Documents associated with: Whistler, Helen
Record 4 of 149
System Number: 06561
Date: 10-12 October 1877
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler
Recipient: Charles W. McNeill
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: Whistler W554
Document Type: ALS
43 St Marys Terrace. Hastings
Oct 10th 1877.
My Dear Nephew,
I shall feel happier when I hear from you, and therefore am thankful in being at last able to fulfil my intention in writing you. The precious links between us having been severed during the past twelve month[s], you & I must exchange at least one letter ere I too go to them! How improbable it appeared that I who have been expecting my summons any day, should have had to mourn my loss of your dear Aunt Kate, my beloved & sympathising Sister, whose pen in my too feeble state to write any of you, gave me all the information she received. she enclosed your sad & touching account of your tender nursing of our dear Donald in her last letter to me! her New Years greeting - as she had in Novr [i.e. November] infor-formed [sic] me of the fatal injury he had met with & the fear that it would be so! her pity for your dear good Mother & her wish that she could have gone to her in the Staten Island Hospital to have helped & comforted her & the beloved sufferer. Aunt Kate knew that Donald was my adopted son, we were both fond of him & appreciative of his prospect of distinguishing himself as a man of high principle & talent. And tho he did not encourage me to continue writing to him, I knew his not answering my letters was want of leisure & not an indifference, for in the very last he wrote me he thanked me for the motherly care I had taken of him as a school boy in Philadelphia. I like to recall his being a favorite with his Teachers, who trusted in him in assigning to him out of school acts of service by which he gladly & faithfully saved them personal exertion. And he was so exemplary at Sunday school & so regular an attendant at Church, that our Clergyman the Revd Doctor Alexander Vinton noticed him with especial interest. And oh how lovingly I entered into your dear Fathers thankfulness for such a dutiful son, when he wrote me of his manly boy Don sacrificing bright prospects in New York in his resolve to help his Father at Reddys Point!
(p. 2) 2d page.
It often happens to me, dear Charlie when I am bent on finishing a letter - not of pressing urgency to the recipient - others come requiring answering, as was so, just as my first page of this was filled. And yesterday my hand needed rest.
I have read over your sad letter of the 15th Decr [i.e. December] 1876 with all its particulars of the patient unmurmurmuring [sic] endurance of the brave Brother, who was so comforted by you. We pray God to "take from us all hardness of heart" And He answers us by such afflictions, which soften & prepare us for heavenly impressions. And the Bible comforts us, as the Saviour's own words at the grave of our beloved ones. "They are not dead! Thy Brother shall rise again" The Lord is pitiful & of tender compassion. He listened to your cry & instead of the dreadful struggle, Donald breathed out his immortal soul in the arms of ministering angels, invisible to you, but sent to take him to Paradise! Believe in the House of Prayer! Follow the example of your dear Father. I listened with tender interest to his report of his boy Charlie when we met in Brooklyn the last time we were together! he told me he had asked you once whether you would rather have a good healthy appetite, with enough food to satisfy it or abundance of food & no inclination to eat? Your reply was "I'd rather have plenty! to give to other people in want". It delighted him to see tokens in any of you of tendencies to the higher life. And he reverenced his Father and learned thro our Mothers teaching, to use her "Book" the Bible. I love to trace my Sisterly companionship with my little Brother, as Charlie was when I as a school girl led him by the hand & year after nursed him thro a severe attack of typhus fever. My visit of a month to your home is pleasant in my memory of him. The Sunday mornings when I read to you all on the piazza[,] the notes of the red birds the only interruption - unless one of the people came with a request for my reading to them. And then you three boys carried my books to Peggys house! Tell your dear Mother not to judge me by appearance - that my affectionate interest could have ceased, when her good & faithful husband was taken away! My lessened ability, from impaired health & dependence [p. 3] for a home, rendered it impossible for me to send for either of your Sisters, tho I yearned to do so, because I knew it would comfort her & be as my lamented brother would have wished. I had been able to help him in his straits & it gladdened my heart to relieve his! But my reduced income in London was all needed to aid my sons, Willie had lost all in the war, even to his Diploma - so that he had to study hard & work hard & endure privations, the world knows not of - his Mother alone sympathised with him! & shared with him his own reduced income. I dare say Mrs Richards in her calls at my son the Artists house, judged by its size & all she saw there that I might have had one of my neices to share that home for she knew not how unsuitable it was, nor, how ill I was every Winter. I had been so fond of Ellen in her babyhood, & naturally I felt the claim of Anna - named for me. It rejoiced me to hear of her marriage, as dear Aunt Kate described the friend in whom you trusted "good as gold" would be a husband to whom she could look up, honour & love. And that would make your Mother reconciled to parting from her. I hope he is a religious man And also that Alvyn is. It is difficult to realize that the little boy who was my pilot in my strolls in the Pinewoods in Florida, should have attained the stability of a married man! but these changes mark the flight of time - My son the doctor was only a student the spring I visited Reddys Point and now he is made newly happy in his second marriage. he lost his first wife during the war, in Richmond. I went there to nurse the dear Ida & staid a few months to comfort him. And I rejoiced last April when he found another to supply his loss. Your Father & also dear Donald would have felt interested in the event & as I should certainly have sent them wedding cards with the address of their home, I enclose now to you Charlie as the eldest of my Brother Charlie's sons left. I shall direct with this letter a weekly Paper & when I hear your opinion of it, I shall know whether to post "The Christian" from time to time instead of a letter. Altho I hope to have one from you to respond to, in reply to my enquiry of how are you. Is James Bolton a comfort to his Mother at home? or has he gone to N York to share the advantages of a school there? What is Willie Palmer doing? My love to your Sisters when you write them. Share with your Mother
the affectionate embraces of your Aunt
Anna M Whistler.
[p. 4] It was feared I was on my death bed three Aprils ago & but for my doctor Son's skill & attention with the blessing of God on the means used! I was brought to this South Coast two years since on the 7th of August, after seven months confinement to my room & tho Willie wishes me under his roof & daily care, the climate of London would soon attack my lungs, so he & Helen come to see me instead. I am very comfortable & it seems probable I am to end my term here. The shock of Aunt Kate's sudden death nearly was a death stroke to me! My heart being the seat of my disease and I had been confined to my easy chair ever since Sept. But at the age of 73 - my birthday 27th Sept, I am waiting & hope to be prepared for the change! to be received in the Heavenly Mansions, Where our Lord has prepared a place for all who trust in His blood & merits! We have none to to [sic] offer of our own. Tell Ellen to write me all about them & you of your Mother.
AND THIS IS THE RECORD, THAT GOD HATH GIVEN TO US
ETERNAL LIFE AND THIS LIFE IS IN HIS SON. 1 John v.11.
HE HATH SAID, I WILL NEVER LEAVE THEE, NOR FORSAKE
THEE. Heb. xiii. 5.
AS THY DAYS, SO SHALL THY STRENGTH BE. Deut. xxxiii. 25.
PEACE BE WITH YOU ALL THAT ARE IN CHRIST JESUS.
1 Pet. v. 14.
PEACE FROM HIM WHICH IS, AND WHICH WAS, AND WHICH IS
TO COME. Rev. i. 4.
YE SHALL BE MY SONS AND DAUGHTERS, SAITH THE LORD
ALMIGHTY. 2 Cor. vi. 18.
NO GOOD THING WILL HE WITHHOLD FROM THEM THAT WALK
UPRIGHTLY. Ps. lxxxiv. 11.
EVEN THE YOUTHS SHALL FAINT AND BE WEARY, * * BUT THEY
THAT WAIT UPON THE LORD SHALL RENEW THEIR STRENGTH.
Is. xl. 30, 31.
WAIT ON THE LORD; BE OF GOOD COURAGE, AND HE SHALL
STRENGTHEN THINE HEART. Ps. xxvii. 14.
YE SHALL GO OUT WITH JOY, AND BE LED FORTH WITH PEACE.
Is. lv. 12.
EVERY WORD OF GOD IS PURE: HE IS A SHIELD UNTO THEM
THAT PUT THEIR TRUST IN HIM. Prov. xxx. 5.
AND THE LORD SHALL GUIDE THEE CONTINUALLY, AND SATISFY
THY SOUL IN DROUGHT. Is. lviii. 11.
REMEMBER HIS MARVELLOUS WORKS THAT HE HATH DONE.
1 Chron. xvi. 12.
PRAISE YE THE LORD.
A marker for Charlies letter.
Written on sheet with narrow mourning border. Letter accompanied with a printed book marker.
Elizabeth McNeill, née Coffee, wife of AMW's brother, C. J. McNeill.
9. Reddys Point
C. J. McNeill inherited land, Beauclerc Bluff, from his uncle Zephaniah Kingsley, and lived at Reddie Point, on the St John's River, Florida. Donald McNeill went there to help his father in the beginning of 1869; see #06536, #06532.
10. 2d page.
Written at top of p. 2.
11. take from us all hardness of heart
Probably derives from 'And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other,' Mark 3.5.
12. They are not dead! Thy Brother shall rise again
'Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again,' John 11.23.
Anna Alicia McNeill (1858-1950), and Ellen M. McNeill, daughters of E. and C. J. McNeill.
William McN. Whistler graduated from the Pennsylvania Medical School in 1860. During the American Civil War, he served the Confederate cause as an Assistant Surgeon in the medical service. He unfortunately lost his medical Diploma, and as a result AMW wrote to Joseph Harrison (1810-1874), jr, partner in Eastwick and Harrison, locomotive manufacturers, and later in Harrison, Winans and Eastwick [more], on 14 May 1868, asking him to "exert personally [his] influence, even to ask a deviation to established rules..." See #11470.
19. Mrs Richards
Probably Louisa Josephine ('cousin Josee') Richards (1821-1859), née Swift, wife of P. Richards. In 1870 she visited AMW in London; see AMW to Catherine Jane Palmer, 29 October 1870, #11841.
Anna Alicia McNeill married Alvyn Van Buskirk (1847-1916), on 19 June 1876.
22. second marriage
William McN. Whistler married first Ida Bayard Whistler, née King (d. 1863), and second Helen ('Nellie') Euphrosyne Whistler (1849-1917), née Ellen Ionides.
27. death bed three Aprils
AMW escaped death on April 1875. She expected her own death on the anniversary of both her husband's George Washington Whistler's (1800-1849), and mother's Martha McNeill's death (see #06556).
Printed text written on sheet with narrow red border.
29. A marker for Charlies letter.
Written on verso of bookmark.