The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Weir, Robert Walter
Record 4 of 9

System Number: 06423
Date: 24 and 26 November 1852
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[1]
Place: London
Recipient: JW
Place: West Point[2]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W418
Document Type: ALS

62 Sloane St[3]

Wed. Nov 24th 1852

This is a delightful task to me dearest Jemie[4] & if you can induce your fancy sketches to describe West Point realities in class, in barrack[5], Sis & Mother will not be slow to acknowledge them, & Seymour[6] will regale his leisure moments & "bless the dear cadet & wish he could see him." these ejaculations sound to my ear hearty. Imagine us yesterday morning finishing our breakfast upon scraps sent us by George[7], what a pity you had only the end of your supply of paper, but tho your ink was rather sketchy the character was natural & therefore we excused all defects. I could not but feel flattered that you had had the blues after your visit to Scarsdale & tho I do not escape them in this far off distance from my boys, I comfort myself in the picture reward of our improving this winter.

Friday morning 26th

I have just been directing an Illustrated News[8] for each of my students, as Willie[9] applies to George for novelties to cheer his leisure hours. poor dear fellow! I sympathise in his home sick misery often, but while I weep & pray alone (for none but God knows my weakness - I am not sorry that our hearts are soft enough to feel tenderly our separation. Oh what a privilige [sic] it would be to me to have my boys at the cottage as their home from the time of my return to it, but you know even the Emperors sons[10] had to go thro the hardships of the Gymnasium & Camp. we must be thankful for being allowed to write each other, & that in prayer we meet daily. Perhaps dear Willie may like to read what I write you now. I am directing the Times[11] of this week to St James's first as his copy of the illustrated news will be enjoyed at Scarsdale & then sent to him. Uncle MacNeill[12] brought me letters from Brooklyn yesterday while I was at St Pauls[13], so he left them & I enjoyed them last evening while Sis, Emma[14] & Seymour were at the Haymarket[15], ([Cole?[16]] having insisted upon their acceptance of a private box he came to offer at breakfast[)]. Oh how I wished in my heart, they were as decided as I am [p. 2] against theatres, especially when health suffers from dissipation, poor Sis has not been able to get up; I left a lobster supper ready for them at the bright fire in her room when I heard their voices at midnight. And I know you will say you would have not refused to partake. I need not remark upon the rainy seasons as the Times does, but it is sad for the poor whose dwellings are immersed in the midland countries, I saw it in my journey a fortnight ago from Preston, but the rain continues part of every twenty four hours. At Windsor flat bottomed boats are needed & the railway is three feet under water in many places - The sun is coming out & I must walk - for health suffers - I should greatly prefer the clear frost at West Point & St James! & the ruddy dawn & glowing sunset with ice & wind of Pomfret[17], if I could revive last winter & my mother[18]! After the late dinner assembles the happy family circle around the drawing room blaze, I steal off to meditate in the invisible world of memory, the father[19] who is not dead to me! the angel mother[20] inseparable in my home with him! & then I pray for the four spared to bless me & go down to see little Annie & Seyr[21]. dance by the Russian piano[22] & none suspect that the tears have flowed under the mask of my cheerfulness, for I should indeed be ungrateful were I not unite in the kind attentions of Seymour & Sis. these sweet children seem to have had love to their American Grandmama instilled, & baby[23] crows & smiles at my tact in nursing him. Do you ever write to Mary Brenan[24]? I have twice & she'd be so proud of the same proof that Masters J & W forget her not. All I meet ask after my dear boys & Many talk of Mary in a tone highly creditable & to me very gratifying. Do you remember Miss Marsh[25] as one of Seyr constant patients? she took Rose[26] & myself in her carriage to St Pauls as it is kept open to gratify the curious who perhaps did not see the funeral[27] there. You cannot imagine how fine the effect of the gas light, around nave, dome &c, tho you'll [p. 3] see it in the illustration. The most impressive & wonderful part of the funeral which I witnessed was, the order & quiet of the crowd in all the thorough fares. The Queen[28] thanked her subjects & the Police thro a speech "in the house[29]" yesterday. It was touching to see the poor old Dukes horse, his boots hanging shapeless & his old groom[30]. But we shall by the indulgence of our Almighty protector be permitted to talk of this pageant in our holiday at Scarsdale. When I left it, I only contemplated entering into nursery scenes, but if I came to be the shadow of Sis, I must go with her as far as able, so went on monday to a family & musical circle in Deans Yard[31], the new lady there acquits herself cordially to all, tho she lacks refinement & esprit of my early friend Anna[32]. she has an engaging little daughter to give a new charm to "Uncle Clarke's[33]" home. Sis, Emma[34], myself & Miss Marsh had a ladys tea at "Mamas[35]" on wednesday evening, chat & knitting in lieu of piano around the bright little drawing room fire, their lodging is at 56[36] - so snug to be so near. This reminds one of Rose asking if my boys would be interested in hearing of Mr Dupery[37]? he has gone to Japan to preach & teach, of course his wife & children went with him. I have not seen Jim Morah[38], but must return his mamas call soon[,] & he resides with her. We are all to take tea & have music at "Charles Edwards[39]" who lodges in Cadogan Place now, he & Miss Marsh are the God parents of "the long baby" as Annie calls the "Arthur Charles" but I never allude to his name, for I guess if Sis had prevailed he would have been a G W H[40]. Brother George will see Seymour to advantage at home, I hope he may visit Sis, as we must not expect her to bring so many as she would require to enable her to enjoy unalloyed a visit to her native land, Seymours practise has increased but in proportion to his increased family, excellent servants, a pd assistant in the surgery & the perfect harmony of the home entire, letters can faintly do justice to, I hope when George comes he will bring little George[41] to see his [p. 4] cousins, they are so fond of the baby in the Daguereotype[42] [sic].

I fear Sis will feel it unkind in me taking "Uncle Jim" away, if you wish it you must plead for yourself & advise her to persuade Seyr to sit to Boxall[43], to face her portrait! Two months will have sped since we parted dear Jemie. I only taxed you for one letter a month & this is my third, but I will only expect forward. My plan is to remain with Sis in this home, till March. then for engagements in Landcashire [sic] mind to remember me particularly to our friends at Proff B - s[44] Do you ever devote a Saturday p - m to Mr Wiers[45] studio? try if once for mutual gratification & offer my respects. I have been to take a cup of broth at the childrens time for dinner in the Salle a Manger[46], Sis is enjoying Londons oysters as the good Miss Marsh sent her a wee bag of 1st quality, some "Finnin Haddys" & "Yarmouth herring[47]" to tempt her to eat a better breakfast & lunch. I am reminded by Emma & Sis to express their love to Jemie. Sis talks of wanting the boys & George next time. Aunt A & E[48] send love to all three with the blessing & prayers for your happiness of your devoted Mother


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[Address panel:] Cadet James Whistler
Military Academy
West Point
New York


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

2.  West Point
United States Military Academy, West Point, NY, opened in 1802; see AMW to JW, 10 June 1851, #06396.

3.  62 Sloane St
The London residence of Deborah ('Debo' or 'Sis') Delano Haden (1825-1908), née Whistler, JW's half-sister [more].

4.  Jemie
James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), artist [more].

5.  fancy sketches to describe West Point realities in class, in barrack
See West Point Life (M.119).

6.  Seymour
Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more].

7.  George
George William Whistler (1822-1869), engineer, JW's half-brother [more].

8.  Illustrated News
Illustrated London News , monthly picture magazine of news and the arts, published in London. It was founded as a weekly in 1842.

9.  Willie
William McNeill Whistler (1836-1900), physician, JW's brother [more]; he was at St James's College, Maryland.

10.  Emperors sons
The sons of Nicolas I Romanov (1796-1855), Tsar of Russia from 1825-1855 [more].

11.  Times
The Times newspaper, founded by John Walter on January 1, 1785, as The Daily Universal Register, became The Times on 1 January 1788.

12.  Uncle MacNeill
William Gibbs McNeill (1800-1853), railway engineer, AMW's brother [more].

13.  St Pauls
St Paul's Cathedral, London, designed by Christopher Wren (completed 1710).

14.  Emma
Emma Bergeron (d. 1858), née Haden, sister of JW's brother-in-law, F. S. Haden [more].

15.  Haymarket
Haymarket Theatre, London, known as 'the home of the English comedy.' The show was 'Masks and Faces by Messrs. B. Webster, L. Murray, Stuart, Lambert; Mrs Stirling, Mrs L. Murray, Miss F. Maskell, and Miss Rosa Bennett. After which, Richelieu in Love. To conclude with A Capital Match.' See The Times, 25 November 1852, no. 21,282, p. 4.

16.  Colt
Samuel Colt (1814-1862), inventor and manufacturer [more].

17.  with ice & wind of Pomfret
AMW is referring to cold weather conditions at Pomfret, CT, on 15 and 16 January 1852, #06409.

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

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

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

21.  little Annie & Seyr
Annie Harriet Haden (1848-1937), later Mrs Charles Thynne, and Francis Seymour Haden (1850-1918).

22.  Russian piano
See AMW to Joseph Harrison, 11 June 1849, #07627.

23.  baby
Arthur Charles Haden (1852-1910), musician, JW's nephew [more].

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

25.  Miss Marsh
Miss Marsh; unidentified

26.  Rose
Rosamund ('Rose') Horsley (b. ca 1821), née Haden, sister of F. S. Haden [more].

27.  the funeral
The funeral of Henry Wellesley (1846-1900), 3rd Duke of Wellington, Conservative MP [more]; see AMW to George William Whistler, William McNeill Whistler, JW, 18 and 19 November 1852, #06422.

28.  The Queen
Victoria (1819-1901), Queen of Great Britain [more].

29.  in the house
It is not clear if it is 'The house of Commons' or 'The House of Lords;' nothing was reported in the newspapers.

30.  poor old Dukes horse, his boots hanging shapeless & his old groom
The Illustrated London News on 27 November 1852, p. 479, published an extract, entitled The Duke's Horse in the Funeral Procession in the following terms: 'The Duke was a bold rider, but of late years necessarily selected steady riding hacks. The horse led in the procession on Thursday last was bought about four years ago from Mr Sullivan, an officer in the Scots Fusilier Guards. It was a mare, and remarkably steady; never shying, even under the most awkward circumstances ... The Duke's groom, John Mears, had only just time to prevent the expression of his Grace's displeasure. This John Mears, who led the horse on Thursday, has been in the Duke's service more than thirty years ...'

31.  Deans Yard
Dean's Yard, Westminster, probably the London address of 'Uncle' Clark of Boston, and his new wife.

32.  early friend Anna
Anna Clark, first wife of Uncle Clark.

33.  Uncle Clarke's
Uncle Clark, of Boston, husband of Anna.

34.  Emma
Emma Bergeron (d. 1858), née Haden, sister of JW's brother-in-law, F. S. Haden [more].

35.  Mamas
Probably Emma Haden, née Harrison, mother of JW's brother-in-law, F. S. Haden.

36.  56
56 Sloane Street, the address of Emma Haden, née Harrison, mother of JW's brother-in-law, F. S. Haden.

37.  Mr Dupery
Dupery, a Christian missionary.

38.  Jim Morrah
Jim Morrah, JW's fellow pupil at Portishead, later a lawyer, and his mother.

39.  Charles Edwards
Charles Edwards, unidentified.

40.  G W H
AMW wishes her grandson had been called George Washington Haden, after her husband.

41.  little George
George ('Georgie') Worthen Whistler (b. 1851), JW's nephew [more].

42.  baby in the Daguereotype
An untraced daguerreotype of George Worthen Whistler.

43.  Boxall
William Boxall (1800-1879), portrait painter, Director of the National Gallery [more].

44.  Proff B - s
Professor William Holmes Chambers Bartlett (1804-1893), mathematician [more].

45.  Mr Wiers
Robert Walter Weir (1803-1889), artist and art teacher at USMA, West Point [more].

46.  Salle a Manger
Fr.: salle à manger, dining room.

47.  'Finnin Haddys' & 'Yarrmouth herring'
Finnan Haddie, smoked Haddock from Findon in Murray, Scotland, and herrings from Yarmouth, England; a place noted for its red herrings.

48.  Aunt A & E
Alicia Margaret Caroline McNeill (1786-1863), and Eliza Isabella Winstanley (1788-1859), née McNeill, AMW's sisters.