The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Palmer, Emma Woodbridge
Record 5 of 15

System Number: 06432
Date: 1 December [1853[1]]
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[2]
Place: New York
Recipient: JW
Place: West Point[3]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W427
Document Type: ALS

220 Fourteenth St N York

Dec 1st. thursday evening

Dont let the above divert your attention my dear Cadet[4], for I desire you to rejoice more in your having comforted my heart by your loving tones which I read last evening at the Cottage[5] - than in my transient advantages at the Court end of the city of Gotham[6] - Jemie dear tho a tincture of sadness echoes in my motherly tenderness at your shiverings on the bleak plain, & I lament over the hopelessness of your privations as a soldier, I'd rather you'd feel the blues occasionally than be indifferent to home influences, I know from experience it is a subject of gratulation [sic] that our hearts should be softened by separations, but ah the benefit can only be conveyed by more than human sympathy. I wish dear Willie[7] & Jemie would try my experience of dependence upon the Lord, The divine source of every blessing temporal & eternal. "The Lord will [p. 2] provide[8]" satisfies me under every perplexity, George[9] thought me dilatory in setting about securing rooms for the winter, weeks ago.

Cousin Mattie[10] was really out of patience because I put off - but I thought to myself sufficient is the care of my Cottage guests! Last thursday advised by Alfred Brewer[11] to whom I had put the question by letter did he know of any suitable family for us to board with - I came to the city, went first to 19th St which is the most unfavorable of any up town - & so I was passed on, as the widow lady there had not a room for Mary[12] of course I declined, a stranger directed me here, where I only wish you could share our comforts I should not have aspired to 14th St but if I had planned for this arrangement, it could not have been more exactly what my circumstances & health require, folding doors convert Willie's & my room into quite a parlor, large windows east make it bright - Gas fixtures, heated air, warm & cold water, beside a bath room & water closet next room.

[p. 3] You may be sure I did not hesitate to take the rooms as soon as I saw them, Mary & I bade adieu to the Cottage this morning. A trust worthy couple like Mr & Mrs Searles[13] will keep it aired & protect our place, he is the head carpenter of the parsonge [sic] now being built[14] on the adjoining field, so you see the Lord provides - this arrangement benefits many besides ourselves, the building will be expedited by it. I have been in the family circle here at dinner & tea, they suit me but against you & I are tête à tête, I shall know them better & then give you my impression[,] there are several young ladies, musical & lively.

I mean Willie to study in the afternoons then we may be in the parlour here or at some of our neighbours parlors for social soirées. Your cousin Mrs Jaffray[15] occupies a fine house nearest, C Palmer[16] furthest[,] Dr C & Mr O J C[17] between, we are so near the 9th Av, George I hope will often call. Willie stayed at his quarters till today & told me he was coming here to welcome my arrival he is to go to Balt[imore] early next week, so I presume he will not reach your barrack. I'll see about your watch myself, dear Jemie. Why do you prohibit Saturday visitors[?] I should like to run up just to give you an embrace, but I cannot take Willie [p. 4] from his class, his attack of fever in Oct caused him to lose a week & his blistered heel two days this week, he was quite lame Sat, Sunday & Monday, not able to wear hose, till tuesday, he limped back to class, so much for tight boots! I wonder such a devotee to fashion should risk being out of it, for full sized boots are the present mode. But of my going to West Point of course I would not cut my esteemed friends at the Profs[18] as my boys do, I might run up some friday evening & return Sat p - m, Aunt Kate[19] writes me she has made a first rate Thanks giving Cake for you, & in the glow of her kindness & love, she proposed writing you & sending the Cake per Express to Cadet Whistler. so you must get some of your friends in authority to be interested in its safety & your getting it. I have written Aunt Kate to keep it, or send it to me to keep for a private opp[ortunity], but my warning may not reach her in time, it was only by yesterdays mail I recd her letter, it was dated Nov 25th last friday you see! I tremble for your treat dont keep me in suspense, if you could only keep writing materials, stamps especially. Be sure & let me know if those shirts Mary made at Pomfret are the kind you [p. 5] like in what points they must be enlarged mention particularly dear Jemie, she hopes to accomplish all our sewing this winter, I have brought a goodly supply of books & strange enough had put among them in my trunk the Russian Artists, fac-similes of Russ peasantry[20], portraits I believe, you never were discouraged in any wish expressed to your father & Mother to cultivate good feeling, so of course my dear Jemie I am glad to have it in my power in this instance to fulfil a wish, only wait till we meet, I do not suppose you will be allowed to spend Xmas in the city, but by the blessing of the Lord I cherish hopes of seeing you face to face here or there. Mr Flagg[21] has recd a call at N Orleans & gone there to judge of the parish, Eliza[22] expects to join him with little McNeill[23]. I must get Willie to write Jacks[24] & tell him you desire to hear from him. Emma P is at her Uncle C- s[25] in this St. so I suppose I shall see her in my rooms tomorrow, she is to spend Xmas in town. George was to send Leigh's[26] Cloak by Express today & a shirt of yours in it - let us hear of both. Good night & God bless you. [p. 6] Please call at Mr Bartletts with my remembrance. Mary & Willie unite with me in love to you.

Ever your own devoted Mother

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1.  1853
Dated with reference to AMW's move to New York; see AMW to Jane Wann, 18 November 1853, #06431.

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; see AMW to JW, 10 June 1851, #06396.

4.  dear Cadet
James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), artist [more].

5.  Cottage
AMW's cottage at Scarsdale, New York.

6.  Court end of the city of Gotham
Probably a reference to the business part of the City of New York. In the middle of the nineteenth century 14th Street was the northern boundary of Greenwich Village. There, residences disappeared and business began. See Mindy Cantor, ed., Around the Square, 1830-1890: Essays on Life, Letters and Architecture in Greenwich Village, New York, 1982, p. 38; Henry Collins Brown, Fifth Avenue, Old and New, 1824-1924, New York, 1924, p. 39.

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

8.  The Lord will provide
'Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided,' Gen. 22.13-15.

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

10.  Cousin Mattie
Martha ('Matty') Fairfax (b. ca 1820), JW's cousin, later wife of Isaiah Davenport [more]; see AMW to JW, 29 September 1853, #06429, and 16 November 1853, #06430, and AMW to Jane Wann, 18 November 1853, #06431.

11.  Alfred Brewer
Rev. Alfred Lee Brewer (1831-1899), Curate at the Church of the Epiphany in New York from 1856-1857 [more].

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

13.  Mr & Mrs Searles
Searles, carpenter, and his wife; they were AMW's neigbours at Pomfret, CT.

14.  now being built
See AMW to James H. Gamble, 28 September and 1 October 1853, #06428.

15.  Mrs Jaffray
Abbie Snelling Jaffray (1817-1871), née Hamilton, wife of R. W. Jaffray [more]. Her address was 41 Greenwich Avenue; see Doggett's New York City Directory, 1849-50, New York, p. 80.

16.  C Palmer
Probably Courtland ('Uncle Court') Palmer, Sr (1800-1874), merchant, brother of Dr G. E. Palmer [more]. His home address was 22 E 14th; see Doggett's New York City Directory, 1849-50, New York, p. 327.

17.  Dr C & Mr O J C
Dr George Philip Cammann (1804-1863), and Oswald J. Cammann, JW's uncles. O. J. Cammann's address was 14 w14; see Doggett's New York City Directory, 1849-50, New York, p. 80.

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

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

20.  Russian Artists, fac-similes of Russ peasantry
Probably works of or related with Pavlovich Karl Briullov or Bryullov (1799-1852), artist [more], Aleksander Osipovich Koritzkii, Professor at St Petersburg Academy of Fine Arts and court painter [more], and Émile-François Dessain (1808-1882), painter and printmaker [more]; see AMW to JW, 1 and 2 November 1848, #06370, 4 and 5 December 1848, #06374, and 25 and 26 December [1848], #06380.

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

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

23.  little McNeill
William McNeill Flagg (b. 1852), son of E. and Rev. E. O. Flagg.

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

25.  Emma P is at her Uncle C- s
Emma Woodbridge Palmer (1835-1912), JW's step-cousin [more], and Courtland ('Uncle Court') Palmer, Sr (1800-1874), merchant, brother of Dr G. E. Palmer [more].

26.  Leigh's