The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: McNeill, Maria
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System Number: 06347
Date: 22 November 1829
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[1]
Place: Liverpool
Recipient: Catherine Jane Palmer[2]
Place: Baltimore, MD
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W344
Document Type: ALS


November 22nd 1829

Mrs Sandland & her children[3] are well & send love.

During our mild, but long voyage across the "Great Brook" how many hours of utter loneliness had been mine, if sweet reflections of my dear dear home had not been ever willing to attend me! They always brought comfort. And now it is a double enjoyment to write my thoughts, for the friends of my bosom will share them with me. With the rocking of the ship still making a tetotum[4] of my poor head & my weak brain confused from the many objects I have seen since landing, I cannot arrange my ideas for a straight story. yet all that you my beloved ones! will be anxious to hear, is that I am indeed in England, have met my dear Sisters[5] & Brother Winstanley[6] and that I am as happy as I can be while separated from you.

Ah how many long letters have I written in imagination to you my dear Kate both on my voyage & since my meeting the friends we love here! but now I know not what to tell you first - Shall I do wrong to begin from the time of my sailing? I'll endeavor to render my narrative as pleasant & hope it will be less tedious than was our voyage. For the three first days we had fair breezes. I was perfectly well, sewed, read, walked the deck & in my sleeve[7], laughed at many sea sick beaux, but alas my gaiety, was put a stop to the next morning. A head wind met us in the gulf stream & blew for eight days. Between the excellent servant[8] Capt Holdridge[9] had provided me, & himself I was well attended to, Margaret used to dress me & assist me from my state room to my cabin where I laid upon the sofa wrapped in my own cloak & covered with the Capt's during days I thought would never end. Messrs. Spring & Draper[10] used to call every morning at my door to enquire after me. the latter is known by Augustus[11] & when I recovered sufficiently to sit up he used to read to amuse me. A westerly wind brought healing on its wings & I was well the remainder of the way. We had a lovely calm in the channel for three days but not any storms. Indeed our passage was too smooth to be quick. A ship is the school to teach patience. and tho we may often fancy we are enjoying ourselves in it, we find upon looking into our hearts they feel no pleasure but that it is all forced.

[p. 2] This I must say for Capt Holdridge, he was kind as a parent to me[.] The gents were just as attentive as they should have been, never intrusive. There were several who played upon the flute. Oh how my heart [pained me] the first time I listened to Kinlock[12]. but when the Yellow haired laddie[13]" followed, I covered my hands over my eyes & wished to fancy I was again at home. Among the steerage passengers there were several women & many children. the little girls used to like to peep down "the Lady's" skylight & would chuse to sit round it to play "here come's a Lord out of Spain[14]" &c. Kate it may seem foolish but I love to hear them. Matty Moll[15] & little Julia [16] were then in my mind's eye! Tell them how dear they are to Aunt Anna & dont let them forget me. My own Hal[17] I know you will kiss for me & will send me full accounts of all he says & does.

I reached Mrs Sandlands on Thursday night. need I tell you she seemed glad to see me? But my arrival was so unexpected I have surprised everyone. Sister Alicia came to Liverpool about four weeks since supposing I would sail in the Geo Canning[18]. she had waited almost without hope after finding it had not brought me & was out of town on a visit at Dr Winstanley's intending to come to town in time for the Canada[19] as the last hope of seeing me this year. However she was sent for immediately & on Friday just as we were assembling around the dinner table at Mrs Sandlands I heard a carriage stop at the door. In another instant I had flown from my seat & was in the arms of my dear Sister. Kate you have seen me overcome with joy & may believe I wept long ere I could look up. Ah to have heard the endearing names by which she called me! her own child you know she has ever considered me. As soon as we had (to please Mrs S) seated ourselves to take some refreshment. Sister insisted upon crossing over to Seacombe to shew me there. Late as it then was, nearly dark, we went & I was as affectionately received by Mrs Ormerod & Anne[20] as tho they had known me all my life. I will tell you more of them in my next for they deserve a full page. As soon as my name sake has kissed me she took a peep at my phiz & exclaimed "Oh Alicia, I should have known her, she is so like your Brother WM[21]" We slept there that night, after breakfast yesterday [p. 3] returned to Liverpool & the first purchase I made was a pair of stout Boots, for I can assure you I thought the mud would cost my life either from a fall or the damp penetrating my thin slippers - From the shoe shop Sister took me to the market it was really worth looking at. Then we went to the most fashionable hair dresser's. I think Maria[22] would approve of the outside of my head at least now, it is adorned with curls, puffs, &c. as high as she used to wish me to wear it. We were at dear Mrs Sandlands again yesterday, dined & took tea with her, she urged our staying altogether while in Liverpool, at her house, but Sister was engaged to visit Mr Moffat's[23] family, an invitation was sent for me too & last night we rode out here where we will sleep at least, till we go home to Alston Lodge[24]. Tomorrow we shall be shopping & paying calls I suppose most of the day. I never supposed so insignificant a being as much [...]gant Brother was at this time last year.

You wil[...] [thin]k me an egotistic dear Kate, like Miss Burney[25] [...] heroine. I must write about myself because I cannot expect anyone else to take the trouble & you will have some curiosity to know how your Sister is received. Oh when you see Sister Eliza you will watch her countenance with much pleasure! she is so like our beloved Father[26]. I can give you no idea of Brother Winstanley but that I love him already. The night we were at Seacombe we wrote to Preston to say I had arrived. Our letter was received yesterday at noon. They immediately set off to meet us & arrived in town last evening. This morning I had just risen but fortunately had put on my shoes, tho my night cap was not doffed, when who should burst open our door but Sister Eliza. Sister A would have embraced her for it is some time since their separation, but she passed her & caught me around the neck. ask Brother Will if he cannot picture her kissing me again & again telling me of my welcome - Then she was in such haste for me to dress that Winstanley might see me too.

They have gone to some other friends tonight, but spent the day with them. My hand has scarcely been out of Mr Winstanley's but he teazes me about my credentials asking me if I do not tremble less the real Anna MacNeill should yet come in the Canada for I have no letters to vouch for my identity. Then Sister Eliza answers, "Oh but she has brought two pictures of William, one that she wears, & the other is in her own face" So Kate you hear what you may expect in the way of being spoiled when you come

[p. 4] On the 16th I thought particularly of the circle at home in Baltimore, for from my calculations Mrs Cammann[27], dear Cath[28], & my spouse[29] must have arrived to add to your happiness. Give my love to them all. Do not think because I have not dwelt more upon each of your names you are not all remembered. I even think of Nathan[30] sometimes. Kiss dear Maria & Brother Will for me. My next shall claim replies from them. What shall I say to "Brother George[31]" I read his Devereux[32] & listened to his musical box till anyone else would have thought I ought to have be satisfied. I hope his sweet little girl[33] is the playmate of Julia now; he must be happier if she is with him.

Among those who think so much of their relations I cannot write our own dear Mother[34] till I go to Alston Lodge as I'd wish, but know you will not allow a mail to pass till you inform her of my arrival. I steal these moments from sleep to scribble this - it is past midnight - but I am in such a circle of strangers during the day I cannot write. Ah it will be a comfort to open my heart to my precious Parent once more! how constantly herself & Charley[35] have occupied my thoughts since I left them! I trust they are now safely landed in Florida.

Dear[36] Eliza comes last in the list, she must only judge she is the sweetest morsel, kiss her cheeks for me. Remember me to Mrs Long[37]. And you my own dear Kate need no assurances of the attachment of your

Sister Anna

This document is protected by copyright.



Miss Catherine J. McNeill
Care of Capt. W G McNeill

Line Shipping
George Canning

[postmark:] NEW YORK / DEC / 23


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

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

3.  Mrs Sandland & her children
Betsey Sandland of Liverpool, friend of AMW, her daughter Eliza Sandland (b. 1821), wife of Thomas Boyd [more], and others unidentified.

4.  tetotum
Teetotum, a top; a simple disc marked with figures and spun with the fingers as an alternative to a dice.

5.  Sisters
Eliza Isabella Winstanley (1788-1857), née McNeill, JW's aunt, AMW's half-sister [more], and Alicia Margaret Caroline McNeill (1786-1863), JW's aunt [more]; both were his mother's half-sisters.

6.  Brother Winstanley
John Winstanley (1776-1859), solicitor, JW's uncle [more], and Eliza Isabella McNeill were married on 1 June 1825, at the Parish Church of St Cuthberts, Edinburgh, Scotland.

7.  in my sleeve
To laugh inwardly; to hold in derision secretly.

8.  servant
Margaret, a servant of AMW.

9.  Capt Holdridge
Captain Holdridge, sea captain.

10.  Spring & Draper
Spring and Draper, unidentified.

11.  Augustus
Augustus Cammann, a cousin of Maria M. Cammann.

12.  Kinlock
Peter Moran, Kinlock of Kinlock, a favorite Scotch air, arr. with variations for the piano forte or harp, New York, 1800.

13.  Yellow haired laddie
Johann Christian Bach, The yellow hair'd laddie, with variations, adapted for the piano forte or harpsichord, Dublin, 1790. See also The Yellow hair'd laddie, A favorite duetto, Boston, G. Graupner, 1800.

14.  here come's a Lord out of Spain

15.  Matty Moll
Probably Martha ('Matty') Fairfax (b. ca 1820), JW's cousin, later wife of Isaiah Davenport [more].

16.  little Julia
Julia Catherine Rodewald (1825-1897), née McNeill, JW's cousin, wife of A. Rodewald, Sr [more].

17.  Hal
Probably Henry McNeill (1828-1840), JW's cousin.

18.  Geo Canning
George Canning (1827), Liverpool Blue Swallowtail Line (551 tons).

19.  the Canada
Canada (1823), Grennel & Co. (528 tons).

20.  Mrs Omerod & Anne
Mrs Richard Ormerod, and her daughter Anne.

21.  WM
William Gibbs McNeill (1800-1853), railway engineer, AMW's brother [more]. In 1830 George Washington Whistler, along with his future brother-in-law, William Gibbs McNeill, surveyed the route and supervised the initial construction of the Baltimore and Susquehanna Railroad.

22.  Maria
Maria Matilda McNeill (d. January 1852), née Camman, wife of AMW's brother, W. G. McNeill [more].

23.  Mr Moffat's
Moffat, unidentified.

24.  Alston Lodge
Alston Lodge, Preston, Lancashire, was the home of John and Eliza Winstanley.

25.  Miss Burney
Fanny Burney (1752-1840), novelist [more]. AMW is probably referring to Burney's most popular novel Evelina, or The History of a Young Lady's Entrance into the World, 1778. The novel's form was epistolary, and its character, Evelina, wrote meticulously detailed letters about her adventures in London and received letters of advice from her guardian and other adults; its moral was that of 'virtue rewarded' by a good marriage and money.

26.  Father
Daniel McNeill (1760-1828), physician, father of AMW [more].

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

28.  dear Cath
Catherine Julia Cammann, a relation of Dr G. P. Cammann [more].

29.  my spouse
Margaret Getfield Hill (1802-1881), a friend of AMW, of Scarsdale, NY [more]; AMW used to call Margaret her 'spouse.' See Elizabeth Mumford, Whistler's Mother: The Life of Anna McNeill Whistler, Boston, 1939, p. 157.

30.  Nathan
Nathan, unidentified.

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

32.  Devereux
Probably Rev. Devereux Jarratt's Sermons on Various and Important Subjects in Practical Divinity: Adapted to the Plainest Capacities and Suited to the Family and Closet, Philadelphia, 1793-1794. Jarratt Devereux (1733-1801), was an American Anglican clergyman and preacher who emulated the Methodism of John Wesley and initiated a religious revival throughout North Carolina and southern Virginia.

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

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

35.  Charley
Charles Johnson McNeill (1802-1869), brother of AMW [more]; he lived at St Johns River, East Florida. See AMW to JW, 23 March 1858, #06495.

36.  Dear
'Dear ... Anna' continues in the right margin of p. 4.

37.  Mrs Long
Mrs Long, unidentified.

38.  Sunday
Written in another hand.