The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Document associated with: Boot, Kirk
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System Number: 06415
Date: 13 [September 1853[1]]
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[2]
Place: Stonington
Recipient: JW
Place: West Point[3]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W410
Document Type: ALS


tuesday 13th

Jemie my son

how is it with you? hope told a flattering tale when a widowed Mothers love whispered yours for her would over come your lazyness.

Col Lee[4] wrote me kindly of your having been received in your class as tho you had passed the June Examination. George[5] is grateful for this, chiefly I suspect from some concluding remarks, that a furlough would be escaped the coming years of your cadetship. I look upon your case in a more serious light, but you are in the keeping of the Ruler of the Universe & the hearer of a widowed mothers prayers.

I am no teller of dreams, one or two have been remarkable in my experience, surely you have heard [p. 2] me relate the dream I had in Lowell just proceeding Mr Bootts[6] sudden death - And as I had an uneasy slumber watching your sufferings last June, I was sweetly refreshed by dreaming of dear Grandmother[7] whose words seemed awakening me with divine truth, "Eye hath not seen Neither hath ear heard, nor hath it ended into the heart of Man to conceive the joys laid up for those who love the Lord[8]" no doubt her angel spirit realizes this, & we are assured by Gods written word that "we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses[9]" death being only the telegraph between time & eternity I had a dream of you last week & awoke (as I often go to sleep filled with weeping thoughts of you) [p. 3] But for the claims of little Georgie & Mr & Mrs Prince[10] who were at the hotel & hourly duties to Aunt Kate[11] & family I should have written you that day.

I am aware Jemie dearest how averse you are to gloom, does aught ever make me sit under its shadow, but recklessness on your part? Review your absence from West Point! & ask yourself if you have not given cause to deepen a widowed mothers solicitude? I dreamed indistinctly, I heard of your sudden death, no time allowed you to testify of repentance, or to send a word of comfort to me, it seemed that in the dream I was required to recount the faithfulness of God to you, spared when on your death bed - warned by the sudden death of your favorite Coz[12], but recovering health only to dissipate it & have every law moral & divine! it was also too true & we were parted forever! - May this be averted by Gods help!

[p. 4] By mistake dear Jemie I wrote on two thicknesses, this is my last page, I expect to follow the departure of Willie[13] with the Ducatels & little Georgie[14], which was yesterday by this evenings boat, to meet them in the half past ten train for Scarsdale tomorrow - by the blessing of God upon my trip - I waited for Aunt Kate to return there with me. we propose visiting Brooklyn to breakfast & see your three cousins, Mary[15] was expected when I called at G'ma C-s[16] on my way here a fortnight ago today - Eliza[17] had her cough racking her then, but hoped Mr Flaggs[18] arrival & to return to Balt this week with him for the winter, if her health admits, So Aunt Kate feels it a duty to go with me to see our dear nieces, she sends you her love

[p. 5] The Ducatels can only spend tomorrow night at the cottage as their mother has written for them, little Georgie benefitted greatly the fortnight here, I regret he must so early return south. George talked the day he spent here with them, of his intention to go this month to see you, I shall send by him your flannels which I hope you will wear, I had regretted forgetting 4 new linen bossomed shirts in the hurry of your packing, but now shall make a half dozen plain winter shirts à la militaire, you will return Willie's collars & I'll send yours by George, also his black cloth coat, &c. Write me if you think of anything I can do for you dear Jemie at Scarsdale, I am thankful Willie has decided to enter Columbia[19] for a year, your fathers friends here notice his growing resemblance to your father & my heart acknowledges it, in his attention to the comforts of your devoted mother.


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1.  September 1853
In 1853 William Wyatt McNeill, JW's close cousin, died. According to Perpetual Calendar Whitaker's Almanack, Tuesday the 13th would have been in September 1853. This was also the year of the death of William Gibbs McNeill, AMW's brother.

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

3.  West Point
United States Military Academy, West Point, NY, opened in 1802.

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

5.  Col Lee
General Robert Edward Lee (1807-1870), Superintendant of USMA, West Point, and later Commander-in-Chief of the Confederate States of America [more].

6.  Mr Bootts
Probably Kirk Boot (1790-1837), merchant.

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

8.  Eye hath not seen Neither hath ear heard, nor hath it ended into the heart of Man to conceive the joys laid up for those who love the Lord
'Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.' Cor. 2.9.

9.  we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses
'Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses.' Heb. 12.1-2.

10.  Georgie & Mr & Mrs Prince
Probably George ('Georgie') Worthen Whistler (b. 1851), JW's nephew [more], John Dyneley ('Father Prince') Prince, engraver and printer [more], and his wife.

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

12.  death of your favorite Coz
William Wyatt McNeill (1833-1853), JW's cousin [more].

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

14.  Ducatels & little Georgie
George Worthington Whistler, and his grandparents Mr and Mrs Ducatel; they were the parents-in-law of George William Whistler.

15.  Mary
Mary Isabella Rodewald (1823-1867), née McNeill, JW's cousin, wife of J. F. Rodewald [more].

16.  G'ma C-s
Maria Margaretta Cammann ('Grandma C') (1774-1862), mother-in-law of William Gibbs McNeill [more].

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

18.  Mr Flaggs
Rev. Edward Octavius Flagg (1824-1911), husband of JW's cousin Eliza McNeill [more].

19.  Columbia
Private institution of higher education, 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.