The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 06407
Date: 25 November 1851
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[1]
Place: Pomfret
Recipient: JW
Place: West Point[2]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W403
Document Type: ALS


tuesday night Nov 25th 1851

How are you my darling Jemie[3]?

I have been thinking of you with the greatest tenderness all today, "dear fellow" I have involuntarily uttered which has been an encouragement to Mary[4] to say how much she misses you, what a pity it is that your studies do not admit of your writing us what you are about, your letters are so cheering, I shall send you a semi-weekly[5] by tomorrows mail filled with Kossuth[6]. I read all his speeches with great interest to Grandmother & Willie[7], the sadness mingles as I think of the last winter at Dom Ritter[8] when I read the struggles of the brave Hungarians to your dear father[9]. I hope they interest you & suppose the hero Kossuth will give you a chance of sketching him[10], as all distinguished men who visit our country, go to inspect[11] its military academy.

I received such a grateful response to a letter I had written Mr Rutter[12] last week, I wish you could read it, he promises himself the pleasure of taking Mrs Rutter to see you, his son James[13] has recd an appt [i.e. appointment] for the Navy & enters the school of Anapolis[14] [sic] in the Spring. does Mr Minot[15] continue to favor West Point with a preference as a resort? Rutter mentions how fond he is of listening to all he can tell him of your beloved & lamented father.

Do you know Jemie dear, I fear your Sister[16] is hurt by your never writing her, she is too gentle to reproach you, but her last letter did not contain the fond expressions of Jemie which is usual with her, she does not in alluding to her portrait, which was still in Mr Boxalls[17] studio & requiring her occasional visits - send one message to Jemie, tho she does express anxiety about your conduct, because she says, that Uncle Swift[18] tells her you may be mortified if you indulge in demerits much longer! they [p. 2] will rejoice in the recent reports of your orderly conduct, & rising in your English but write Sister yourself, that will gratify her more than all the news I can send of you, if you will enclose to me the thin sheet I now send you to fill to her, the favor will be double in every sense of the word. she was greatly enjoying Genl Swift; McRea & Miss Chew[19] spending every evening at 62[20] the week they were in London. Uncle McNeill[21] joined them sometimes, Seymour[22] is pleased with all & is liked by them all no doubt as Sis writes he gets along famously with both uncles - she & Seymour had been over their wedding tour to Wales previous to the arrival of her uncle Swift & had taken Annie[23]. Mr Lloyd[24] was charmed by the charm I sent him - a gold dollar for his watch. I hear of a Kate Prince[25] in St Petersburg, the daughter of your friend Ben[26].

Now I am scribbling to get this ready to send by one of the school boys (Wednesday morning 26th) who is to start for Norwich by eleven oclock for his Thanksgiving there. I have to spend this morning in the kitchen too in making mince pies & pumpkin also for this Yankee festival[27], Willie is to have two of the school boys to dine with us tomorrow, but not for his own sake, Johnie Burnham[28] invited himself & then as David King[29] was to be the only other at the Rectory & is a gentlemanly lad I sent to ask Mrs P[30] to let him come with Johnie. I need not say dear Jemie how I wish I could send you some of my pies to treat your cronies & self! If you will let me know how to find Mr Minot provided he yet visits West Point I might order same New Years cake thro him to your room. Brother George[31] will visit you early in Dec do let me know if you have under shirts for winter & if you have enough stockings, indeed if there is any thing I can do for you my dear, dear Jemie. Grandmother is quite well & adds her blessing with mine & the love of Willie, who had a sleigh ride with Lloyd[32] before breakfast, after he had shovelled snow, & then went off to school with his huge pile of Latin & Greek. I hear from Miss Hill[33] that a cottage[34] is to be built for me as its tenant by next Spring. Do you think you shall be honored with a furlough to visit me in the Summer? The worlds fair[35] you see is to be in N York city then. What [p. 3] powerful motives you have dear Jemie for obedience now. May God answer my prayers which are unceasing for you my dear boy. I recd a letter from Mr Harrison[36] the other day, he expects much from you & remarks upon your having entered upon the scenes of your revered fathers[37] youth. Mr H & family except Henry[38] who is at school at Southampton are now in Paris. but look forward to returning to their native land with delight next Spring. Is there anything you wish me to write to them to get you in Paris? I am sure Mr Harrison would attend to it for your fathers sake. And now I must write a few lines to Eliza Flagg[39] by this lad to Norwich, I only add my love & Grandmothers to Mrs Bartlett[40], say I should have written her but have been so busy, I hope the barrel of apples may prove sound. Pecks pleasant [41] you remember are of fine flavor, have the boxes of virgin honey reached Mrs Bartlett from Aunt Kate[42]?

I hope you go there as often as possible on saturdays, the oftener, the more you'l[l] gratify those sincere friends, & your mother. Oh if a letter should reach me from you tomorrow I should have a Thanksgiving subject! perhaps you may have purchased this for my special rejoicing! if not, surely Christmas will bring me a greeting from you. The family of Davis are weeping over the corpse of George[43], whose redeemed spirit returned to God on sunday morning last, Mr Park[44] was with them before morning service as it left its frail tenement of clay. 19 years was his age! but thanks be to God that the labours of Mr Park were blessed, George became entirely willing to go, he was baptised & received the communion by his own earnest desire. Your lively school mate his sister is solemnly impressed. I feel inclined to call & offer sympathy to the pious but afflicted mother. the funeral is to be on saturday next I presume. Mr Park when he lately passed an evening with us, enquired affectionately after you, & begged to be remembered to you. he is looking forward to embarking on his European tour by steamer of April 1st for five months recreation. his labours here completed, his prospects of future usefulness bright, he serves a generous Master even a heavenly! That you may from your youth be known as of the Lords family dear Jemie[45] is the hope of your widowed Mother


[Address panel:] Cadet[46] James Whistler
Military Academy
West Point
N York State

[postmark:] QUINEBAUG / Ct. / NOV / 2[7]

[stamp:] U. S. POSTAGE

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

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

5.  semi-weekly
It is not clear as to which Semi Weekly AMW refers. In 1851 there were various publications of journals from different locations throughout USA entitled Semi Weekly, such as, Semi-weekly Tribune, New York, begun in June 1850.

6.  Kossuth
Lajos Kossuth (1802-1894), political reformer [more] who inspired and led Hungary's struggle for independence from Austria; see AMW to JW, 13 November 1851, #06406.

7.  Grandmother & Willie
Martha McNeill (1775-1852), née Kingsley, mother of AMW [more], and William McNeill Whistler (1836-1900), physician, JW's brother [more].

8.  Dom Ritter
AMW's residence at St Petersburg, Russia, situated across the Academy of Fine Arts.

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

10.  chance of sketching him
There is no record of JW producing a sketch of Lajos Kossuth.

11.  go to inspect
Debby Pogue, archivist of USMA, after examining their records for the time period (1851-1852), including Post Orders, the Superintendant's Letter Book, and a subject file covering foreign visitors, has found no evidence that Kossuth visited the United States Military Academy.

12.  Mr Rutter
Mr Rutter, and his wife, AMW's friends.

13.  son James
James Rutter, son of Mr and Mrs Rutter.

14.  the school of Anapolis
The academy at Annapolis was founded as a Naval School on 10 October 1845, by George Bancroft, historian, educator, and secretary of the US Navy, to improve the then-unsatisfactory methods of instructing midshipmen. There is no record of James Rutter ever graduating from the Academy; see Edward W. Callahan, List of Officers of the Navy of the US and the Marine Corps from 1775 to 1900, New York, 1901.

15.  Mr Minot
Mr Minot; unidentified.

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

17.  her portrait, which was still in Mr Boxalls
William Boxall (1800-1879), portrait painter, Director of the National Gallery [more], painted Deborah Delano Haden's portrait.

18.  Uncle Swift
Captain William Henry Swift (1800-1879), brother-in-law of JW's father [more].

19.  Genl Swift; McRea & Miss Chew
General Joseph Gardner Swift (1783-1865), chief engineer of the US Army, brother-in-law of JW's father [more], his son McRae Swift (b. 1819), and probably a relation of Abby Hortense Swift, née Chew, wife of McRae Swift.

20.  62
62 Sloane Street, London, the address of Francis Seymour and Deborah Delano Haden.

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

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

23.  Annie
Annie Harriet Haden (1848-1937), later Mrs Charles Thynne, JW's niece [more].

24.  Mr Lloyd
Edward ('Teddy') Lloyd, of London.

25.  Kate Prince
Catherine Prince (b. 1851), daughter of Ben Prince [more].

26.  Ben
Ben Prince, a friend of AMW, of St Petersburg.

27.  Johnie Burnham
Johnie Burnham, of Pomfret, CT.

28.   mince pies & pumpkin also for this Yankee festival
The 'Yankee festival' of Thanksgiving originated in the autumn of 1621 when Plymouth governor William Bradford invited neighbouring Indians to join the Pilgrims for a three-day festival of recreation and feasting in gratitude for the bounty of the season. By the end of the 19th century, Thanksgiving Day had become an institution throughout New England, and in 1863, following a movement led by Sarah Josepha Hale, it was officially proclaimed a national holiday by President Abraham Lincoln. The traditional feast of turkey and pumpkin pie has since become part of the national culture. For AMW's mince pies and pumpkin recipes see Margaret F. MacDonald, Whistler's Mother's Cook Book, London, 1979, pp. 72, and 86-87.

29.  David King
David King, of Pomfret, CT.

30.  Mrs P
Mary Park (1815-1854), née Brewster Baldwin, wife of Rev. R. Park [more].

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

32.  Lloyd
Lloyd Henry Bowers (1836-1886), son of Captain P. Bowers, Sr [more].

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

34.  a cottage
AMW moved to a cottage in Scarsdale in June 1852.

35.  The worlds fair
The World Fair took place in 1853 in Manhattan, as a "Crystal Palace Exhibition," modeled on the 1851 London fair (a giant glass and iron exhibition hall in Hyde Park).

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

37.  revered fathers
George Washington Whistler (1800-1849), engineer, JW's father [more].

38.  Henry
William Henry Harrison (b. 1837), son of S. and J. Harrison.

39.  Eliza Flagg
Eliza Flagg (1830-1855), née McNeill, JW's cousin, wife of Rev. E. O. Flagg [more].

40.  Mrs Bartlett
Harriet Bartlett, née Whitehorne, wife of Prof. W. H. C. Bartlett.

41.  Pecks pleasant
Peck's Pleasant is an apple variety.

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

43.  George
George Davis (1832-1851), of Pomfret, CT [more].

44.  Mr Park
Rev. Roswell Park (1807-1869), minister of the Protestant Episcopal Church, Principal of Christ Church School [more].

45.  Jemie
'Jemie ... AMW' continues in the right margin of p. 3.

46.  Cadet
'Cadet ... CENTS' written on p. 4 which has been used as the outside of an envelope and on which there are the remains of a black wax seal inscribed 'A M W'