The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Whistler, Julia de Kay
Record 22 of 44

System Number: 06498
Date: 1 August 1858
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[1]
Place: Richfield Springs
Recipient: JW
Place: [Paris]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: Whistler W493
Document Type: ALS

Richfield Springs.

Augt 1st 1858. Sunday

I cannot see to read, but may pen a few thoughts by instinct to my dear absent ones, tho I am aware even this indulgence tries my weak eyes, You my beloved Jemie[2] have at random spoken to cause me pain for you must know it is not true that "no one cares for Jemie" oh how it made my heart ache when Aunt Kate[3] read to me Genl Swifts[4] report from Capt Swifts letter[5] to him, of his intercourse with the merry Artist in Paris. It sounded so reproachfully! in contrast to the clinging affection of his sons to their Parents. All were kind to me at the Corner house[6] & Willie[7] there to welcome my coming, I left [him] enjoying his holiday. he expected Jacks[8] to join him for a week this month, & he will spend a week at Gdma C - s[9] with Jacks ere he takes me back to Phila to get in readiness for his course[10] of Lectures first of Sept. I have been here a week, the same revered old lady[11] who accompanied me last summer hither is with me again. And "the Countess" entrusted to my care. If you could see how pretty your Cousin Ida[12] is, "her love to Jemie" might be [p. 2] indeed a pleasant message. Tomorrow will be her birthday 19. she is so exquisitely proportioned & has such freshness she seems only 16. I am glad there are nice intellectual young people at our lodgings to walk with them to the Lake where they row & take the breezes, for my elasticity is not as it was, tho I gratefully realize benefit from the weeks bathing & drinking the waters, my eyes are in a measure better. I expect to remain here til the 18th then hope to spend a few days in Albany. Cousin Eliza Van Vechten[13] always enjoys a talk about Debo[14] & Jemie & wishes Willie with me, her children[15] & Aunt Anna[16] very cozy together. Then I must divide a week between Scarsdale & Staten Island[17], I shall report to Sis from Julias[18]. Oh I wish you could see the Portrait there of our dear Eliza Flagg[19], painted from memory & a daguereotype[20] by the Revd. Jared Flagg[21], once the Artist. It portrays Eliza in the loveliness of her full bloom. Jemie she loved you tenderly, do you not wish to meet her again? are you in the straight path she trod. Have you the love & faith of a little [p. 3] child she cherished. We have a nice Church here, yesterday I thought of your saying no one cared for you, as I wished you among the 14 who were Confirmed, reflecting I should deserve your reproach if I neglected to urge your [sic] more earnestly than I had deemed wise in Pomfret[22] seven years ago! You & I must keep our thread straight or how can we cross the Dark River[23]. God has taken you to its brink several times, will He again spare you time for amendment of life.

Oh how I yearn over you & Willie. my only ambition is that you may honor & serve the Lord. Keeping Innocency [sic] is so secure of happiness. But I must not omit a kind offer of Mrs Maxwell to give you a note of introduction to an especial favorite of hers among the distinguished Artists in Paris now. the dear old lady read me a letter from her friend Mrs Faniani[24] recd a few days since here. I hope it may lead to much enjoyment to you in visits to the Studio & home of F[25]. You may recollect him if you went to his Studio in N York as Willie did while little Georgie Whistlers portrait & his Mothers[26] were in progress. Now do not neglect delivering the letter from [p. 4] Mrs Maxwell, leave your card if he is not in, & let me hear of intercourse between you. Jemie dear shall you not spend next winter in Italy[27]? Three years already gone! alas how can you loiter so! Ames[28] the Artist at Mr Harrisons[29] says while you have a Mother, do your best to return to her. Have pity on me & write me soon to cheer your devoted & most faithful & fond


How[30] difficult to realize you 24 Willie 22. you seem to me yet dear boys. but it is time you let me lean on you. I trust I may have comfort with Willie. Oh that you too were to be with us!

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

2.  Jemie

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

4.  Genl Swifts
General Joseph Gardner Swift (1783-1865), chief engineer of the US Army, brother-in-law of JW's father [more].

5.  Capt Swifts letter
Captain William Henry Swift (1800-1879), brother-in-law of JW's father [more]; his letter is untraced.

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

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

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

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

10.  course
William McNeill Whistler was about to begin two years of medical study at Pennsylvania Medical School, Philadelphia. He graduated in 1860.

11.  lady
Mrs Maxwell, probably the mother of J. S. Maxwell. AMW had previously visited the Richfield Springs in July 1857, see #06485, #06486.

12.  Cousin Ida
Ida Bayard Whistler, née King (d. 1863), JW's sister-in-law [more]. JW called her also 'countess' (see #06487).

13.  Eliza Van Vechten
Eliza Van Vechten (b. ca 1824), née Hamilton, AMW's cousin [more].

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

15.  children
By 1857 Eliza Van Vechten had given birth to five children, Hamilton (b. 1844), Cornelia (b. 1847), Ann ('Annie') (b. 1852), Abraham (b. 1854) and Estelle (b. 1856). It seems that only three survived; see AMW to JW, 17 August and 16 September 1857, #06487.

16.  Aunt Anna
Probably Catherine Ann Anderson (b. 1814), née Hamiton, AMW's cousin.

17.  Scarsdale & Staten Island
AMW lived intermittently at Scarsdale, NY, between ca September 1851 and November 1857 in a cottage owned by her friends Margaret Getfield Hill (1802-1881) and Sarah Stewart Hill (1800-1864). Jane Gamble (1790-1864), mother of J. H. Gamble [more], her daughter Jane Wann (1822-1875), née Gamble, and Samuel Wann (b. 1820), merchant resided at Staten Island, NY.

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

19.  Eliza Flagg
Eliza Flagg (1830-1855), née McNeill, JW's cousin, wife of Rev. E. O. Flagg [more]. The portrait is untraced.

20.  daguereotype
Daguerreotype, untraced; see AMW to Joseph Harrison, 11 June 1849, #07627.

21.  Jared Flagg
Jared Bradley Flagg (1820-1899), painter, of New Haven, CT [more]; he was ordained Episcopalian priest in 1855 and incumbent in Brooklyn, NY, until 1863, taking up painting again in New Haven and New York City.

22.  Pomfret
The town in Connecticut where JW lived with his mother and brother from 1850-52.

23.  Dark River
'Dark River,' a symbol of death, and possibly a reference to Edward Monro, The Dark River, An Allegory, London, 1847, 2nd ed; see AMW to JW, 8 and 9 January 1849, #06381.

24.  Mrs Faniani
This could be a misspelling (or perhaps a phonetic spelling) of Fagnani and thus a reference to the wife of the artist Giuseppe Fagnani (1819-1873), painter and sculptor [more]. Fagnani worked in New York City from 1852-57 and in Europe until 1865. He worked in Paris from 1842-44 and may also have been there in 1858. Fagnani painted the portraits of Courtland ('Uncle Court') Palmer, Sr (1800-1874), merchant, brother of Dr G. E. Palmer [more], and his wife Mary Ann Palmer (b. 1813); these are now in the Stonington Historical Society, Stonington, CT.

25.  F
Probably G. Fagnani.

26.  Georgie Whistlers portrait & his Mothers
George ('Georgie') Worthen Whistler (b. 1851), JW's nephew [more], and his mother Mary Ann Whistler (ca 1826 - d.1852), née Ducatel, JW's sister-in-law [more]. Their portrait has not been located.

27.  Italy
JW did not go to Italy, although in November 1858 he did receive a letter from H. French, American consul at Aix-la-Chapelle, urging him to go (#01604).

28.  Ames
Joseph Alexander Ames (1816-1872), portrait and genre painter [more]. Ames had probably painted portraits of the children of Thomas De Kay Winans (1820-1878), locomotive engineer and collector [more], and his wife Celeste Winans (1823-1861), née Revillon; see AMW to JW, 7 May 1858, #06496.

29.  Mr Harrisons
Joseph Harrison (1810-1874), jr, partner in Eastwick and Harrison, locomotive manufacturers, and later in Harrison, Winans and Eastwick [more].

30.  how
'How ... with us!' is written in the top margin of p. 1, at right angles to the main text.