System Number: 06532
Date: 3/27 August 1867
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler
Place: Staten Island and Brooklyn
Recipient: James H. Gamble
Place: [New York?]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: Whistler W526
Document Type: ALS
Saturday Augt 3rd 1867
Mr Dear Mr Gamble
In the report of yourself recd yesterday which we the chosen few shared thru your sisters kindness you expressed an interest in her guests whom you had heard would visit her at this period, but as my arrival was a surprise to her so it will be to you, I feel "it is good to be here" for His presence is in our midst & the loveliness of the beauty of His creation surrounding this home. oh how I enjoy my visit to my native land! it is indeed a holiday to me. I am sure you are remembered in the daily petitions we each send up, for your absence is felt by each of us, who talk of you & wish you were here when we meet together. I sleep sweetly in the chamber which was your dear departed Mothers. Yesterday afternoon your Sister & I walked all around the gardens. how much I saw to admire in the extended enclosure & improvements on the grounds. we went of course to see the rabbits & poultry & thro the Conservatory. but I enjoyed most our resting on the rustic bench facing the Sea, overlooking the dell, where I listened with tender interest to her recital of the closing mercies of your beloved Mothers term.
Your Cousin Jane had read aloud in the library, of such scenes as the Saints in entering their rest are promised, that vision of Bickersteths. have you that vol lately published? [p. 2] entitled "Today, yesterday & forever". I must get a copy of it that in my pilgrimage others may find comfort from its inspired pages. As rain prevented my return to Mrs King today, I shall hear more of it read by Miss Walker. how penetrating is her gentleness & how unconscious she seems to be that she is an acquisition. I admire & like both her & Mrs Ross. But now dear Mr Gamble I shall write no more today as I ought not to deprive myself of the benefit of companionship with the trio now assembled for sewing & one reading aloud. I only dated this to give it a charm! Your Sisters letter will reach you first, & then this will be expected.
189 Henry St Brooklyn.
I returned here on Monday the 5th intending to go on the Wednesday to Stonington. "Man proposes" but our heavenly Father only can direct our steps. An urgent note from my Charleston Cousins awaited me. the elder who is as a mother to me was ill & now at four score years she naturally thinks each attack will be the last; she has a friend of exactly my age - who has always been devoted to her, but they cling to me. so I went to 41st St N York & did not enter another door during the fortnight I spent with them, when Miss Johnstone might have benefited by a drive in the Park which I should see, rain interfered & I had some sick days myself because at sea I had escaped, tho I was disturbed by the motion of the ship. so the quiet & retirement in 41st St was suitable & my kind cousin Mrs Corbett was only too willing to be my nurse. We agree in thinking it was Providential we were together & as I felt their claim in my visiting my native land I shall ever be satisfied that I devoted a fortnight to them. war had bereft them of fortune, but tho driven from their once happy home on South Bay in Charleston (it was shelled after the town surrendered! they have a home in that of the daughter of Mrs C. she & Mr Duclos were on a visit for health to friends on the Hudson, while I could supply their place.
[p. 3] It was a week ago last Saturday I again returned here to wind up my visit & hasten to my dear Sister, but I could not be so selfish as to refuse the request of Mrs King to stay thro this month that she might spend two days in Georgetown D C. her sister & self could not meet except I would remain to attend to Mr Kings domestic comfort, & be his companion. I was aware she had a sacred duty to perform in her visit & that her health too needed a change. so she went last thursday & we expect her back D V on Saturday next. I am on every account wishful to go to my Sister. Sea air I hope may strengthen me, & she is so vexed at my detention! My eyes are weak today & refuse to cross this page
[p. 4] I must tell you that I arrived at Boston on the 3rd of July[,] a friend from St Petersburg had been my fellow passenger on board the Steamer Java, & we were met by his relatives who are ever attentive to me[,] the house of W Ropes & Co Boston, so by favor we had courtesy in passing thro the custom house & I was attended to the R R station by Mr J R, a telegram preceding me. Dr Palmer was at the Stonington terminus in his carriage awaiting me. Oh the joyful welcome in his home! how glad I was the next morning that my nephews George Palmer & Donald MacNeill arrived for their holiday! They are fine young men, the latter had been in Florida six months helping his father plant orange trees, grape vines &c. The ironworks Donald had been in, were closed & therefore he could go to his Florida home & it was just when he was most needed, for his father was about moving out of the negro house he & his wife & six children had been obliged to live in when the one they were in was burned! so Don with his strong & willing arm got them settled again in their own at Readys Point on the St Johns river, from which they had been banished. he has been favored by getting a position in the Pacific Steam Co office in N York at one hundred dollars a month. he has supported himself these six years & most of his wages has paid his brother Charlie's board. C is in the Novelty works in N Y.
5. Cousin Jane
Jane, a cousin of James H. Gamble.
6. vision of Bickersteths
Edward Henry Bickersteth (1825-1906), poet [more]; he wrote Today, Yesterday and Forever, New York, 1866; a poem in twelve books. AMW read it in August 1867; see AMW to Jane Wann, 23 August 1867, #06534. Jane Wann supplied her with the volume.
8. Miss Walker
Miss Walker, a friend of AMW at New York.
9. Mrs Ross
Mrs Ross, friend of AMW.
11. Man proposes
'Man proposes God disposes' (Nam homo proponit, sed Deus disponit), For man proposes, but God disposes, Thomas à Kempis (c. 1380-1471), De Imitatione Christi, bk. 1, ch. 19, sect. 2.
12. Charleston Cousins
Mary Corbett (b. 1804), cousin of AMW [more]; her address in New York was East 41st Street; see AMW to Jane and Samuel Wann, 6 [August 1867], #06533. M. Corbett was looking after her aged aunt Anna Johnstone (1787-1870), Martha McNeill's cousin [more]. Before the Civil War Mary Corbett and Anna Johnstone lived at South Bay, Charleston, SC. AMW visited them in 1858; see AMW to James H. Gamble, 4 February 1858, #06494, and AMW to JW, 7 May 1858, #06496. Charleston surrendered on 18 February 1865. Many of its citizens fled the city, including Mary Corbett. See St. Julien Ravenel, Charleston, the Place and the People, New York, 1925, pp. 486-507.
106 East 41st Street, New York was the address of Polydore P. Duclos, broker, son-in-law of Mary Corbett; see New York City Directory, 1870, New York, p. 307.
17. R R
21. his father
Charles Johnson McNeill (1802-1869), brother of AMW [more]. He inherited land, Beauclerc Bluff, from his uncle Zephaniah Kingsley (1775-1843), plantation owner, JW's maternal great-uncle [more], and lived at Reddie Point, on the St John's River, Florida, where AMW visited him in March 1858; see #06495, and #06526.
22. negro house he & his wife & six children
AMW must mean the slave quarters belonging to Charles Johnson McNeill (1802-1869), brother of AMW [more], and his wife Elizabeth McNeill, née Coffee. Their children were: Donald C. McNeill, Charles W. McNeill (b. 1847), William Palmer McNeill (1857-1947), Peral E. McNeill (1860-ca 1878), Ellen McNeill, and Anna A. Van Buskirk (1858-1950), née McNeill, JW's cousins.
23. Pacific Steam Co
Pacific Steam Navigation Company, formed in London in 1838.
25. Novelty works
Novelty Iron works engineering firm, one of the largest in New York. It was founded in the 1830s by Thomas B. Stillman and Horatio Allen. The firm employed as many as 1,200 workers in the 1850s and was located on the East River shore at the foot of 12th Street. See Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace, Gotham, A History of New York City to 1898, New York, 1999, pp. 659-60.