The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 06413
Date: 22 April [1852[1]]
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[2]
Place: Stonington
Recipient: JW
Place: West Point[3]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W408
Document Type: ALS[4]


thursday April 22nd

My dear James[5]

A letter from your Sister[6] has comforted me this morning & the enclosed to you I hope may prove interesting. I know how much an answer would do you credit in Sloane St. but my arguments are exhausted. neither shall I any more attempt to touch your sympathies for a widowed mother. tho Aunt Kate[7] says she hopes you may write me while I am here, she is so fond of Jemie! she would enjoy hearing from him! as you have cast me off, sometimes I am very strongly urged by my wish to benefit my children, to board Willy[8] at Scarsdale as he must resume his preparation for college on the 1st of May under the Clergyman[9] there - to devote the summer to your Sister who is by Emma Maingays[10] report too delicate[11] to make exertions. you have no idea how the loosening of the first natural tie (to a mother) affects me. My health suffers, & when the question [p. 2] is asked me, when I shall resume housekeeping it seems to me like a dream! I feel that my heavenly Father has directed my attention to that eternal habitation so many of mine have been early prepared to enter. I shall never fall back upon earth again for any satisfying portion, tho I cheerfully interest & occupy myself in sharing Aunt Kates duties to her dear children[12], who pity & love poor Aunt Anna. May my earnest prayers be answered for you dearest Jemie - Oh that you felt the tenderness of a mothers love! the sacredness of a mothers claims! I shall by the blessing of God avail of Cousin Julia R's[13] invitation to visit her about the 1st of May, & can while there go to Scarsdale to judge of my path of duty, certainly if the cottage[14] is not to be ready for another month or two, I shall yearn to see my own Debo in her home, while I am at liberty to help others. I shall hear what Genl Swift[15] says of her health. Your Sister mentions Doctor Parks[16] had dined with them! on his way to the continent. I recd a letter from George Prince[17], at Leeds, also [p. 3] today, he sends his love to Jemie & congratulates you on having passed your examination. I can only report to any of my correspondents that I hear of Jemie as well & doing well! I "hope on, hope ever[18]" tho "hope delayed maketh the loving heart sick[19]" As Mr & Mrs Harrison[20] were on a tour for pleasure with Henry[21] on the continent Mr H had to part from them at Berlin & proceed to St P. on business[.] Mrs H & Henry went back to London. when they are to return to their native land I hear not.

Excuse me for trespassing so long on your precious time Cadet Whistler. please offer my affectionate remembrances to Mr & Mrs Bartlett[22][,] I am assured of their sympathy, for they valued the blessing my mother[23] was to me. & I should find comfort in talking to Mrs B of the closing scenes of that precious life, I suppose you have heard that Mrs Ducatel[24] felt afresh the stroke of death about six weeks after our dear Mary[25] was released from suffering - Mrs Jones[26] departed! each of these lovely sisters was aware of the great event! they calmly took leave of their family circle, to join the great family of the Redeemer in heaven! Oh that you would decide now dearest Jemie to use the means God gives us to meet Him!

May[27] God bless you & shield you is the prayers of your afflicted but ever affectionate widowed mother


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1.  1852
Dated with reference to the deaths of Mary Ann Whistler and Eliza Jones (see below); they both died in 1852.

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 on top left corner, inscribed 'Bath.'

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

6.  Sister
Deborah ('Debo' or 'Sis') Delano Haden (1825-1908), née Whistler, JW's half-sister [more]. She lived at 62 Sloane Street, London.

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

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

9.  Clergyman
Rev. William Whittinghame Olssen (1827-1911), Rector at Scarsdale, NY [more].

10.  Emma Maingays
Eliza Ann Maingay (1821-1899), a friend of AMW, of St Petersburg.

11.  too delicate
Deborah Delano Haden's health was probably feeble due to the recent birth of Arthur Charles Haden (1852-1910), musician, JW's nephew [more].

12.  her dear children
George Erwin Palmer, Anna Whistler Palmer (b. 1848), later wife of G. Stanton, named after AMW, and Julia McNeill Boardman, née Palmer, later wife of W. S. Boardman.

13.  Cousin Julia R's
Julia Catherine Rodewald (1825-1897), née McNeill, JW's cousin, wife of A. Rodewald, Sr [more].

14.  the cottage
Scarsdale cottage, soon to be AMW's residence at Scarsdale, NY.

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

16.  Doctor Parks
Rev. Roswell Park (1807-1869), minister of the Protestant Episcopal Church, Principal of Christ Church School [more]. Rev. Park was escorting some pupils on a European tour; see AMW to JW, 25 November 1851, #06407.

17.  George Prince
George H. Prince, engineer.

18.  hope on, hope ever
Probably 'Let Israel hope in the Lord from henceforth and for ever.' Ps. 131.3.

19.  hope delayed maketh the loving heart sick
'Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life,' Prov. 13. 12.

20.  Mr & Mrs Harrison
Joseph Harrison (1810-1874), jr, partner in Eastwick and Harrison, locomotive manufacturers, and later in Harrison, Winans and Eastwick [more], and his wife Sarah Harrison (1817-1906), née Poulterer.

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

22.  Mr & Mrs Bartlett
Professor William Holmes Chambers Bartlett (1804-1893), mathematician [more], and his wife Harriet Bartlett, née Whitehorne.

23.  my mother
Martha McNeill (1775-1852), née Kingsley. She died on 7 April 1852.

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

25.  our dear Mary
Mary Ann Whistler (ca 1826 - d.1852), née Ducatel, JW's sister-in-law [more]. Mary died on 25 February 1852. See AMW to JW, 3 March 1852, #06412.

26.  Mrs Jones
Eliza Jones (d. 1852), née Ducatel, sister of Mary Ann Whistler [more].

27.  May
'May ... AMW' continues in the upper margin of p. 1.