System Number: 06485
Date: 13-15 July [1857]
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler
Place: Richfield Sulphur Springs
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W480
Document Type: ALS
Richfield Sulphur Springs
How much Mother daily thinks, of her precious first born, the searcher of hearts only sees! how peculiarly on your birth day dear Jemie, fain would I have stated to you on the 11th. but I was on my route for health, in a stage coach last Saturday mounting the hills, slowly thro great heat for the horses, for Summer suddenly is ushered in & Richfield is at an elevation of 1.800 feet above the Hudson river, the scenery so varied & beautiful four hours staging 13 miles was quite endurable, tho youthful travellers from N Orleans &c expressed impatience. we were seven ladies outside. the two gentlemen on the box with the driver, who proved to be Mr Bailley the husband of our kind landlady, so Mrs Maxwell & myself were first cared for by him at Herkimer & had the best seats. It is unusual for me you know dear Jemie to avail of such favors, but my suffering limbs became selfish. I sought refreshment in a warm Sulphur bath the hour I arrived, of course fasting, & was obliged to lie down til tea time on my taking possession of my room, instead of writing to you at the close of your birth day. I wonder if you finished your letter to Mother then? Sisters last recd, told me you had begun one to me while she was in Paris! what a treat when I can read it! And now for some account of myself to awaken interest for Mother in your filial memories. When Willie left Scarsdale the middle of May for entering upon his course of Medical study in Phila, I went to visit Mrs Barnes for a week, her sister Mrs Col Bainbridge united in the cordial welcome to me[.] she would ornament our Country in any land, for elegance so truly feminine & graceful, the finish religion gives had added a charm during trials she had encountered in Camp in the wilds of Texas since I had last met her in Springfield, & when she read aloud at the breakfast table to us one morning a letter from her gallant husband, his furlogh [sic] of a few months in his pocket exciting in her the hope of seeing him by the middle of June, the alloy to me seemed that she was to return to his Camp in Texas in the Autumn! for her health had been so impaired there three years ago. he had brought her to her Sisters in Springfield. But she was a faithful & fond wife, she shewed me his handsome 'dagpe'. Do you ever read our papers dear Jemie? if so you must have seen the account of the explosion of the Steamer Louisiana & that among the victims was Col Bainbridge! yes the Sunday I went to church with her she was unconsciously a desolate widow! alas her spirit was depressed at about that time & she know not why. [p. 2] The day I left the hospitable home of Mrs Barnes after my benefitting a week there, a telegraph from N Y alarmed her & Mr B. I felt grieved to leave them under such a cloud - the suspense lasted some days and then Emilie Barnes my sweet young God-daughter wrote me of the overwhelming certainty & her dear Aunts agony! I was at Stonington then, & expressed my sympathy as only a widow may. You may suppose dear Jemie all that Mrs Barnes told me of her joyful intercourse with you in Paris made our tete à tetes [sic] peculiarly interesting. she assured me you were not indifferent as your silence appears, & that you listened to her pleadings in behalf of my claim as your good Mother, she described to me you & your boot maker, as among your jokes! Of course rescue from drowning awakened in me a solemn train of reflection, & oh that you dearest Jemie may be influenced by the mercy which has prolonged your term to preparing you for Eternity, twice now has God spared you to give you time to seek & know Jesus. Why do you delay? how many of your early companions have gone! [Geardon Amy?] on the 26th of June, followed young Hyde whom he had nursed thro fever & closed his eyes in death a year ago. I would not send you a melancholy letter to read my beloved son, but your interests impress my maternal duty irresistibly to excite you to read your bible & to pray daily. Tell me do you kneel in child-like faith ere you sleep & when you awake to the claims of this world - & ask God as our Father in Heaven to protect & bless you? Answer me this question, to cheer me & encourage me, for it is the daily petition I offer for you & that you may keep to innocency & resist temptation! God help & bless you my dear, dear Jemie. I hope your friends the Winans may induce you to make the most of your opportunities abroad for acquiring your Art & to return to your native land ere the openings to Artists are occupied. What a boon to me if I might have a home in Phila. with my two dear boys! I hope Jemie you will not avail of any more such orders as Capt Williams. Certainly it is humiliating to me that his paltry hundred dollars should have enticed you from the regular Course of instruction you had with so much more lasting profit pursued. I do not hesitate to express my regret when any of those he would deceive by boasting of his patronage of Major Whistler's son! tell me of Capt Ws "order" to my son. with the expectation no doubt of my grateful acknowledgment! Aunt Kate saw Dick Palmer in Union Place, he values the copy you made for him & talks in a friendly strain of Jemie. Mr Flagg was in Brooklyn in restored health & spirits, but only for a day til he should visit his mother in N Haven he probably did not hear of my being in Sidney Place, for I was devoted to Cousin Isabellas sickroom, but auntie told me of his talk of Jemie whom he is fond of & of his indignation against Capt Williams. If you would not mortify your Mother have no more dealings with that man, who is beneath our notice. I forgive his insult to me.
[p. 3] I recd while at Stonington an invitation to the wedding of Rittie Bartlett, which took place Wednesday 16th of June. J. M. Schofield, U. S. A. perhaps you know him. I have been so confined in the darkened sick room of Cousin Isabella for more than a fortnight as not yet to have written my dear friends at West Point, how I should rejoice to hear of another bridal at the church of the Holy Innocents! I shall write Mrs. B this week of the undiminished friendship I feel in her family circle. as our day boat stopped at West Point last friday how I thought of the happy hours of intercourse I had had with Jemie in the Bartlett home! A lady & gent in an omnibus for Cozens hotel no doubt, recognized me on board the steamer, I knew the white teeth of Gertrude Popham & the black whiskers of Shep Campbell! they are a happy young couple I believe. on landing at Albany Abm. Van Vechten met me as I had written Cousin Eliza I was coming, but as their house was undergoing painting it decided me to proceed by the Central R R train to Herkimer. Availing of Mr. Vans attending us & luggage to the six oclock train. Mrs. Maxwell & myself refreshed at the Delavan hotel tea table first however. We slept at Herkimer. Do not fancy this old lady, is one our St P. associations, she is one of Aunt Eliza Winstanleys contemporaries & tho 20 years my senior has all her gifts natural & by cultivation preserved, I feel it to be a benefit that we are as Mother & daughter congenial in opinions & practise, she even goes with me to take her bath at six every morning, which is my chosen hour[.] we write, or read, & walk with equal enjoyment. My winter of toil after letting Mary go to Springfield, the chilly Spring so prostrated me that if Cousin Sophie had not come on to take my place in her Sister's sick room last thursday, I doubtless should have suffered from. I thanked God for His token of a Blessing that I might come without neglecting others & I shall prolong my benefit until dear Willie writes me he is to have a recess from study to fit him for the winters term which begins 1st. Sept. then Scarsdale must be our place for retrenchment & refitting. I suppose by the middle of Augt. Willie must have his recess, he writes me frequently of how much he likes Doctor James Darrach as a companion & as a preceptor. it was to him quite a triumph that he preserved his composure at the first operation he aided in, but he remarked, they kept him so busy cleaning & handing instruments he had no time to faint, tho Doct D said few novices could escape fainting at first sight of so much blood, it was the cutting out of a Cancer. Willie goes occasionally to the Eastwicks with either of the four brothers who are every day but Sunday in town, they are very friendly to him at Bartram Hall! Willie wrote a rather laughable account of having dined at Mr. Harrisons by invitation, Annie is yet very strange, she escaped from the drawing room (after dinner) by one door as Willie & her father entered another & did not return to do the civilities for her mama, who was on the invalid list, Mr. H said "As we have no grounds to stroll in - in town - & as I smoke no segars [sic] so have none to offer - we will talk["], but soon he began to nap, one of his children awakened him to receive Willies parting compliments. I have not heard of Henry Harrison's return, but he will be no advantage, for he is so eccentric. I feel that I must be with Willie for my own comfort & I hope for his during the winter season, tho I would not remove from the Cottage this year, my interests are not at Scarsdale, I feel that I can have no home til my boys decide where it shall be. Willie writes of his preference for Phila. over N Y. God grant he may settle me there, he finds some College friends in homes there & visits their families. Mary is cheering herself with the hope that [p. 4] Willie may induce me to keep house for him in Phila. & that she may be our fag again! never to leave our home! Tho the trial has been mutual to Mary & us I am sure it was right[.] Willie is economical, but his board, clothing & suits take all his 350 per annum. I must help him thro lectures. Every season I practise more & more frugality, "practise makes perfect" you know dear boys, & I get so expert & neat in refitting Willies suits, & in making & remoddling [sic] so fashionably for myself. Oh if you both were but under my care how comfortably I'd attend to your respectability. In your plans for the future dear Jemie, let Mothers comfort have your consideration God will prosper you in proportion. The Jaffreys invite Willie & me to Grange. I hope we may in melon season. And now envying my scrawl I beseech you son to write your widowed
For dearest Jemie
send it soon Sis dear for I am impatient for a response from him, he must not delay! he ought not thus forget his promises
3. Richfield Sulphur Springs
Richfield Springs, NY came to prominence in 1820 when the Great White Sulphur Springs, now in the centre of the village, became popular. See Workers of the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration for the State of New York, New York, A Guide to the Empire State, American Guide Series, New York, 1940, p. 420.
4. Mr Bailley the husband of our kind landlady
Bailley, landlord of a boarding house at Richfield Sulphur Springs, NY, and his wife.
5. Mrs. Maxwell
Mrs Maxwell, probably the mother of J. S. Maxwell.
9. Mrs. Col Bainbridge
Mary Bainbridge, née Sanford, wife of Col. H. Bainbridge.
10. Steamer Louisiana
The steamer Louisiana caught fire on 31 May 1857 in Galveston bay, with great loss of life. It was reported in The New York Daily Times, 3 June 1857, vol. 6, no. 1,780: 'The steamship Louisiana, running between New Orleans and Galveston, was burnt in the harbour of the latter place on Saturday morning last. Eleven persons are known to have perished, and Col. Bainbridge, USA, and 31 others, are reported to be missing' (see below).
There is no other reference to this accident, but in 1862 JW was to have another narrow escape from drowning; see Baptiste Fagonde to JW, 28 December 1862, #02398, and AMW to James H. Gamble, 3 April 1854, #06438.
Probably one of the following: Copy after Ingres's 'Roger délivrant Angélique' (YMSM 11), Copy after Mignard's 'La Vierge à la grappe' (YMSM 12), and Copy after Turner's 'Rockets and blue lights (close at hand) to warn steam-boats of shoal water' (M.176).
28. Holy Innocents
Church of the Holy Innocents, 112 Main Street, Highland Falls, NY; it was built ca 1846.
34. Delavan hotel
Delavan House Hotel, William A. Delavan, 8 Union Square. See Citizen and Stranger's Pictorial and Business Directory, New York, 1853, p. 180.
44. Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison (b. 1837), son of S. and J. Harrison; he had probably visited JW in Paris, although there is no record of his visit.
Letters were habitually sent via JW's family in London, or friends and family visiting Paris.