The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Whistler, Julia de Kay
Record 9 of 44

System Number: 06446
Date: 26 and 27 November 1854[1]
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[2]
Place: Baltimore
Recipient: JW
Place: U S Coast Survey[3]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W441
Document Type: ALS[4]

176 Preston St Bolton Terrace[5]

Nov 26th

You know my own dear Jemie[6],

I never write even on the evening of the day which we must "Remember to keep holy[7]" in preference to reading, but so often there are promptings at my heart to use any influence I may have, to persuade you, make yourself a member of our church, & the sermon this morning was to Candidates for Confirmation that while alone this evening I yeild [sic] to my maternal inclination. Willie[8] went to see Joe Eastwick[9] & bring him here to tea & we should have proposed his going to Doct Johns[10] with Cousins D. & his wife[11] - but he went to Washington - Willie saw George & Julia [12] & reported their resolve to take a pew in some church, now George's unsettled views bear upon the subject I wish you not to put off deciding about. If he had joined the church in which he was presented for baptism, Julia would have been led by by [sic] him to the Episcopal Church. Willie says she experiences a wish to attend Mr Cox's[13][.]

[p. 2] How earnestly I wished for George this morning! I have so repeatedly urged him to be Confirmed, Jemie dear! what hinders you? why deprive yourself of advantages? If means of shelter against temptations to abandon your youth to sensual indulgence. If I enlarge upon the subject in its holiest motives I fear you will by comparison judge it not a convenient season, for you [sic] embrace. I trust dear Jemie you reverence all that is sacred & that you wish to be a Christian, you have no vicious propensities that I am aware of. the longer you defer, the more obstacles you will meet. satisfy this yearning of my heart over you my son. my God-son also - & let my eyes be blessed by witnessing your youthful head bent at the Altar for the "laying on of hands[14]" do not think you are not good enough yet, use this motive, this means, to become acquainted with your Saviour. Then when you marry, Gods holy word will sustain your right as the "head of the wife[15]" to lead her to our church.

[p. 3] If my dear George had consented when I urged him in 1842 & our Springfield Pastor[16] encouraged, how happy for him to have decided! Again when Willie was confirmed (dont you wish now you had been at Pomfret[17]?[)] - I wrote to George whose reply was, I could not desire it more than himself but he feared disturbing Mary[18]! I do still pray for him in faith, but a mothers influence is smothered by worldly engagements. Jemie dear! I only wish you to secure the promise of the life that now is, & of that which is to be eternal. You have yeilded to my persuations[19] [sic] in points of lesser weight, tho linked in the chain of safety to your future, take this subject to your pillow & when you come home again, let me give in your name to my pastor. Now is the time, life here is so uncertain. "Seek first the Kingdom of God & His righteousness & all else shall be added to you[20]" Mrs Eastwick[21] told me in May with tears of thankfulness to God, of Joe having been Confirmed! Why may I not rejoice of you? am I not a Christian mother? have I not trained you faithfully? When next you come to Baltimore we shall expect you to come directly home, let [p. 4] your valise be sent to 176 Preston St Bolton Terrace. W Madison St, it is a puzzle to me to get it from Hollins St.[22] Willie finds it too heavy to bring & is it doing as you'd be done by to ask him to be your Porter? Let me hear from you when your heart dictates sympathy & affection to your devoted widowed Mother


Monday 27th

George sent me word he'd call today & go to you tomorrow so I have put up the Coat & your bottle of blacking dear Jemie inside. Your valise is still at Julias, if you need its contents before I see you. Advise me.

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1.  1854
Dated with reference to AMW's stay in Baltimore, JW's work in Washington DC and the Perpetual Calander Whitaker's Almanac; see AMW to JW, 7 December 1854, #06447.

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

3.  U S Coast Survey
On 7 November 1854, JW was appointed to a post in the drawing division of the US and Geodetic Survey, Washington DC; see Gordon H. Fleming, The Young Whistler 1834-66, London, 1978, pp. 109-112.

4.  ALl
Written on sheet with narrow mourning border.

5.  176 Preston St Bolton Terrace
AMW shared 176 Preston Street in Baltimore with her nephew Donald McNeill Fairfax (see below). Preston Street runs between Pennsylvania Avenue and Howard Street, just over a mile north-west of the Inner Harbor. The house in which she stayed is not extant any more.

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

7.  Remember to keep holy
'Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy,' Exod. 20.8.

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

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

10.  Doct Johns
Probably Reverdy Johnson (1796-1876), constitutional lawyer and Whig politician [more]; see AMW to JW, 1 January 1855, #06448.

11.  Cousins D. & his wife
Donald McNeill Fairfax (1821-1894), naval officer, JW's cousin [more], and his wife Virginia Carry ('Ginnie') Fairfax, née Rayland.

12.  George & Julia
George William Whistler (1822-1869), engineer, JW's half-brother [more], and his wife Julia de Kay Whistler (1825-1875), née Winans.

13.  Mr Cox's
Presumably Cox was a clergyman.

14.  laying on of hands
'Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment,' Heb. 6.1-2. It is unlikely that JW ever received the sacrament of confirmation; see AMW to JW, 1 August 1858, #06498.

15.  head of the wife
'For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body,' Eph. 5.23

16.  1842 & our Springfield Pastor
The Whistlers lived at Springfield, MA, between 1840-1842; their pastor was Henry Washington Lee (1815-1874), clergyman [more]; see AMW to JW, 1854, #06442.

17.  Pomfret
The Whistlers lived at Pomfret, CT, between 1850-1852, where both JW and his brother attended the Christ Church school; Rev. Roswell Park (1807-1869), was the minister of the Protestant Episcopal Church.

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

19.  persuations
AMW is probably referring to JW's choice of profession. As early as 1849, JW expressed his wish to follow the vocation of an artist, but was withheld from his choice; see AMW to JW, 15 February 1849, #06386.

20.  Seek first the Kingdom of God & His righteousness & all else shall be added to you
'But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.' Matt. 6.33.

21.  Mrs Eastwick
Lydia Anne Eastwick (1810-1890), née James, wife of A. M. Eastwick [more].

22.  Hollins St.
The Alexandroffsky villa in Baltimore owned by Thomas De Kay Winans (1820-1878), locomotive engineer and collector [more], was in Hollins Sreet, which run along the north side of Union Square, Baltimore; see AMW to JW, 15, 16 and 18 September 1848, #06363, and 24 April 1855, #06459.