UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Whistler, Julia de Kay
Record 8 of 44

System Number: 06439
Date: 29 and 30 May 1854
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[1]
Place: Scarsdale
Recipient: JW
Place: West Point[2]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W434
Document Type: ALS


[embossed monogram:] A M W

Scarsdale

Monday morningMay 29th 1854

My own dear Cadet[3]

I know not if George[4] repeated his flying visit to West Point, as he told me when I breakfasted in London terrace[5] friday - week past, he must. My circuit will have been I trust entirely satisfactory when I shall have returned to the Corner House[6] by next Saturdays boat, a fortnight absence from Aunt Kates[7] home, divided among scattered relatives, will enable me to resume my duties there domestic & as a church member. Mary B[8] is quite anxious to get back to help Mrs Palmer thro her sewing, that your Aunt may see you in Camp soon after the Exam. Then dearest Jemie you & I may be lighter of heart to talk over all that makes us anxious now.

then if you wonder why Mother did not stay till after the 1st of June in Balt, I may satisfy you, I believe even Mrs Winans[9] (the Countess!) - was convinced my health would not admit of the excitement, & the old man[10] & his new wife who paid their respects to Georges mother, take the will for the deed. Julia[11] I think comprehends me, she was sweetly attentive, but she did not demand the effort of me, she promises herself in June to see you as she has never been at West Point, we may meet there. I know if you are not disgraced, your vanity will be gratified by shewing off your new Sister as a bride "ornamented with jewels[12]" to the corps. It will indeed [p. 2] be a holiday to George after all his toils & anxieties, if you shall have entered your fourth year to continue till of age! then to release your brother Guardian from responsibility. I reflect upon your prospect this week last year! some of your Companions in the race have passed into judgement since! how in the sight of God have you improved the year? I rise before your Reveillée to pray for you! & again anticipate your Taps to ask forgiveness for my thoughtless Sons, imploring that you may commit your soul to your Father in Heaven ere you sleep. And again at midnight I plead for my sleeping boys. I recollect my brother Charlie[13] when a child on a journey for his malady, being reminded by the lady friend who had the care of him, to say his prayers, replied "Oh Katie[14] prays for all at home" but we must each plead for a new heart & to realize the presence of Him who pleads in heaven for each one of us - What a blessed family I visited last week. four daughters & three sons reward their father & mothers care, they have been trained for our Saviours service on earth, & to labor only for heavenly rewards.

I took Willie to Homeland with me, Mr & Mrs Perine[15] having known your father & Jacks[16] so intimately, have adopted their sons in their place - I was glad to hear them prefer Homeland to Alexandroffsky Villa[17] because the luxury abounding in the latter might have blinded them to the natural advantages & use of high cultivation of the old family seat of my excellent & early friends. But now dear Jemie as I have written Willie this morning I must recline[,] my back & side cry out for rest. I arose at 4 1/2 oclock.

[p. 3] Tuesday 30th

We had heavy rain again last night thunder this morn has made the weather cool, it will be favorable I think for my trip to Brooklyn tomorrow, no dust I hope, my friend Margaret Hill[18] is going with me to Grandma Cammans[19] to stay till Saturday. We plan a day at New Brighton at Adolfes[20] & no doubt shall spend one morning in Greenwood Cemetery[21]. I have many dear friends to call upon in Brooklyn. Gen Swift & his family are at Mr Richards[22], he will ask about you my Cadet with deep interest I know. but the issue of the Exam he must learn from public report. Jackson has greatly improved by the discipline of having to bend to the rules & obey orders at Work[23], & so I doubt not my MacNeill will. I talked with them both last friday (on my walk before breakfast, earnestly about breaking off their indulgence of segars [sic]. but a stronger argument I could have used, was Willie's remark "I'll be good for nothing without tobacco!" I asked him how he could use what poisoned his health & his poor Mother's peace. It would lead to theirs & ah I tremble that so many bright & noble ones of my family, have blighted their fair promise by yeilding to temptation, first to social companions & by degrees becoming dependent upon stimulant, as poor Willie confesses, but none need sink to the level of brutes, if they have mental force to resolve to break off, & have courage to say no! The word of God tells us it must be as cutting off the right hand[24]! & admonishes us to taste not, touch not & to resist evil.

I have been so bowed down by grief in Willies disappointing my hopes of my "home - boy" & after striving with him months, I had decided prayer to the Almighty should henceforth be my only course, but God has awakened me to work with Him & while I have breath I shall continue to exert a Mother's authority towards the two spared me. Jemie my first born! your affection always encourages me to hope you will abide by your fathers wish - his opinions, his example, & that you will strengthen your brother, by your self denial. Oh if you could know the humiliation his & your stooping for money has inflicted, you would henceforth (as he thro mortification has been brought to resolve - refuse to accept from any but your natural & lawful guardians. Your popularity among Cadets or Collegians how dearly purchased, by the loss of the good opinion of old friends. [p. 4] & how dearly purchased is the revelry, which gossip echoes to torture the bruised spirit of a disappointed Mother.

But I meant to tell you what a fine view I had of the eclipse at Mr Eastwick's observatory. I dined at Bartram Hall[25], it is wonderful for much we can eke out of a few hours to gratify others. thus tho Mrs Winans, Mrs E & Mrs H[26] would each have liked to detain me a week, I compressed into a brief intercourse expressions of loving kindness. I could only spend one night at the Villa, I arose so early as to walk to Mrs Ducatels[27] & escort Willie (tin kettle in hand) & met Jacks by the way to the Works where they must be before seven. I was admitted into the Studio of Hass E [28] at Bartram, he is preparing by close study in Chemistry for next year in Europe with Edward[29], but paints in oils for recreation. Really they do credit to their parents system, & their obedience. Hass has become a member of our church from his own conviction since last year he deports himself as a man, decided to do right. I saw his improvement, but it was not he who explained the spring of his actions it was his grateful mother. My patience & faith fail not. May the Lord[30] dispose your heart to keep His Commandments then you will honor & obey your widowed Mother


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Notes:

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

4.  George
George William Whistler (1822-1869), engineer, JW's half-brother [more]; he was the guardian of JW and William McNeill Whistler.

5.  London terrace
71 London Terrace, New York was the address of George William Whistler; see Lilian M. Randall, The Diary of George A. Lucas: An American Art Agent in Paris, 1857-1909, Princeton, NJ, 1979, p. 29.

6.  Corner House
The house owned by Dr George E. Palmer (1803-1868), physician, AMW's brother-in-law [more], built in 1787, situated in the corner of Main and Wall Streets.

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

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

9.  Mrs Winans
Elizabeth Winans (b. 1828), née West, second wife of Ross Winans, Sr [more].

10.  old man
Ross Winans (1796-1877), locomotive manufacturer, father of JW's sister-in-law [more].

11.  Julia
Julia de Kay Whistler (1825-1875), née Winans, JW's sister-in-law [more].

12.  ornamented with jewels
Probably a reference to Julia Winans' wealth.

13.  brother Charlie
Charles Johnson McNeill (1802-1869), brother of AMW [more].

14.  Katie
Catherine Jane Palmer.

15.  Homeland with me, Mr & Mrs Perine
Homeland, north Baltimore, was the country estate of David Maulden Perine, Sr (1796-1882), merchant [more], and his wife Mary Perine (1797-1861), née Glenn.

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

17.  Alexandroffsky Villa
'Alexandroffsky' in Baltimore was the villa owned by Thomas De Kay Winans (1820-1878), locomotive engineer and collector [more]; see AMW to JW, 15, 16 and 18 September 1848, #06363.

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

19.  Grandma Cammans
Maria Margaretta Cammann ('Grandma C') (1774-1862), mother-in-law of William Gibbs McNeill [more].

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

21.  Greenwood Cemetery
Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY, commissioned in 1838. There is a memorial of AMW's husband (George Washington Whistler) in this cemetery, although he was actually buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Stonington, CT.

22.  Gen Swift & his family are at Mr Richards
The family of General Joseph Gardner Swift (1783-1865), chief engineer of the US Army, brother-in-law of JW's father [more], and his son-in-law Peter Richards (b. 1829), merchant.

23.  Work
Winans Locomotive Works in Baltimore owned by Ross Winans (1796-1877), locomotive manufacturer, father of JW's sister-in-law [more]; see AMW to James H. Gamble, 3 April 1854, #06438.

24.  cutting off the right hand
'And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.' Matt. 5.30.

25.  eclipse at Mr Eastwick's observatory. I dined at Bartram Hall
Andrew McCalla Eastwick (1810-1879), partner in Eastwick and Harrison, locomotive manufacturers, and later in Harrison, Winans and Eastwick [more]; see AMW to JW, 15 and 16 January 1852, #06409. The Solar Eclipse occurred on 26 May 1854, and was reported as follows: 'True to astronomical calculations the eclipse came down yesterday afternoon and prepared glass was in great requisition - crowds of juveniles could be seen on the corners of the streets looking at the half veiled luminary with all the interest of amateur astronomers. Some of our periodical agents done a fine speculation by the sale of prepared glass.' See The Daily News, Philadelphia, 27 May 1854, vol. 24, no. 126, p. 3.

26.  Mrs E & Mrs H
Lydia Anne Eastwick (1810-1890), née James, wife of A. M. Eastwick [more], and Sarah Harrison (1817-1906), née Poulterer, wife of Joseph Harrison [more].

27.  Mrs Ducatels
Mrs J. T. Ducatel, mother-in-law of George William Whistler.

28.  Hass E
Joseph Harrison ('Hass') Eastwick (1834-1917), son of L. A. and A. M. Eastwick [more].

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

30.  Lord
'Lord ... Mother' continues in the left margin of p. 1.