The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 06473
Date: 27 May 1856
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[1]
Place: Scarsdale
Recipient: James H. Gamble[2]
Place: [Virginia[3]]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: Whistler W468
Document Type: ALS


May 27th 1856
Thursday afternoon

I regaled my two Sister friends[4] by reading your welcome letter dear Mr Gamble as the bonne bouche[5] to our simple desert, just now, for they were as usual working with Irish John[6] on the Cottage[7] grounds, when I read it this morning. Surely you will come to look at their improvements while indulging in rustic eating. I shall take your letter to let Mr & Mrs Popham[8] have a share in our interest & to receive your remembrance after tea. I am happy to report them both looking renovated. A blessing has been yeilded [sic] their health which then benefits the poor & sick under their roof, I doubt not in their reward from the Lord. "Uncle Nattie[9]" is quite strong again & works with his plants & hatchet, but he continues a guest at the Squires. As the Summer occupants of their several rooms will soon come from their winter quarters, I presume Uncle Nattie will not be offended, if asked to share Jemie Moores[10] room, little Johnie[11] you must have heard of & perhaps he had not been placed in the [half?] orphan home for education &c when you first visited our happy valley. he was so ill in the institution in the city all Winter. Miss Sarah brought him in a carriage at a crisis when it seemed he must die, but the Lord has blessed the tender nursing & Johnie again after five months, attends the Church at Scarsdale!

[p. 2] But I must not satisfy you dear Mr Gamble with all I should enjoy writing of Mr & Mrs P. you no doubt find Virginia a pleasanter climate now than W Chester Co. but we shall expect you at mid summer. I do not wonder at your not writing me after my seeming neglect to express the regret I felt at the prospect of our making your honored mothers[12] acquaintance personally, being disappointed. but I wish you had not judged me by my pen. And I should have so liked to have introduced you to my chosen friends at Homeland[13] five miles from Balt. The acquaintance with the Winans family[14] was linked with business & in a foreign land, but the Perines are congenial in taste & pursuits, a friendship formed in my youth, matured & cemented by religion. Alexandroffsky Villa[15] is the centre of luxury & indulgence. I have always been hospitably entertained there, but to escape to Homeland for the Lord's day, for mutual interchange of friendly converse, I realized how preferable. Mrs Perine[16] has never lost but one[17] of her large family of eight, three sons & four daughters[18] all intellectual & walking in wisdom's way assemble after office duties restore the fathers & sons to Homeland daily. I lament that my dear Jackson McNeill[19] has not time to go often to these friends of his parents. I do not wonder that your being attracted by the Magnet of piety to desire to know Willies[20] pet cousin more intimately. he is an exemplary member of [p. 3] the church with the most tenacious home-feelings, (when a few years ago he was the comfort of his parents anticipating their wishes) he suddenly was left an orphan[21] & brotherless, tho he yet has two Sisters[22], to yearn to be with on Staten Island. When my Willie had to leave his studies last Feb[23] on "sick leave" he went to Balt & I willingly spared him to Jackson's bosom until April rendered it safe for him here. Jacks staid at George's[24] the seven weeks, shared Willie's room &c. How I missed the companionship of my son when the 1st of May required him to rejoin his fellow students, he went entirely restored to health he writes me, that tho it is a daily struggle to rise for six oclock recitation he feels better for it[.] he hints at a hope of graduating this year. But my conviction is so opposed to such a superficial course I shall urge his bending to the yoke a whole year more. his decision is to be an M D[25]. Willie is improved I think in every way. My health was seriously affected by the severe frost, I could only get to church for several months & my domestic routine tho never abandoned I crept tho [sic], writing I suffered most from, hence I had to submit to appearing negligent & unsympathising. I am rather stronger but this torper of the Liver is obstinate, gradually increasing these seven years. I am desirous of trying the Sulphur Springs[26], but if any Heavenly Physician order it not, I shall not doubt the needs be of submission & shall value as ever the rural retreat & friendly sympathy under the Cottage roof. I am so gratified at seeing the Sisters so well, & thankful that we are all of one mind. We had as guest for three months a young lady[27] who taught our little Parish school till the middle of April, she seemed loth to leave [p. 4] Scarsdale, even to return home, our evenings were particularly improving, no interrupt to reading aloud at the work table. But Pastor[28] keeps on the even tenor of his labors, the church & his school flourish. And now tho resting my back in an easy chair it aches, a book in my left hand my desk. But I must report a letter from my Sister in Preston[29] mentioning Miss Clunie[30] well, recd today. I have heard such graphic sketches of Harper's Ferry I can imagine your enjoyment. My nephew Donald Fairfax[31] was born near there. During my last sojourn in Balt my room window had the Washington monument[32] full in view. I reflected in the rosy dawn (of winter last) of the example of the truly noble hero of our country, & sigh at the degeneracy of the 19th century! I am gratified dear Mr Gamble by your visit to Mt Vernon[33] & all your remarks of Washington. When you write to Cincinnati do not omit my suitable offerings of affection & respect to your honored Mother & Sister[34]. My Sister friends unite in offering their christian love to you with mine. Mary[35] is faithful to us as ever & I am thankful her health continues good. Of Jemie[36] I hear every fortnight thro his Sister's[37] correspondence which is regular with me. I pray & "hope on" that he may keep to innocency[38], I doubt not he loves his Mother, but he is so amused he is not aware how I yearn after my Jemie & Willie, & how lonely I feel often, missing their companionship[.] All my right side suffers while using the pen, this is a proof of the interest I always feel in your letters, to induce you to report soon again what you meet to enjoy & to retain

Ever believe me dear
Mr Gamble sensible of the sacred bond of Xtian friendship

Anna M Whistler.

I[39] am flattered by your remembering those you have heard me speak of in Balt & by your calling as my friend, Am glad George was home

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

2.  James H. Gamble
James H. Gamble (b. 1820), clerk [more].

3.  Virginia
James H. Gamble is evidently in Virginia.

4.  two Sister friends
Margaret Getfield Hill (1802-1881), and her sister Sarah Stewart Hill (1800-1864) of Scarsdale, NY.

5.  bonne bouche
Fr., a luscious morsel; a toothsome tit-bit; see AMW to JW, 16 December 1853, #06433.

6.  Irish John
John, a servant at Scarsdale, NY.

7.  Cottage
The cottage in which AMW stayed in at Scarsdale, NY.

8.  Mr & Mrs Popham
William Sherbrooke Popham (1793-1885), merchant [more], and his wife Jane O'Neill Hill (1793-1882).

9.  Uncle Nattie
Nathan ('Uncle Nattie') Levinas (b. 1789). He had recently been injured in an accident; see AMW to James H. Gamble, 4 February 1856, #06471.

10.  Jemie Moores
James Moore (b. 1817), labourer, employed at the time by W. S. Popham.

11.  little Johnie
John Allen (b. 1844), of Pomfret, CT [more].

12.  mothers
Jane Gamble (1790-1864), mother of J. H. Gamble [more].

13.  friends at Homeland
The family of David Maulden Perine, Sr (1796-1882), merchant [more], and owner of Homeland, the country estate.

14.  Winans family
The family of Ross Winans (1796-1877), locomotive manufacturer, father of JW's sister-in-law [more].

15.  Alexandroffsky Villa
'Alexandroffsky' in Baltimore was the villa owned by Thomas De Kay Winans (1820-1878), locomotive engineer and collector [more]; see AMW to JW, 15, 16 and 18 September 1848, #06363.

16.  Mrs Perine
Mary Glenn Perine (1822-1896), daughter of M. and D. M. Perine [more].

17.  one
David Maulden Perine, Jr (1827-1847), son of M. and D. M. Perine [more].

18.  three sons & four daughters
Elias Glenn Perine (1829-1922), stock broker, William Buchanan Perine (1823-1863), Thomas Harwood Perine (1830-1861), Ann Carson Perine (1819-1919), Mary Glenn Perine (1822-1896), Susan Buchanan Perine (1820-1899), and Rebecca Young Perine (1825-1879), children of David Maulden and Anna Glenn Perine.

19.  Jackson McNeill
Patrick T. Jackson ('Jacks') McNeill (1835-1898), accountant, JW's cousin [more]. He was working at the Winans Locomotive works in Baltimore; see AMW to James H. Gamble, 3 April 1854, #06438.

20.  Willies
William McNeill Whistler (1836-1900), physician, JW's brother [more]; he was studying at Trinity College, Hartford, CT. See AMW to JW, 15 March 1855, #06454.

21.  was left an orphan
P. T. J. McNeill lost both his father and his brother in 1853; William Gibbs McNeill (b. 1801), railway engineer, died on 16 February 1853, and William Wyatt McNeill (1833-1853).

22.  two Sisters
Julia Catherine Rodewald (1825-1897), née McNeill, JW's cousin, wife of A. Rodewald, Sr [more], and Mary Isabella Rodewald (1823-1867), née McNeill, JW's cousin, wife of J. F. Rodewald [more].

23.  leave his studies last Feb
AMW is not presenting James H. Gamble with the truth. William M. Whistler cut his course short at Columbia College in February 1854 for employment at the locomotive engineering shop in Baltimore owned by Ross Winans. See AMW's letter to JW, 17 [September] 1854, #06442. A year later, in January 1855, William wanted to resume his studies at Trinity College, Hartford, CT; see AMW to JW, 1 January 1855, #06448. William was enrolled at the college by mid-March 1855; see AMW to JW, 15 March 1855, #06454.

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

25.  M D
William McNeill Whistler realised his ambition and became a Senior Physician for the London Throat Hospital (see his biography).

26.  Sulphur Springs
AMW will spend some time in July at Sulphur Springs, Sharon; see AMW to JW, 11 July 1856, #06474. Sharon Springs was by the early 20th century an internationally renowned resort and health spa.

27.  young lady
Probably Anna Wood, teacher at Scarsdale, NY.

28.  Pastor
Rev. William Whittinghame Olssen (1827-1911), Rector at Scarsdale, NY [more]; he was formally installed as Rector of the Parish of Scarsdale in 1853. See Helen L. Hultz, Scarsdale Story, A Heritage History, New Jersey, USA, 1987, p. 576.

29.  my Sister in Preston
Eliza Isabella Winstanley (1788-1857), née McNeill, JW's aunt, AMW's half-sister [more].

30.  Miss Clunie
Probably Anne Clunie, a Scottish cousin of AMW.

31.  Donald Fairfax
Donald McNeill Fairfax (1821-1894), naval officer, JW's cousin [more].

32.  Washington monument
Baltimore Washington Monument, the first major memorial to George Washington (1732-1799), first U. S. President [more]. It was designed by the architect Robert Mills (1781-1855) who worked on the monument for twenty years between 1814 and 1834. The only surviving letters we have from AMW's 'last sojourn' in Baltimore are those written between January and May 1855 (#06448-#06459, and #06462). She then stayed at 176 Preston Road, and Alexandrofsky Villa. AMW saw the Washington Monument probably from the later residence which was on Baltimore and Hollins streets. The Monument is at the north of Charles Street.

33.  Mt Vernon
Probably the home and burial place of George Washington, in Fairfax county, VA, overlooking the Potomac River, south of Washington, DC.

34.  Sister
Jane Wann (1822-1875), née Gamble, wife of S. Wann [more].

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

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

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

38.  keep to innocency
A familiar phrase used on numerous occasions by AMW. It originally derived from 'Be careful that you keep your innocency,' Richard Baxter, A Christian Directory: or, A Summ of Practical Theologie, and Cases of Conscience, London, 1678, chapter 2; see AMW to JW, 11 July 1856, #06474, and 23 September 1856, #06476.

39.  I
'I ... home' continues in the left margin of p. 1.