The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Whistler, Julia de Kay
Record 13 of 44

System Number: 06462
Date: [15 January / February 1855][1]
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[2]
Place: [Baltimore][3]
Recipient: JW
Place: [Washington]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: Whistler W457
Document Type: ALS[4]

George[5] & I agreed on one point, viz. that Jemie would not mortify an old man[6] who offered him the good advice of his Experience, to keep out of debt! but Julia[7] had felt your want of respectful attention to her father, & it is lamented that your heedless habit, left an unfavorable impress. for George is sensitive of course to all that touches her sensibilities. Not only frankly confess your fault dear Jemie, but let this be a warning to you to think[,] you have ever been too impulsive, & too eager to express your opinions. dont you remember I tried to check this propensity & so did your dear father[8], it shocked him! he dreaded lest it might be misinterpreted, as conceit & self satisfaction. Some who admire your amiable qualities, have offered the remark, that you must have associated always with seniors, & the regret was it has induced a premature confidence in yourself. I fear some may judge you self sufficient! "A word to the wise[9] is sufficient" your nice discrimination I trust to & good feeling will be on your watch tower.

Jemie dear! I should have shivered in the severe frost of last week about your miserable apartment, but Cousin Donald[10] happened to mention he had told you to keep his room warm, I trust you did not invite any stranger to share it with you! I am afraid as you have no one to look after your domestic affairs [p. 2] the handsome satin-lined case for silver knife[,] spoon & fork had been safer in my keeping still & also that new dressing case! bring them to satisfy me! Send your soiled clothes soon. I have only two shirts, no callers [sic] or wrist bands to induce my sending yet per Express, tho mince paties[11] [sic] have been ready your sending for them a week or more! I must make a fresh supply now. I have not given you yet Emma Maingays[12] love, she begs you boys not to forget the names of your Vassili[13] friends. she wrote to report Sis[14] better tho yet too feeble to write Mother. You have another little nephew[15].

Trust ever the love of Willie[16] & your devoted


Have[17] you written for my seal[18] to be returned? it is an heirloom

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [15 January / February 1855]
This letter probably comes after AMW's letter to JW, of 15 January 1855, which also mentions JW's 'miserable' rooms (#06450). JW resigned from the US Coast and Geodetical Survey on 12 February 1855, but remained in Washington for a couple of months; see Fleming, Gordon, The Young Whistler 1834-66, London, Boston, Sydney, 1978, p. 115, and AMW's letter to JW, 1 February 1855, #06451.

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

3.  Baltimore
AMW was staying at 176 Preston Street with Donald McNeill Fairfax (1821-1894), naval officer, JW's cousin [more]; see AMW to JW, 26 and 27 November 1854, #06446.

4.  ALS
Written on sheet with narrow mourning border.

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

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

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

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

9.  A word to the wise
'A word to the wise is enough' ('Verbum sapienti sat est'), Plautus, Persa, 1. 729.

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

11.  mince paties
See AMW's recipe for mince pies in Margaret F. MacDonald, Whistler's Mother's Cook Book, London, 1979, pp. 96-7.

12.  Emma Maingays
Emma Elizabeth Maingay (1826-1904), a friend of AMW, of St Petersburg [more].

13.  Vassili
Probably a reference to Vassili Ostroff or Island, St Petersburg, Russia. It is possible that the Maingays lived there. See John S. Maxwell, The Tsar and His People, London, 1848, p. 62.

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

15.  nephew
Harry Lee Haden (1855-1877), JW's nephew [more]; he was born on 12 January 1855.

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

17.  Have
'Have ... heirloom' added in the left margin.

18.  seal
JW seems to have left AMW's seal at the United States Military Academy, West Point, NY. The seal is now in Glasgow University Library, Whistler Collection.