The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Document associated with: Whittingham, Hannah
Record 1 of 1

System Number: 06448
Date: 1-2 January 1855[1]
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[2]
Place: Baltimore
Recipient: JW
Place: [Washington][3]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W443
Document Type: ALS

176 Preston St.[4]

Jan 1st 1855

How these days dearest Jemie make us think of the absent!

You no doubt have been too much excited in your round to meet my meditations. And now I am presuming, taking it for granted you are well[,] the "No news as good news" tho you were croaking when you left home. What lovely bright weather for visiting! Cousin Donald[5] who is the most exemplary person my list has, went first to Church, then to the house of bereaved friends (he having heard of the death of Mrs Wainwright of Maopac[6] memory - since which he has been on the round of calls, & now while he is cheering Ginnie[7] for his days absence I scribble, until 7 o'clock tea. Willie[8] accompanied a very nice fellow (Hubbell[9] of Trinity College Hartford) to spend the morning in chat at Reverdy Johnstons[10] with his son, these chaps are to be off tomorrow, so since his late dinner he has gone to spend their last eve with them. [p. 2] Willie was with me the whole of yesterday as we had no public worship after the morning, till night, he listened to me read, then as twilight induced talking, I begged him to draw his seat to my reclining on the old couch, that I might hold his hand in mine, "Now tell me all you desire dear Willie, none can deserve or prize your confidence more, than the one who best loves you". We talked of his chagrin about his mistake in abandoning past advantages, & of his plans. Oh how he yearns to resume his course at College[11]! but he knows that I am involved & George[12] is not rich. One remark he made was touching to a tender Mothers heart "When Jacks[13] is deep in thought & I say what's the matter that you wont talk! he answers "I was inventing some machinery, or thinking how I could put an Engine together!" now observed poor Willie, I never think at all about mechanics, I do what they tell me at the shop[14], but I never can get interested." I spoke of your [p. 3] fathers[15] contempt of Office seekers under the Government & that if he resorted to this, my disappointment would be painful, Oh may this be averted! As George seems to be reconciled to Willies not going to the shop this winter & that he shall study at home, I propose that he go thro a course of reading aloud, for my benefit. I wish he would not go to Washington because Donald ought not to be taxed with the expence & I really cannot. But I shall not be in advance of the arrangement. Julia[16] came here to call this morning & to invite all of us D. G. W.[17] & self to spend Thursday sociably with her, she sat some time with me & was so affectionate, we are quite at ease & confiding as we should be. she spoke as if gratified by Willies social time with her tête à tête & at tea last Saturday. she was to dine at Alexandroffsky[18]. little Georgie[19] was spending today with me. I dont know that any courtesie [sic] has gratified me more than that I exchanged with Bishop Whittinghame[20] as we left the church today, then I lingered to ask after the Rectors lady[21] who is an invalid. This reminds me of Eliza Flagg[22]! We have not heard since Christmas, & now I begin to wish I could hear from London [p. 4] of my most precious daughter[23]. Ah if you would write that loving Sister you would have your reward in your own self satisfaction. I have had no gentlemen callers, tho I took my station in the parlor & had the Xmas Cake, only a few Naval officers were received by Donalds wife, she was not in a bright mood & retired to her sanctum in the afternoon. After Georgie had left me I intended writing but in looking thro my desk I yeilded [sic] to the melancholy temptation to open some sacred envelopes. One letter dated 1848[24] was in response to mine describing our quarentine [sic] at Copenhagen[25]! you remember our running up to see the sculpture[26] &c, & how enthusiastic you & Willie were! Your father tho thanks his dear boys over & over for their attention to their Mother. "I thank you my darling James & Willie for all you are doing to comfort your dear mother". May your widowed mother have a revival of such a subject for blessings on her boys! God grant it! Tuesday 2nd. You have your Portfolio[27] - sent last Saturday - Donald may go tomorrow - Put up your soiled clothes to send. Julia goes to Phila[delphia] tomorrow with her father[28], as she hears George is to be detained in N Y till the very end of this week. If [29] you could listen to Mary[30] how she talks of Master James & Willie! how sincerely she loves you both! she will so prize some of your sketches[31].

Write soon to


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1.  1-2 January 1855
This does not appear to have been written in response to a letter from JW, nor did he reply. AMW wrote again a week later; see AMW to JW, 8 January 1855, #06449.

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

3.  Washington
JW was working at the US Coast & Geodetic Survey in Washington DC until February 1855; see Gordon H. Fleming, The Young Whistler 1834-66, London, 1978, pp. 114-117.

4.  176 Preston St.
AMW shared this house in Baltimore with Donald McNeill Fairfax (1821-1894), naval officer, JW's cousin [more]; see AMW to JW, 26 and 27 November 1854, #06446.

5.  Donald
Donald McNeill Fairfax (1821-1894), naval officer, JW's cousin [more].

6.  Mrs Wainwright of Maopac
Mrs Wainwright (d. 1854), of Maopac, NY.

7.  Ginnie
Virginia ('Ginnie') Carry Fairfax (d. 1878), née Ragland, wife of D. McN. Fairfax [more].

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

9.  Hubbell
Hubbell of Trinity College, Hartford, CT.

10.  Reverdy-Johnstons
Reverdy Johnson (1796-1876), constitutional lawyer and Whig politician [more]; see AMW to JW, 26 and 27 November 1854, #06446.

11.  College
In March 1855, William McNeill Whistler resumed his studies at Trinity College, Hartford, CT, where he enrolled as a pre-medical student; see AMW to JW, 15 March 1855, #06454.

12.  George
George William Whistler (1822-1869), engineer, JW's half-brother [more], whose first wife, Mary Ducatel, died in 1852, leaving one son, George ('Georgie') Worthen Whistler (b. 1851), JW's nephew [more]. On 18 June 1854 he married Julia de Kay Whistler (1825-1875), née Winans, JW's sister-in-law [more].

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

14.  shop
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.

15.  fathers
George Washington Whistler (1800-1849), engineer, JW's father [more].

16.  Julia
Julia de Kay Whistler (1825-1875), née Winans, JW's sister-in-law [more] married George William Whistler (1822-1869), engineer, JW's half-brother [more] on 20 April 1854, at Trinity Church, New York.

17.  D. G. W.
Probably D. for Donald McNeill Fairfax, G. for George William Whistler, and W. for William McNeill Whistler.

18.  Alexandroffsky
'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.

19.  Georgie
George ('Georgie') Worthen Whistler (b. 1851), JW's nephew [more], was the only son of George William Whistler (1822-1869), engineer, JW's half-brother [more] and his first wife, Mary Ann Whistler (ca 1826 - d.1852), née Ducatel, JW's sister-in-law [more].

20.  Whittinghame
William Rollinson Whittingham[e] (1805-1879), fourth Episcopal Bishop of Maryland from 1840 [more].

21.  Rectors lady
Hannah Whittingham, née Harrison, wife of Bishop Whittingham.

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

23.  daughter
Deborah ('Debo' or 'Sis') Delano Haden (1825-1908), née Whistler, JW's half-sister [more].

24.  letter-1848
There is one letter dated 9 September 1848 from George Washington Whistler to AMW (#06663), but it does not contain this phrase.

25.  Copenhagen
AMW was at the time en route to St. Petersburg with JW and William McNeill Whistler.

26.  sculpture
Probably the major collection of sculptures by Bertel Thorvaldsen (1768/1870-1840), neo-classical sculptor [more] at Thorwaldsens Museum in Copenhagen; see AMW to JW, 15, 16 and 18 September 1848, #06363, and 22 and 23 September 1848, #06364.

27.  Portfolio
Probably a portfolio of drawings.

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

29.  If
'If ... Mother' continues in the left margin of p. 1.

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

31.  sketches
Probably sketches done while JW was in Washington, DC (M.185-207).