The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Palmer, Emma Woodbridge
Record 8 of 15

System Number: 06468
Date: 12-15 October 1855
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[1]
Place: Stonington
Recipient: JW
Place: [London[2]]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W463
Document Type: ALS


Oct 12th. 55

"Angels are round the trusting soul to catch the incense of their prayer - And fly to minister good to those for whom they plead."

My own precious James[3]

What comfort to your mothers heart to believe this. Tokens of favor towards you on your voyage have excited hopes that such weather as brightened your native land might be extended across the Ocean, that the two I prayed for in the Amazon[4] might enjoy the passage & land in improved health. It may be (as the steamer in which Mary & Fredrick[5] [sic] came to Boston yesterday) the glad tidings of your landing are soon to turn my prayers into thanksgivings. I could not call in Fourteenth St as I wished on my way hither, so Mr Jaffray[6] may have written me at Scarsdale which I left with Aunt Kate[7] this day week. we went directly to perform our promise to Miss Stotesbury[8]. You know how kind all are at Judge Dickersons[9], he regretted that he was not at home while my boys were there. I must avail of some lady's muslins to send tenderly the New Port mosses to Sis[10]. as the kind old Auntie[11] supposes them received in her boudoir safely by your hand. Phil[12] would be happier if he took the right way for he has so many ingredients, but alas he is a prodigal! effeminate too in his indulgence of himself. I like him too truly not to lament over his abused talents & fain would open the eyes of blind youths if warning might!

We had Mr Flagg[13] every evening in our evening social circle poor fellow! his thoughts are full of his angel wife our own lamented Eliza. he went to N Haven the same day we left to indulge his yearning to see little McNeill[14]. I must record here an anecdote GdMa C[15] told us she had lately heard of the little one just 3. yrs old! One very warm day his Grand Father Flagg[16] ceased playing with him to go to the river for a bath. Neilly begged to go too, but was told as he could neither undress or dress himself it would be a hindrance[.] [p. 2] No one noticed the little fellows running out of the parlor till he flew back naked in a few minutes. There Grandpapa I can undress myself! now take me with you to bathe! How like Elizas child, she was so ready to save everyone trouble & as a "little one" bright & helpful as he now is. I understand Jared Flagg[17] the Artist is attempting her portrait full size, from a good Daguereotype. he usually is happy in his success. It is I believe for Mary Rodewald[.] how I should have enjoyed talking with her of my dear Debo & the pets[18], and of her visit to Aunts & Uncle Winstanley[19]. but I fear Fred must hasten her to NO [i.e. New Orleans] ere I return to NY. Aunt Kate went with me to N Brighton & Cousin Isabella[20] gladly availed of the fine day to accompany us, being a half hour too late for the Steamer to that landing, we crossed to the quarantine[21], where we took a Hack, it caused us some mirth as it was not very extravagant fare 50cts and Aunt Kate called it her carriage! old ladies you see have their frolics, ours proved innocent tho exhilerating. I know it will cheer you dear Jemie that I have not moped, or ungratefully to God brooded over your voyage. When poor Mary[22] has feared storms, I have cheered her by the divine promise The Lord will not always chide[23]. He delights in shewing mercy. But my dear Jemie beware not to abuse our heavenly Fathers goodness, nor expect protection but in the path of duty. You see I was led to change your plan of embarking direct to France[24], for your benefit, as Sis remarks upon the extravagant prices of every think [sic] this season of the Exhibition[25], and you know how prudent we must be in our expenditure, our incomes being limited. What should I have done this last month or two, had not the Lord disposed the heart of Uncle Winstanley to send me $130, or £30 so much absolutely necessary to prepare for winter & so small a sum in the Bank for me to draw. I had made no appeal, but trusting in the Lord, I was helped! just enough to keep out of debt & for the exercise of faith in God still. His wisdom infinite!

[p. 3] Monday 15th Oct.

I am charged with affectionate greetings from the family circle at the Corner House[26] to you my own Jemie. I told Uncle P[27] at dinner I meant to make you wish you could have partaken his dish of Green corn the last green ears! Emma[28] gathers mushrooms daily too to tempt my appetite the rain has yeilded [sic] abundance. Amos followed Amelia[29] to Providence last friday, they probably will celebrate their first annual of their wedding on the 25th. I shall choose a quiet day if in my power to spend it with them. Weddings are interesting to you. Miss Emeline Williams[30] will be the next on the tapis[31][,] it is to be very large & this will of course charm the crowd. I have happened to meet their Mary[32] twice in her drives with C B. as she has not Bessie[33] to set her off, she really looks as other modest girls. how very notorious la belle Bessie is in NY[.] I overheard remarks from Phil D.[34] & two young gents who dined with him, which really gave me pain, that so amiable a young lady should be so daring of gossip. What a rich voice Abby Day[35] has! but I cannot approve of praising God by proxy, we had your favourite hymn Rock of Ages[36] yesterday, but the tune was only for the choir. Uncle Palmer says we may expect our usual Oct weather now after the three days rain & as I must go to Pomfret I shall begin the trip. inclination has urged my answering invitations of Doct & Mrs Williams[37] for two summers past, but you know unless duty points, I do not feel it justifiable to incur the expence [sic]. quiet suits my circumstances & tastes. but now I must consult my dentist, I fear to defer & risk a winters uneasiness. Aunt Kate will go with me. she so enjoys travelling, & visiting friends. if I can return by way of Springfield & Boston I should be better satisfied to do so. Mary Brenan never hears from James[38] & if I could see him, she would not need to, Cousin Kate Livermore[39] at Lowell with her little Susan[40] & "black Eliza[41]" spending this month at Father Prince[42]'s what a mutual satisfaction if Aunt Kate & I could run up there for a day or two. Doct Green[43] & "Aunt Mary[44]" despair of poor Dyneley[45] ever rising from his bed of languishing. but he was to be allowed to eat birds or fish, so it may be by degrees his strength may be restored. I have just recd a birth-day greeting from dear Aunt Alicia[46] & shall enclose this to her to forward you. If you should go to Preston dearest Jemie I beg you to extend your visit to my friends at Mr Tho Boyd[47]s in Liverpool. remember the claim of Mrs Sandland[48], who would feel hurt at your omission

[p. 4] Willie[49] writes to ask any news of Jim? Jacks[50] too in Balt will be cheered when we are by your report from Sloane St. Willies every day pants like yours now refuse repair but [I will] by [sic] a new pr. So Goney & Lent[51] are to send very stout protectors. he volunteered to keep an account of all his cash & so I advise you to do, for your own satisfaction dear Jemie! I have not heard from George[52] in a month. he probably is in N Y, if "the old gentlemans" R R suit[53] is renewed as it was to be in Oct. he proposed visiting the cottage when again in N York. I hope he may come here, as I probably may not get back till the very end of this month. I saw Ed Stanton[54] today who asked after my boys with hearty kindness how long is Jemies absence in Europe to be? who can tell! he, Ed, is to remove his wife & child[55] to the city by tonights steamer. What a magnificent boat is the Plymouth Rock[56]! we should have eclipsed the Crystal Palace[57] if it could have been exhibited in Hyde Park! Tell Seymour[58] he must let Sis come over next spring with as many of the chicks as he can spare & he come after them! how many homes are ready to cheer them!

Embrace each other for Mother


James[59] Abbott Whistler.
62 Sloane St.[60]

Please enclose & forward.

This document is protected by copyright.


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

2.  London
JW remained in London until late September

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

4.  Amazon
JW and John Hamilton ('Hami' or 'Hammy') Jaffray (1837-1900), travelled from New York to London on the Amazon, which sailed on 3 September 1855; see JW to AMW, 10 October 1855, #06466.

5.  Mary & Frederick
Mary Isabella Rodewald (1823-1867), née McNeill, JW's cousin, wife of J. F. Rodewald [more], and her husband Johann Frederick Rodewald (b. 1808).

6.  Jaffray
202 W. 14th Street was the home address of Richmond Woodriff Jaffray (1813-1862), merchant [more]; see Rode's New York City Directory, New York, 1852-3, p. 267. AMW had visited the Jaffray house in July and August 1855; see AMW to JW, 25 July 1855, #06464, and AMW to James H. Gamble, 20 September, #06465.

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

8.  Miss Stotesbury
Miss Stotesbury, sister-in-law of Judge Dickerson.

9.  Judge Dickerson
Judge Philemon Dickerson (1788-1862), governor of New Jersey [more].

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

11.  old Auntie
Probably Aunt Susan, a relation of Judge P. Dickerson; see AMW to Deborah Delano Haden, 4 May 1860, #06509.

12.  Phil
'Phil,' probably a relation of Judge Philemon Dickerson.

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

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

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

16.  Grandfather Flagg
Henry Collins ('Grandfather Flagg') Flagg (1792-1863), one time Mayor of New Haven, CT [more].

17.  Jared Flagg
Jared Bradley Flagg (1820-1899), painter, of New Haven, CT [more]. He was ordained a priest in the Episcopal church in 1855 and served parishes in Brooklyn until 1861, before resuming his artistic career. His brother George studied painting under their uncle, Washington Allston, in Boston, and Jared wrote the Life and Letters of Washington Allston. See N. G. and L. C. S. Flagg, Family Records of the Descendants of Gersham Flagg, Lancaster, MA, 1903 (pp. 125-6).

18.  pets
Francis Seymour Haden (1850-1918), Arthur Charles Haden (1852-1910), musician, Harry Lee Haden (1855-1877), JW's nephews, and Annie Harriet Haden (1848-1937), later Mrs Charles Thynne, JW's niece [more].

19.  Winstanley
Eliza Isabella Winstanley (1788-1857), née McNeill, JW's aunt, AMW's half-sister [more], and her husband John Winstanley (1776-1859), merchant in Preston.

20.  Isabella
Possibly Isabella Hamilton (b. ca 1822), née Fairfax, AMW's niece.

21.  quarantine
The island in New York harbour where immigrants and ships stayed in quarantine for a specified time.

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

23.  France
JW arrived at Le Havre on 2 November 1855.

24.  Exhibition
The Paris Exposition Universelle of 1855.

25.  Corner House
The house owned by Dr George E. Palmer (1803-1868), husband of Catherine ('Kate') Palmer, built in 1787, situated in the corner of Main and Wall Streets at Stonington, CT.

26.  Uncle P
Dr George E. Palmer (1803-1868), physician, AMW's brother-in-law [more].

27.  Emma
Emma Woodbridge Palmer (1835-1912), JW's step-cousin [more].

28.  Amos followed Amelia
Amos Palmer, Jr (1827-1861), JW's step-cousin [more], and his wife Amelia Palmer, née Dyerthey; they married on 24 October 1854, at Providence, Rhode Island.

29.  Miss Emmelyne Williams
Miss Emmelyne Williams, of Stonington, CT.

30.  tapis
Fr., carpet, a phrase used by AMW to indicate a marriage ceremony in the bride's home.

31.  Mary
Mary Williams (1835-1902), of Stonington, CT, married Coddington Billings (1834-1896) on 15 November 1855; see AMW to Deborah Delano Haden, 10 December 1855, #06470.

32.  The Lord will not always chide
Psalm 103.8-9 - 'The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.'

33.  Bessie
Probably Bessie Williams (1833-1902), of Stonington, CT.

34.  Phil D
Probably Philip Day, of Stonington, CT.

35.  Abby Day
Abigail Day, of Stonington, CT.

36.  Rock of Ages
'Rock of Ages,' hymn by Augustus Montague Toplady (1740-1778), published later in Augustus Montague Toplady, Hymns and Sacred Poems, on a Variety of Divine Subjects, Comprising the whole of the Poetical Remains of the Rev. Augustus M. Toplady, London, 1868 (p. 163).

37.  Williams
Lewis Williams (b. 1815), physician, of Pomfret, CT [more] and his wife.

38.  James
James Brennan, brother of AMW's servant, Mary Brennan.

39.  Livermore
Kate ('Cousin Kate') Livermore (1820-1907), née Prince, wife of A. Livermore [more].

40.  Susan
Susannah ('Susie') Plumridge Livermore (1855-1938), daughter of K. and A. Livermore, later wife of E. Sutton [more].

41.  black Eliza
Eliza (d. 1856), a servant of Kate Livermore [more]; see AMW to JW 27 August 1851, #06399, and AMW to JW, 16 September 1851, #06400.

42.  Father Prince
John Dyneley ('Father Prince') Prince, engraver and printer [more].

43.  Green
Dr John O. Green, physician, of Lowell, MA.

44.  Aunt Mary
Aunt Mary, possibly the wife of Dr Green.

45.  Dyneley
Dyneley Prince, of Bath, NH; he had a sudden stroke and paralysis in July 1855; see AMW to JW, on 11 July 1855, #06463.

46.  Aunt Alicia
Alicia Margaret Caroline McNeill (1786-1863), JW's aunt [more], lived in Berwick, Scotland.

47.  Boyd
Thomas Boyd, merchant, of Liverpool.

48.  Mrs Sandland
Betsey Sandland of Liverpool, friend of AMW.

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

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

51.  Goney & Lent

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

53.  old gentlemans R R suit
Ross Winans (1796-1877), locomotive manufacturer, father of JW's sister-in-law [more]; for Winans' law-suit see AMW to JW, 28 February 1855, #06453.

54.  Ed. Stanton
Edmund Stanton, of Stonington, CT.

55.  wife & child
Louise Stanton, née Babcock, wife of Edmund Stanton, and her child.

56.  Plymouth Rock
Plymouth Rock (1854), Commodore Vanderbilt (1607, 58 tons). It was built for the New York and Stonington route. When she began trips on 17 October 1854, was the largest and most costly running on Long Island Sound. She was well built, luxuriously furnished and of fine speed. In 1887 she was hauled out on Nutt Island, Boston Harbour, and on the night of May 14, 1887, burned for her old metal. See Samuel Ward Stanton, Steamboats of the River Hudson, New Jersey, 1965 (pp. 130-31).

57.  Crystal Palace
The first international exhibition of the products of industry, promoted by Prince Albert, was held in 1851 in the Crystal palace in Hyde Park, London.

58.  Seymour
Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more].

59.  James
'James ... forward' written at right angles.

60.  62 Sloane St
The Haden's house in London.