The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 06554
Date: 30 September and 2 October 1874
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[1]
Place: London
Recipient: James H. Gamble[2]
Place: [USA]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: Whistler W547
Document Type: ALS

[monogram:] 'AMW'

2 Lindsey Houses Chelsea

Wednesday Sept 30th 74

It is a fortnight since my return home, Jemie[3] not yet come, but I am cheered in waiting, by thoughts of his benefitting in country air, while at work. Such a warm & bright Sept is remarkable, it seems to make up for the bleakness of June, & such a plentiful harvest shows us that the Lord delights to bless the earth. I cling to this Indian Summer weather, agreeing with my Southern blood, & knowing how soon cold fogs & East winds will check my circulation, besides suffering from Bronchitis, which affects my respiration always. I wish you could see my dear doctor Willie[4] in his wee but most respectable house 80 Brooke St Grosvenor Square. If you have any friend passing thro London, you may safely recommend my medical man, for skill & as being most attentive, he came to dine with me last evening precisely at 7 ocl, saying he had three Patients to visit at 9. so he must be punctual. 2 of them "Gods Patients" that is the poor whom he attends freely, & these I cite are in Alexanders Hospital[5] for lung & throat disease, Willie is one of the regular Assistants there, without pecuniary reward, but his heart is engaged in this service & he receives his own in his Consulting rooms in Brook St, & is getting known & appreciated. I pray that he may at length receive fees to meet unavoidable expenses, tho he is very economical & prudent, he has not yet sufficient income, but it is improving, thanks be to the Hearer of our prayers. My daughter[6] & her family are in excellent health, & she is a great comfort to me.

Just at this time of pleasant weather, she has the gratification of the use of her husbands[7] Brougham while he is yet not returned to town from his holiday in Scotland, she takes me afternoon drives & we call to see some of our own mutual friends. The 1st of Oct, London re-opens its busy Season, so Mr Haden will be using his horses & Brougham for his very extensive practise. I am expecting soon the daughter of my Londonderry friends, Susie Livermore[8], to make a little visit & be under my wing. If you could only know her excellent Mother[9] I am sure you would be induced to aid a school she is one of the active agents for in your native land, tho the Consul (U S.[)] can be only a sojourner, & they may not reap their reward in this world, for her efforts to benefit the poor ignorant Irish women, they have experienced [p. 2] the same want you have of well trained servants, so Mrs Livermore is doing her part to establishing a school for this benefit to society & she sent me two such cards as I venture to enclose, in the hope of my obtaining Subscribers. Will you venture to become one? & propose to Mr & Mrs Wann[10] to do the same for the good cause, if not from their feeling the common complaint, inefficient servants. I became on friendly terms with the Livermores next door neighbours, the Galways[11], an ancient aristocratic Irish family, now in adversity comparitively [sic] the daughters have a young ladies school, & it is one of them who is most prominent in this movement for the training school for Servants. My friend Mrs L has always been actively engaged in deed [sic] of charity, wherever she has had her home, in Lowell Masstts or in Bath N H. or in Missouri. Last winter she formed a Dorcas Society[12] & many ladies in Derry joined in it.

Do you remember when you gave me the pretty little picture of the Widow's mite[13] (with her children depending on her for bread[)]. I said it was a reminder to me! & you rejected the joke pleasantly! Alas, if my Sons were independent I should be so too, I must take up the cross of begging, while I cannot give more than a Mite, where hundreds are needed. I thought of dear Mrs Deniston[14] when on an attempted excursion one day to Lough Swillean[15], she used to talk to me of her native land Donegal & describe its charms. She you know departed this life two years ago, & has her sight restored for ever with the light of the World above. I hear from my Sister[16] at Stonington frequently of home connections there & our mutual interest in absent friends, she keeps up. The last report of the cottage at Scarsdale was, the grief of friend Margaret[17] for the death of her last Brother, Mr Ch Hill[18] in Penn. Mr & Mrs P[19] were in remarkable health for four score years of age, his, exceeding!

My own birthday was on Sunday 27th Sept. My sons cannot realise that their Mother who sympathises so, as if yet young, with them, can have attained the term alotted [sic] to pilgrims on earth. But I do & try to live day by day prepared for the summons. I am not yet requiring spectacles to write & only by candle light a reading glass. When my sight is impaired by general debility as it was all last winter, I must submit to folded hands & oh mine need to be in warm gloves then & my feet on my footstool filled with hot water. With the insects I revive in sunshine, & then pour out my thanksgiving that I am permitted to do so in the congregation of the Old Ch. & listening to our faithful Pastor Mr Davies[20]. I have taken a religious weekly paper "The Day of Rest[21]" ever since it was first issued two years ago last Xmas, & send it to Mr King[22] after I read it, he is [p. 3] so interested in it, but while I was blind it accumulated, & by a friendly hand I sent the budget, which had waited til I could read. I am sure you will be glad to know that he was so well while in Georgetown DC the past two years, he intends to remove there to be settled near his wife's sister[23], for Mr Kings comfort too. Brooklyn is too bleak for him, so he will sell his house in Henry St[24]. I hope the dear old gentleman may do so, that he may have no more earthly cares[,] he is a true servant of a heavenly Master, & casts off his burthen, to be as one waiting the summons of our Lord. he has ever been one of the truest friends to me, as a Brother. Comodore Fairfax[25] whom you met is my own nephew, my eldest own sisters[26] only son. I was in the place of a Mother to him, when my two eldest boys were infants & he a Midshipman in the Navy, he never has written me since the war[27], but I know our hearts are not at varience [sic], his wife[28] was not amiable, but I forgave her.

I wonder if I ever wrote you of all Jamie did to this house No 2 Summer before last? You would be delighted at its brightness in tinted walls & staircases[29]. We have a nice Swiss youth as footman in place of the little Irish Romanist whom you thought not cheerful looking. Jean[30] is very attentive & active & does any service! tho when Jemie comes home he will be mostly needed by him. An English spinster[31] of about 40 years is invaluable in our kitchen & relieves me of much care, as I cannot run up & down stairs any more. The Thames Embankment[32] has reached Old Battersea Bridge, the old timed narrow Arch way by the Old Church widened out so a magnificent promenade. You would not know the place, but we should be deprived of the view of the river in the full width & therefore we covet not the Embankment extended further up than it now is, tho we think it has improved our thoroughfare.

Friday 2nd October.

This month has entered in rain storm stripping our trees of leaves, but the poor people in the country were suffering from all the springs being dried up I heard them say when I was in Essex. So the Lord [in?] infinite wisdom, giveth rain now in abundance[33] & no doubt Farmers rejoice in it, as the[y] must have done that their time of harvest was dry. I wonder if you have friends in Scotland who have sent you a local weekly Paper. I read while at Albyns[34] "Times of Blessing[35]" with much interest relating to the revival in Scotland, I wish I could have joined in the hymns Sanki[36] sung & composed. It seems the Lords work is going on, from the last report I read of the Tent[37] in the outskirts of Glasgow, where hundreds of outcasts were giving proofs of their repentance, by their orderly conduct, tho they had been like swine in their idle darkness! I have a new interest now in the Pacific Coast[38], further north than Montana, in the Miss[ion] - [p. 4] reports & appeals in British Columbia. I read a private letter from one of the wives of the Mission lately to a lady, who does much for them in sending boxes of clothing ready made, for they have no Servants in that far off land, among the American friendly Indians. Oh if I had the money of the Winans[39] who were made rich thro my husbands influence in Russia - and the desire I have, I'd invest extensively in the Lords field, for a heavenly harvest. As it is in my small way I pray!

Have I not spun a long yarn! to make amends for years of silence, I may never again do thus, if you like divide it with your dear Sister, to whom with her husband & your dear wife[40] I wish ever to be remembered. A happy Thanksgiving to you all, I must just tell you that I received from Albyns for that festival a large hamper packed full for our larder & another at Christmas & also at Easter, Poultry, fruit, vegetables, jams, & even a form of jelly each time, hot house black Hamburgs[41] came in Jamie's illness. Other friends are also very generous to

your grateful and loving old friend

Anna M. Whistler

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

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

5.  Alexanders Hospital
'The Hospital for Diseases of the Throat,' 32 Golden Square, London; see AMW to James H. Gamble, 5 and 22 November 1872, #06553, and 9 September 1875, #06555.

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

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

8.  Susie Livermore
Susannah ('Susie') Plumridge Livermore (1855-1938), daughter of K. and A. Livermore, later wife of E. Sutton [more]. For a contemporary description of Londonderry and its environs see Black's Picturesque Tourist of Ireland, Edinburgh, 1874, pp. 395-401.

9.  Mother
Kate ('Cousin Kate') Livermore (1820-1907), née Prince, wife of A. Livermore [more].

10.  Mr & Mrs Wann
Jane Wann (1822-1875), née Gamble, wife of S. Wann [more], and her husband Samuel Wann (b. 1820), merchant.

11.  Galways
Probably a variant spelling of 'Galwey,' a name found in Ireland since the thirteenth century, mainly in Ulster and Cork, where the Galweys were for some time a leading family; see Edward MacLysaght, The Surnames of Ireland, Dublin, 1980, p. 118. There is no record of the family in Burk's Landed Gentry of Ireland, London, 1904, 10th edition.

12.  Dorcas Society
Dorcas Society, a charitable organization founded by Sarah Ward in 1824.

13.  Widow's mite
'And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury.' Mark 12.41-43.

14.  Mrs Deniston
Probably Jane Denniston (b. 1810), wife of Dr E. E. Denniston.

15.  Lough Swillean
See AMW to James H. Gamble, 8 and 9 September 1876, #06560.

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

17.  Margaret
Margaret Getfield Hill (1802-1881), a friend of AMW, of Scarsdale, NY [more]. AMW stayed intermittently at her cottage between 1851 and 1857.

18.  Mr Ch Hill
Charles Montgomery Hill (1811-1874), coal merchant, brother of M. G. Hilll [more].

19.  Mr & Mrs P
William Sherbrooke Popham (1793-1885), merchant, and his wife Jane O'Neill Hill (1793-1882), sister of M. G. Hill of Scarsdale, NY.

20.  Mr Davies
Rev. Robert Henry Davies (1821-1908), incumbent of Chelsea Old Church [more].

21.  The Day of Rest
The Day of Rest, religious journal, first published in London in 1872.

22.  Mr King
Ralph King (1801-1878), broker, father-in-law of W. McN. Whistler [more].

23.  wife's sister
Fannie Bronaugh, widow of J. W. Bronaugh [more]; she was the sister of Mildred M. ('Mittie') King (b. 1820), second wife of R. King.

24.  Henry St
189 Henry Street, Brooklyn, NY, was the home address of Ralph King; see AMW to Jane Wann, 24 July 1867, #06530. It seems that R. King sold 189 Henry Street and moved to Washington, DC, where he died at the residence of Fannie Bronaugh, at 55 Second Street, Georgetown; see The Evening Star, Washington, DC, 12 October 1878, vol. 52, no. 7966.

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

26.  own sisters
Isabella Fairfax, née McNeill, JW's aunt, wife of G. W. Fairfax [more].

27.  war
The American Civil War (1861-1865); see AMW to JW, 12 May 1862, #06519.

28.  wife
Virginia ('Ginnie') Carry Fairfax (d. 1878), née Ragland, wife of D. McN. Fairfax [more], AMW's dislike of Virginia was mutual; see AMW to JW, 1 January 1855, #06448, and 21 [March 1855], #06455.

29.  tinted walls & staircases
The walls above the skirting board, were tinted a soft shade of red, and the wainscoting painted 'creamy white'; see AMW to Catherine Jane Palmer, 29 October 1870, #11841; Linda Merrill, The Peacock Room: A Cultural Biography, Washington, DC, 1998, pp. 149-50.

30.  Jean
Jean, JW's Swiss footman in London.

31.  English spinster
Caroline Cossins (b. ca 1839), JW's cook [more].

32.  The Thames Embankment
Thames Embankment built in connection with the London Main Drainage (1871-74); see AMW to James H. Gamble, 10 - 20 April 1872, #06549.

33.  giveth rain now in abundance
Probably derives from 'Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the Lord our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in his season: he reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest.' Jer. 5.24.

34.  Albyns
AMW visited her friend Mary Tyler Gellibrand (b. 1812), née Ropes, wife of W. C. Gellibrand [more], at Albyns, Essex in early September 1874; see #11843.

35.  Times of Blessing
Maybe an earlier version of Laoidhean air son Tioman Beannachd, Hymns for Times of Blessing, transl. by A. Macrae from Mr. Sankey's Sacred Songs and Solos, Edinburgh, 1894.

36.  Sanki
Ira David Sankey (1840-1908), evangelist and hymn writer [more].

37.  Tent
AMW is referring to the Scottish religious revival in the 1870s, which combined with an increased interest in social welfare, resulted from the Moody campaigns of the 1870s. Its origins apparently were the 'well-to-do classes' who were prepared to attempt missions to the criminal classes. In Glasgow temperance work was organized, a large number of drunkards were reformed and 'a huge tent was raised on the Green, and afterward replaced by a hall, which became the scene of a Sabbath morning breakfast to the poor and the centre of a great deal of other philanthropic activity. An interest was created for the education of the ill-fed and ill-clad children. Houses were bought and furnished for the orphans.' See W. R. Moody, The Life of Dwight L. Moody, London, 1900, pp. 182-84.

38.  Pacific Coast
In 1874, in British Columbia, 56 chiefs of justice approved a petition to federal Indian Commissioner Israel Powell asking for implementation of a federal proposal that reserved 80 acres per family. Christian missionaries helped a lot in changing the standards of life for the local Indians. William Duncan was sent out by the Church Missionary Society, and set up Metlakatla, which became a model Indian village. When Lord Dufferin visited the place in 1876 he was amazed by the work of the missionaries Duncan and Archdeacon W. H. Collison. He was impressed by 'curious poles with strange, goggle-eyed crests in them,' which he saw in the front of the houses of Indian chiefs at Fort Simpson, and later at Skidegate, he examined 'a long row of Indian houses, before which stood high poles, curiously carved, some with animals on the top, some with beads or hats, supposed to be the crest of the owners of the hut.' See Margaret A. Ormsby, British Columbia: A History, Vancouver, 1958, pp. 273-74.

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

40.  wife
Harriet Gamble, née Wheaton, wife of J. H. Gamble.

41.  black Hamburgs
Black Hamburg grapes; see AMW to Catherine Jane Palmer, 29 October 1870, #11841.