The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Wann, Jane
Record 17 of 56

System Number: 06493
Date: 23 January [1858][1]
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[2]
Place: Charleston, SC
Recipient: Jane and James H. Gamble[3]
Place: [Staten Island]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: Whistler W488
Document Type: ALS[4]

South Bay. Charleston SC[5]

Jan 23rd

A happy New Year to my beloved friends at Vanderbilt L. Staten Island.

My memory never separates you now, having been in your home, there harmoniously you are united dear Mrs Gamble[6] with your sons & daughter[7]. Will you not write me dear Mrs Wan[n] of your health & of your mothers? The mildness of the winter has been proof of the tender mercy of our Lord. I trust it has promoted your recovery dear Mr Gamble that you may with safety cross to your office day by day for I know your anxiety to fulfil your share there & I trust business prospers steadily with Mr Wann, tho I am not of those who deem a large income safety. May God give us all grace by patient continuance in well doing, to seek for glory & honor & immortality. What a boon to those who have scanty employment & narrowed resources, is this mild winter!

[p. 2] The severity of the two preceding winters, warned my very rich friends of Alexandroffsky Villa[8] to fit up a soup establishment on their domains, I saw Mrs Winans[9] there several times regulating the distribution of 150 gallons & bread in proportion, her system is admirable, the poor bring her [sic] own tickets to the outside of the casement thro which they receive their kettles of excellent soup & bags of bread. perhaps Feb may be colder & then the charity will indeed be felt, it is 3 days each week for two hours, they throng the soup house. But really I only suffered from heat at the Villa, its weight of luxury oppresses me, tho Mr & Mrs W are so kind to me particularly, & devote themselves to make all their guests enjoy their abundance.

As I was not well the last fortnight before I set out for Rail roading South, my eyes suffered & you will not approve of my writing much as it is yet weak. I know dear Mr Gamble it will interest you to hear my recommendation of Mr Pierce of Richfield Springs[10], as assistant at St Pauls[11] in Balt was not unavailing, he answered my old friend Dr Wyatts[12] call & preached one Sunday morning at St P. the same evening his services were cut off before he ascended the [p. 3] pulpit by the gas going out! the impression he made in the family circle was in his favor. I have not heard, whether he is to return from Richfield & was sorry he had just left Balt when I last reached there. Jackson McNeill[13] I hope may see you & report our journey as far as Wilmington N C[14], resting one night in a nice State room on the Chesapeake, & the next in a very comfortable & quiet hotel in Wilmington prevented my fatigue.

It was tantalizing that I could not see my native town, reaching it in the rain at 8 oclock P M. leaving by the six oclock train the next morning. Jackson was anxious about his Grandmamas[15] attack to get back to Brooklyn, tho his heart was divided about my claim. I put myself under the protection of Mr Morrell[16] for my last days journey & was met by one of my cousins a week ago yesterday in the cars, his carriage in waiting. My only alloy was finding one of my dear Cousins suffering from bruises, she had lost her footing in getting off a chair & is yet helpless, tho slow mending & always patient, abounding in thankfulness to the Lord. We trace the Lords hand in all that happens, how greatly I feel favored & pray to be of use here. It is mutually cheering to my relatives & myself that I am permitted to renew my visit to their home after 29 years!

[p. 4] The beautiful Bay all their front South windows open upon I so peculiarly enjoy, also gathering bouquets of sweet Roses, Wallflowers &c in their garden, but this weather in Janry is extraordinary. I wish all who are pained at thoughts of slavery could see the freedom & easy labor of the workies[17] here. A letter from the friends at the Cottage[18] interrupted the report of the Potatoes[19] all I can notice, please direct the bill to me soon as you can write me & I'll enclose a check on Bank of New York if you say that will be safe by mail. My friends had received one from me at Balt safely.

I[20] found southern Rail roads more comfortable than either Central or Harlaam[21] [sic]. No tobacco spitters, no hurry & jostle. the travellers select & polite. What a comfort to me in bidding Willie[22] adieu in Phila fortnight since, that dear Jacks was my tête à tête. My son never appeared more to advantage than now, interested in his studies, blessed with health & cheerfulness. In our circle of real friends. Pray for him!

Remember[23] in your prayers my boys & their mother

Your attached friend


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1.  1858
Dated with reference to the Perpetual Calendar Whitaker's Almanack, and AMW's letter to James H. Gamble, 4 February 1858, #06494.

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

3.  Jane and James H. Gamble
AMW is writing to the family of James H. Gamble (b. 1820), clerk [more].

4.  ALS
The paper has an embossed stamp: PARIS PAPER

5.  South Bay. Charleston SC
26 South Bay, Charleston, SC, was the home address of Anna Johnstone (1787-1870), Martha McNeill's cousin [more]. See Charleston City Directory & Strangers Guide for 1856, New York, 1856, p. 91.

6.  Mrs Gamble
Jane Gamble (1790-1864), mother of J. H. Gamble [more].

7.  sons & daughter
James H. Gamble, his brother-in-law Samuel Wann (b. 1820), merchant, and his sister Jane Wann (1822-1875), née Gamble.

8.  Alexandroffsky Villa
'Alexandroffsky' in Baltimore was the villa owned by Thomas De Kay Winans (1820-1878), locomotive engineer and collector [more]; see AMW to JW, 15, 16 and 18 September 1848, #06363.

9.  Mrs Winans
Celeste Winans (1823-1861), née Revillon, wife of Thomas De Kay Winans [more]. J. Thomas Scharf in Chronicles of Baltimore, Being a Complete History of Baltimore Town and Baltimore City from the earliest period to the present time, Baltimore, 1874, p. 563, wrote on Celeste Winans' charitable work: 'Mrs Winans established a soup house near her mansion on West Baltimore Street, from which the poor were furnished daily with soup, bread, and in some instances fuel. This noble work of charity was under her own supervision, and very often as many as six hundred daily received the renovating beverage from her hands.' In the early 1860s, the soup house fed 4000 people daily. See T. Winans' obituary in the Sun, 11 June 1878, Baltimore, vol. 83, no. 22.

10.  Mr Pierce of Richfield Springs
Pierce, of Richfield Springs, NY. AMW spent five weeks at Richfield Springs in July-August 1857; see AMW to JW, 17 August and 16 September 1857, #06487, and AMW to JW, 13 and 15 July 1857, #06485.

11.  St Pauls
Old Saint Paul's Episcopal Church in Baltimore, MD. It was founded in 1692 as a mission of the Diocese of London.

12.  Dr Wyatts
Dr William Edward Wyatt (1789-1864), clergyman and Professor of Theology in the University of Maryland [more].

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

14.  Wilmington N C
AMW was born in Wilmington, NC.

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

16.  Mr Morrell
Morrell, AMW's travel companion.

17.  workies
Probably a colloquial term for slaves.

18.  Cottage
AMW lived intermittently at Scarsdale, NY, between about September 1851 and November 1857, in a cottage owned by her friend Margaret Getfield Hill (1802-1881).

19.  Potatoes
In October 1857, AMW ordered a supply of potatoes from Ireland, through James H. Gamble; see AMW to JW, 8 October 1857, #06489.

20.  I
'I found ... for him!' is written in the bottom third of p. 4, upside down to the rest of the text.

21.  Central or Harlaam
New York Central Railroad, and New York and Harlem Railroad; see AMW to JW, 11 July 1856, #06474, and AMW to JW, 27 August 1851, #06399. The American traveller of the early railroad car was almost totally lacking in the type of class consciousness which would have resulted in different cars for each social class. With the exception of most black people, some immigrants and those cars reserved for ladies, all passengers of southern trains mingled together and shared the uncertainties of the road. The situation was not much different in the north. AMW's preference for southern trains is probably a reference to the Charleston trains, which could have attracted mainly affluent citizens, Charleston being an artistocratic resort; see Eugene Alvarez, Travel on Southern Antebellum Railroads, 1828-1860, Alabama University Press, 1974, pp. 150-163.

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

23.  Remember
'Remember ... AMW' continues in the upper left margin of p. 1, at right angles to the main text.