 5 o'clock inspection & looked dusty enough, for he goes usually on the Engine. Mary[20] says he often walks 12 miles a day where the new track is in progress [p. 2] so you have not greater exertions to make dear Jemie[.] I think your little nephew GWW[21] looks much as you did at his age, for you had the same unfair play, not enough to eat which he has & you know the old rule Jemie "pretty babies grow up plain" so lament not over your thin visage now, you were a pretty baby when you plump'd up & so will your nephew be. he is a darling now! I dont wonder that Mary sheds tears when they roll from his full blue eyes, or that she is delighted when he smiles, his fingers are long & tapered & his nails like pink shells, his hair is brown & inclined to curl like Uncle Jems! Mary wishes she could go to West Point, to shew him to you & George promises this week to spend a day with you. but so he intended meeting me in the city & business interfered. I did not see him after he walked to the depot with me on Sat noon. Jacks & Willie loitered & were obliged to take the ten oclock train to N Y, instead of the seat in Mr Pophams[22] carriage intended for them, to drive Miss Hill[23] & I from New Rochelle station to Scarsdale, they would have enjoyed the early drive as I did thro a beautiful country six miles had they been ready as I was for the 6 ¼ train from N Haven. Aunty & Eliza spent Saturday at Scarsdale with me, feeling it a privilege to be with such dear & tried friends in such a lovely spot! they returned to Brooklyn that evening. Willie came up by the Harlaem [sic] train with Mr Popham in time to enjoy a romantic stroll thro the woods with Miss Hill & myself. All there take a great interest in you Jemie dear they urge me much to pitch my tent among them & I have every inducement for wishing to sojourn at so convenient a distance for visiting West Point & Brooklyn. The Hudson RR[24] is only two miles off & the Harlaem RR[25] takes only 1 hour & a half to put passengers down at the Park. Consequently Willie could daily attend Columbia College[26] all the year round & would daily have some of the Popham gents to bear him company to town & back. Scarsdale would be convenient for George & Mary to visit us. We could keep a pony for Willie & a cow for our benefit, & the circle is most select, besides the church & pastor & his wife[27] being after our model of such indispensibles. I & Willie left there by the 9 oclock train Monday for N York.

I [p. 3] have not yet talked with George of this new prospect, but doubt not he will approve of it, for an Engineer is never stationary & were I to go to N Haven to be near him, he might leave me there! C Ingersoll[28] has returned from England & is soon to be married[29]! Cousin S Lewis[30] is in the insane hospital! but it is only a derangement of the least alarm, & transient I'm sure. I hope to see Cousin Jule[31] at the Wadawanac[32] as his family is there. Mr Rodewald[33] is expected daily at 100 Jeralomen St[34]. Willy Wyatt[35] went down by last evenings boat. Jacks is to visit Pomfret & we decided to write for Richmond[36] to meet us on Sat next if the weather is fine & the Lord will. I have some fear of the necessity of my taking "the Silver Moon[37]" to South St N Y to ship her for Florida. but Mr Jones[38] (D V) as he went with me to enquire about it offers to help me tho. his wife is with her mama[39] (in such ill health great apprehensions are felt for the event."Pullie[40]" is at N Haven.

I had the pleasure of listening to the report of the latest date of West Point from Miss Maria Whitehouse[41], she was so pleased to have seen Jemie W! but it slipped out that a demerit[42] had been read off to his name last Sat eve -You said to me my dear Cadet that you would try to have no more, it was a good time to begin you thought at my visit. "Now is the day of salvation[43]" is the divine caution. And will it not be a good time when you get into barracks to turn over a new leaf? try for your mother's sake dear Jemie! it will never be easier than now. I wish you would keep your teeth & your musket cleaner too! you promised to study regularly & not to suppose glancing would suffice. think of these things & shew you have moral courage, by resisting idle examples. What can I say to induce you daily to read your bible! Oh my poor Jemie I pray for you! do you pray for yourself? you would be so much more really happy if you continued in the habits in which you have been so carefully trained, oh forsake not the law of your father that "Mother's wishes should be your rule of daily action" you have time for every thing! if you will but talk less & do more. I have been doing many things since I began this, for now it is afternoon. Willie is enjoying himself with Jacks so much that they send love instead of writing to you, I had a most satisfactory letter from Pomfret today. Mary[44] will have your shirts ready to send when you get home. If I have to take Eliza to N Y, I shall run up to spend another day with you. I fear you did not keep to your promise of spending the Saturday afternoon in the family circle of your fathers friend[45] [p. 4] but you will do it in future to gratify your Mother I know. If this is in time will you take your Grandmothers love & mine to Mrs Bartlett[46] next Saturday & the address to [Cahills?] which I enclose. do not put it off, as she wanted it [as] soon as possible.

Kate Prince[47] is to walk with me to our sacred ground[48] this afternoon, her spirit is yearning towards the grave to weep there as mine for today she has heard of the death of her pet "Willie Prince[49]" you know she thought him angelic in life, and now he is with the thousands of children around the throne. today is our Charlies Springfield[50] birth day. friday 29th Johnies[51] at St P. dear Jemie stop & reflect that you are only conditionally at West Point. God bless you. "Be wise today tis madness to defer[52]" I beg you to put the envelope I directed for Pomfret to immediate use [.] I am so anxious to hear who is your room-mate & how you think you shall like your course of study. Every body now asks of you with such deep solicitude, disappoint us not.

George promised to take your shoes & then you must have your others mended. they will not be too bright when you get off the hot plain[53].

God be present with you my dear Jemie, think of your widowed Mother and write soon to her.


This document is protected by copyright.


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

4.  Willie & Jacks
William McNeill Whistler (1836-1900), physician, JW's brother [more], and Patrick T. Jackson ('Jacks') McNeill (1835-1898), accountant, JW's cousin [more].

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

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

7.  old corner house
The house owned by Dr George E. Palmer (d. 1868), husband of Kate Palmer, built in 1787, situated in the corner of Main and Wall Streets.

8.  Major Bartlett
Professor William Holmes Chambers Bartlett (1804-1893), mathematician [more].

9.  Reindeer
Steamer Reindeer (1850-1852), New Brunswick Steamboat Co. (850,322 tons.). After one or two trips it was used as a day boat for several months between New York and New Haven, and in 1851 it was placed on the New York and Albany route. It was burned in September 1852; see AMW to JW, 12 September 1852, #06419.

10.  Grandma C & Aunty
Maria Margaretta Cammann ('Grandma C') (1774-1862), mother-in-law of William Gibbs McNeill [more], and probably Maria Matilda McNeill (d. January 1852), née Camman, wife of AMW's brother, W. G. McNeill [more].

11.  Eliza & Mr Flagg
Rev. Edward Octavius Flagg (1824-1911), husband of JW's cousin Eliza McNeill [more] (1830-1855), JW's cousin.

12.  Caros
Lat.: dear, beloved /costly, high-priced, expensive.

13.  Sarah
Sarah Delano Swift (1816-1876), daughter of General J. G. Swift.

14.  Cousin Josee Richards
Louisa Josephine ('cousin Josee') Richards (1821-1859), née Swift, wife of P. Richards.

15.  Bueloffs
Pavlovich Karl Briullov or Bryullov (1799-1852), artist [more]. Briullov was a friend of the Whistler's and a regular visitor to their house in St Petersburg. See AMW to JW, 1 and 2 November 1848, #06370.

16.  infant son

17.  Mackey
MacRea Richards (1849-1852), son of L. J. and P. Richards.

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

19.  George
George William Whistler (1822-1869), engineer, JW's half-brother [more]. George was superintendent of the Erie, and New York and New Haven Railroads.

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

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

22.  Mr Pophams
William Sherbrooke Popham (1793-1885), merchant [more].

23.  Miss Hill
Margaret Getfield Hill (1802-1881), a friend of AMW, of Scarsdale, NY [more].

24.  Hudson RR
Hudson River Railroad, started in 1846; originally planned by a group of New York city merchants led by James Boorman. After a brief unsuccessful administration by Azariah C. Flagg, Boorman was forced to take over the presidency of the road in 1849 and continued in charge until its completion to East Albany in 1851. See Thomas C. Cochran, Railroad Leaders 1845-1890, The Business Mind in Action, New York, 1965, p. 23.

25.  Harlaem RR
New York and Harlem Railroad, was constructed as a local line in 1831-32, from Manhattan to Harlem village, then an independent community. It was opened 14 November 1832. The line was completed by 1835. The first serious accident on the New York and Harlem railroad occured on Thursday Morning, 4 July 1839, at 14th street and 4th Avenue, when the boiler of the locomotive "New York" exploded, killing the engineer and injuring twenty people. See Thomas C. Cochran, ibid., p. 23, and Joseph Warren Greene, 'New York City's first railroad; the New York and Harlem, 1832-1867,' in the New York Historical Society Quarterly, January 1926, vol. 9, no. 4, pp. 107-123.

26.  Columbia College
Private institution of higher education in New York, founded in 1754 as King's College. It was renamed Columbia College when it reopened in 1784 after the American Revolution. It became Columbia University in 1912. William McNeill Whistler entered the College in October 1853; see AMW to JW, 29 September 1853, #06429. William never graduated from Columbia; see Catalogue of Officers and Graduates of Columbia University from the Foundation of King's College in 1754, New York, 1906.

27.  pastor & his wife
Rev. William Whittinghame Olssen (1827-1911), Rector at Scarsdale, NY [more], and his wife Louisa Olssen (b. 1828).

28.  C Ingersoll
Colin Macrae Ingersoll (1819-1903), secretary of the American Legation at St Petersburg [more].

29.  is soon to be married
His wife to be was Julia Harriet Pratt (b. 1832); the wedding took place on 26 October 1853, at Prattsville, Greene, New York.

30.  Cousin S Lewis
Sarah Lewis, wife of P. T. J. McNeill.

31.  Cousin Jule
Probably Julius Walker Adams, Sr (1812-1899), civil engineer and soldier [more].

32.  Wadawanac
Not identified.

33.  Mr Rodewald
Adolphe Rodewald, Sr (1818-1869), husband of J. C. McNeill [more].

34.  100 Jeralomen St
100 Joralemon Street, Brooklyn, New York, was the address of Grandmother Cammann. In 1861 the number of her house must have been altered or she may have moved; see Brooklyn City Directory, New York, 1861, p. 59, listed her address as 148 Joralemon.

35.  Willy Wyatt
William Wyatt McNeill (1833-1853), JW's cousin [more].

36.  Richmond
Nathan Richmond (b. 1799), farmer at Pomfret, CT.

37.  the Silver Moon
Eliza (d. 1856); Kate Livermore's servant; see AMW to JW, 6 August 1851, #06398, and AMW to JW, 16 September 1851, #06400.

38.  Mr Jones
Alonzo V. Jones.

39.  wife is with her mama
Eliza Jones, née Ducatel, wife of A. V. Jones.

40.  Pullie

41.  Miss Maria Whitehouse
Maria Whitehouse, sister of E. Whitehouse.

42.  a demerit
JW collected 137 demerits in his first term, a score that kept him in good standing, but his performance at West Point was generally poor, resulting to his final dismissal in 1854. See Gordon H. Fleming, The Young Whistler 1834-66, London, 1978, p. 85.

43.  Now is the day of salvation
"For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." 2 Cor. 6.2.

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

45.  fathers friend
Major Bartlett was a friend of George Washington Whistler (1800-1849), engineer, JW's father [more].

46.  Mrs Bartlett
Harriet Bartlett, née Whitehorne, wife of Prof. W. H. C. Bartlett.

47.  Cahills

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

49.  sacred ground
Evergreen Cemetery, Stonington, CT, where George Washington Whistler (1800-1849), AMW's husband, is buried.

50.  Willie Prince
William Prince (d. 1851).

51.  Charlies Springfield
Charles Donald Whistler (1841-1843), JW's brother [more].

52.  Johnies
John Bouttatz Whistler (1845-1846), JW's brother [more].

53.  Be wise today tis madness to defer
'Be wise to-day; tis madness to defer.' Edward Young, The Complaint or Night Thoughts on Life Death & Immortality, in London, 1742, 1.390.

54.  hot plain
The parade ground; it was a small plateau of some forty acres jutting into the Hudson. See Stephen E. Ambrose, Duty, Honor, Country: A History of West Point, Baltimore, 1966, p. 24.