The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 06470
Date: 10 December 1855[1]
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[2]
Place: Scarsdale
Recipient: Deborah Delano Haden[3]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W465
Document Type: ALS


Dec 10th. 1855

I prefer sending a few lines my own dear Debo by the 2nd Steamer since receiving yours[4] to waiting leisure for the next. Hami Jaffrays[5] voyage must have been a contrast to his 1st. your date was the 17th & I read it on the 27th. all you wrote of Jemie[6] was such proof of your & dear Seymours[7] care for him my hearted [sic] bounded towards you both in grateful affection. On the 29th the enclosed[8] reached me it was Thanks giving day. I had been invited to meet the family in all its branches numbering 40 at Mr Pophams[9] but my friend Margaret[10] & I excused ourselves till tea time, so I wrote your bereaved Uncle[11], in reporting you my remark was the greatest proof of clinging love for a fond fathers memory is in the attentions of our children to their widowed mother. but Debo excels all! how usually I say as your letters sympathise so tenderly, a daughter even across the ocean is such a comfort! when I contrast your thoughtfulness in preparing surprises for me [p. 2] I lament that my ingenuity is lacking. I lamented indeed that I had nothing ready to put in my own Jemies trunk for my darling pets[12] in the home he was leaving mine for. kiss them around & say Grandmama W loves them more than her pen can tell & their letters will be the next best to seeing them. The dress you were so considerate dearest in having made for me, fits as if it had been tried on me. It is an afternoon dress at the Cottage! if I make a visit at Mr Jaffrays[13] as they wish, tho I do not promise this winter it will be just right for Cousin Abbys[14] breakfast circle[.] I forget whether I have written you since I spent several days in the city while George & his wife & infant Julie[15] were there. they have returned to Balt[imore][,] the lawsuit of old Mr Winans[16] terminated unfavorably, it must have cost him $50,000. if he had gained it, a million would have been his realization. I have been so very busy even since my return from that pleasant little visit at Mrs Holbrooke's[17] (Miss Marion Marshall do you remember the Boston belle? - I allowed Mary B[18] to go to Springfield for a fort[p. 3]-night, a very nice young girl helped me, but preparations for winter thronged me & I am not very strong. Mary returned last friday - this is Monday night - she says all Springfield was full of the grand wedding on the tapis[19] last week. Eliza Howard[20] the youngest Sister of Hannah[21] is an elegant woman. how unaccountable that she should devote herself to the Russian Ambassador they style Stoekle[22] Count now & she is dazzled no doubt by the prospect of shining in Court circles as a young Countess! It really makes me melancholy that my pleasing, intellectual countrywoman but evidently, always worldly, should be doomed to such a companion for life! Mary reported Mrs Charlie Swift[23] there looking so pretty & gay! & she heard too of Capt & Mrs Swift[24] at the Howards. they are to take Fanny H[25] to their house. We have had such a contrast to this marriage, a youthful couple from Pottsville Penn on the bridal tour. Eliza Hill[26] is so lovely in all her traits of character, there is an inate [sic] superiority in the tone of all this Scarsdale family. We have been regaled in a vol which I wish to send you if you have it not in your reading club list "Reed's Lectures[27] on English literature"[.] Doctor Carpenter the spouse of this lovely [p. 4] Eliza remarked we ought to have heard them delivered! Reeds appearance was so noble[.] he was lost in the Arctic[28]! Aunt Kate[29] is so interested in his widow[30] since she was visiting the clergyman of our church and Stonington last Summer. Rev Mr Bronson[31] is her brother, her sister was lost with her husband. Proff Reeds brother[32] is publishing his lectures, I shall be so pleased to hear from you that you will value a copy from me. be sure you say what you wish. How much I enjoy that vol The Song of Solomon [33] sent me by dear Miss Marsh[34], do remember me gratefully to her & to Mama Haden[35] & affectionately to dear Rose[36]. I am so wishful for Jemie to profit by the society of Emma B[37] in Paris. Will the Coles[38] remain? I liked them & hope he may. I trust to your inducing him[39] to write you. ah if he would to his yearning Mother! I have had only one letter from him[40] since our last embrace! At New Year I hope he will turn over a new leaf. Suppose you enclose him this as I cannot write him tonight. It is difficult to realize how near Christmas is, no snow yet! the rye field is so green in front of the cottage! But the young ladies have been collecting Xmas greens in the woods to dress our pretty church. I suppose Willie[41] can scarcely be here in time to help them. he writes encouragingly, often, & proposed writing Sister & Jim. My Sister - friends [42] are sitting by me at our bright coal fire as usual in the evenings. they love to talk with me of Debo &[43] wish she could visit our cottage in the summer. they remember how pleasant Jemie was! I envy this scrawl your welcome

Dear children adieu. I hope by the next steamer to write Aunt Alicia[44]

Aunt Kate sends love to be expressed for Debo & Jemie with that from their Mother.

Mary Williams[45] is now Mrs Billings gone to N London for the winter -

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  10 December 1855
Neither D. D. Haden's previous letter to AMW, nor her reply, are extant. JW, who had stayed with the Haden's on his arrival in Europe, was in Paris.

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

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

4.  yours
D. D. Haden's letter has not been located.

5.  Hami Jaffrays
John Hamilton ('Hami' or 'Hammy') Jaffray (1837-1900), son of A. S. and R. W. Jaffray [more]. J. H. Jaffray and JW travelled together from New York to London on the Amazon, which sailed on 3 September 1855; see JW to AMW, 10 October 1855, #06466.

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

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

8.  enclosed
AMW enclosed a letter from one of Deborah's uncles announcing a death in the family (see below).

9.  Mr Pophams
William Sherbrooke Popham (1793-1885), merchant [more].

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

11.  Uncle
Heinrich Friedrich Carl Rodewald (1796-1855), relation of J. F. Rodewald; see AMW to JW, 11 July 1855, #06463.

12.  my darling pets
Annie Harriet Haden (1848-1937), later Mrs Charles Thynne, JW's niece [more], Francis Seymour Haden (1850-1918), Arthur Charles Haden (1852-1910), musician, and Harry Lee Haden (1855-1877), JW's nephews.

13.  Mr Jaffrays
Richmond Woodriff Jaffray (1813-1862), merchant [more].

14.  Cousin Abbys
Abbie Snelling Jaffray (1817-1871), née Hamilton, wife of R. W. Jaffray [more].

15.  George & his wife & infant Julie
George William Whistler (1822-1869), engineer, JW's half-brother [more], his wife Julia de Kay Whistler (1825-1875), née Winans, and their daughter Julia de Kay Revillon (1855-1930), née Whistler, JW's niece [more].

16.  Winans
Ross Winans (1796-1877), locomotive manufacturer, father of JW's sister-in-law [more]; for Winans' lawsuit see AMW to JW, 28 February 1855, #06453.

17.  Mrs Holbrooke's
Marion Holbrook, née Marshall, an acquaintance of AMW.

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

19.  tapis
Fr., carpet, but meaning, in this case, a marriage ceremony.

20.  Eliza Howard
Eliza Stoeckl, née Howard, wife of Count E. Stoeckl.

21.  Hannah
Hannah Worthington Swift (m. 1844), née Howard, wife of W. H. Swift [more].

22.  Stoekle
Count Edouard (de) Stoeckl (1814-1869), Russian Ambassador to the USA [more].

23.  Mrs Charlie Swift
Margaret Swift (b. 1832), née Howard, wife of Charles Swift [more].

24.  Capt & Mrs Swift
Captain William Henry Swift (1800-1879), brother-in-law of JW's father [more] and his wife, Hannah W. Swift.

25.  Fanny H
Fanny Howard, probably the sister of Eliza (Countess Stoekl) and Hannah (Mrs Swift) .

26.  Eliza Hill
Eliza Adelaide Carpenter (1835-1886), née Hill [more].

27.  Reed's Lectures
Henry Hope Reed (1808-1854), lawyer, and Professor of Rhetoric and English Literature at the University of Pennsylvania [more]. H. H. Reed, Lectures on English Literature, from Chaucer to Tennyson, Philadelphia, 1855, was edited by his brother, W. B. Reed, and published by Parry and McMillan, Philadelphia, with a frontispiece portrait of the author. Reed's unbounded admiration for Wordsworth resulted in an important edition of his poetry (1851). His own published lectures were very popular.

28.  Arctic
Steamer Arctic (1850), Collins Line (2,856 tons). It sank on September 1854, leaving only 85 survivors out of about 350 people; see AMW to JW, 3 March 1852, #6412.

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

30.  widow
Elizabeth White Reed (m. 1834), née Bronson, wife of H. H. Reed [more].

31.  Rev Mr Bronson
Rev. Bronson, brother or brother-in-law of E .W. Reed.

32.  Reeds brother
William Bradford Reed (1806-1876), lawyer, diplomat and author [more].

33.  Song of Solomon
Probably George Burrowes, A Commentary on the Song of Solomon, Philadelphia, 1853. The 'Song of Solomon' in the Old Testament is unique as a collection of love poetry. In Christian versions of the Bible, it usually appears after the Book of Ecclesiastes. In the Hebrew Bible, it is found after the Book of Job in the 'Writings,' the third part of the canon.

34.  Miss Marsh
Miss Marsh, godmother of JW's nephew, Arthur Charles Haden.

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

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

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

38.  Cole
Cole, an acquaintance of AMW.

39.  him
JW: AMW called JW 'Jim' and 'Jemie.'

40.  one letter from him
JW's only letter from London was dated 10 October 1855, #06466.

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

42.  Sister-friends
Margaret Getfield Hill (1802-1881), a friend of AMW, of Scarsdale, NY [more], and her sister Sarah Stewart Hill (1800-1864).

43.  &
'and ... welcome' continues in the left margin of p. 1; 'dear ... Alicia' continues in the right margin of p. 1; 'Aunt ... Mother' continues in the left margin of p. 2; 'Mary ... Winter' continues in the left margin of p. 3.

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

45.  Mary Williams
Mary Williams (1835-1902), of Stonington, CT, married Coddington Billings (1834-1896) on 15 November 1855; see AMW to JW, 12-15 October 1855, #06468.