The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 06410
Date: 10 and 11 February [1852[1]]
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[2]
Place: Pomfret
Recipient: JW
Place: West Point[3]
Repository: Glasgow Unversity Library
Call Number: Whistler W406
Document Type: ALS[4]


tuesday night Feb. 10th

My own dear Jemie[5]

I am the only one on this étage[6] awake dear Jemie, the moon will soon rise & then the youthful circle invited by Mrs Ch Thompson[7] to spend the evening at Hill side Cottage will be lighted over the broken roads to their respective homes, & I shall bid you good night to let Willie[8] in, this is his third interruption this winter to his evening studies, but I'll venture to assure you dear Jemie he is more charmed by a letter from you than by any of these merry makings. he has been almost in despair at your long silence & looked so rewarded for his tramp thro the snow & mud yesterday when he brought your first New Years greeting yesterday, with accompaniments from "Sis[9]" & Aunt Alicia[10]. Accept their affectionate remembrance, they hope to hear from your pen! Now Jemie you reverence your Mother I am sure - let me impress upon you the duty you owe us to answer the letter of Mrs Gellibrand[11], delaying longer will only make it awkward & you would not have a Whistler appear so in St P - I received a friendly response to my last to her today - in which after expressing her flattering interest in my Cadet she says "tell Jemie with my love I am expecting an answer to my letter to him". let me have the satisfaction of having it to forward soon, I had just decided to write Mrs Bartlett[12] for intelligence of you, (as you had resisted all my overtures so long), when your welcome letter came. Willie must write you whether he understood the proposition in "Math". It must have been pleasant to you to jump from the 4th. to 1st. Section in French & you ought to see the benefit of the care taken in your education, You congratulate yourself upon only 8 demerits this last month & venture to prophesy none for this month, if you do not stop their increase. I suppose they will read you off the list for Cadets Warrants by the June Ex [i.e. Examination]. The reports are directed to N Haven now, brother George[13] I suppose wished to spare me uneasiness. The deep snows of this severe winter give him so much to attend to an unusual interruption to his correspondence with me is the consequence. Our dear Mary[14] continues feeble, while baby[15] grows too much[16] for her to handle, I have a letter from Mrs Ducatel[17] to answer, as Mary can scarcely write George.

[p. 2] Mr Rutter[18] has kindly written to offer his services at the moving[19], Thomas[20] too will be spared from the Springfield depot, Mary B[21] is a host in herself & I do not take trouble upon interest, or I should dread the unavoidable bustle, When I gave Mrs Searles[22] your remembrance & told her of your savory recollection of her excellent sausages, she looked as tho she'd like to send you a supply! she regrets that the time draws so near for our leaving her, I am glad you found the pies & snaps palate able, but it will not be convenient for me to send you either alcohol or fluid, I would not were I you, condescend to cook! the white pants for Willie can only be obtained at the Point by your out growing yours before they are worn out, our visits will not admit of his being measured &c. besides I would not risk any infringement of military laws. I hope you will "bone[23]" with success for a furlogh, I shall not feel at home at Scarsdale till you are associated with it. Mrs Wilkinson[24] was driven here this afternoon by Frank[25] for the first time she has been able since they were upset in a snow bank, some weeks ago, which added to a cold made her so ill I have been to nurse & prescribe for her. Grandmother[26], Willie & I dined there one day last week when she could not benefit as we did by roast turkey & vegetables, but truly can I say we most enjoyed hearing her say we had revived her, she is always interested in reports of you & begs me to offer her love, Ed Allens[27] last months demerits were nine, his Aunt[28] is now anxious to hear if he passed his Exam - at the beginning of the month.

Willies last one here he is preparing to meet a fortnight from friday, then if providence permit he is to be Grandmothers escort to Stonington. Uncle P[29] had invited him to be at his lecture, which Aunt Kate[30] writes made the gravest laugh heartily, his anecdotes were so entertaining. but the good doctor was nearly stopped in his career since then, having been called out to the death bed of a little patient an intensely cold night nearly caused the bursting of a blood vessel, he thought himself dying. Doct Hyde[31] was summoned & we thank God the valuable life to his family is prolonged. You were on the sick list this time [p. 3] last year Jemie, what does a review of the years favors from God say to your heart? the body you delight in is so perishable, you ought to consider the hopes & interests of the imperishable part, when do you intend my own precious James to take your baptismal vows upon yourself? when will you use the means for eternal life? I prayed for a blessing on you before I sat down to write & after I had read & reflected over the sacred vol - Your character will be so much nobler if founded upon piety in youth, did you ever notice the beautiful little MacRea at Cousin José Richards in Brooklyn[32]? he was the miniature picture of his Grandfather Genl Swift[33]! it seemed to me when I heard of his death (22 hours ill only![)] as if our Lord had sent to Earth to gather a rose bud for paradise, the fond mother we hear has heavenly support, she has been from her youth a follower of Jesus, I think she never wavered between the two worlds! Miss Jane Simpson[34] of Kirby Lonsdale memory, who died on the 4th of January said none should wait for a sick bed, to seek [ ... ] knowledge of their Saviour[35], oh Jemie you know this to be true think of your helplessness in your illnesses, & while your mind is clear & all your powers invigorated by restored health, decide to concentrate your earthly term to honoring our Lord. But good night my dear, dear Jemie, neighbour Bowers trio [36] & Willie returned half an hour ago, & I must not defeat my plan for early rising - tho I am not sleepy at all. I am glad you are interested in the selections I send you from the Newspapers, I hope you especially like those I mark for you to read. Have you ever found leisure yet for reading the two vols of history[37] I put in your trunk? while you were in the hospital would have been a good time. I beg you to call at Mrs Bartletts to deliver mine & G mothers love to herself & daughters, if they ask after our health, say all well, except the pain in my side, which I hope to walk off when the roads are more favorable.

Wednesday morning 11th.

A rain storm from the south west to melt away the deep snows still in heaps - but defeats our "Keeping room[38]" air tight, so Grandmother & I are spending the morning in our pleasant chamber (where you wrote Valentines[39] last Feb, dear Jemie Saturday may remind you of them, Willie preferred going thro all the storm to school, last evening ended in a "hop" he & Anna exhibited in a Polka, she is preparing for a voyage with her brother & "Netty"[40] to N Orleans. they have been to Marseilles, to Leghorn & Rome since they left here! "Sam[41]" is displaying a horse & [p. 4][42] sleigh of his own, he drove from Boston in it last time, Doct Park[43] is only to preach here three Sundays more, then he & his pupils Sam & Mason[44] start for Washington, then for Europe! A Mr Miller[45] from the neighbourhood of Utica - highly recommended has received a call from our congregation, he is a man of refinement & acquirements, & I doubt not the school will flourish under such a teacher, say this to Capt Brewerton[46] in case he yet wishes to place his son at Pomfret. I liked Mr Miller very much in the pulpit too, as Mrs Parks[47] did in the family circle, he passed part of a week at the Rectory. But all lament that Doctor Park must leave them! it is happy for the new clergyman's wife that Mrs P will be at Doctor Williams[48] all Summer, to shew her what pleases them.

You see I wrote my first page upside down. It is of no use my stamping envelopes for you, do any of your brother Cadets use those directed to your Mother? if not why do not you? Willie said at breakfast he should write you soon, why do you not gratify him oftener? I have made one move towards your game with Mrs G[49] - finish it to gratify your devotedly attached widowed parent


Offer my respects to Proff Bartlett[50] & to Capt Brewerton. Tell Mrs Bartlett I think she would delight Neva[51] by subscribing to "the Childs Paper[52]" 10 cents a year. I distributed five copies to children. Mary[53] B delighted to hear from you! Grandmother sends you her love.

This document is protected by copyright.


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

Pomfret[54] ct.Feby 12


1.  1852
Dated with reference to the health of Mary Whistler who died on 25 February 1852 (see below).

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

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

4.  ALS
[embossed paper mark:] RHOADS & SONS / EXTRA / SUPERFINE / LONDON.

5.  Mrs Ch Thompson
Clara Grosvenor Thompson (1817-1890), wife of C. S. Thompson [more].

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

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

8.  étage
Fr.: floor, storey.

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

10.  Aunt Alicia
Alicia Margaret Caroline McNeill (1786-1863), JW's aunt [more].

11.  Mrs Gellibrand
Mary Tyler Gellibrand (b. 1812), née Ropes, wife of W. C. Gellibrand [more].

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

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

14.  Mary
Mary Ann Whistler (ca 1826 - d.1852), née Ducatel, JW's sister-in-law [more]; Mary died on 25 February 1852.

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

16.  much
'much ... George' continues in the right margin.

17.  Mrs Ducatel
Mrs J. T. Ducatel, mother-in-law of George William Whistler.

18.  Mr Rutter
Rutter, a friend of AMW.

19.  moving
AMW moved to Scarsdale some time in June 1852.

20.  Thomas
Thomas, presumably a delivery man.

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

22.  Mrs Searles
Mrs Searles, AMW's neighbour at Pomfret, CT.

23.  bone
JW did a drawing while at West Point, 'Boning and Not Boning' in Cadet Colquitt's Mathematics Notebook (M.98), p. 4.

24.  Mrs Wilkinson
Mrs Wilkinson, neighbour of AMW at Pomfret, CT.

25.  Frank
Frank Wilkinson, of Pomfret, CT.

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

27.  Ed Allens
Edmund Allen (b. 1836), of Pomfret, CT; see AMW to JW, 10 June 1851, #06396.

28.  his Aunt
Mrs Wilkinson; see AMW to JW, 15 and 16 January 1852, #06409.

29.  Uncle P
Dr George E. Palmer (1803-1868), physician, AMW's brother-in-law [more].

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

31.  Doct Hyde
Dr William Hyde (b. 1808), physician at Stonington, CT [more].

32.  MacRea at Cousin José Richards in Brooklyn
MacRea Richards (1849-1852), son of Louisa Josephine ('cousin Josee') Richards (1821-1859), née Swift, wife of P. Richards.

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

34.  Jane Simpson
Jane Simpson (d. 4 January 1851), of Kirby Lonsdale. Kirby was the birth place of Eliza Picard, sister-in-law of Eliza Winstanley, AMW's sister. AMW visited Kirby at the beginning of July 1847, and again on 7 April 1853; see AMW to JW, #06426. JW made a Portrait of John Richard Picard (M.14).

35.  for a sick bed, to seek [ ... ] knowledge of their Saviour
Probably John Wesley, On Visiting the Sick, sermon 98, London, 1872 edition.

36.  neighbour Bowers trio
Anna, Ellen Augusta (1834-1890), and Lloyd Henry Bowers (1836-1886), children of Captain Perry Bowers.

37.  two vols of history
Probably George Bancroft, A History of the United States, from the Discovery of the American Continent, Boston, 1834. See AMW and GWW to JW, 28 February, 12 and 22 March 1849, #06383.

38.  her brother & Netty
Captain Perry R. Bowers, Jr (b. 1821), of Pomfret, CT [more], and his wife Mrs Bowers ('Netty').

39.  Keeping room
Keeping room, a 17th and 18th century term for Sitting room, descendent of the great hall of medieval Europe, where a large open space held the cooking fire, dining tables, seating for conversation, and plentiful space for jostling and entertainment.

40.  Valentines
Special form of greeting card exchanged in observance of St. Valentine's Day (February 14), a day set aside as a lovers' festival. The custom has no connection with the two St. Valentines or with known incidents in their lives. It is probable that the valentine was the first of all greeting cards. The paper valentine dates from the 16th century; by 1800 hand-painted copperplates were produced to meet large demands. These were followed by woodcuts and lithographs. JW did a Valentine which survives and dates from 1850; see Valentine (M.26). The Valentine AMW is referring to, does not survive.

41.  Sam
Probably Sam Holbrook, son of James Holbrook, and brother of J. B. Holbrook.

42.  [p. 4]
Page 4 has been used as the outside of an envelope and there are the remains of a black wax seal inscribed '[A] M W.'

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

44.  Sam & Mason
Sam Hammond (b. 1835), and Mason Hammond, fellow-students of JW at Pomfret, CT.

45.  Mr Miller
Miller, teacher at Pomfret, CT.

46.  Capt Brewerton
Henry Brewerton (d. 1879), engineer [more].

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

48.  Doctor Williams
Lewis Williams (b. 1815), physician, of Pomfret, CT [more].

49.  game with Mrs G
Mary Tyler Gellibrand (b. 1812), née Ropes, wife of W. C. Gellibrand [more]; see AMW to JW, 6 August 1851, #06398.

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

51.  Neva
Neva Bartlett, daughter of H. and W. H. C. Bartlett.

52.  the Childs Paper
The Child's Paper, New York, American tract society, 1852.

53.  Mary
'Mary ... love' continues in the right margin.

54.  Pomfret
'Pomfret ... 12' written in a different hand.