System Number: 06464
Date: 25 July 1855
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler
Place: [Baltimore or Washington]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: Whistler W459
Document Type: ALS
I never doubt your affection for your Mother my own precious Jemie, but while you throw the blame of neglecting me upon Procrastination I am less reconciled to such a rival. When it was our privilige [sic] to sit together in the Observatory - I shall ever cherish memories of it - you seemed amused or impressed by my Pilgrim style of adapting Scripture to your various straits or temptations, but now a text fits the subject in point "while passing thro things temporal never forget those which are eternal!" A mother's claims upon a dutiful sons attention can not be set aside without its penalty of future remorse. I flatter not myself that in Paris you will find your time less taxed than in Balt, Your Sister when in health writes me once a fortnight, if you adopt her system of dividing time I may reap the comfort & you the benefit. I know a mothers love is the most imperishable of earthly affections, but when thrown back in the maternal heart, it would be lost to the Son without faith converted it into prayer & centred its hopes in the power of Him who set the only perfect example of filial tenderness. You are in the buoyancy of youth my own dear James, you expect all you hope, but I am [p. 2] sobered by the Experience of this worlds discipline[.] I have no reasonable expectations of visiting Seyrs home, so I rather shall depend upon your writing me once a month or oftener of all that is in your heart. Even should dear Willie go to Europe to complete his course of study, Mother must economise by abiding in her retreat. Be sure to bring me Annies likeness I have associations with it which entitle me to it. T Winans as a rich man may secure your more successful efforts: but I should not value the Art, as I do your first attempt. He shall not have that! Flowers & bright skies are always linked with my departed little ones & their Grandmother. I have a yearning my own Jemie that you must indulge, to plant some rare seeds brought to the Cottage by you! Ask the Major to help you obtain some from the Patent Office & bring them to your mother. My love to your Cousins[,] tell them when they visit 14th St I shall expect them at the Cottage. I had heard from "Aunt Hamilton" of their sorrow & sympathised in it with her. Oh if you would all apply such admonitions to your own liability to be taken in youth to the grave! it would not be in vain that we are bereaved. "Seek first the kingdom of God & His righteousness & all else shall be added unto you needful for this life & that which is to come" But I am aware "you must be born again" Pray at least "Lords Prayer" night & morning.
3. [Baltimore or Washington]
AMW appears to be assuming JW is in Washington, since she alludes to the Patent Office, but she also refers to the demands on his time in Baltimore, where he had stayed with Thomas De Kay Winans (1820-1878), locomotive engineer and collector [more]; see AMW to JW, 24 April 1855, #07077.
Written on sheet with narrow mourning border.
6. Pilgrim style of adapting Scripture
It is possible that AMW is thinking of the writings of William Bradford (1590-1657), Colonial Governor of Plymouth, MA, and author of pilgrim writings, who used Scriptural references as his constant source for imagery, comparisons, analogies.
7. while passing thro things temporal never forget those which are eterna
'While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.' 2 Cor. 4.18.
10. perfect example of filial tenderness
During his execution upon the cross, Jesus considered his mother's welfare: 'Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.' John 19.25-27.
15. departed little ones
Charles Donald Whistler (1841-1843), JW's brother [more], died en route to Russia, and Charles Donald Whistler (1841-1843), JW's brother [more], was born and died in St Petersburg.
18. Patent Office
US Patent office, adjacent to the US Coast Survey where JW worked until February.
Probably the children of St Clair Denny (1800-1858), army paymaster in Washington, DC, and his wife, Caroline Denny, née Hamilton. They were Caroline St. Clair Denny (1837-1918); Anna Harding Denny (b. 1834), posed to JW for Portrait of Anna Denny (YMSM 4), and later married W. M. Corcoran; George Miller Brooke Denny; William Irwin Denny; James Hamilton Denny; Willoughby Morgan Denny; and Elizabeth O'Hara Denny.
22. seek ... to come
'But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you,' Matt. 6.33.
23. you must be born again
'Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God,' John 3.3.