The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
Home > On-line Edition > Search for People > Document Display

return to search results

Documents associated with: Palmer, Emma Woodbridge
Record 4 of 15

System Number: 09559
Date: 15 April 1852
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[1]
Place: [Stonington[2]]
Recipient: Margaret Getfield Hill[3]
Place: [Scarsdale]
Repository: Cornell University Library, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Call Number: Department of Manuscripts and University Archives, Carl A. Kroch Library, 1629
Document Type: ALS[4]

Thursday April 15th 1852

My dear friend

I am always comforted by your words, & it seems as a consequence of the encouragement Scarsdale extends to me I turn to your excellent brother[5], in the helplessness of my position, yet I assure you I blush so often to tax his patience. But the dearth here of butter induces such a desire on my part for one of those large stone jars to be sent to Stonington that I venture to beg the favor that it be directed for Doctor Palmer[6], care of Mr McConkey[7] - Steamer Vanderbilt[8], & that some as faithful agent (as he is) may deliver it on board, whether Saturday Tuesday or Thursday, these are the days for that boat leaving Battery pier No 2. Of course I shall be too glad to pay any expense from Scarsdale to the Vanderbilt - Mr McConkey is steward, the good doctor has thro his readiness to serve him - purchased butter in N Y market, Mr Willey[9] likewise. but of course this season the price is more than they can well bear, [p. 2] & Kate[10] will be as much gratified as I shall to have an article so acceptable for her beloved pastor, & for this hospitable board I am particularly interested. I conclude the jars have been discovered, in a washing tub, Mary[11] sewed crash[12] over them, which will secure the one I wish sent in its transportation. Our cares much be for the living you know dear Meg even while our wounded hearts ache, for the void in the family circle - This moment the cook asks Doct what am I to do for butter? "As well as you can, until next week when the man may perhaps have a few lbs more"

Mr Willey told Kate last eve a lb was not to be had & it is the complaint of all. I wish I could have been aware of this at Pomfret, to have saved this troublesome commission at Scarsdale. Kate & I walked to see a sick widow yesterday & for duty to health, I am very far from well, the good doctor has put me under a course of blue pill[13], which I doubt not will relieve the pain in my side - long walks with you my dear Meg will do even more to restore my tone. Tell your faithful Bella[14] I am to be blessed not a blessing I fear - at Scarsdale, but God has given me a fresh impulse to labor for [p. 3] Him & you will all be helpers to me. The reward is with those who persevere unto the end[15], is more than even impressed upon my conviction. My precious mothers[16] pilgrimage is as [illegible] of burnished gold to me in the furnace, & One like the Son of Man[17] her brighter Example.

Every memory of her is full of love, peace & thankfulness. I am trying to supply her place to dear Kate & her children[18] in usefulness the brief time I may be here so shall not indulge in tracing my solemn reveries. Today is the good doctors 49th anniversary, he is a man of God! oh may he be spared to dear Kates till Grand children grace his knees, as now little Annie does - the rain keeps all the young ones around the parlor fire side with us, some drawing pictures, others writing or printing to present to their father, little Annie calling upon "darling father" to share in all her fancies, these all talk of Scarsdale with longing, to Emma[19] visiting among your youthful circle will be most beneficial, she speaks gracefully of former evidences of the interest, felt for her at Mr Pophams. Kate unites her love with mine to all[.] Did I mention the death of the Sister of Georges wife[20]? last Saturday night!

Your gratefully attached

Anna M Whistler

The[21] two butter jars are alike, the lard jar fatter, a mistake would disappoint hopes!

This document is protected by copyright.


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

2.  Stonington
AMW is evidently at Stonington, CT, at her sister's house (often called the 'Old Corner house').

3.  Margaret Getfield Hill
Margaret Getfield Hill (1802-1881), a friend of AMW, of Scarsdale, NY [more].

4.  ALS
Embossed paper mark on top left corner, inscribed 'Bath.'

5.  brother
AMW is probably referring to Margaret G. Hill's brother-in-law, William Sherbrooke Popham (1793-1885), merchant [more].

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

7.  Mr McConkey
McConkey, a steward.

8.  Steamer Vanderbilt
Steamer Cornelius Vanderbilt (1847-1896), New York (1,041 tons.); see AMW to Joseph Harrison, 13 August 1849, #07637.

9.   Mr Willey
J. M. Willey (b. 1820), clergyman.

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

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

12.  crash
Derives from Russ.: krashenina, coloured linen.

13.  blue pill
Blue Pill was metallic mercury mixed with rose petals, sugar and powdered liquorice root, primarily used as a purgative.

14.  Bella
Probably Billo Johnson (b. 1815), W. S. Popham's servant. In 1850 Margaret G. Hill was living with her brother-in-law William S. Popham. Helen L. Hultz, Scarsdale Story, A Heritage History, New Jersey, 1987, p. 543.

15.  The reward is with those who persevere unto the end
This phrase derives from 'And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.' Matt. 10.22.

16.  mothers
Martha McNeill (1775-1852), née Kingsley, mother of AMW [more].

17.  burnished gold to me in the furnace, & One like the Son of Man
This probably derives from 'The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the Lord trieth the hearts.' Prov. 17.3; see #08179.

18.  her children
Kate Palmer had four children: George Erwin Palmer (1843-1909), Donald McNeill Palmer (b. 1845), Anna Whistler Stanton (b. 1848), née Palmer, and Julia McNeill Boardman (1851-1902), née Palmer.

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

20.  Sister of Georges wife
Eliza Jones (d. 1852), née Ducatel, sister of Mary Ann Whistler (ca. 1826-1852), née Ducatel, wife of George William Whistler (1822-1869), engineer, JW's half-brother [more].

21.  The
'The ... hopes' continues in the left margin of p. 1