The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 06489
Date: 8 October 1857
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[1]
Place: Scarsdale
Recipient: James H. Gamble[2]
Place: [Staten Island, New York]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W484
Document Type: ALS


8 October 1857

My dear Mr Gamble

This evening fulfils the first week since my welcome back by Miss Margaret[3], but inviting tho the weather had been I have for two reasons resisted the desire to write you & our beloved friend Mrs Maxwell[4] to remind you each of your engagement to visit the cottage[5]. My eye[6] is yet so weak I cannot read or sew, & tho I scribble with its lid closed, it evidently suffers in writing. Mrs Popham & Miss Sarah[7] have been at New Port a fortnight, of course we wish them to be at home to help do the honors to Mrs Maxwell. Will you write the dear old lady & explain my inability & ascertain about what time may suit her to visit us. Our Pastor & his lady[8] closed their house this morning to take a fortnights [p. 2] rest from their labors with his parents in the city, this month is their school vacation. I should regret their absence when Mrs M is here. but must expect alloys in all our enjoyments. my being yet one of good Doctor Palmers[9] patients will make no sensible difference, my cure will be tedious[.] The Lord's hand is not depressing me in anger I trust & I bow in resignation to His purpose of good. I make no plan for the winter, believing all will be wisely ordered to promote my eternal benefit, if I may go to Phila what an indulgence! & be permitted then to use my eye for Willie[10] how favored I shall feel. we cannot value sight too much. Tell your dear mother[11] how often I wish for her to stroll about the lanes & cottage grounds with me. You will find "Uncle Nattie[12]" occupying Johns[13] wing, how snug it will be for the old christian & the ladies mutually [p. 3] that he is here for the winter. it was arranged ere my return. Willie Hill[14] too is to board with his Aunts as he did last winter while his mothers cottage will be closed. they will not lose by my absence if I too may go! I shall arrange all for their housekeeping, & now it just occurs to me what a help it would be if Mr Wann[15] when ordering his supply of potatoes[16] from Ireland, would order for me. I should judge the same quantity as for his winters store. They are not to be bought here. One bushl[17] is all I can coax [from] the farmer who supplied us abundantly last winter, to sell me. Doctor Palmer also hopes it may not be too great a liberty for me to ask the same benefit for my Sisters[18] family at Stonington. but I depend upon your discretion, you know I would not infringe delicacy, so withold [sic] or deliver my request as your judgement dictates. Offer my heartfelt regards aroud [sic] your fire-side.

[p. 4] Whenever you can come you know a cordial & sincere welcome awaits you at the Cottage then we can talk of my dear boys, recent reports of their health & well doing cheer their mother.

Your affectionate friend

A M Whistler

'Recd[19] and answered Oct 10th 1857 with the promises to go to Scarsdale on 26th Inst.'

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

4.  Mrs Maxwell
Ann Maxwell (1784-1867), née Young, wife of Robert Maxwell [more].

5.  cottage
AMW lived intermittently at Scarsdale, NY between c. September 1851 and November 1857 in a cottage owned by her friend Margaret Getfield Hill (1802-1881).

6.  My eye
AMW had chronic problems with her eyes; see AMW to James H. Gamble, 17 September 1857, #06488.

7.  Mrs Popham & Miss Sarah
Jane O'Neill Hill (1793-1882), sister of M. G. Hill, second wife of W. S. Popham [more], and her sister Sarah Stewart Hill (1800-1864).

8.  Our Pastor & his lady
Rev. William Whittinghame Olssen (1827-1911), Rector at Scarsdale, NY [more], and his wife Louisa Ollsen (b. 1828); see AMW to James H. Gamble, 28 September and 1 October 1853, #06428.

9.  Doctor Palmers
Dr George E. Palmer (1803-1868), physician, AMW's brother-in-law [more].

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

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

12.  Uncle Nattie
Nathan ('Uncle Nattie') Levinas (b. 1789); see AMW to James H. Gamble, 4 February 1856, #06471.

13.  Johns
Probably John, a servant at Scarsdale, NY; see AMW to James H. Gamble, 20 September 1855, #06465.

14.  Willie Hill
Probably William Hill (1842-1869), son of J. and W. S. Hill. He was the nephew of Margaret G. Hill, and he stayed with her in the winter of 1857; see AMW to JW, 29 January 1857, #06480.

15.  Mr Mann
Samuel Wann (b. 1820), merchant, brother-in-law of J. H. Gamble [more].

16.  supply of potatoes
Irish life and economy recovered after the end of the Great Famine (1845-1850). In the early 1840s, a large amount of people were dependant on potatoes as their main food source, and when this crop was destroyed by a fatal fungus, they died or emigrated in enormous numbers. Food was Ireland's main export, and it seems that despite the famine's disastrous effects, by 1857 the effects of the disaster had been controlled. See K. Theodore Hoppen, Elections, Politics, and Society in Ireland, 1832-1885, Oxford, 1984, pp. 436-40.

17.  bushl
'Bushel', a unit of capacity in the American Customary and British Imperial systems of measurement; see AMW to JW, 15 October 1851, #06404.

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

19.  Recd
'Recd ... inst.' written at the top of p. 1, probably by James H. Gamble.